NRA: Winners and losers

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 113-116

The Antichrist’s personal plane is making good time, as Rayford Steele enjoys the sleep of the just, “snoring, according to McCullum, for several hours.”

Well, if not the sleep of the just, the deep sleep of one who just doesn’t care that he just stood by and did nothing to prevent the slaughter of millions.

About an hour outside Baghdad, Leon Fortunato entered the cockpit and knelt next to Rayford. “We’re not entirely sure of security in New Babylon,” he said. “No one expects us to land in Baghdad. Let’s keep maintaining with the New Babylon tower that we’re on the way directly there. When we pick up our other three ambassadors, we may just stay on the ground for a few hours until the security forces have had a chance to clear New Babylon.”

“Will that affect your meetings?” Rayford said, trying to sound casual.

“I don’t see how it concerns you one way or the other. We can easily meet on the plane. …”

You get the idea. Just in case you don’t, Jerry Jenkins spells it out in excruciating repetitive detail in the following pages. It’s a semi-plausible way of arranging to have Nicolae Carpathia’s strategy meeting with his top lieutenants take place on the plane — and thus to allow Rayford, and readers, to eavesdrop.

This chapter, then, spends three pages contriving a situation in which Rayford can listen in on a meeting that eventually takes about 10 pages to unfold. That makes this one of Jenkins’ most efficient chapters — throughout most of this series of books it’s more like a 1-to-1 ratio of positioning to narrative, spending just as many pages maneuvering his characters into a position to observe what happens next as he does allowing them to observe it.

Buck Williams, for example, is headed to Israel to meet with Tsion Ben-Judah. That’s the next actual bit of story he’ll be involved in, but rather than just telling us the story parts of the story, Jenkins keeps us apprised of every phone call and airport stop along the way.

Buck checked in with Donny Moore, who said he had found some incredible deals on individual components and was putting together the five mega-laptops himself. “That’ll save you a little money,” he said. “Just a little over $20,000 a piece, I figure.”

Maybe Donny is a good and trustworthy guy and he’s putting together some really amazing computers. Or maybe he just couldn’t resist when he found a customer who was willing to pay $100,000 for five really “special” laptops.

Buck told key people at Global Community Weekly his new universal cell phone number and asked that they keep it confidential …

I imagine those “key people” at the news organization were surprised to learn that Buck hadn’t been killed when World War III began a few days ago. This ongoing story is the biggest news since The Event itself, so when the boss never bothered to check in with his top editors and reporters, they had to assume he was either dead or trapped under something heavy.

Think of it: You’re the managing editor of a major news outlet. New York, London and Washington are all destroyed and you never hear from the boss. Chicago and Dallas and San Francisco are destroyed and the boss is still AWOL. And then, the following day, he calls — not to give orders or ask questions about how this huge story should be covered, and not to ask if everyone survived the series of nuclear attacks. No, he’s just calling to let you know he got a new cell phone, and to give you the number so you can call him if anything comes up.

Meanwhile, Rayford lands at the airport in Baghdad and Jenkins begins a laborious explanation of security ruses and arrangements for the meeting Nicolae will have with his lieutenants there on the airplane. This description is interspersed with a testy conversation between Rayford and Leon Fortunato. Fortunato tells Rayford they’ll be flying again in four hours.

“International aviation rules prohibit me from flying again for 24 hours.”

“Nonsense,” Fortunato said. “How do you feel?”

“Exhausted.”

“Nevertheless, you’re the only one qualified to fly this plane, and you’ll be flying it when we say you’ll be flying it.”

This goes on for another half-page or so, the two men posturing and asserting competing claims for dominance. Rayford makes a point of calling the man by his first name.

“I would appreciate it if you would refer to me as Mr. Fortunato.”

“That means a lot to you, does it, Leon?”

“Don’t push me, Steele.”

As they entered the terminal, Rayford said, “As I am the only one who can fly that plane, I would appreciate it if you would call me Captain Steele.”

Fortunato here seems like kind of a jerk, but then he’s supposed to be the chief assistant to the Antichrist — the No. 2 guy and the right-hand man of the all-time epitome of evil. Just being kind of a jerk doesn’t quite seem evil enough.

Like Nicolae himself, Fortunato seems like an unpleasant person to be around, but unpleasant doesn’t really cut it when you’re supposed to be superlatively wicked.

The portrayal of villains is another place where storytelling and theology inevitably intersect. What is evil? What is sin? What is wickedness? Is it the opposite of good, or the absence of good? Could it be an excess of good? Does it lie more in its ends or in its means? Your ideas about all of those questions will shape how you portray your uber-villains.

Think of the movie Serenity, Joss Whedon’s delightful big-screen curtain call for his abruptly cancelled scifi TV series Firefly. Serenity gives us “Reavers” — sub-human, bestial nightmares of pure savagery and violent carnage. From one theological or philosophical perspective, Reavers might seem to be strong candidates for the epitome of evil — soulless monsters bent on mindless destruction.

But Whedon has always been more interested in soulful monsters and mindful destruction. The Reavers are terrifying, but — SPOILER ALERT — they’re not the true villains of Serenity. The real villains are those who created the Reavers, and who did so with the best of intentions. And therein lies a whole other philosophy or theology and a very different set of answers to those questions about the nature of evil.

The Left Behind series ought to have richly meaningful villains. Just look at that title — “Antichrist” — and consider all the myriad ways Nicolae Carpathia’s villainy might have been used to explore the nature and meaning of Christ by portraying his antithesis.

Nicolae could have been shown to epitomize power instead of love. He could have been shown as the kind of man who would say “Yes” to all the temptations Jesus is said to have rejected in the wilderness. He could have been portrayed as the one who chooses to take rather than to give, to harm rather than to heal, to kill rather than to die.

But we never see anything in these books about the Antichrist as the antithesis of the Christ of the Gospels. That part is already taken in this series by Jesus himself, the Jesus of Tim LaHaye’s imagined second coming who will arrive at the “Glorious Appearing” to correct all of his earlier mistakes by embodying the opposite of everything he taught and lived in his first coming. The Antichrist cannot be shown to be the opposite of this Christ because the Antichrist is exactly like this Christ.

This also means that Fortunato — the Antichrist’s chief disciple — cannot be portrayed as the antithesis of what it means to be a disciple of Christ. Indeed, what we just saw in his conversation with such a disciple, Rayford Steele, is that Leon Fortunato is exactly like his Christian counterpart. He’s kind of a jerk in that conversation, but then so is Rayford. He’s arrogant and full of himself, but then so is Rayford.

The only difference between the two men is the same as the one thing that makes the Antichrist different from the vengeful Christ of LaHaye’s imagination: Fortunato is on the wrong side.

This seems to be the only thing the authors have to say about the nature of evil. It’s the wrong side. It’s the losing side.

So how, then, can we avoid evil? Easy — by always doing whatever we have to do to make sure our side wins.

That’s the author’s definition of good. For many other authors — including some of those in the Christian canon — that’s the definition of evil.

 

Stay in touch with the Slacktivist on Facebook:

LBCF, No. 108: 'Dead man's messages'
LBCF, No. 109: 'Why doctors hate healthy people'
LBCF, No. 107: 'Hot property'
LBCF, No. 110: 'Sexiest Man Alive'
  • Michael Pullmann

    One wonders, if Jenkins didn’t do so much padding with phone calls and logistics, just how long would the important parts of this series actually be?

  • ScorpioUndone

     one book. Maybe three like they originally planned.  ;-)

  • Ygorbla

    One wonders, if Jenkins didn’t do so much padding with phone calls and
    logistics, just how long would the important parts of this series
    actually be?

    What series?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Good point. I think he originally planned for this to be a trilogy, and it ended up ballooning into 6, then 12, then 16 books once Jenkins realized that readers would keep buying them no matter how badly-written they were. You’ll notice that if you read the first book, despite how bad it is, the plot develops at a reasonable clip. There is still a lot of phone calls and logistics and the plot itself is painfully absurd, but there are at least a lot of events taking place and at least an occasional stab at character development.

    From Tribulation Force onward, Jenkins gives up on even that low level of quality. The first 90% of each subsequent book is almost entirely filler and set-up, and things only start getting interesting in the last fifteen pages or so. But then, right before (or after) a major character dies, the book ends in a ‘cliffhanger’ and you have to buy the next one and wait till the last 15 pages of that book to find out what happened. 

  • GeniusLemur

    Well, no, the plot doesn’t develop at a reasonable clip in the first book. It chokes on irrelevant phone calls, endless travel logistics, spending ten pages in a stall in the men’s restroom, and heaping praise on Urine and Dung, I mean Buck and Ray.  Just like the others.

    And it was originally supposed to be a novel, not a trilogy:

    http://www.leftbehind.com/03_authors_testimonials/viewAuthorInteractions.asp?pageid=966&channelID=79

    The relevant quote:
    “We initially thought there would be one book covering
    the Rapture—seven years of tribulation and a hint at the millennium. We
    knew we weren’t going to cover the millennium in detail, because it’s a
    time of peace, and without conflict there’s no fiction.

    But I got halfway through the first book and realized
    I’d only covered two weeks! That’s when I knew it was not going to be
    done in one book. We went to a trilogy, and soon it was six and then
    seven. We finally settled on 12 to get through the tribulation period,
    and later decided to write a prequel and a sequel.”

    So he thought he’d cover seven years, covered two weeks, and said “we’ll have to expand this into a trilogy,” instead of “wow, I’m a fantastically bad writer. Better edit this way down, or just start over.”

  • KevinC

     Just one of the fractal iterations of awfulness of these stories is that the travel issues could be exciting, if Ellenjay weren’t ignoring little things like the disappearance of every child in the world, nuclear warfare, and the Apocalypse in general.  Given some kind of dramatic stakes, a journey from Chicago to New York–during the Apocalypse–could be like the adventures of Marco Polo. 

    But no!  Camshaft out-Mans the car dealer (there’s car dealers?  Really?), and he probably got a really great deal on the insurance from the little lizard with the cute accent.  Either that, or by treating the Progressive lady like crap.  Oh, hey, check out these superawesomecool cell phones!  Let me say that again…phooooooonnnnnneeeeeees *orgasm*  And have you seen my new Megalaptop?  What was that?   …..No….it…..doesn’t transform into a robot.  I WANT A LAPTOP THAT’LL TRANSFORM INTO A ROBOT!!!!  PRICE IS NO OBJECT!!!  DONNY!!!  THESE LAPTOPS ARE UNACCEPTABLE, DO YOU HEAR ME?  DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!?!”

  • aunursa

    This chapter, then, spends three pages contriving a situation in which Rayford can listen in on a meeting that eventually takes about 10 pages to unfold. That makes this one of Jenkins’ most efficient chapters — throughout most of this series of books it’s more like a 1-to-1 ratio of positioning to narrative, spending just as many pages maneuvering his characters into a position to observe what happens next as he does allowing them to observe it.

    That doesn’t give me much confidence.  If we go by the previous 2 1/4 books, in the next chapter Rayford will call Buck to relate what happened in the meeting.  Then Rayford or Buck will call Chloe to share the news.

  • Jessica_R

    The (non) action of the Trib Force is especially galling when you look at real life examples of heroes like this, http://chickgonebad.tumblr.com/post/40689604725/the-hero-of-ages-gdfalksen-chiune-sugihara. People who show you can sit behind a desk and be an utter BAMF, you just have to have the courage, and the will to accept that love without works is dead. You can’t just think badly of your bosses, you have to risk something, maybe something huge, to help. 

  • We Must Dissent

     One of my favorite parts of Sugihara Chiune’s story is that even his neighbors back in Japan didn’t know what he had done–they thought he was just some government clerk–until his funeral when Jewish representatives from around the world showed up.

  • Erl

    I love that part of the Sugihara Chiune story. 

    Neighbors at his funeral: a speculative transcript.

    “Dad?”
    “Yeah?”
    “What did Mr. Chiune do?”
    “I dunno, I think he was just some government clerk.”
    “Yeah, okay . . . Dad?”
    “Yeah?”
    “WHERE IS ALL THE GODDAMN KUGEL COMING FROM?”

  • Jessica_R

    Oh the epilogue of Chiune’s story is making the room all dusty. I can imagine his family being introduced to strangers’ children and grandchildren, who would not have existed without his courage. 

  • aunursa

     

    “That’ll save you a little money,” he said. “Just a little over $20,000 a piece, I figure.”

    Why does that matter?  Why does Buck need to save money?  Doesn’t he have access to an unlimited line of credit from the antichrist?

  • SisterCoyote

     I think it’s another Manly Man of Machismo thing. Manly Men of Machismo get car deals by arguing like a Manly Man, and they are respected by lesser men, so they also get everything-else deals. Getting a bargain (out of your Manly Macho skill of Being a Douche to the Salesman until S/He Wants to Get Rid of You by Any Means Necessary Logical and Aggressive Haggling) is a Manly Macho Skill, and therefore

    therefore Buck and Rayford are assholes I mean Real Men.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    I think it’s another Manly Man of Machismo thing. Manly Men of Machismo get car deals by arguing like a Manly Man, and they are respected by lesser men, so they also get everything-else deals. Getting a bargain (out of your Manly Macho skill of Being a Douche to the Salesman until S/He Wants to Get Rid of You by Any Means Necessary Logical and Aggressive Haggling) is a Manly Macho Skill, and therefore

    therefore Buck and Rayford are assholes I mean Real Men.

    *catchy music begins*

    Real Christian Men of Geeeeeenius

    Today, we salute you, Christian Guy Who’s a Jerk to Salespeople!

    Mister Christian Guy Who’s a Jerk to Salespeeeeople!

     Going to the mall in a suit..even though it’s a Saturday afternoon.

    Thinking that yelling at college students at the Nautica Outlet is a shrewd haggling technique.

    That won’t get you your refund any faaaaaaster!

    Calling all the male employees “Bud” or “Pal” and all the female employees “Hon” or “Sweetie.”

    Asking the pointed question, “Do you know who I am???”

    You’re a dooooooouchebag!

    You could have just waited for the t-shirt to go on sale…

    But no…it’s better to use your precious time to head to the mall again for a $2.36 price adjustment.

    Getting it impresses my wooooman!

    You could just ask politely and respectfully, but no, you think it’s more manly to berate people who are just trying to do their jobs.

    What would Jeeeesus do?

    So crack open a non-alcoholic beer, Mister Christian Guy Who’s a Jerk to Salespeople!  By making everyone else’s day a little more stressful, you’re showing what a man YOU are.

    Mister Christian Guy Who’s a Jerk to Salespeeeeeeeople!!!!!

  • Kiba

    Oh my…you’ve met my mother’s husband? (Except that he’s an alcoholic and wouldn’t go anywhere near a non-alcoholic drink.)

    Not kidding either. That almost perfectly describes the man.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Only tangentially related, but you should see them do the Real Men of Halo (made funnier if you know that the voice actors for the Real Men of Genius also voice act in Halo.)

  • Turcano

    Nicolae could have been shown to epitomize power instead of love.

    LaHaye and Jenkins were never going to do that because that might cause some of their audience to question who their true master is, and we can’t have that.

  • aunursa

    “Nonsense,” Fortunato said. “How do you feel?”
    “Exhausted.”
    “Nevertheless, you’re the only one qualified to fly this plane, and you’ll be flying it when we say you’ll be flying it.”

    The great irony is that in this single exchange, Leon is actually making a greater effort to kill his boss, the antichrist, than either Rayford or Buck does during the their entire Global Community employment.

  • Tricksterson

    I thought Ray had a co-pilot?  If he’s not qualified to fly the plane, why have him?

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    For many other authors — including some of those in the Christian canon — that’s the definition of evil.

    A lot of right-wingers like to treat politics as a game. I cannot count the number of times I’ve been told I was just angry because “my guy” lost. It’s a completely irrational way of looking at the world that I keep forgetting exists until I smash up against it yet again.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    A lot of right-wingers like to treat politics as a game. I cannot count the number of times I’ve been told I was just angry because “my guy” lost. It’s a completely irrational way of looking at the world that I keep forgetting exists until I smash up against it yet again.

    To be fair, that’s not unique to right wingers.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    To be fair, that’s not unique to right wingers.

    Indeed.  Sometimes, the loudest political voices can seem more like football hooligans than informed citizens, just looking for an opportunity to scrap with the people in the other team’s jersey.  

  • flat

    Now here is one of my favorite subjects how is somebody evil when he is willing to do the most difficult thing for his cause, or is somebody evil because he quits.

    Is grimlock ” strong”  because he is more willing than optimus to use extreme measures.
    Is Optimus “weak” because he hates to use those measures despite the fact they could end the conflict faster.

    Is L evil because of the measures he took in catching kira.
    Is Amon evil because he wanted to make the world more equal by using bloodbending.

    It is always a theme that I find interesting in the hands of (pay attention here Jerry Jenkins) a good writer. 

  • Vermic

    If Nicolae is the anti-Christ, then Rayford is the anti-Judas.  Like Judas, he’s the traitor in the inner circle, but the opposite in that he never gets to any actual betraying.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    This is yet more evidence of why the “Mary Sue” character is harmful in ways that a less indulgent Author Avatar would not be.

    Exhibit A: Buck Williams. Had Bucky remained the GIRAT, his globe-trotting, never-turning-in-work, ignoring-the-office behavior would have been appropriate for his described profession. Steve Plank, his boss and the publisher alternates between defending the plucky young go-getter to the owner (Carpathia) and shouting at Buck to do his job! Buck keeps spinning straw into gold, revealing the overreaching response of the OWG to a handful of pathetically armed insurgents.

    Buck still gets to be an author-insert. He still gets to mouth off to “the man” (Carpathia) and be protected because he is TEH AWEOMEEST REPORTAR EVAR but at least we’re not getting our legs broken falling into plot-holes along the way.

    Exhibit B:

    “International aviation rules prohibit me from flying again for 24 hours.”
    “Nonsense,” Fortunato said. “How do you feel?”
    “Exhausted.”
    “Nevertheless, you’re the only one qualified to fly this plane, and you’ll be flying it when we say you’ll be flying it.”

    The only reason this exchange exists is to set up Rayford’s power-play of “You have to call me Captain Steele, and I get to call you Leon
    This dialogue could have been used to show how dangerous and out-of-touch Carpathia and his inner circle are. Let’s try a quick re-write:

    Rayford had just entered the cockpit from where he had been sleeping and saw Fortunado clap McCullum on the shoulder.
    “Ready to take us to New Babylon? It’s just a few more hours.”
    McCullum shook his head. “Aviation rules prohibit a pilot from flying for more than 8 continuous- ”
    Fortunado cut him off. “It was a rhetorical question. We’re flying to New Babylon and with the potentate on board, we’re not spending any more time on the ground than we need to, so buck up!”
    Rayford stepped past Fortunado and buckled into his seat. “Mac, I just got done with a power nap. Why don’t you head back and catch some shut-eye? Oh, and Leon? There are three professionals that you want well rested when they’re working on the job for you: your surgeon, your lawyer, and your pilot. If Mac dozed off and crashed the plane, you’d be just as dead as if insurgents with rockets had found us. Cut us some slack; we know what we’re doing.”

    Not a great re-write, but the scene works a little better if Rayford is on the side of angels, instead of just trying to one-up someone.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.wordpress.com/ D Johnston

    Regarding your rewrite: That kind of thing would actually work really well if the main characters hadn’t already been established as self-aggrandizing jackasses. If Ray were more world-weary and beaten down, this kind of aggressive stance could signal the start of his path from bystander to hero. He’s standing up to evil for the first time – in a small way, and to a more venial evil, but that’s how it begins. But, of course, that would only work in a much better book, one in which the protagonist doesn’t pull rank every so often just to bolster his ego.

    As for Buck, I like your suggestion for him. If nothing else, it makes him seem a bit more independent, like a counterpart to Ray – the free-wheeling troublemaker and the diligent old guard. As it is, they just seem like slightly different breeds of lapdog.

  • Ygorbla

     Not a great re-write, but the scene works a little better if Rayford is
    on the side of angels, instead of just trying to one-up someone.

    But given that he is (in either case) looking out for the life and well being of the literal Antichrist, doesn’t that put him on the side of the devils?

  • Dogfacedboy

    Maybe Donny is a good and trustworthy guy and he’s putting together some really amazing computers. Or maybe he just couldn’t resist when he found a customer who was willing to pay $100,000 for five really “special” laptops.

    Maybe they have 4-wheel drive and all-wheel drive and play those little mini CDs.

  • Paul Durant


    Maybe they have 4-wheel drive and all-wheel drive and play those little mini CDs.

    Okay, I’ve been up for the last 50 hours, but I think this is a good idea. Let’s get rid of the laptop entirely and replace it with an A.M.-F.M. radio.

    …And it’s a car. We’ve invented the Pontiac Aztek.

  • GeniusLemur

    “You’re the only one qualified to fly this plane.” Gee, is that on the plane, available, or in the world? Could this be a subtle hint that CAPTAIN RAYFORD STEELE is the only person in the world who could have the superlative skills necessary to fly this amazing plane?

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    “You’re the only one qualified to fly this plane.”

    Again, better writers would use this to show how unbalanced and arrogant our villains are:
    “Wait, what? The primary means of transporting the most powerful person in the world, and you only trained one person how to fly it? So if I get food poisoning, the potentate gets stranded in Dulles while I try to keep down Pepto?” 

  • http://johnm55.wordpress.com/ johnm55

     The one thing that puzzles me is, why doesn’t Rayford  just fly the thing into the side of a mountain, after all he’s going to heaven isn’t he?

  • Vermic

    “You’re the only one qualified to fly this plane.” Gee, is that on the plane, available, or in the world? Could this be a subtle hint that CAPTAIN RAYFORD STEELE is the only person in the world who could have the superlative skills necessary to fly this amazing plane?

    What’s hilarious is that in order for Leon to tell Rayford this, he first had to wake Rayford from his nap, a nap of several hours during which McCullum was, presumably, flying the plane.

  • Rae

    I could have even bought that scene if L&J had been able to come up with something else – maybe an additional level to the “security threat” that means that it’s not safe for them to remain on the ground, or the “security threat” being enough that they don’t want to risk trusting their backup pilots?

  • http://kingdomofsharks.wordpress.com/ D Johnston

    Buck checked in with Donny Moore, who said he had found some incredible
    deals on individual components and was putting together the five
    mega-laptops himself. “That’ll save you a little money,” he said. “Just a
    little over $20,000 a piece, I figure.”

    This is another one of those weeks where I can’t help but latch onto something inconsequential. Yeah, L&J can’t write villains to save their lives, but I can’t get past these $20k “mega-laptops.”

    First, why? I fail to see why the Tribbers need to have anything like this. In the mid-90’s, you could get a notebook computer for around a thousand dollars. These were very basic businessman’s computers, with word processing, spreadsheets, and Internet access. And really, that’s all our not-quite-heroes even need them for. Given how low-tech this operation has been thus far, I don’t see Buck doing any 3D rendering or coding complex C++ scripts (And yes, I know he’s supposed to be “tech-savvy,” but so far that seems to mean that he knows cell phones and e-mail exist). I guess he could use one of them as a mobile host (I’m assuming that wireless Internet is available, given that this is “the not-so-distant future”), but given that his means of distributing info consists of printing, retyping and copying millions of words, I can’t imagine he’d know how.

    And then there’s the price point. I’m hoping that someone with a little more hardware knowledge comes along, but I do know a bit about the computer building subculture. Homemade computers are usually desktops – mobile machines are more or less standardized – but I’m willing to allow that our secret tech guy could work his magic on a laptop. I’m having trouble picturing what a $20,000 box would even look like. Even a crazy machine so overclocked it glowed, fitted with the highest-quality peripherals available, wouldn’t run to 20 grand. You would have to electroplate the casing in solid gold to get the price that high.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    I fail to see why the Tribbers need to have anything like this.

    They have to have the most expensive EVERYTHING.  This is a recurring theme in these books.

    Buck checked in with Donny Moore, who said he had found some incredible deals on individual components and was putting together the five mega-laptops himself.

    What a guy!  The world is being blown to smithereens, and he’s still wheelin’ and dealin’.

    I’d hate to think how much these things originally cost if 20 grand apiece was an “incredible deal”.

  • GeniusLemur

     Well, they have to have the BEST everything, and the way L&J convey (and understand) “best” is to list all the bells and whistles and give it an enormous price tag.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I would actually think that several cheap, relatively disposable laptops would serve the Tribs better than some $20,000 uber-laptops.  If they want to make them “special” then I can see them doing some modifications.  Maybe getting a few biometric locks (which do exist and are common enough) and chipping them with some custom cards with a small quantity of explosives that will cause the laptop to self-destruct if accessed by someone other than a user who’s fingerprint is on file.  That would also play well with the whole spy-fiction element they seem to be going for here.  Heck, they might have to ditch one of the computers as a distraction, knowing that it will blow up in the face of the first GC goon to try and open it.  

  • Ima Pseudonym

     They’d have been able to get a LOT more use out of some cheap, old, throwaway computers that their pet hacker turned into blackthrow boxes for listening in on the Antichrist’s computer networks than any number of hyper-expensive techno-toys, and they could have really dialed up the tension by having an elaborate, insanely-dangerous B&E at Evil Incorporated HQ where they set up their kamikaze hardware, disguised it as something innocuous and then got their butts the hell out alive.

    But that wouldn’t have been as ego-boosting to the protagonists as having super-duper-special laptops that cost more than many cars that the Antichrist’s company credit cards paid for. 

  • P J Evans

    I’m having trouble picturing what a $20,000 box would even look like.

    Windowed case, neon-lit cooling fans, about a terabyte of extra memory (because they couldn’t quite fit the terabyte hard drive in), and the case is framed in vermeil (gold-plated sterling silver). With engravings of Dore’s illustrations for Dante’s Inferno on the parts that have to be solid.

  • http://twitter.com/richterscale Charles Richter

    Maybe you never played around with customizing a Macintosh on Apple’s website in the late 90s.  You could get pretty close if you selected all the options!

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    Out of curiosity, I went to store.apple.com, selected the most expensive laptop listed, and checked every single option I was given that would allow me to spend more money. The price I was given was $8,724.91. Looking back over the purchase, this turned out to include an Apple TV as well as a $2,299 line item for a 12-terabyte external RAID system that looks to be roughly the size of a microwave.

  • Kadh2000

     Yeah, I went to Alienware and did the same.  I got to 7389.99 for the ultimate laptop – no TV included though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    Well, there is the question of whether or not the price simply reflects the hardware or if we’re also talking software.

    Even with volume licensing, there are application suites that could drive the price up pretty quickly, though it would still be difficult to hit that price point.

    In terms of software that the Tribbles might conceivably have a use for, that would include stuff like the Adobe Creative Suite and MS Office – possibly with the added costs of Project and Visio – which would easily add several thousand dollars to the overall cost.

    There’s also the possibility of the laptops being ruggedized, Toughbook-style systems designed to survive on the front lines of combat – if you went with the overall ruggedized approach and used absolute top-of-the-line internals – most ruggedized systems tend to have middle-of-the-road and even low-end components, as they generally sacrifice performance for durability – you might, conceivably start getting close to that price point, particularly if Donny is engaging in even a minimal amount of price-padding.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I was totally picturing Donny padding the price unbelievably, heh.

    I hit up Overstock.com to get an idea of prices on Toughbooks.

    Here’s one example.

    Even fudging for the fact that L&J wrote this series in ~2000, when laptop parts were even more expensive than they are today, the maximum cost of such a laptop would have to be $10k apiece.

  • P J Evans

     The commercial license for Google Earth: $400 per computer per year.

    Something like ArcGIS, to figure out the best location to drop the next bomb, based on demographics? I don’t know how well it would do on a laptop, but it might run OK.

  • ohiolibrarian

     The way it reads, it sounds more like Donny is saving $20,000 a piece on the 5 computers. Which is even more insane.

  • Ygorbla

     On the other hand, he wants to buy these computers in the middle of World War III.  That could justify a bit of a markup when you think about it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    Also, this is a world in which all of the good, conservative people have disappeared, leaving behind only the filthy liberals, who are bound to have driven up the cost of everything by punishing those remaining virtuous job creators through restrictive, business-hating regulations and oppressive taxation.

    The other thing is that apparently Donny is building the laptops himself – maybe he’s actually doing everything by hand, including fabricating the processors.

    Still, not to give Jenkins any credit for being anything other than an out-of-touch hack (this is really just becoming an intellectual challenge to me at this point), in terms of current technology and stuff that’s not quite on the market yet, adding in extremely high-capacity SSDs and a 4K display would, conceivably, bump things up at least past the $10K mark….

    Of course, the obvious answer remains Jenkins being an out-of-touch hack.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The other thing is that apparently Donny is building the laptops himself – maybe he’s actually doing everything by hand, including fabricating the processors.

    I have heard of custom-building laptops the way you do desktops, but it seems to be that’s still a real niche market thing because things like motherboards are still very specialized, etc. Sometimes, CPUs are still soldered on; other times they are replaceable, and given the sheer proliferation of mobile product numbers it’s not always even clear what replaces what.

    As an example, I give you a rather large list from Wikipedia.

    So yeah, Jenkins fancies himself a tech geek in the way a “hip parent” fancies themselves still cool, only in real life everybody’s snickering behind their backs.

  • Kadh2000

     What, I’m not still cool?  Shazbat.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    To be fair, I’m thinking of the kind of parent that tries way too hard to fit into the children’s generation, rather than not being a micromanager of their child’s life.

  • GeniusLemur

     It would if World War III had any impact on anything that wasn’t directly hit by a bomb.

  • Ima Pseudonym

     Some years ago, a cousin of mine moved to San Francisco with her husband, who was employed on a crew laying fiber.  

    While they were there, they had a round of computer problems.  They took their desktop to a repair service, who told them that they needed 6 new  “bus chips” installed on their computer’s motherboard, which would run them around $2,350 for the works.  When she expressed skepticism, the technician essentially scolded her and told her that anyone else would charge them up to twice that for this job, and that this was the best they were going to get anywhere in the city.   It didn’t help that they had southern accents so thick you could hear the grits dripping from their voices (I have the same sort of accent–and I’ve noticed that in some places, it leads certain of the locals into assuming they’re dealing with an idiot), and he tried to buffalo them into making a decision on the spot.  The problem turned out to be a bad stick of RAM (I talked them through troubleshooting over the phone), and they fixed it by buying a new stick for twenty bucks. 

    I realize that, most likely, we’re simply seeing yet another example of Ellenjay’s supreme suckitude when it comes to writing anything with any plausibility, but in-universe I’m pretty sure that Donny suspects (correctly in this case) that he’s dealing with a moron with more money than common sense, and is simply trying to milk his customer for everything he can get.  And Buck is so thick and slow that he doesn’t realize he’s being taken for a ride, and his bloated ego won’t permit him to ask any questions.  He’s positively creaming his jeans over the notion that their hella-expensive laptops are super-duper special high-tech computers worthy of a reporter of his caliber, and Donny is laughing all the way to the bank. 

  • P J Evans

     Sounds like the guys who think that all women are completely ignorant of the workings of cars (as well as computers), and tell them they to get stuff fixed that isn’t broken.

  • GDwarf

     

    And then there’s the price point. I’m hoping that someone with a little
    more hardware knowledge comes along, but I do know a bit about the
    computer building subculture. Homemade computers are usually desktops –
    mobile machines are more or less standardized – but I’m willing to allow
    that our secret tech guy could work his magic on a laptop. I’m having
    trouble picturing what a $20,000 box would even look like. Even a crazy
    machine so overclocked it glowed, fitted with the highest-quality
    peripherals available, wouldn’t run to 20 grand. You would have to
    electroplate the casing in solid gold to get the price that high.

    I did some searching, and even “fully rugged” laptops, the kind you can drop from 10 feet and run over with a car, while it’s raining, and they’ll keep working, top out at about $7 000, and that’s with all the optional fixings and superfluous add-ons. You can’t get a $20 000 laptop, barring some special-edition thing made by some major designer brand, and those are less “super-laptops” than they are $500 junkers with a nice case.

    Heck, getting a $20 000 *desktop* is almost impossible, unless you’re buying server-grade components. I mean, I’ve had the equivalent to three desktops worth of gear purchased over the past 10-ish years, and I’m out maybe $4 000 total.

    I just don’t think it can be done. Even if it could be, why would you? Computer costs quickly hit the level of diminishing returns: A $3 000 laptop will be maybe 1.5x as powerful as a $1 500 one, and a $6 000 one probably won’t be even 1.1x as powerful as a $3 000. By the time you’re talking $20 000 you can’t possibly be buying any extra power or reliability. What’s more, they’re *laptops*, you use them for surfing the internet and typing up documents, mostly. Even if you could get $20 000 worth of hardware in one, what would you use it for? If you need serious power then you build either a desktop or, if you need *lots* of power, a server. But they’re not hosting a popular website, or trying to crack passwords, or get a high score on SETI at Home, so they don’t need that kind of power, even if they can afford it.

    And, of course, the hilarious statement that $20 000 laptops represent a savings. That implies that they’re $30 000, or something, usually, which just makes this all the more ridiculous. Especially since saving money on laptops is pretty much impossible: They come pre-built and with minimal upgrade options, generally.

    All this is rather aptly timed, as I’ve just gotten a Raspberry Pi computer. They cost $35 and can do pretty much everything but run high-end games. I bet that one of them, with a separately-purchased monitor and some sort of battery supply, would do everything the tribbies would ever need for a total of maybe $400.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I know someone who has a Raspberry Pi. He loves the hell out of it :P

    But yeah, according to sites like this, people who want rugged laptops have been able to find and customize cheap used models which will contain everything from PDFs of important stuff all the way to ways to try and access GIS data if they can still get at it, to determine climatic patterns, etc.

    In short, using ruggedized laptops in a post-apocalyptic scenario for something actually useful as opposed to show-off pieces like Buck’s extra-cool laptops.

    Do the Tribbles even USE those frakkin’ things? Ever?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    Do the Tribbles even USE those frakkin’ things? Ever?

    I bet the only thing the authors use them for is to show off Buck’s bucks.  Just so much money porn.

  • Beroli

     And it’s not even Buck’s money. It’s the Antichrist’s money.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    Back when Buck was telling Donny what features he wanted in his mega-laptops, it says “Buck had thought money would be no object, but this was one expense he could not lay off on Carpathia.”  Where does he get the money? 

  • Beroli

    I confess I missed that and was thinking he’d just put it on his no-limit credit card.

    However. Presumably he gets his money from his boss like most (employed) people. This doesn’t mean the money isn’t his, of course, but it still passed through the Antichrist’s hands on its way to buying godly computers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    Buck must be loaded.  When it comes to God’s Laptops, money is no object!  Just think how much he must be spending helping all those sick and injured people!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Isn’t this then a violation of Carpathia’s freedom of conscience?

  • banancat

     

    And it’s not even Buck’s money. It’s the Antichrist’s money.

    It sounds a lot like rich teenagers bragging about how much they can spend on their parents’ credit cards.  I guess that fits well into the authoritarian mindset though.  The whole thing actually makes quite a lot of sense if you view Buck and Rayford as petulant teenagers who desperately wish to rebel against Big Daddy AntiChrist but are dependent on him for luxury and are unwilling to risk actually give all that up so the most they can do is throw tantrums and roll their eyes.  Actually, it’s even worse than that because teenagers are generally dependent on their parents for actual survival and also the rebellion is sort of a normal part of development, whereas Buck and Rayford are allegedly adults and more capable of actually rebelling.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Buck throwing away all that money on techno-gadgetry sounds like a teenager wasting his or her allowance on expensive things mainly to show off and annoy the parental units. :P

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Raspberry Pi Model B, shipped to the US: $50
    4 inch TFT monitor: $24
    5v 2000mAH battery: $39
    USB Keyboard with integrated touchpad: $11
    Micro USB Charger: $5
    5v to 12 v step up converter: $12
    32 GB SD Card: $25
    Raspbian OS: $0
    USB Low-Power Wifi adapter (optional): $10
    Louis Vuitton Purse: $2525

    There’s a few bells and whistles I left out, (Like, you’d get MUCH better batter life if you had a separate 12 volt power supply for the display) but I don’t see how you could possibly do it for less than $2678s.</sarcasm>

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    All this is rather aptly timed, as I’ve just gotten a Raspberry Pi computer. They cost $35 and can do pretty much everything but run high-end games. I bet that one of them, with a separately-purchased monitor and some sort of battery supply, would do everything the tribbies would ever need for a total of maybe $400.

    Huh, thank you for pointing me to those Raspberry Pi setups.  If I make a costume that needs a computer controller in it (say for animatronic components) that looks like it would do the job nicely.  Low cost, programmable, the size of a thick wallet, and is low power enough that I could run it on some off-the-shelf batteries.  

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    The pi itself only needs 5v1A, but you’ll need additional power if you want to use it to drive any sort of hardware. Even keyboards are hit-or-miss without a separately powered USB hub.

    I just finished writing the software to have mine work as all-in-one network attached scanner/copier station.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    The pi itself only needs 5v1A, but you’ll need additional power if you want to use it to drive any sort of hardware. Even keyboards are hit-or-miss without a separately powered USB hub.

    I figured that, but in the context of a costume the only hardware I would be running would be animatronics and lights, which will probably have their own power sources separate from the Pi.  The needs of a costume often mean that power sources get spread out to a variety of smaller cell batteries instead of one bigger power source, in order to integrate them into the costume without being obvious.  

    The Pi would just be there to control when any given device turns on or off.  

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Verna Zee Sensible Shoes Confrontation Countdown: 232 pages

  • Chris

     That means we won’t see it for like two years.  Why countdown so early?

  • Ken

    That means we won’t see it for like two years.  Why countdown so early?

    Because absolutely nothing happens in this book until Verna’s sensible shoes.

    I had to drive through Kansas once, the long way (I-70 westbound).  About every dozen miles there was a billboard for some roadside attraction, I forget what – let us say the world’s largest fiberglass gopher.  “350 miles to the gopher” … “320 miles to the gopher” … “300 miles to the gopher” …  I really began to look forward to the signs, since the rest of the view was Kansas wheatfields.

    It ended sadly. I had half made up my mind to see the attraction, but when I finally reached the exit (“4 miles to the gopher” … “3 miles to the gopher” …) the last sign said “This Exit! The Gopher! Turn right and take county road C twenty miles.”   I expect Verna’s shoes will be the same letdown, but rest of the view is Buck’s phone calls and Rayford’s naps.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    That means we won’t see it for like two years. Why countdown so early?

    Because it’s what I do.  Because lo these many years ago, someone commented, “Bruce Barnes is fucking annoying.  How long until he dies already?”  And having the entire series on my bookshelf, I began counting.

    And now that Bruce is dead, and nobody that annoying will die for quite some time, I decided to do a countdown to the moment when God puts it on Buck’s heart to blackmail Verna because she’s a lesbian.

    It’s just a simple service I provide.  No need to thank me. 

  • SisterCoyote

    What about Amanda?

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Verna is outed by God before Amanda is offed by God.

    Plus, although Amanda is horribly manipulative to Hattie, she just doesn’t rise to the level of annoyance (to me, at least) of some of the other characters.

    I will get some ideas for my next countdown after God punishes Verna for being herself.  I could do a countdown to an appearance, rather than a death, maybe: David Hassid, one of my most despised characters, is introduced in the next book.

  • SisterCoyote

    God, I forgot how stretched-out these were. That’s pathetic.

    An appearance countdown would be cool! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    An appearance countdown would be cool glorious!

    Fixed that for you.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I imagine those “key people” at the news organization were surprised dismayed to learn that Buck hadn’t been killed when World War III began a few days ago.

    Fixed that for you.

  • A A

     Buck’s the Greatest Pilot Of All Time, and he can fly the plane just fine even if he hasn’t gotten the required amount of sleep. What’s he’s doing is working to rule, which is of course a technique invented by those lazy union workers to persecute the poor factory owners.

    This is ironic, because Nicky and Fortunato are wicked liberals, so they have to support labor union techniques. And it’s doubly ironic because liberals are the ones who came up with all those dumb “worker safety” regulations to being with.

  • Persia

     Damn, that’s totally it.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    But Whedon has always been more interested in soulful monsters and mindful destruction. The Reavers are terrifying, but — SPOILER ALERT — they’re not the true villains of Serenity. The real villains are those who created the Reavers, and who did so with the best of intentions. And therein lies a whole other philosophy or theology and a very different set of answers to those questions about the nature of evil.

    I always found myself strangely identifying with The Operative:

    “So me and mine gotta lay down and die… so you can live in your better world?”
    “I’m not going to live there. There’s no place for me there… any more than there is for you. Malcolm… I’m a monster. What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.”

  • fredgiblet

    To me that was one of the best lines in the entire series.  The Operative knows that he’s as bad or worse than anyone else, but because he’s working for The Greater Good he gets to sleep at night.

    I wish there were more games that played with the moral quandaries that can be presented rather than having the evil path be mustache-twirling, puppy-kicking evil.

  • Barry_D

    I thought that the Operative was lying there. Note that he doesn’t die; he just goes around killing others, and justifying it by a vision of the glorious future.

  • Beroli

     I don’t think he was lying, as such. I do think he’d redefined words in his mind, so that “monster” means “person who is willing to do Dirty Necessary Things that Wimpy Good People are unable to do!” rather than being something actually bad; and I do think his declaration that he knows he’s doing evil is a rhetorical dodge rather than a genuine acceptance of responsibility. The meaningful statement of his view on the morality of what he does is, “It must be done,” not “It is evil.”

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I have the Serenity novelization, so if you want I can try and see what quasicanonical reason the Operative has in his mind for what he does.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I thought that the Operative was lying there. Note that he doesn’t die; he just goes around killing others, and justifying it by a vision of the glorious future.

    I think his statement there was genuine.  As Book said earlier in the film, he was a believer in his own mission.  It was not so much that he had a lack of ethical qualms, just that in the face of it those qualms did not matter.  

    “I don’t kill children.”
    “I do… if I have to.”

  • Ralovett

    I thought the same thing about the difficulty of making a $20,000 laptop ,back when I read this book first, many moons ago. I think at that time, you could go $4000 or a bit higher, but to go higher than that you were going to need a super-fast processor, or super-capacity hard drive, and even if those were feasible, you’d have to have them custom made to fit in the case, and that would cost a LOT more than $20,000, since you’d have to pay for the R&D. What they folks wind up with is custom computer in a (large) briefcase, not a laptop.

  • Dogfacedboy

    “International aviation rules prohibit me from flying again for 24 hours.”“Nonsense,” Fortunato said. “How do you feel?”
    “Exhausted.”

    Wait a sec – Rayford’s exhausted after a flight in which he was “snoring for several hours”?  Are we sure we’re not talking about Arnold, the Antichrist’s cat?

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Rayford’s exhausted after a flight in which he was “snoring for several hours”?

    Rayford often acts like a man at least twenty years older than he’s supposed to be. 

  • Laertesweb

    That’s funny.  Reading that scene, I was just thinking that Rayford was prone to acting like a man at least thirty years younger than he’s supposed to be.

  • Tapetum

     That makes excellent sense, as I keep thinking that Rayford acts like my father-in-law, who during the time he lived with us was 72 going on 3. His wife had always managed his social interactions  (including a lot of the interactions with his own kids) and after she died and he moved in with us, we discovered why.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Are we sure we’re not talking about Arnold, the Antichrist’s cat?

    Excuse me.  Nicolae’s cat is named Puffington.  And Rayford holds him while Nicky conducts important business.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I *like* the name Arnold. :P I should write another flashfic.

  • esmerelda_ogg

     

    I *like* the name Arnold. :P I should write another flashfic. – Invisible Neutrino

    Yes, yes, please! And can we have Arnold’s kittens introduced midway through it??

    (And if somebody else said this ahead of me, sorry…I didn’t have time to look at Slacktivist until late this evening and haven’t made it through all the comments yet.)

  • P J Evans

    Nicolae’s cat is named Puffington.

    It’s ‘Arnold’ to its friends. *g*

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    I like to think of the Potentate’s CAT as “AH-nold Puffington.”

  • Ttricksterson

    Just more evidence for my theory that each sentence in these books is self contained, bearing no relationship to any of the other sentences.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    I suppose I’m in the minority on this, but I actually kinda…like Leon Fortunato.  Or, at least, I feel for him.  LaJenkins want to make him into a chubby, sycophantic, bumbling fool, but I’ve always felt that there was a cool guy inside that silly shell, struggling to break free.

    Also, it’s worth pointing out that as sycophantic as Leon is, he is never hypocritical.  He believes in Carpathia absolutely, and, as the series progresses, it is ever more understandable why he does.  Great things happen to Leon that dwarf most of what constitute “miracles” for the Tribbles.  It’s no surprise whatsoever that Leon loves and worships Carpathia. 

    With what happens to him, I’d be far more surprised if he didn’t worship the guy.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Oh, yes. I always feel sorry for Supreme Commander Leon when L&J purposely try to butt-monkey him in the series.

    I mean, right from the beginning they have him looking like a buffoonish sycophant who is supposed to be more concerned with titles than in getting things done, when it’s Rayford acting like Gaius frakkin’ Baltar with his egotistical need to be called Captain Steele.

    And then later they have him scratching a boil on his ass in public. (-_-)

    And then for the final ignominy he’s VERY VERY SORRY and TurboJesus just throws him back into Hell forever. _(-_-)_

  • Evan Hunt

    Actually I could believe laptops might cost $20,000 after the rapture.  This is a world without child labor, after all.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

     +1

  • Garageman_mike

    Not to mention, it being the future, there will have been some degree of inflation.

  • Flying Squid with Goggles

    The moral point made, that choosing wrong makes you EVIL, is the most saddening point made in all these hundreds of Left Behind posts.

    The worst part is, these authors really believe it. Torturing people and genocide can’t be evil because we see the ‘good’ side do it in greater scale and more extravagantly than the ‘evil’ side ever does.

    Maybe that’s the deep secret to the LB books, that whoever does something on grander scale and more extravagantly is the winner, and therefore the side to choose. If only to be consistent, L&J should really like Lady Gaga.

  • aunursa

    He could have been shown as the kind of man who would say “Yes” to all the temptations Jesus is said to have rejected in the wilderness.

    Jenkins does this at the end of Prequel #1. Jenkins does another copy-and-paste job from the Bible, having Satan tempt Nicky in the same manner, and Nicky succumbs to the temptations.

  • vsm

    I’m guessing that scene isn’t full of intertextual references to the Grand Inquisitor story in The Brothers Karamazov.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Dude.  You haven’t even seen Biblical cut-n-paste until you’ve read The Jesus Chronicles series, in which LaJenkins pad out the stories of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John by reproducing the relevant Gospel in each novel.  That is, when you buy, say, Matthew’s Story, you are paying for the new story, but also for the entire gospel of Matthew.

    http://www.amazon.com/Matthews-Story-The-Jesus-Chronicles/dp/0399156216

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    So they basically smushed in public domain text to pad out their copyrighted text? Talk about the epitome of laziness.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Jesus has terrible copyright attorneys. 

  • fraser

     Everyone knows Satan got all the good lawyers.

  • L. David Wheeler

    Somebody may have mentioned this since, but that’s the point of the Grand Inquisitor chapter at the heart of Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov.” 

  • SisterCoyote

    “International aviation rules prohibit me from flying again for 24 hours.”

    “Nonsense,” Fortunato said. “How do you feel?”

    “Exhausted.”

     
    “Potentate,” Leon said, sitting down across from Carpathia. “I think we may have been wrong about this pilot. He does certainly have an ego, but he is petty as a child when it comes to certain things. We would be better off leaving him in Baghdad and taking someone else on – it needn’t take long, and we might be better with a fresh pilot.”

    Nicolae pursed his lips and tapped the armrest of his seat thoughtfully. “I hear your concerns, Mr. Fortunato,” he replied. “But he is, at the moment, the only pilot who has taken extensive training with this plane, specifically. As long as he does not allow his ego to get in the way of his job, I believe we are safer with one who is familiar with the controls.”

    Leon shrugged, conceding the point. “As you say, Potentate.”

    “I would appreciate it if you would refer to me as Mr. Fortunato.”“That means a lot to you, does it, Leon?”“Don’t push me, Steele.”As
    they entered the terminal, Rayford said, “As I am the only one who can
    fly that plane, I would appreciate it if you would call me Captain
    Steele.”

    Leon glanced over his shoulder at Nicolae, who raised an eyebrow and gave a tiny head movement, indicating a summons. He fell back, walking next to the potentate.”I believe I may have underestimated him after all,” Nicolae murmured. “A man who relies on such petty terms of interaction is of no use to us. Have him disposed of, Mr. Fortunato, and make sure his replacement understands that respect and discretion are key traits in my personal pilot.”Leon fought to keep from grinning as he nodded, and failed.

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    A variety of things that jump out as problematic with just the plane scene:

    – That “international aviation rules” are proposed apply to the personal air fleet of the one world dictator. Does the ICAO outrank the one world government? (Is this another sign of the weird deference given to pilots in this series?)
    – That “international aviation rules” would be either followed or enforced by any party in the hours following the beginning of a nuclear war.

    – That, if we assume the “no more than X hours flight time in 24 hours” regulation is for *safety*, that Fortunado would be so pushy about pushing the envelope on safety regulations given he himself could be killed by a plane safety lapse.

    – That there is no backup pilot that could fly the plane if Rayford is unavailable, incapacitated, or hitting his safe hours-per-day limit.

    – As always, that such an insubordinate, difficult to work with person as Rayford continues to stay in such a sensitive position despite being imminently replaceable. A quick Google search suggests there are about 800,000 licensed pilots in the U.S. alone.

    As usual, the fact “Global Community One” used to be Air Force One raises obvious comparisons to how Air Force One surely works today. Do you think Air Force pilots, such as are used to pilot Air Force One today, necessarily follow civilian regulations concerning hours-per-day of flight time? Surely the Air Force has *some* regulations as to how much flight time should be allowed per pilot, but those will be internal regulations and surely not the same as the ones applying to commercial pilots. Do you think Air Force One has one and only one pilot on board suitable to fly the plane? If a nuclear war broke out under Barack Obama, and cities were blowing up, and Col. Scott Turner had hit  the Air Force’s recommended max flight time for the previous 24 hours, do you think they would just ground the plane and wait for Turner to recharge?

  • fraser

     I had the same puzzlement about whether the rules apply in the Age of Nicolae.

  • fredgiblet

    I expect that safety regulations of that kind are fairly conservative, I expect that most commercial pilots would be fine with a 16 hour flight.  The problem would crop up on the second 16 hour day, or the third, so to prevent that sort of thing from coming up they set the limit to 8 hours which pretty much anyone should be able to do for days on end with no trouble.

    I expect that the Air Force has guidelines, but those guidelines can be ignored if the situation demands it.

  • Makabit

    Seriously, Air Force One is basically a Boeing 747, isn’t it? There’s only one guy who can fly it?

    My cousin is a commercial pilot. I assume she could get AF1 from Major American Airport A to Major American Airport B if she needed to, and she normally flies cargo planes. There is no reason for this to be one of Rayford’s Unique Special Talents, unless they want to make the plane super-special in some way, which they haven’t.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I think they replaced it with a sooper speshul Condor 216.

    (EDIT: and in my Google travels I discovered The Authorized Left Behind Handbook. Good grief, L&J are shameless about their cash-machine treatment of their audience.)

  • Ken

    Which makes the idea that Rayford is the only one who can fly the plane even more ridiculous.  Until a hundred pages ago (about a day in book time) he hadn’t even seen it. It can’t be all that different from any other commercial aircraft, or he wouldn’t have been able to learn the controls so quickly (Mary Sue-ism aside).

    Since then he’s made two flights, spending much of one of them sleeping.  His co-pilot, as others have said, has as much or more flying time with the Condor. Really, you could argue that the person most-qualified to fly the plane would be the designer, but Rayford sent him off to die in New York.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     It’s like the ship in Galaxy Quest. They designed the controls from watching footage of Rayford flying a plane. So as long as he just does what comes natural to him, the plane flies.

  • Loki100

    Then I suppose Chloe is Sigourney Weaver’s character whose only role is to repeat what the Captain says to the computer, and then repeat what the computer says to the Captain.

  • Grogs

    “International aviation rules prohibit me from flying again for 24 hours.”“Nonsense,” Fortunato said. “How do you feel?”“Exhausted.”“Nevertheless, you’re the only one qualified to fly this plane, and you’ll be flying it when we say you’ll be flying it.”The bit about “International aviation rules” is amusing considering that there is only one nation left on Earth. I would expect any two-bit villain to point out that the guy that makes the rules now is behind them in the plane, and he says it’s time to fly.I’m also trying to picture how this would play out if it happened on the real Air Force One. If someone like Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden stepped into the cockpit and the pilot got snippy with them and insisted on using their first name, I’m betting he wouldn’t be on the next flight. It might not even take that long since I would bet that Air Force One has at least two fully trained flight crews on board. The Air Force is full of good pilots, so why would they put up with one who insists on being a jerk? The fact that Rayford and Buck can pretty much do whatever they want without getting more than the occasional annoyed look from the Antichrist really kills any chance these books had at suspense.
     

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    I know, right? 

    Plus, isn’t Rayford former military?  You’d think he’d be familiar with the concept of “call your superior by the name he wants to be called, even if you don’t happen to like him.”

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    But then he would have to admit that anyone was his superior. 

    Most people call other people what they want to be called (within reason) because not doing so makes you a jackass. But every single blasted thing seems to be hierarchical to L&J. Either you’re above someone or you’re below someone; you cannot be equal to someone. So literally every interaction is a pissing contest.

  • Albanaeon

     Ah, I think Ray-Ray is a hero in the true Right tradition of being a “chickenhawk.” 

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Plus, isn’t Rayford former military?

    I thought he always had a civil piloting job?  And the fact that he was not an Air Force officer was one of the weirder things about him having aspirations of piloting Air Force One.

  • Some Guy Who Hates Pants

    From Wiki   Rayford was born 42 YBR (years before the Rapture) in Belvidere, Illinois to working-class parents. While growing up, Rayford is embarrassed by his family’s low socioeconomic status, and he makes it his goal to attend college and become either a professional athlete or a pilot. When he Attended Belvidere High School, He was voted Homecoming King, He eventually obtains an Air Force ROTC scholarship to attend Purdue University; while there, he meets a fellow ROTC cadet two years his junior, Irene

    I can’t beleive that Irene Steele could have ever been a cadet, I always pictured her as being a Home Economics major.

  • P J Evans

     Somehow I suspect that in Ellanjay’s world, women wouldn’t even be allowed in ROTC. (Home ec, sure. Business and secretarial classes, of course. But they’re not supposed to actually do Important Work.)

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Even physics class was what a girl would like!

    /MST3K

  • GeniusLemur

     You’d also think he’d be familiar with the concept of “your superior,” but nope.

  • aunursa

    Buck told key people at Global Community Weekly his new universal cell phone number and asked that they keep it confidential except from Carpathia, Plank, and Rosenzweig.

    It was thoughtful of Buck to give Nicky his new phone number so that the Antichrist can use the GPS signal to keep track of Buck’s whereabouts.  I’m just curious whether he shared his contact info with Loretta, Verna, or Amanda.  I’m guessing he’s operating on a need to know basis, and the wimmenses don’t need to know.

  • Deborah Moore

    What’s happening here is simple people like L&J basically define good as maximal opposition  to evil.  (Well, also no sex outside marriage and no lying to the Antichrist).  Thus war is good and peace is bad because war shows greater opposition to evil.  Politics of total obstructionism is good and compromise is bad because you would be compromising with Satan.  Torture is good because it shows maximum opposition to the evil terrorists.  And so forth.

  • GeniusLemur

     And “evil” is defined as “anyone whose views are even slightly different from yours”

  • auroramere

    A goal of maximal opposition to evil, rather than maximum good achieved. It explains a lot.

  • Andrew_Ryans_Caddy

    It’s really a crime to write an Antichrist and have so little fun with the concept.  Think of all the anti-parables you could make up. 

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    Buck told key people at Global Community Weekly his new universal cell phone number and asked that they keep it confidential except from Carpathia, Plank, and Rosenzweig.

    Global Weekly Publishing, Buck William’s office, how may I help you?

    I’m sorry, Mr. Williams is currently out of the office. No, I don’t know when he’ll be back; he’s in the field investigating some thing to report. Would you like to leave a voice-mail?”

    I’m sorry, but Mr. Williams’ cell phone number is confidential. I’m only supposed to give it out to Nicolae Carpathia, Steven Plank, or Chaim Rosenzweig. Now what was your name again? Oh! Mr. Carpathia! So nice to finally meet you!”
    “What’s that? Yes, he wanted to make sure if Chaim Rosenzweig called, that he should have the cell phone number, so I gave it to him. Yes, he called, asked for Buck Williams, and I gave him the cell number. Oh well thank you for being so helpful and polite. You have a wonderful day.

    He seems nice. I wonder why everyone keeps calling him a potato….

  • Albanaeon

    I’m sure I’ve mentioned this, but this series really does work as a meta-criticism of the American Evangelical subculture (and possible of Americans in general…) than any serious End of Times work.  Seriously, nuclear war is raging and our “hero” is getting a shiny new laptop.  Nuclear WAR is raging and the heroes angriest responses are about how it has (sightly) inconvenienced them.  A pissing contest is the heart of drama here, and being good is being on the winning side.

    L&J may have written a terrible story, but damn, did they ever nail the absurdity of the American experience.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I’m sure I’ve mentioned this, but this series really does work as a meta-criticism of the American Evangelical subculture (and possible of Americans in general…) than any serious End of Times work.

    Why is why Fred is the one doing this series.  The blog is pretty much about criticism and analysis of American Evangelical subculture.  These books are a window into it.  

  • Albanaeon

     But I wasn’t meaning Fred’s analysis.  I was meaning if L&J had been really writing of the banality of RTC’s in a D Adams sort of way, I’d go “Well, that makes sense.”

    That it doesn’t seem that way is scary…

  • fraser

    What is evil? What is sin? What is wickedness? Is it the opposite of good, or the absence of good? Could it be an excess
    of good? Does it lie more in its ends or in its means? Your ideas about
    all of those questions will shape how you portray your uber-villains.”
    I’m reminded of Incorruptible, the comic book series about a supervillain trying to turn hero. But as he admits he has no moral compass so he tends to screw up a lot (massively disproportionate collateral damage for instance).

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    “That’ll save you a little money,” he said. “Just a little over $20,000 a piece, I figure.”

    This actually looks like Danny means whatever he’s doing will save Buck a little over $20,000 a piece, not that each laptop will cost a little over $20,000 a piece. Which means the laptops likely cost well over $20,000 a piece. Carelessly written? Or did Jenkins really think laptops cost $50,000 or more at the time?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    They’re mega-laptops. They probably have amazing futuristic abilities, such as 24/7 wireless Internet access and built-in cooling fans. Giving Buck’s penchant for conspicuous luxury, it’s probably covered in gold plate and studded with rubies and diamonds.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    They’re mega-laptops. They probably have amazing futuristic abilities, such as 24/7 wireless Internet access and built-in cooling fans. Giving Buck’s penchant for conspicuous luxury, it’s probably covered in gold plate and studded with rubies and diamonds.

    Internal cooling fans are hardly unusual or expensive in computer hardware.  Granted, they do not see as much inclusion in laptops as in desktop machines, but that has less to do with rarity and more to do with technical considerations of cooling a small compact platform compared to a large box with interior open space.  Cooling fans are the cheap option, laptops usually have to spring for less cost-efficient heat transfer mechanisms because the fans are too bulky and the air channels too small to make them worth while.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    And then later they have Leon Fortunato scratching a boil on his ass in public. (-_-)

    He does get to kick some ass occasionally though. He toasts Hattie Durham with a fireball in a later book. 

    If from his GC credit card, he’s a complete fool to think he can get away with throwing around his boss’s money on unaudited purchases like that without being called on the carpet for it eventually. Oh, wait. This is Buck we’re talking about; of course he’ll never be audited. (>_<)

    He could easily justify this purchase as part of his job. Perhaps not in the real world, but in Carpathia’s world, why not? Carpathia personally owns 100% of the entire planet’s GDP at this point. (OK, minus Israel, for now) and knows that money will have no value in roughly 5 years. The global GDP was, what, $30 trillion USD when these books came out; even if you take into account the economic damage caused by the Rapture and WW3 (and Jenkins didn’t), $20,000 for four laptops would hardly be missed.

  • ReverendRef

     They’re mega-laptops.

    Yep . . . Just like that fully loaded 747, everything’s got to be bigger and badder.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    They’re mega-laptops.

    For that price, they’d better be portable holodecks.

  • DorothyD

    Giving Buck’s penchant for conspicuous luxury, it’s probably covered in gold plate and studded with rubies and diamonds.

    When a ruggedized laptop would make more sense. Y’know, waterproof, sandproof, dustproof, able to withstand temperature extremes or being dropped out of a Range Rover suspended in a tree an unspecified distance above the ground. You never know what’s going to happen…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    My father did have a computer with a built-in “Pizza Button”. Seriously, it had a little pizza slice symbol next to it, supposed to put you in touch with all the nearest pizza delivery spots. Short-lived app, but why? Why? Of all the optional choices, why did PIZZA have to go away?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I know a guy who’s a disability support worker, and one of his clients is a young guy in his 20s who uses assistive speech technology. He has a keyboard with the usual common phrases and letters to type out words when needed. It includes two separate buttons for “no”. One of them, when pressed, says “No” in a polite, measured tone. The other says “Fuck off!” Quite a nice personal customisation, I thought.

  • Some Guy Who Hates Pants

    I want to believe that $20,ooo of Jenkin’s money ended up in some tech guys pocket for a notebook word processor.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Probably not that much but it sounds like L&J just made up that $20k number because it sounded impressive.

  • Some Guy Who Hates Pants

    On Farther reflection I think you are right 20k is a lot of money and in order to make Buck seem important he must spend  a lot of money on his toys, besides Jenkins doesn’t really know what computers are for other than typing and logging into compuserv.

  • SenseOfTheAbsurd

     I’d guess that the $20,000 is purely to signal that the laptops are extra super super special (because quality is always measured in dollars, apparently) without Jerry having to emerge from bone-idle uselessness to actually research anything technical.

  • Ken

    The laptops do make more sense as social signaling, like a $250,000 car or a $5000 prostitute.  It’s not that they’re is any better than what you can get for a tenth the price, it’s that you have the money to spend.

  • arcseconds

    An IBM 5100 portable computer with 64K of RAM cost $20,000 in 1975.  Are we sure this series isn’t set in the 1970s? 

    I suppose there’s the cellphones…

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Am I alone in picturing Donny Moore as Demi Moore in drag as a Chinese boy?

  • DorothyD

    Am I alone in picturing Donny Moore as Demi Moore in drag as a Chinese boy?

    Yes. But then, I’m picturing him as Mr. Universe from Serenity. Because that makes me happy. 

  • DorothyD

    On further thought, now I’m seeing it…

  • Carstonio

    I want to know why Jesus is arm-wrestling the Dodge Ram logo. Maybe he’s a Ford or Chevy fan. That would fit with Ellanjay’s concept of evil.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y7RI44MSCCK6FJS7OTEDTWC4YI Geoffrey W.

    “A lot of right-wingers like to treat politics as a game. I cannot count the number of times I’ve been told I was just angry because “my guy” lost. It’s a completely irrational way of looking at the world that I keep forgetting exists until I smash up against it yet again.”

    Really?  How meany times have I been told recently: “You lost.  Get over it.”  Apparently, when Republicans gloat over victory it’s “irrational” and evil, but when liberals do it, it’s just the way of the World.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I wasn’t talking about gloating over victory at all, not in any way, shape, or form. (And by the way, gloating because I am now able to get the surgery I need in order to function is rather different than someone gloating over keeping that surgery from me.) I’m talking about people who literally tell me the only reason I’m upset about something is because of the side I’m on, and who treat the whole thing like a big game, as if it’s about sports teams rather than the environment, human rights, and my ability to get health care, among many other issues. Who act like I apparently flipped a coin to choose whom to support, rather than supporting people based on my principles.

    And I didn’t use the term “evil”, and I do not appreciate you posturing as if that’s what I meant. You want to accuse me of calling Republicans evil, do it when I actually did.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y7RI44MSCCK6FJS7OTEDTWC4YI Geoffrey W.

    1. Gloating over a massive expansion of spending and government is no more appealing than gloating over a renewal of fiscal responsibility.  People have different priorities.  You want Big Brother to take care of you.  I want my children to be unburdened by tens of thousands of dollars of debt incurred by their greedy elders.  If you feel that either of these positions is morally superior, than you’re probably wrong.

    2. “You lost.  Get over it.” is a celebration of one side over the other.  It proclaims nothing more than that Obama’s (slim) majority henceforth precludes any discussion of his agenda.  Be assured that the LAST thing that most liberals want to do is ntellectually defend their arguments.  You don’t like it when Conservatives dismiss your being upset as mere partisianship?  Then tell your liberal friends not to take the same position.  And you can start with Obama, who quoted those exact words to the Republicans on more than one occasion.

    3. This entire thread is all about evil and the nature of it.  Raising any party as the villian in this context is to strongly imply evil motives.  In any case, you have certainly called Republicans irrational and unserious (about serious matters) which is close enough to evil for my purposes.  It’s certainly no complement.  Not to mention their supposed delight in prolonging your health agonies, unchecked pollution and human rights abuses.  In your world, do they also tie babies to railroad tracks while sinisterly twirling their mustaches?
     

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    1. Gloating over a massive expansion of spending and government is no
    more appealing than gloating over a renewal of fiscal responsibility. 
    People have different priorities.  You want Big Brother to take care of
    you.  I want my children to be unburdened by tens of thousands of
    dollars of debt incurred by their greedy elders.  If you feel that
    either of these positions is morally superior, than you’re probably
    wrong.

    And this kind of false dichotomy does you no credit.

    http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/L-PowerDistribution.html

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y7RI44MSCCK6FJS7OTEDTWC4YI Geoffrey W.

    Thanks for the link.  Those are an interesting bunch of essays.  But I don’t think I’ve presented a false dichotomy.  One group of people clearly celebrates Government finally providing what they think are vital services.  Another group feels that Government shouldn’t spend money that it doesn’t have, regardless of how good its motives or how worthwhile the spending.  They see this new Government largesse as ill-advised and irresponsible.

    To be sure, the philosophical differences go deeper.  Obama once said that he would support higher taxes on the wealthy, even if tax revenues went lower as a result, because he views this as “fair”.  Many Conservatives oppose what they see as excessive regulations on the environment, etc., even if the revenue consequences are not that great.  You can certainly envision a greater or lesser role for Government in your life, and choose to view Government as generally good or generally oppressive and bad.

     The OP clearly feels that his/her position is the right one, so he/she is entitled to offense when his/her side loses.  And celebrating his/her victory is only proper because the forces of “right” have won.  Whereas, equivalent bahavior on the other sideis reprehensible.  This is clearly a set of partisian blinders that has no moral or philosophical weight.

  • JustoneK

    ‘One group of people clearly celebrates Government finally providing what they think are vital services.  Another group feels that Government shouldn’t spend money that it doesn’t have, regardless of how good its motives or how worthwhile the spending. ‘
    Hm.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667708632 Kenneth Raymond

    They see this new Government largesse as ill-advised and irresponsible.

    The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Until you can explain how those actions and the nearly trillion-and-a-half dollars spent on them, wars pushed through executive action and legislative appropriation by a GOP president and House, and made politically inviolate since then – until you can explain how those jibe AT ALL with your repetitive, pointless mouthings of “fiscal responsibility” then you HAVE NO ARGUMENT.

    YOUR party jumped as quickly as possible into throwing away as much money as possible on these wars, and used every bit of political capital and scaremongering they could put together to make sure nobody would ever argue against it. YOUR party has already saddled our children’s generation – and their children, and THEIR children – with thousands of dollars of debt per person to pay off. Single-payer health care and Social Security and NASA and everything else are absolutely NOTHING compared to the frankly disgusting, obscene waste the “party of fiscal responsibility” enacted and has worked for over a decade now to maintain.

    And nobody in the GOP spoke against it while Bush was president, nobody in the GOP speaks against it now unless they can somehow use it to score political points against Obama.

    You have no argument.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    Consider this “like”d twice.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The actual Laffer Curve for the USA turns over at about 70% for the top marginal tax rate, so going back to 39.6% is not going to break the bank.

  • Tehanu

     “Many Conservatives oppose what they see as excessive regulations on the environment…”
    What you mean is, most conservatives oppose anybody stopping them from poisoning the rest of us for their own personal profit.  As for gloating, your side did it first when Dubya “won” the 2000 election with a not-“slim” not-“majority.”  Personally I’ll be gloating the day the 4 surviving Supreme Court justices are hanged as traitors, as they deserve.

  • P J Evans

     Well, actually, the Republicans did use ‘you lost, get over it’ a lot under Bush; it was their answer to almost everything negative said about it. The Democrats haven’t been using it that much,but after the last election, with the Republicans behaving as if they had won – it’s not an out-of-line response, to use their own words.

  • spinetingler

     ” Another group feels that Government shouldn’t spend money that it
    doesn’t have, regardless of how good its motives or how worthwhile the
    spending. ”

    and yet they’re quite capable of ignoring the spending of trillions on useless wars.

  • Beroli

     

    1. Gloating over a massive expansion of spending and government is no
    more appealing than gloating over a renewal of fiscal responsibility. 
    People have different priorities.

    Some of them actually rooted on Earth, and some in Atlas Shrugged-ville.

    I’m sorry you can’t fly off to a world where health care magically descends on the deserving as long as the government doesn’t intervene. Since you’re here…and we’re stuck with you…ensuring many people cannot afford health care is tantamount to mass murder, and ensuring businesses have no need to let concern for the environment interfere with their bottom line guarantees increasing pollution. You don’t like that being pointed out? Tough. Whine some more about “Big Brother” and “fiscal responsibility.”

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y7RI44MSCCK6FJS7OTEDTWC4YI Geoffrey W.

    I agree, people often need health care.  Moreover people need food.  And they need shelter and homes and other essentials.  The question is “Is it the responsibility of government to provide every necessity of life for every person?”  Obviously, you feel that the answer is “Yes”, whether we can afford it or not.

    For the first 150 years of the United States, the answer was “No”.  People were told that they need to take responsiblity for themselves and provide charity for those who cannot.  I do not regar this period as “Atlas Shruggedville”.  Indeed, the current total reliance on Government to provide everything is not an improvement as far as I am concerned.  Does that make Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson “mass murderers”?  I guess so, by your rather rigid definition.

    Making strawmen and knocking them down is fun.  Making argumetns in the real world, where things have costs is much more difficult.

  • JustoneK

    I’m now interested in what you define as a necessity of life.

  • Beroli

     

    For the first 150 years of the United States, the answer was “No”.

    Conservapedia isn’t actually a good source of history.

  • Tehanu

     “Obviously, you feel that the answer is “Yes”, whether we can afford it or not.”
    Oh, now you’re a mind reader?  I have news for you: your “obvious” conclusion about what liberals want is 100% wrong , which is a polite way of saying that you just told a big lie.  And since you don’t view the first 150 years of the US as a bad thing, I suggest you go back in time and settle in to exploit slaves and child laborers as you clearly believe is your natural right.

  • Antigone10

    You don’t regard early America as “Atlas Shrugville”?  Slavery?  Child labor?  WAY lower average lifespan, and income inequality as extreme as a feudal society?  How precisely WASN’T it Atlas Shruggedville?

    Washington and Jefferson were slave-owners and soldiers.  Lincoln fought a war.  Yeah, they were killers.  Was it justified?  Maybe- I’ll go up to “Almost assuredly” for Lincoln.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    How precisely WASN’T it Atlas Shruggedville?

    No steel mills.

    I’d like to think we’ve come a long way from those first 150 years.  We have the means now to make life better for more of our citizens, and we’re not doing it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     Indeed, the current total reliance on Government to provide everything is not an improvement as far as I am concerned.  

    If by “Government [provides] everything” you mean, “government makes it possible for people with pre-existing conditions to purchase health insurance”.

    A lot of conservatives think that we switched over to a single-payer system or a socialized medical system where the government covers all of the costs of health care at some point, and I really would like some kind of verification where this belief is coming from. It certainly isn’t based on the ‘Obamacare’ law which doesn’t really do anything like that.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    I agree, people often need health care.  Moreover people need food.  And
    they need shelter and homes and other essentials.  The question is “Is
    it the responsibility of government to provide every necessity of life
    for every person?”  Obviously, you feel that the answer is “Yes”,
    whether we can afford it or not.

    And you believe that there is such a thing as “We can’t afford not to treat human beings as disposable.”

    That’s monsterous.

  • ohiolibrarian

     The days of the Triangle fire, company towns, children losing fingers in textile plants and working in coal mines for 10 hours a day, tenements, cholera and other mass epidemics?

    According to you, these are the ‘good old days’. What make you think you would have survived long enough to be this much of a jerk if you had lived then?

  • j_bird

    I applaud your diplomacy, but share your anger.  Thanks for this comment.

  • Jenny Islander

    At a guess, because his family would have made good choices during every recession, war, natural disaster, period of even-more-massive-than-usual political cronyism, and epidemic back unto the beginning of recorded history, or at least from the moment they clambered out of steerage as just a few more disposable indentured servants in a land that used up poor young white immigrants like so many pairs of cheap socks.

  • Loki100

    whether we can afford it or not.

    Except it isn’t a question of whether we can afford it or not. We can afford it. We can afford it quite easily. Every other industrialized nation on the planet affords it quite easily. Do you know how easily it is afforded? So easily that there are, for example, six to seven vacant homes in the United States per homeless person. That is both grossly inefficient and grossly abhorrent. We could quite easily provide decent housing, healthcare, food and jobs for every single person in America. We don’t because we choose not to. The people who would benefit from that are not paying millions of dollars in campaign contributions, and hiring lobbyists, while the people who benefit from the situation as it is can.

    For the first 150 years of the United States, the answer was “No”.

    For the first 1oo years of American history, Slavery was constitutionally protected. I do not look to the founding of the country for moral guidance. Neither should anyone else.

    People were told that they need to take responsiblity for themselves and provide charity for those who cannot.

    Which failed miserably. Hence why there were so many socialist Christian social workers at the turn of the century.

    Indeed, the current total reliance on Government to provide everything is not an improvement as far as I am concerned.

    And yet according to every available measurement, it was an improvement. And also, the roll back that started in the 1980s, again according to every available measurement, has been a failure.

  • Lori

     

    I do not regar this period as “Atlas Shruggedville”. 

    This is either because you flunked history, had extremely bad history teachers or are an idiot.

  • Albanaeon

     1.  Yep.  Austerity sucks.  Europe proves it.  Bring on the hose and let’s fix our actual problems and stop trying to fight an imaginary debt monster.

    2.  Slim majority?  Interesting.  A good four points, over half the voters, and an electoral landslide.  Face it.  Your side lost and lost big.

    3.  Yes, the current Republican Leadership is evil.  They are trying their damnedest to cut benefits for the least fortunate.  They are siding with the powerful against the powerless.  They are willing to inflict suffering on the entire country in a fit of childishness.  They meet a very good definition of evil, in my opinion, and I have no problem in saying it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You want Big Brother to take care of you.  I want my children to be
    unburdened by tens of thousands of dollars of debt incurred by their
    greedy elders.  If you feel that either of these positions is morally
    superior, than you’re probably wrong.

    Making sure Lliira is as pain-free as possible and physically capable of doing the work necessary to let her pay more in taxes than she gets in benefits is not morally superior to making her spend all her days in economically-unproductive pain?

    You know, there’s a reason why people like us call people like you evil.

  • Loki100

     I want my children to be unburdened by tens of thousands of dollars of debt incurred by their greedy elders.

    You… don’t understand how debt works, do you? First off the majority holder of US debt is the US government itself. One part of government pays another part of government back money it owes. And the major beneficiary of this is the American people as the majority of the creditors in this system are large trusts such as medicare, so all that interest is paid directly back to us and helps keep the costs of those taxes low.

    Secondly the next major holder of US debt are US citizens, in the form of individuals, corporations, and trusts. That debt gets paid out to them, and they are the direct beneficiaries of it. They get a practically risk free investment, while the government gets money it needs to function.

    The third major holder of US debt are foreign countries. Of course the debt owned by those countries is completely offset by the foreign debt owned by the US. In fact, of every outstanding dollar of US debt owned by a foreign nation, we own eighty cents of foreign debt.

    Which means the actual debt burden is remarkably small, somewhere around 10% of US debt, and all that government debt is just money recirculating in the economy.

  • glendanowakowsk

    You… don’t understand how debt works, do you? First off the majority holder of US debt is the US government itself. One part of government pays another part of government back money it owes. 

    Loki, do you have a source for this?  See, I’ve got this kid* who is convinced that the US has pretty much sold itself to China by now.
    He also thinks that Obama is the worst president in the world and that GWB was a great president.  I wish there was a Triple Facepalm meme (Picard, Riker and maybe Guinan), because Double Facepalm is just not enough.

    *he’s 19, not really a kid anymore

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke
  • Loki100
  • Lori

    Also, The US Treasury Department.   

    Well, sure Treasury would say that. They’re obviously in on it and/or just sucking up to the guy who will send death squads after them if they don’t support his evil Kenyan Islamofascist socialist takeover of the good ol’ USof A.

    ETA: Attempts at that sort of hyperbole were a lot more fun before the Right in this country went totally off their nut. How do you parody the kind of people who harass a good samaritan for being “in on” what was obviously a faked false flag operation in Sandy Hook carried out to set up the Massive Gun Grab they’ve known all along was item #1 on Obama’s agenda? Can’t be done.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    You want Big Brother to take care of you.  I want my children to be
    unburdened by tens of thousands of dollars of debt incurred by their
    greedy elders.

    So you want money for you and yours.

    I want children, all children to have an education. To not die of treatable diseases. To eat.

    And you say “Yeah, but think of the money!”

    You son of a bitch.

  • Lori

     

    1. Gloating over a massive expansion of spending and government is no
    more appealing than gloating over a renewal of fiscal responsibility. 
    People have different priorities.  You want Big Brother to take care of
    you.  I want my children to be unburdened by tens of thousands of
    dollars of debt incurred by their greedy elders.  If you feel that
    either of these positions is morally superior, than you’re probably
    wrong.  

    You know, if you go around spouting this level of ignorance about Big Brother and debt and blah, blah, blan you can’t really expect that everyone will refrain from snapping at you about it.

  • fraser

     Actually it’s conservatives (or more precisely, some conservatives)who are obsessed with having Big Brother take care of them. No amount of spending on security, no violation of the Constitution, no amount of police brutaility or persecution of Muslims is bad if it brings us closer to the unattainable fantasy of total absolute safety.

  • Barry_D

    ‘Slim margin’? Last I heard, Obama beat every president going back quite aways.

  • EllieMurasaki

    In particular, he beat George W Bush by miles, and given that the conservatives leapt on Bush’s victory as handing him a mandate to do whatever the fuck he pleased…

  • Makabit

    “You lost.  Get over it.” is a celebration of one side over the other.  It proclaims nothing more than that Obama’s (slim) majority henceforth precludes any discussion of his agenda.

    I prefer “The GOP failed to effectively sell Romney or their agenda in this round. Better luck next time.” I don’t think that’s wildly judgmental, it’s a simple statement of fact. The election went to Obama. We’ll have another one in four years.

    People who can accept that, and actually discuss their own agenda plans, and how best to promote them, rather than wanting to have  ‘discussion’ of how they’ve been deprived of a discussion about Obama’s agenda (this being what the whole election was for), tend to do better with this than the folks who just want to rehash their anger that their guy lost.

    I’ve been a Democrat my whole voting life, and I’m old enough to have watched us lose a fair few elections this way. It’s not sensible.

  • Carstonio

    I disapprove of gloating about election results as a matter of principle. This isn’t a football game. The agenda being pushed by the Romney side would have exacerbated economic and social inequalities, and this would be true no matter how the vote had turned out. Elections don’t decide the objective merits of any particular agenda, they just decide which agendas are pursued.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     The election went to Obama. We’ll have another one in four years.

    We have another election in TWO years.  And if we don’t want another crop of screaming Teabagger morons in Congress like we got in 2010, I hope the Democrats are getting organized NOW.

  • fraser

     Actually “you lost. Get over it.” is a perfectly reasonable response to people (and I know several) who are horrified that Obama does not feel the need to adopt Republican proposals (he compromises on them a bit too much for me, but c’est la vie).

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    I know this guy’s probably been raked over the coals plenty by now, but seeing people being Wrong On The Internet makes me itch.

      Gloating over a massive expansion of spending and government is no more
    appealing than gloating over a renewal of fiscal responsibility.

    Wait, wait wait.  Are you seriously trying to claim that George W. Bush and the rest of the Republicans (Bush being the last time the GOP got to do the ‘You LOST.  get over it’ schtick) were in any way shape or form fiscally responsible?

    Really?

    Be assured that the LAST thing that most liberals want to do is ntellectually defend their arguments.

    You must be new here.  I suspect you won’t last long.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     And nope, Geoffrey W. took off after everyone started dissecting his stupid posts.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You know, it’s really astonishing how much money Buck is throwing around. I mean, where on Earth is he getting it from?

    If his own pocket, the salary he’s paid to be such a goldbricking pill must be nigh-on unbelievable.

    If from his GC credit card, he’s a complete fool to think he can get away with throwing around his boss’s money on unaudited purchases like that without being called on the carpet for it eventually. Oh, wait. This is Buck we’re talking about; of course he’ll never be audited. (>_<)

    Laptops.

    You know, the kind of laptop L&J are probably thinking of are these ruggedized types like Hawkins has in Jericho: http://capnsmirks.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/hawkins.jpg

    Even so, Donny the genius has to be clipping Buck five grand per laptop, easily, for his own pocket and calling it a steal. As much as I despise this sort of profiteering, at least it's Buck being ripped off and not someone else.

  • christopher_y

    You know, the kind of laptop L&J are probably thinking of are these ruggedized types like Hawkins has in Jericho

    I actually did a project which involved procuring ruggedised laptops in the 1990s. They came in under £2000 ($2400). If they’d been anywhere close to five figures my clients would have told the supplier to FOAD and scrapped the whole project.

  • GDwarf

     

    I actually did a project which involved procuring ruggedised laptops
    in the 1990s. They came in under £2000 ($2800). If they’d been anywhere
    close to five figures my clients would have told the supplier to FOAD
    and scrapped the whole project.

    EDITED to correct my incompetent currency conversion.

    Yep. Ruggidized laptops come in at about 1.5-2x what an equivalent “normal” laptop would. They can’t afford to be too expensive because most people/companies that need them need lots, and wouldn’t even consider paying $20 000 per machine.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667708632 Kenneth Raymond

    Think of the movie Serenity

    This bit is why having geeky professors is the best thing, when you can turn in major papers analyzing SF series and movies.

    For me the most chilling line in the movie has to be, “They’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people… better.” Not discourage evil, not urge people to good works, not pass laws based on social mores… Make people better, like you would improve a computer’s performance by doing a format and reinstall. Treating people as things whose performance just needs to be tweaked for optimal output.

    It’s at the heart of a lot of authoritarian thinking, especially these days, and I’m sure with L&J’s ideas as well (given that they’re pretty authoritarian too…). Heck, their whole idea of a conversion experience has more in common with someone installing a new OS on their computer rather than an organic experience of learning and growing into a new faith and community. I wonder if this kind of thinking is where their weird, behind-the-curve technofetishism comes from, because while they’re painfully wrong about both people and technology, they can at least be reliably and consistently wrong about technology in the same ways from unit to unit. From person to person, they’re wrong in entirely new ways every time. Reducing people to machines that take rules and perform (largely) the same way every time would be rather the, ahem, godsend to them, I’m sure.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    For me the most chilling line in the movie has to be, “They’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people… better.” Not discourage evil, not urge people to good works, not pass laws based on social mores… Make people better, like you would improve a computer’s performance by doing a format and reinstall. Treating people as things whose performance just needs to be tweaked for optimal output.

    Yeah, so?  I treat myself like that.  Frankly, I would feel more comfortable if society treated me that way too.  

    Which reminds me, I need to get on that Cybermen costume one of these days… 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667708632 Kenneth Raymond

    And who do you trust with the power to reprogram others, including yourself? Whose vision of society do you think should be installed into people? You say you treat yourself like that but that’s of your own will. I understand and can even get behind the fact that politics is inherently an act of social engineering, but L&J (and the Alliance in Firefly/Serenity) are more interested in overriding people’s individual wills and removing the ability to dissent. It’s a system you can’t even emigrate from because the desire to leave it is indicative of illness, in their eyes, and a contagious one that must be quarantined.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    And who do you trust with the power to reprogram others, including yourself? Whose vision of society do you think should be installed into people?

    A decentralized one in which no individual exerts any more influence than any one other, and reprogramming is a continuous process that adjusts day to day.  

    Imagine if you will a system in which ever person’s experiences, perceptions, and feelings, are recorded and broadcast to every other person.  Now, this would make me open to things like the hatred of people like Fred Phelps.  On the other hand, this would mean that Fred Phelps is open to the feelings of everyone else, and could not block them out.  

    It would be a system of enforced empathy, and the programming would not require subverting a person’s will.  Simply sharing the experience would be a transformative process in itself, without further compulsion.  Harming others would be too painful for anyone to keep up, since no one could distance themselves from the consequences their actions have on others.  

    Compassion thrives in an environment of empathy, but malice quickly dies in that empathy.  I want to see that enforced.  

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    FearlessSon, I feel like this would tend to a situation where people physically near each other would “clump” together and become more and more homogenous in order to avoid creating negative emotions in others, which they would then be empathically forced to feel. This would then lead to an inevitable winnowing as people who cannot fit in with their local group move, after which society would clump further and further into blocs of incompatble groupthink at constant war with one another. In other words you have invented Twitter

  • Beroli

     I generally prefer my science-fiction-based fantasies about the far, ideal future to involve more social evolution and less coercion, myself.

  • SisterCoyote

     You treating yourself like that, and asking others to treat you like that, is one thing.

    You saying that the government not only treat all of us like that, but – in context, do you realize that the “solution” to bad behavior was (SPOILER) to znahsnpgher n xvaq bs qeht gung qenfgvpnyyl punatrq gurve oenva purzvfgel ol negvsvpvny zrnaf?

  • Beroli

    Yeah, so?

    So, that’s not what people are.

    I know you’ve had this explained to you before. Lots of times. And you’ve never tried to defend your viewpoint with anything but reassertion–though I think you’ve actually said you know said viewpoint is wrong, but I could be misremembering. Society is an artificial creation of people for the benefit of people. People do not exist to serve society.

  • Tybult

    I imagine those “key people” at the news organization were surprised to
    learn that Buck hadn’t been killed when World War III began a few days
    ago.

    You are far more charitable than me.

    When I imagine myself working for a Buck-type during a global meltdown, I see myself learning that Buck-o’s alive and saying something like, “Oh fuck me, how in god’s name is that shithead still alive?”

    That’s realistic, for me. In my romantic imagination, I immediately lead a charge to the nearest janitorial closet so we can begin fashioning makeshift weapons for the next time Buck-o stops by.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Buck actually sounds like a great bus for these End Times. He has no interest in stopping by the office, managing (or micromanaging) his staff, but he can supply an almost unlimited amount of Satanic funding. Carpathia intended for Buck to use his media power to control the public message in favor of his regime. Buck is amenable to that goal, but because he is so lazy he never gets around to actually brainwashing people. He leaves the Verna Zees of the world in charge and they probably do a better job with his unlimited freedom and funding than any bureaucrat possibly could, at least until Carpathia nukes their building.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Wait.

    If Ray-Ray is the only one qualified to fly the plane, who was flying the plane while he snored for hours?

    Did I misread something or is this just another classic LaJenky plot-hole?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    If not McCullum, he would have had it on autopilot. Given that once you set course and direction, if all other planes are grounded it’s even safer than falling asleep at the wheel of a car.

  • Ken

    contriving a situation in which Rayford can listen in on a meeting

    You forgot to say that there is no reason for this eavesdropping, since Rayford will do absolutely nothing with the information, either to hinder the Antichrist or to help the people targeted by his plans.

    Also, you forgot to say that water is wet, elephants are bigger than mice, and humans breathe oxygen.

  • SketchesbyBoze

    As a better Antichrist once put it:

    “Worthy are they who work for the advancement of Humankind, for the universe shall be theirs. Worthy are they who have learned first to love themselves, for they shall be as gods. Worthy are they who do not deny themselves the desires of their hearts, for they have understood that to do so is to deny themselves. Worthy are they who draw their strength and hope from within themselves, for they shall be strengthened. Worthy are they whose spirit is strong and defiant, for they shall be first in the kingdom of the universe. Worthy are they who forbid intolerance and crush that which restricts growth, for they will be called guideposts to truth and beacons to fulfillment.”

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    -?

  • Trixie_Belden

    I should Google it, but I’m too lazy so I’m going to go with this guess: from the sound of the quote, I’m pretty sure it’s either Ayn Rand herself, or one of her characters acting as her mouthpiece.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Oh thank God. Cos my reaction to reading that was “no, that’s a terrible point of view”.

  • Dash1

    Geoffrey W:
    Paragraph 2: “the current total reliance on Government to provide everything. . .”
    Paragraph 3: “Making strawmen and knocking them down is fun.”

    (Naw. Too easy.)

  • Loki100

    Does anyone have a link the post where Fred talks about how ridiculous and implausible after the Iraq war building a city in the middle of the Iraqi desert is?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    I think I remember it. New Babylon.

    That’s the first thing in this book that really does seem, as they say, “ripped from the headlines.” American taxpayers, after all, have been “renovating that city for years” at a cost of billions of dollars. And the centerpiece of New Babylon is a secretive, palace-like compound “six times larger than the United Nations compound in New York.” If Iwere the Antichrist, bent on world-domination, this is exactly the sort of place I would want for my headquarters.

    These billions were, of course, spent by a group of people that feels that the government shouldn’t spend money that it doesn’t have, regardless of how positive its motives are.

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    1. Gloating over a massive expansion of spending and government is no more appealing than gloating over a renewal of fiscal responsibility.

    It’s worth noting that nobody is doing either of these things. Gloating over an expansion of spending? What? Who would do that? Why? What some people *might* do, and what you seem to be referring to, is gloat that that we were able to create a situation where millions of people get access to life-saving health care where before they would have lacked it, and millions more get an improvement in the health care they already have. This is an excellent time to gloat. It is an incredible achievement. And if the people who gloat about this at some point stop to gloat about victory over someone? Well, the achievement *was* something that certain people fought very, very hard against. If person X tried to stop me from saving person Y’s life, then maybe I do not feel bad at all for gloating when they fail. If you’re watching terrible 30s serials, and Snidely Whiplash ties Female MacGuffin to the train tracks, and Dudley Do-Right goes “ha ha! foiled again, Snidely!” after saving her, our primary moral concern here is not whether Dudley Do-Right was betraying problematic motivations by gloating.

    Conversely, since you brought it up, no action by the American conservative movement in at least the last thirteen years has had anything at all to do with fiscal responsibility. Fiscal responsibility shows up a lot in conservative rhetoric, never in conservative action. What we see from action is that conservatives want to cut taxes and cut spending. Cutting taxes is treated as more important than cutting spending. At no point does fiscal responsibility come up as a concern. Programs like Obamacare are not considered any more okay just because they are fiscally responsible; conservatives seek to end Obamacare even if doing so would add to the deficit. The conservative motivation in “fiscal responsibility” debates can be neatly shown by the “compromise” at the end of 2010 where as part of a single deal the liberals got extended unemployment insurance and the conservatives got extended tax cuts for the rich as if these two things somehow balanced each other. This seems to neatly delineate the priorities of the two ideological sides and demonstrate neither movement has fiscal responsibility as a primary goal.

    This entire thread is all about evil and the nature of it.  Raising any party as the villian in this context is to strongly imply evil motives.

    Probably redundant to even point this out at this point, but when Fred very first brought up the nature of evil in this thread, one of the first things he did was question the notion evil acts must necessarily flow from evil motivations.

    In any case, you have certainly called Republicans irrational and unserious (about serious matters) which is close enough to evil for my purposes

    “Irrational” and “unserious” are at least to some extent objective qualities, like “purple”. We can look at someone’s actions and have some evidential basis to discuss whether they have acted irrationally or unseriously; we can even do this without judging the person in question, maybe. “Evil” is a much murkier concept which is probably subjective and maybe even vacuous; I would usually prefer not to have discussions involving vague words like this.

    …but if I *were* to venture a working definition of “evil” it would almost certainly include working to prevent the fifteen-thirty percentish of Americans who are denied access to health care under our current system from becoming able to obtain it. And if someone were to do that *and* claim that their motivation is to prevent the government from “spending money which it does not have”, then if we’re talking about Obamacare (which offsets the money it spends by cutting wasteful programs and increasing revenues in other areas) then in addition to “evil” we can surely start to use words like “dishonest”.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I would also make the case that the Social Security Trust Fund artificially inflates the size of the national debt, because the Social Security Budget is unified with the general budget. So the US government is just taking money out of one pocket and slipping an IOU back into it, which is meaningless. It’s like you taking a dollar from one pocket and putting it in your wallet, and then deciding to write an IOU for it…

    to yourself.
     

  • Jessica_R

    The wealthiest nation on Earth doesn’t provide healthcare to all it’s citizens, that’s not a point of pride, that’s shameful. 

  • P J Evans

    The wealthiest nation on Earth doesn’t provide healthcare to all it’s citizens, that’s not a point of pride, that’s shameful.

    And what it does provide, to everyone who can get it, is both more expensive and less successful in outcome that what other countries provide.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Yeah, to be fair to America it does provide the greatest chance of someone working in the medical field amassing great personal wealth. So as long as you’re honest about your god being mammon, ok.

  • Loki100

    What amazes me are the “HEALTHCARE WILL BE RATIONED!” crowd. We already have rationed healthcare. Our entire healthcare system is based on rationed healthcare. The difference would be that healthcare would not be rationed by how much someone can pay.

  • Albanaeon

     Let’s not forget “DEATH PANELS!!111one!!eleventy” 

    Yeah, that private insurers had these already and again determined by people getting too expensive for their insurers to cover.

    But death by “freemarket” seems completely acceptable to these people.  Particularly if its not them.

  • Loki100

    That was the most mystifying aspect of the heathcare debate. Conservatives would take something every single private insurance company does as routine policy… and shriek with horror that the government might do it.

  • fraser

     It’s not mystifying. For a lot of libertarian/conservatives, “small government” isn’t about freedom, it’s about giving maximum freedom to corporations to do what they like. Libertarian pundit Tibor Machan has said his ideal system would privatize everything so that corporate owners make all the decisions (what to teach in schools, who can live here or there, who can use the roads) and no politicians interfere with it.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    The difference would be that healthcare would not be rationed by how much someone can pay.

    That’s the part that terrifies them: that they might have to sit in a waiting room with a pregnant baby-mama with three other screaming kids, or some guy who didn’t bathe this week.

    It’s the thought that some unemployed person’s cancer might be treated before their hangnail: that’s their real problem with “rationing” medicine.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    I’ll admit that this is not my favorite way of spending the afternoon, one reason I carry a book with me.

  • Ken

     The babies I can stand, it’s all those old people.  If it weren’t for socialized medicine, they’d have to pay market rates for insurance, and can you imagine what an eighty-year-old man with heart disease would have to pay?  But instead it comes out of our tax dollars.  It’s an outrage, I say–

    (At this point the congressman’s aide tackles him and has a hurried whisper.)

    I am informed that Medicare is not socialized medicine, and the government should keep its hands out of it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    Like I said, it’s not socialized medicine I have the problem with, it’s just finding yourself in a waiting room with screaming babies “MMOOOMMM!!!!” and crabby old people “It’s an outrage, I tell you!”; they are going to be around, at the doctor, the mechanic, the Starbucks, the line to buy overpriced junk at Disney World. no matter where you go. 

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    But that’s my point: people like Rayford Steele, and others who whine about having to share with the unwashed masses, already avoid those situations: they have underlings to service their car or run to Kinko’s or the bakery.  But nobody can go to the doctor for them, so they are now faced with the idea of having to wait their turn just like everybody else.  And maybe Unshowered Guy or Slutty Teenaged Girl or Man Wearing Turban will have needs that come first.

    That, to them, is Not Right.

  • banancat

     Well it’s a good thing that your slight discomfort doesn’t trump their access to life-saving healthcare then.

    Also, they all have as much right to be at a bakery or Kinko’s as you do, babies included.

    For all the railing that conservatives do about the “entitlement mindset” where people think they should be entitled to food and healthcare, they sure are quick to overlook all the people who feel entitled to be treated like royalty everywhere they go so long as they have enough money to be the more important customer.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    It’s the thought that some unemployed person’s cancer might be treated before their hangnail: that’s their real problem with “rationing” medicine.

    This is going to sound brain-freezingly naive because I know the US health system is messed up sideways, but…are you really telling me that this doesn’t happen already? Could it possibly be that bad?

  • Jenny Islander

    Yes.

    It is absolutely and completely legal for most medical practicioners to deny services, even life-saving services, if you can’t pay.   Here is how it often goes: Something odd, but not painful or debilitating, happens to your body.  You ignore it because you can’t afford to have it looked at.  Then whatever it is becomes agonizingly painful, restricts your breathing, invades your brain, whatever, and you end up in the ER, where they can’t turn you away but they have to get you gone ASAP to make room for everybody else in your situation.  If  you do get a referral to Oncology, you may not go, because somebody is going to get stuck with your medical debts, and your whole family is in bad economic straits–so, yes, people die of treatable conditions for lack of money.

    Meanwhile the rich person with an identical funny lump went to the rich-people doctor and had it excised months ago.  “You made the right choice,” says Dr. Rich, “this could have been a serious issue if you hadn’t come in when you did.”

    Actually the cancer scenario is much less common than similar scenarios involving cuts and punctures or infectious diseases.

    Speaking of infectious diseases, in many parts of the country, if you can’t pay for vaccinations or induce an insurance company to pay . . . no vaccinations for you.  Maybe you can get in line for a limited number of doses set aside for people who have first proved that they are “poor enough.”  Maybe not.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    You pay for vaccinations? Like, all of them, or a subset?

    We have a whole bunch of childhood vaccinations, plus rubella and HPV in adolescence, plus regular tetanus, that are free (in fact, parents get paid for getting certain childhood ones on time). You have to pay for “optional” vaccines (e.g. hepatitis, tuberculosis) usually recommended for travel for certain work situations, although if it’s for work your employer should cover it. Annual flu vaccines are free for the elderly, diabetics, people who work with babies, sick people or the elderly, and a few other groups.

    Measles, whooping cough, polio etc–those vaccines are so critical that it’s worth paying people to receive them, no matter how right wing your political leanings.

  • Water_Bear

    Other than emergency room care we have to pay for everything, and that probably includes a lot of stuff you’d classify as “emergency” measures. The only question is how much of the cost is covered by insurance / medicaid and how much is out of pocket.

  • Antigone10

    Yeah, you have to pay for a lot of emergency room care too.  They just can’t deny it to you.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    We pay for emergency room care. It is extremely expensive. And if you don’t have insurance, they give you as little as they possibly can, even when doing so makes the problem worse. 

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Yeah. The only sense in which people don’t pay for ER care is the sense of “Since we don’t have debtor’s prisons in this country, when someone sends you a bill, you can just ignore it and the worst that will happen is that your credit/human worth score will implode, though if you find yourself in this position, you probably do not have much of a credit score to protect anyway. Also they will make increasingly nasty phone calls to you. And to anyone in the future with the bad luck to be assigned a phone number you once had”

  • Lori

     

    You pay for vaccinations? Like, all of them, or a subset?  

    All of them, unless your insurance company or employer decides that their financial interest is best served by providing them free of charge.

    That’s how I ended up getting a flu shot this year. The place I’m working as a temp decided (quite reasonably) that flu vaccines would cost them a lot less than have the flu rip through the staff. The fact that people can grasp this concept on a workplace by workplace basis, but not as a general matter of public health is distressing.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    You pay for all medical services. All medical services are paid for by you. Services all medical you pay for. For all pay, you are medical services.

    There are no free vaccinations. There are no free checkups. There are no free cancer screens.

    There are a few programs which buy some of these things and then give them away to deserving people, but there’s no rule that says “People can get vaccinations for free.”

    (Vaccinations are such a good idea that large workplaces will sometimes pay to have them offered to everyone who works there for free, but, again, it gets paid for by a private company for their own benefit.)

  • megaforte84

    We have to pay out-of-pocket for flu and tetanus (which includes the whooping cough vaccine). The health department here charges somewhere between $20-$40 for tetanus unless they’ve recently gotten a grant for it because of local flooding – and the grant does you no good unless you had contact with the floodwater. And that was what they were charging when the whooping cough had already started making a comeback.

    Having contact with the elderly makes no difference, except *maybe* if you have a job somewhere where it’s part of the job description and they decide covering it is worth it. Or they might just make the flu vaccine a condition of employment but not fund it beyond paying you to work.

    There’s a current ‘should we get vaccinated?’ back and forth between several people I know ON MEDICARE because one of them has The Shingles (they say it with capital letters and you half expect ominous music behind it) and is going through absolute hell with them but none of the doctors around here will stock it because of the low demand and the pharmacies that do carry it are charging over a hundred dollars for it – the range appears to be between one and three weeks of groceries for them, in terms of actual buying power – and none of these elderly ladies has any clue what he coverage rate is so the debate keeps going on and on over whether or not they *can* afford to go get vaccinated.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    But not for rich people. That’s the point. The rationing we have today doesn’t affect rich people

    In fact, characterizing the US healthcare system as having worse outcomes than other healthcare systems, while true, hides the most telling truth about our healthcare system:

    The US does not have a healthcare system.  It has two.

    One of those healthcare systems is, point of fact, really good. Possibly the best in the world. Outcomes are good, and the wealthy from all over the world travel to the US when their health is in serious jeopardy to partake in our system.

    The other healthcare system is based primarily around emergency rooms and emergency rooms figuring out ways to dodge their legal obligation to treat people.

    And the system is sustained by transferring an ever-increasing number of people from the first system to the second system.

    When people oppose healthcare reform for fear of “rationing” what they’re really complaining about is “But then I will get bumped to the B system!”

    The US Healthcare system might just be the most visible and straightforward example we’ve got of how privilege works.

  • Loki100

    Yep. Exactly. And they like to remind you that wealthy people from all over the world come to America for treatment.

    What they ignore is that poor people from America go to Canada and Mexico for treatment. Stop to think about that. Americans are traveling to Mexico to get medical care.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Yeah. The whole “Rich people from all over the world come to the US for medical treatment” thing never seems to mention that the second half of that sentence is “… because the US is the only country where their wealth will let them game the system.”

    It’s like bragging that your country is where rich people from all over the world come to shoot hobos, because yours is the only country where hobo-shooting is legal.

  • Makabit

     

    Yeah. The whole “Rich people from all over the world come to the US for medical treatment” thing never seems to mention that the second half of that sentence is “… because the US is the only country where their wealth will let them game the system.”

    Oh, I wouldn’t say that. Money will get you pretty much the healthcare services you want in a lot of places. The US actually does have top people and clinics in a lot of fields.

    That’s a cause for pride, but it’s not a substitute for making decent health care available to people who are not millionaires from far away.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Honestly, I think that wealthy people would be fine regardless of what kind of health care system we have. As long as there are sufficient number of doctors and facilities, geography really isn’t an issue. Sometimes people come here because they know of a specialist in their particular condition that happens to live and work in the US, but I don’t think that single-payer systems have differently-skilled doctors in general (either better or worse). 

    The real problem we have in the US is that people can’t afford medical coverage without going into ruinous amounts of debt, not that our doctors and nurses are less skilled than those in other countries. 

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    The real problem we have in the US is that people can’t afford medical coverage without going into ruinous amounts of debt

    Only if you can get lent the money for the medical care. There are plenty of people who cannot get the medical care, period, because they cannot get the money for it by any means. I would be one of them if my parents weren’t raiding their retirement savings to pay for the insurance which an insurance company is being forced by Obamacare to allow me to give them money for.

  • Makabit

    One of my students got pulled out of school for a few weeks, some years ago, because the whole family was going to Mexico for dad to have surgery.

    Dad explained to me that he was really sorry, and worried the kid would fall behind, but that he could afford coverage for this in Mexico, not in the States, that he couldn’t face the surgery without his wife by his side, and that he was not going to leave ‘a sixteen year old boy who thinks he’s in love’ home alone.

    These were middle-class people with professional credentials.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Author Steven Brust, who regularly hits the bestseller lists, blogged about going to Mexico for surgery he couldn’t afford here.

  • P J Evans

     I’ve heard of people going to Costa Rica for surgery of some kind, because it’s less expensive. Also hear about people going to Thailand and India.

  • Münchner Kindl

     They also ignore – probably because they don’t know or don’t want to admit? – that people from other countries (and the US) also go to other countries for treatment: Specialists for treatment do not only exist in the US at John Hopkins etc., but also at the Berlin Charite, in London, in Paris etc. A lot of Arabians* come to Munich to combine non-urgent medical treatment with shopping.

    *People wearing Arab garb and looking Arabic, but without their passports I don’t know which country they are exactly from. Presumably Saudia-Arabia princes or similar if they go shopping on the Maximiliansstr.

  • Makabit

    When people oppose healthcare reform for fear of “rationing” what they’re really complaining about is “But then I will get bumped to the B system!”

    Which they will not. There is no reason why the United States would ever prevent people from accessing whatever level of private healthcare they can possibly afford. Financially, ideologically, what have you, makes no sense.

    And yet I, the middle-class taxpayer, was bombarded with the message that right now, paying ludicrous amounts that I cannot afford for healthcare provided through my employer for my family amounts to some vital freedom and protection from harm which would be completely stripped away by ‘Obamacare’.

  • Lori

     

    And yet I, the middle-class taxpayer, was bombarded with the message
    that right now, paying ludicrous amounts that I cannot afford for
    healthcare provided through my employer for my family amounts to some
    vital freedom and protection from harm which would be completely
    stripped away by ‘Obamacare’.   

    This (except that I no longer count as middle-class by any reasonable standard).

    As of last Monday I have health insurance for the first time in 4 1/2 years. It is costing me more than I can really afford and the coverage is crap.

    If I get seriously ill or injured it will pay for what amounts to about a day & a half in the hospital. After that I better be well enough to get my ass up and go home or sick enough to go ahead and die, because if I’m not I’m going to pile even more ruinous debt on top of my already nightmarish student loans.

    The copay on doctor’s visits is pretty typical, but it’s for urgent care only. I have no coverage at all for preventative care (for example the annual exam I haven’t had for 6 or 7 years). I can get a discount on a pretty limited list of drugs, but have no prescription insurance. Same goes for vision care—I get a discount, but I don’t actually have insurance. I do have dental insurance, but the amount it pays for various services will hardly make a dent in what they actually cost. I really need to go to the dentist, but I’m going to have to wait until I have more money saved up because my out-of-pocket is going to be huge.

    In short, my insurance is so bad that by the company’s own (I’m sure legally mandated) admission it is inadequate to meet the minimum requirements of the ACA. So, why did I bother to sign up? Because something is better than nothing. I would have preferred to sign up for the state plan for the low income uninsured because it wouldn’t have been any worse coverage and my premiums would have been about a third as much as I’m paying now. I couldn’t do that because the fact that my employer offers coverage, crappy as it is, means that I’m ineligible for the state pool. At least as of now that’s true in spite of the fact that my insurance doesn’t meet the ACA minimums.

    Strangely, I am less than appreciative of the GOP’s efforts to allow me the continued freedom of having employer sponsored insurance instead of socialized medicine.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Which they will not. There is no reason why the United States would ever prevent people from accessing whatever level of private healthcare they can possibly afford. Financially, ideologically, what have you, makes no sense.

    So, I have heard two counter-arguments to this. One is that, in order to subsidise health care for the poor, there would be additional taxes or premiums on those buying the Gold-standard health plans, or that the government might have to otherwise limit their availability since “Why else wouldn’t any doctor who isn’t a total hack just limit his practice to only the high-paying customers?”

    The other argument, and it is a rather bizarre one (But one I have actually heard from someone I know in real life), is this: If the choice is between buying ‘cadilac’ healthcare and going without, of course a person who could afford it would buy the good stuff.
    But if the choice is between paying for high-end health care, or getting low-end healthcare for free, then how could a person of means justify the extra cost? After all, you don’t become a rich person by buying the more expensive product when there is a free substitute that you could make do with.

    Yes. This is an argument. The existence of a cheaper alternative makes it harder for them to shell out for the good stuff, and then they are disappointed by the lower quality of the cheap alternative.

    Now, I can just about comprehend this position. Centuries ago, we read a story in school about a kid whose mother saw that sewing scissors were on sale at the general store for six bits, and since the barber charged four bits for a haircut, why, she was practically throwing money away by sending her son to the barber once a month when she could do it herself and pay for the scissors in less than two months. Resultingly, he was the school laughingstock after he showed up with his severely butchered hair. The boy, of course, blamed the general store; if it hadn’t been for their sale, none of this would have happened.

    The problem with this story, as applied to healthcare, is this: the kid in the story is like 8. This is the argument of an 8 year old.

    (Fwiw, the end ofthe story is that after the kid comes home from school crying, his mom calls all his friends mothers… And mentions what a great sale there is on sewing scissors at the general store. And isn’t that barber so expensive?)

  • Lori

     

    But if the choice is between paying for high-end health care, or getting
    low-end healthcare for free, then how could a person of means justify
    the extra cost? After all, you don’t become a rich person by buying the
    more expensive product when there is a free substitute that you could
    make do with.  

    This is quite possibly the dumbest thing I’ve heard this week. And that’s saying something because I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the GOP position on the debt ceiling.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    There are entire industries here based on the fact that you can charge money to someone for something that the government provides as a tax-funded service (bottled water). 

  • P J Evans

     In some areas the water provided by your local system (which may be privately owned, not government) is so bad that bottled water is a reasonable alternative.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    The other argument, and it is a rather bizarre one (But one I have actually heard from someone I know in real life), is this: If the choice is between buying ‘cadilac’ healthcare and going without, of course a person who could afford it would buy the good stuff.But if the choice is between paying for high-end health care, or getting low-end healthcare for free, then how could a person of means justify the extra cost?

    What drives me crazy about these sort of arguments is that, apart from their internal holes, they contain testible hypotheses for which we have actual solid evidence. It’s not an argument about an abstract concept.

    In Australia, and many other countries, public hospital treatment is free. Yet there still exist private hospitals, and a bunch of people still use them. There are plenty of people who are apparently willing to pay thousands of dollars for a private room, choice of surgeon, personal tv, glass of champagne etc. (no measurable improvement in outcomes, but hey–it’s their money).

    I think it particularly bothers me on health care and social systems issues, where there is a tendency among a chunk of Americans to treat the rest of the world as if it didn’t exist. We have the evidence to resolve your debating point, but it must be ignored.

    After all, you don’t become a rich person by buying the more expensive product when there is a free substitute that you could make do with.

    Also demonstrably false. I assume people making this argument don’t work in advertising, where price discrimination is a basic principle. I’m not aware of any category of consumer goods where rich people don’t choose the more expensive option if one’s available, even when the products are identical.

  • esmerelda_ogg

     One minor correction to what various other posters have said about immunizations – IF you are 65 or older, you are covered by Medicare (Federal program that pays for some health care for the elderly). I was surprised to find out after I retired and could no longer get free flu shots at work that Medicare does pay for flu shots. But again, that’s only if you’re at least 65 years old; probably most of the posters here don’t qualify yet.

    Also, Medicare doesn’t cover everything – for instance, basic Medicare pays for at least some doctor’s visits and some hospitalization, but not dental care or prescription drugs; you can get (i.e. pay for) drug coverage from various private companies. And Medicare isn’t free; every month, the government bills me about $100 for my health coverage.

    Aside from that, all the bad news people here just gave you about U.S. health care? It’s all true. If you are lucky enough to have a job that provides good health insurance, you’re pretty much okay. Otherwise, well, you can always cross your fingers and wish on a star to stay healthy.

  • Persia

    Note: You’re okay unless something really catastrophic happens, then all bets are off. My parents went bankrupt (to be fair, they were carrying a heavy debtload, but) trying to pay off medical bills from my father’s hospitalization with a severe staph infection (which he likely got from the hospital, but they didn’t seem to care about that).

  • esmerelda_ogg

     Oh, and there’s another bit of insanity in our health system that I don’t think anyone has mentioned: health care has one price if you’re an uninsured human being, and a different, enormously lower, price if you’re an insurance company. Doctors and hospitals will accept anywhere from half the original bill down to ten percent as full payment from insurance; if you don’t have insurance, expect to be dunned for the huge original amount. And prepare to file bankruptcy, if anything serious goes wrong.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    Bankruptcy is a small price to pay for Fiscal Responsibility and Preserving Our Freedom.

  • P J Evans

     And no one will tell you what it will cost beforehand, if it involves any kind of treatment in a hospital. Heck, it’s like pulling teeth to get the hospital to admit that they don’t charge the same price to everyone, for the same services.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    no one will tell you what it will cost beforehand – P J Evans

    Good point. And infuriating. Which reminds me of another thing that absolutely enrages me about the right wing posturing on health care – the way they keep trying to equate it to shopping for shoes and telling us we need to be savvy consumers. Several years ago, my husband woke up in the middle of the night with chest pain. If he had been a responsible consumer and checked for the best prices before calling an ambulance, he’d have been dead by morning.

    If you have unexplained chest pain, get to a hospital at once. The sooner they start treating your heart attack, the less permanent damage there will be.

    And I wish I didn’t have to admit that not everybody has the luxury of getting lifesaving treatment. Because money.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I’m not aware of any category of consumer goods where rich people don’t choose the more expensive option if one’s available, even when the products are identical.

    Nor am I. $40,000 purses would not exist if rich people did not like to show off how rich they are by buying things they do not need at ridiculously exorbitant prices.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    You don’t even have to go to $40,000 purses. Greengrocers will split a batch of lettuce (for example) in two, put half in a “bargain bin” and put the other half in a nice display area at double or triple the price. Plenty of people buy the more expensive stuff–which is identical–because they either never look in bargain bins, or assume the product is inferior without checking. Same goes for all sorts of generic vs name brand product.

  • Newystats

    someone’s been reading Peter Martin

  • Guest

     It’s the same with gay marriage- there is evidence from many countries where it’s legal that it will not destroy society. Even Canada, America’s next-door neighbour. And yet, anti-marriage activists still predict doom if gay people get the right to marry in the US. They either don’t know or don’t care about the situation in other countries.

  • EllieMurasaki

    They don’t care. Amurrca is DIFFERENT. Amurrca is EXCEPTIONAL.

  • P J Evans

    Amurrca is DIFFERENT. Amurrca is EXCEPTIONAL.

    And the people who say that, and especially those who believe it, have either never been outside the US for more than a day at a time (if they’ve been out of the US at all), or have spent all their time outside the country in BigHotelChain where you probably can’t tell one country from another.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Yes. America is the strongest bestest superest strongest country EVAR. Which is why it would utterly collapse in the face of social changes which have been successfully implemented in many other, inferior countries.

    Just like how Men are all Manly And Superior and Dominant, which is why painting your son’s toenails or not letting him see his dad’s penis will totally turn him gay.

  • KevinC

     “Yes. America is the strongest bestest superest strongest country EVAR.
    Which is why it would utterly collapse in the face of social changes
    which have been successfully implemented in many other, inferior
    countries.”

    Ross, that is freaking awesome.  Would you mind terribly if I clobber LGBTQ-haters (&etc.) with this at every opportunity?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Sure. I think it was a bit more clobbery before DADT got repealed and I retired the clause that went “And we’ve got the strongest, most professional military in the world, that can accomplish anything we ask of it, which would utterly collapse if we let gay people serve openly.”

  • aunursa

    The Israeli military has had openly gay members serve since 1983, with no restrictions since 1993.  There has been no apparent dropoff in the IDF’s ability to carry out its mission.

  • Water_Bear

    Then again, a lot of those countries do look like hell on earth from a right-wing wingnut perspective; Socialist and even Communist parties existing (even winning elections!), 50% or higher tax rates which mostly go into entitlements, gun bans, Hate Speech laws and relative tolerance of drug use / kinky sex, militarily weak, etc.

    The mere fact that they are often better places to live for the average person is probably not enough to diminish the visceral horror for a lot of people. 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Oh yes, my gosh, they’re horrible horrible countries for showing tits on network TV. :P

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    I lived in Buffalo NY in 1980, and you would not believe the uproar when the Canadian and US networks were both going to broadcast Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet on the same night – because the US stations cut out 2 seconds worth of bare tits, and the Canadians didn’t. American kids might watch the Canadian version, the horror!

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Who has tax rates of 50% or higher?

  • Water_Bear

    No idea, but if anyone does it would be one of the Scandinavian countries. You did get that I was being facetious right?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I did not get that. I continually come across people who (a) don’t understand what marginal tax rates are and (b) wildly overinflate the top marginal tax rate anyway. Including the rates that apply to the taxes they pay themselves, which boggles me. You get sent a tax return with the totals there in black and white!

    Had a Facebook discussion with someone a while ago who said that they weren’t well off by any means but paid thousands in a particular levy. I laid out the maths showing that if they did pay thousands (say, $2000) in this levy then their taxable income would be in the top 5%. So either they’re exaggerating how much they pay, incorrectly viewing themselves as not well off, or in need of a better accountant. They still said they were right, even with the sums laid out in front of them. I don’t know how to cope with that!

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    What’s to cope with?

    Sometimes people prefer to continue being wrong than admit to having been wrong. This doesn’t entail any particular obligation on your part. 

  • Carstonio

    And falling brith rates. I suspect some of those folks claim a correlation between that and gay marriage.

  • EllieMurasaki

    There is a connection, if not necessarily a correlation, between falling birth rates and marriage equality, though. Not much of one, but a married two-penis couple who wants babies has to either find a surrogate or adopt, and my impression is that surrogacy is a lot more legally troublesome. A married two-vagina couple who wants babies has to either find a sperm donor or adopt; sperm donors are easily come by, but still.

    A married one-vagina-one-penis couple who wants babies can adopt, of course, but in most cases they just have to stop any contraception, keep having vaginal sex, and wait. And a lot of the time they’re not thinking about wanting babies when they’re having vaginal sex, which means the babies happen unplanned. Couples that can’t oops-baby, their kids are always planned.

  • Carstonio

     Valid point. I was criticizing the claims that SSM legalization discourages straights from marrying, that it’s the ultimate example of disconnecting marriage and procreation.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    That correlation only exists if we assume that the people seeking same-sex marriage would pursue opposite-sex marriages if the former wasn’t an option. I suspect the percentage of people for whom this is the case  is not huge to begin with, and had already dropped with the decriminalization of same-sex relationships regardless of marriage equality.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Can you clarify what you mean by “connection” here? If you just mean the two are narratively related in some way, then I agree; if you mean something more than that, I’d like to understand what you mean.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Narratively related is close enough, and closer than anything else I can think of offhand.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    The fact that they’re often better places to live for the average person is proof positive in the minds of many that they ARE horrible places.  It means that sinners and degenerates are being allowed to run amok.  It means that they’re not being punished in a visible way to serve as examples to everyone else.  Many people like Tony Perkins and Bryan Fischer believe that poverty, misfortune and social inequality are divine punishments for sin, and I’ve actually *met* people–both in meatspace and online–that believe that the reason why a country like Sweden, Canada or Germany might have a better standard of living is because God has essentially stopped caring what happens there and has given those countries over to their eventual destruction. 

    In other words, they actually live in a world where being a nice place to live is actually proof positive that that place is doomed, up is down and black is white.  See also:  my aunt.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Spain has gay marriage. Spain. Less than two generations out of right-wing dictatorship, culturally very strong Catholic, home of the Spanish Inquisition Spain. And yet straight people still get married, kids are still born, society carries on.

    Global market forces have proved a much greater threat to society than gay marriage.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I’m pretty sure the stuffed unicorn on my desk has proved a much greater threat to society than gay marriage has.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    It’s the same with gay marriage- there is evidence from many countries where it’s legal that it will not destroy society. Even Canada, America’s next-door neighbour.

    Canada?  That Nazi-atheist-commie-Muslim hellhole?? 

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    The problem with this story, as applied to healthcare, is this: the kid in the story is like 8. This is the argument of an 8 year old.

    The other problem is the idea that the mother didn’t have scissors already, and that she’d only buy scissors to cut her 8-year old boy’s hair, not for the many, many other things scissors are needed for. And they were needed for more things when people talked about “bits”. Moms used scissors every day back then. It’s a very poor story all around.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I actually think it might have been “pinking shears” in the story. But that makes absolutely no flipping sense since no one in their right mind would try to give someone a haircut with pinking shears.

  • spinetingler

     I would like to introduce you to my (dearly departed) Mother…

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    Resultingly, he was the school laughingstock after he showed up with
    his severely butchered hair. The boy, of course, blamed the general
    store; if it hadn’t been for their sale, none of this would have
    happened.

    The problem with this story, as applied to healthcare, is this: the kid in the story is like 8. This is the argument of an 8 year old.

    (Fwiw, the end ofthe story is that after the kid comes home from
    school crying, his mom calls all his friends mothers… And mentions
    what a great sale there is on sewing scissors at the general store. And
    isn’t that barber so expensive?)

    That’s an interesting ending. I would have expected that if the mother cuts it every two weeks, she’ll quickly get experience enough to get better at it.

    But the other works better: if all children are of the same economic background, then saving money on haircuts would be important for all mothers, instead of one kid’s family being poor.

    The next step would be to wonder about the repercussions on the barber: will he be glad to no longer deal with kids? Did 30 kids of one class respresent a large part of his income? Will he lower the price to keep the business?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You have to keep in mind children find a lot of rather petty reasons to be mean to one another and for some, just seeing someone with a tatty haircut can be reason enough to tease.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Just to clarify: do you really mean to suggest that as a parent, I don’t have the right to make choices that might lead other children to tease my child? Or that I necessarily ought not do so, even if I have the right to?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    It’s a variation on the theme of “would you give your a kid a name like that?”

  • Lori

    You mean like the moron who named his daughter Espn?

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I once new a girl who’s parents named her “Treasure”.  

    The family’s name was “Hunt”.  

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    That’s kind of cute, but what about if they had named their boy “Mike”?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Perhaps Jenny Islander should find a relative of hers for Treasure to marry (if she’s going to take spouse’s last name).

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You’re joking. O_O

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    http://blip.tv/project-rant/all-your-kids-are-named-the-same-thing-3076415

    Sadly, the rant fails to include the oh-so-yoonique name for a girl: Nevaeh.

  • Lori

    I never have been able to figure out why it’s supposedly so very Christian to name your kid the opposite of heaven. If someone named their kid Hell or no one would take it as a sign of their clever devotion to The Lord, so why does Nevaeh seem like a good idea.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Lleh looks like a bizarre spelling of Leah, though, so I’m surprised I’ve never heard of a kid named Lleh.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     It’s like making a movie set in a town called “Nilbog” and calling it “Troll 2”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Whoa, that’s a little hyperbolic, isn’t it? Chill out!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Wait… was Ross’s “Nilbog” example not a purely rhetorical one? *facepalm*

  • Lori

    Sadly, no. His wife was either still really out of it from the birth or is the most clueless creature on earth because she apparently didn’t get it until other people were all WTH?

    And apparently there is actually more than on Espn and I need to go find a wall to bang my head against.

    http://badbreeders.net/2006/10/08/bad-baby-names-dad-names-child-espn/

    Some people need a good smack.

  • Kiba

    Have you seen this?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMp_xGeQ2v0

    Seems people just love giving kids really shitty names regardless of the time period. 

  • Lori

    You obviously have the legal right to do a great many things to your child, even if it’s going to result in teasing by other children. Saving a few bucks by sending your kid to school with a mock-worthy mess of a haircut, when you wouldn’t butcher your own hair for the same savings, is still sort of a dick move. It implicitly treats your presentation and appearance as important and the presentation and appearance of your child as trivial, which is pretty unfair to the kid.

    You have a perfect right to do it, but unless your financial situation is very dire and your appearance has a pretty strong barring on your ability to get/keep/do your job then I’m going to think less of you for doing it.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    It depends. You don’t have the right to give your child a crappy haircut to save a couple bucks when you have the money to get them a decent haircut. You do have the right to teach your child your values, and to teach them things generally, leading to them being teased about being a geek for knowing stuff.

    It’s not all-or-nothing. There’s a reasonable middle ground. Some stuff matters, and should be held onto in spite of bullying. (It’s not simply teasing in American schools.) Other stuff doesn’t so much, and can be changed so your kid can get along better. Avoiding-bullying should not be the be all end all, but neither should standing up for principles when bullying is so severe in American schools. This is the atmosphere your kid lives in, like it or not — how much pain are you willing for them to go through? 

    Basically, as my dad would say: choose your battles, is this the ditch you want to die in, etc.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I asked about “teasing” because that’s the verb IN used. I’m well aware that bullying happens in American schools. For that matter, so does aggravated assault and homicide.

    I agree that there are reasonable positions that are less all-or-nothing than the position I asked about. That’s why I asked about the position I asked about, to establish what side of that line IN had intended to stake their claim on.

    To be clearer: I don’t have a problem with the idea that subjecting my kids to social harm just to save a few bucks that I’m willing to spend for my own gratification is bad parenting.

    I do have a problem with the idea that raising kids in a way that exposes them to social harm is in and of itself bad parenting.

    And I have a huge problem with the idea that the proper way to allocate responsibility for social harm is to blame the victims of that harm for not fitting in properly (or blame their parents for allowing them not to fit in properly) rather than to blame their attackers for attacking them (or blame their parents for allowing them to attack).

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I don’t think that’s at all what Lliira was suggesting. Rather, I think there’s a powerful tendency for parents to trivialize the importance of social harm to their children.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Sure. I’m not claiming that Lliira was suggesting anything in particular. And I agree that it’s tempting to trivialize the social status of children.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    That was really what I was trying to get at – that adults tend to forget what it’s like when kids, who don’t yet have the social training to keep their adverse opinions to themselves*, pile on to the person who becomes the nail-that-sticks-up-from-the-wood.

    Yes, a good parent can console their child and try to explain why a decision the parent made is considered good in the long run, but young people are particularly disposed to being group-social and as such this really doesn’t lean much against the winds of 6 hours of relentless barbed teasing per day.


    * While this trait sometimes leads adults astray as in when they become yes-people to CEOs and so on, it serves the socially valuable function of being able to articulate in an appropriate setting to someone else why they are being regarded less well than they would otherwise be.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Fair enough.

    For my own part, I am more comfortable with a social model that explicitly includes forms of moral authority that supersede peer pressure, at any age.

    But I certainly agree that simply dismissing and trivializing peer pressure (as distinct from acknowledging that it’s not the sole or even primary source of authority) is a bad idea.

  • Lori

    The thing is, this is never going to be just an issue of recognizing moral authority that supersedes peer pressure. Even if the child does recognize the underlying truth that what the other kids say isn’t the be all and end all of life, it still sucks to be the kid that gets picked on. I think that if you’re going to subject your child to that when it could be avoided it needs to be for a way better reason that saving a couple bucks you can afford to spend (and which you do spend on yourself) or wanting to teach them an Important Life Lesson. It’s not necessarily true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Sometimes what doesn’t kill you just wears you down so that the next thing kills you. There are enough things that can get a kid picked on that can’t or shouldn’t be changed. Making a kid fight a daily battle over something that could easily be different just seems cruel to me.

    Circling back to the dumb name issue—if some nominally adult uber sports fan wants to head on down to the courthouse and change his/her name to Espn I will think that person is a moron, but other than rolling my eyes really hard I’ll stay out of it because it’s none of my nevermind. Same goes for an adult who wants to have an unusual hairdo or atypical body modifications or whatever. If the person is complaining about not being about to get a job or a promotion, depending on their field I’ll probably point out that there may be a connection between their chosen personal presentation and their career issues.  Beyond that, it’s that person’s decision and balancing competing desires (unusual hair vs better job) is up to them.

    Kids (with good reason) don’t have the same freedom to make their own decisions. Because of that I think it’s important for parents to be really careful what burdens they decide to make their child carry, even if it is supposedly trivial or for their own good. You as the adult get to make the decisions, but you’re not the one living with the consequences and it’s not fair to forget or minimize that.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I agree that it’s important for parents to be careful what burdens they allow and encourage their children to carry, and that forgetting or minimizing the consequences of those choices is a bad thing. But attending to the consequences of encouraging my child to stand against peer pressure does not mean never encouraging my child to stand against peer pressure.

    I agree, as I said before, that subjecting my kids to social harm just to save a few bucks that I’m willing to spend for my own gratification is bad parenting. I also agree that subjecting my kids to social harm just to give them a dumb name for no good reason is bad parenting.

    But when the rhetoric starts to approach the line between “subjecting kids to social harm in exchange for this is bad parenting” to “subjecting kids to social harm is bad parenting,” I think it’s important to push back on that, because the latter just ain’t so.

    For example, I’m not sure what the difference is between an “Important Life Lesson” and an important life lesson. Depending on the difference, I might agree that subjecting my kids to social harm for the sake of an “Important Life Lesson” is necessarily bad parenting. But I certainly wouldn’t agree that subjecting my kids to social harm for the sake of an important life lesson is necessarily bad parenting.

    So I guess the question I want to ask here is, on your view, what is worth subjecting children to social harm for, if anything? And how do we make that determination?

  • Lori

      So I guess the question I want to ask here is, on your view, what is worth subjecting children to social harm for, if anything? And how do we make that determination? 

    I think this is one of those issues where it’s easier to talk about specific examples than generalities, but I’d say that in general if it’s a deeply held principle it’s one thing, and if it’s trivial, or you just not getting or agreeing with “kids these days” then you probably ought to rethink it.

    Raising your kid vegetarian because you really think it’s wrong to kill animals for food and therefore sending “odd” foods in the kid’s lunch—-you talk to the child about why it’s important to you and why they may just have to learn to shrug off the kids who say stupid shit about tofu.

    Refusing to let your kid have some harmless trendy item that they want, you can afford and to which you have aesthetic, but not moral objections? You probably just need to open your wallet and save the kid getting hassled for not having it. Save teaching them the value of individualism for something where the child’s genuine wants are at odds with the trend and the dangers of materialism for something that costs more.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I don’t mind specific examples.
    I agree that subjecting people to social harm for trivial reasons is a bad idea.
    I agree that subjecting my kids to social harm solely for the sake of my aesthetic opinions is poor parenting.

  • Carstonio

    Peer pressure treats all difference or nonconformity as objectionable. It doesn’t distinguish between differences that are harmful to the group and differences that aren’t. That’s a distinction that even many adults don’t grasp. Although there are instances where peer pressure serves a social good, such as disapproval of bullying or prejudice, what supersedes it is the principle that difference or nonconformity itself is morally neutral. Offhand I don’t know the best way of teaching that lesson.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    what supersedes [peer pressure] is the principle that difference or nonconformity
    itself is morally neutral. Offhand I don’t know the best way of teaching
    that lesson.

    I’m on board with this. I’m not sure it’s the only relevant principle, but it’s a good one. And I’m not sure what the best way to teach it either, but it’s worth teaching.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I am more comfortable with a social model that explicitly includes forms of moral authority that supersede peer pressure, at any age.

    And it would be great if schools were like that. They are not.

    I have experience with this. Direct experience. The only time I’ve been seriously suicidal in my life was in elementary school. I was bullied horrible — why? Because I did not wear the right clothes. When I think about the things I went through, I still get upset. I will never, ever, ever get over it. 

    It’s not victim-blaming to say you should try what you can to make your kid’s life easier in school. Acting like we’re in a perfect world is not going to create that perfect world.

    You’re using a slippery slope argument, by the way. No one ever suggested you shouldn’t teach your kids to stand up to peer pressure, or that you should shape your entire childrearing philosophy around avoiding them having social problems. Life is not all or nothing.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Yes, I agree that it would be great if schools could communicate some sort of notion of right and wrong that was more significant than peer pressure. And I agree that they don’t. 

    I agree that it is not victim-blaming to say you should try what you can to make your kid’s life easier in school. That said, as I’ve said before, some things are more important than that, and I think it’s important to say so.

    I agree that life is not all or nothing.

    And as far as slippery slope arguments go… well, OK, if you’re going to explicitly judge my reasoning, then I will explicitly defend it.

    At no time did I ever say, or believe, that life is all-or-nothing. Or that saying you should make your kid’s life easier in school is victim-blaming. Or that acting like we’re in a perfect world is going to create that perfect world. Or that bulllying (and, for that matter, assault and homicide) don’t happen in schools. Or that schools effectively teach a moral authority that supersedes peer pressure.

    I started out by asking InvisibleNeutrino to clarify their position, because what they’d initially said could easily be taken to mean that it’s necessarily bad parenting to subject kids to social harm for the sake of a moral principle, and I thought that was importantly false. They have since done so, which is great.

    In the meantime, a bunch of people weighed in by raising various related issues in response to me. Which is fine; this is a public forum, and they are free to do so.

    I responded in turn by explicitly agreeing with some things, explicitly disagreeing with other things, and clarifying my own position where it seems appropriate. I will continue to do so. I endorse all of that, and I don’t agree that it constitutes any sort of slippery slope argument.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    By the way, in case it wasn’t clear enough, I was trying to draw an analogy between parental discretion wrt their children by referring to naming them.

    Explicitly stated:

    Just as you wouldn’t name a child something that could get them obviously teased (e.g. “Mike Hunt”), because the effort involved is relatively minor compared to dealing with the tears and upset years later, laying out the three times a year times eight bucks for a good haircut is relative chump change to dealing with the resentments and anger childhood teasing (and I mean of the nasty kind) can cause.

    As counterintuitive as it sounds to say this, sometimes just going along with basic norms of social conformity can lubricate the path to an easier time for your child.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     I think this is now the fourth time on this thread that I’ve agreed that subjecting children to social harm solely in order to save some money that I’m willing to spend on my own indulgences is bad parenting.

    If this wasn’t sufficiently clear, this includes, but not limited to, bad cheap haircuts when I can afford better ones.

    That said, I’m willing to keep agreeing to this as often as people feel inclined to insist that however hard it may be for me to believe, really, it is honest-to-gods actually  true.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    The reason people keep saying this is because of your first post on the matter:

    Just to clarify: do you really mean to suggest that as a parent, I don’t have the right to make choices that might lead other children to tease my child? Or that I necessarily ought not do so, even if I have the right to?

    That wasn’t taking the kind of circumstances we were discussing into account. It was an all-or-nothing question. You’ve since said things that make me think it was not meant to be. That being the case, what were you meaning to ask? Because you seem to be growing frustrated with people answering the original question, and it feels like we’re now at that point of arguing even though we agree.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    My original post, which you quote, was a request to IN to clarify their meaning.

    More precisely, they seemed to me to be suggesting something I disagreed with. So I articulated the thing they seemed to me to be suggesting, and asked them if they were in fact suggesting it. I find that’s a good way to avoid misunderstandings.

    And they replied to that question, quite a while ago, which gave me the clarification I wanted, which is great.

    I accept that in the process I somehow seemed to suggest that there are  no bad reasons to subject children to social harm, and that telling me that there really honest-to-god do exist bad reasons
    to subject children to social harm was therefore intended as an answer to my original question.

    I’m hoping that sooner or later I will manage to successfully express the fact that I agree with this and don’t need to be informed of it again, so we can move on.

    As for my being frustrated: well, sure, it’s frustrating to have people repeatedly assume that basic life lessons, like “social harm hurts” and “ignoring the hurtful consequences of my actions is a bad thing” and “stupid shit isn’t worth people getting hurt over,” are not only things I’ve somehow failed to learn in my life, but furthermore are things I need to be told repeatedly even after I’ve agreed with them the first two times I’ve been informed of them.  Being treated as a remedial student is bad enough, but being treated as a remedial student who is resistant to instruction is worse.

    That said, nobody is under any obligation to treat me differently; rather, it’s my obligation to respond civilly or bow out. That doesn’t stop me from feeling frustrated by it, though.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Would it be considered ‘fiscally responsible’ to pay 2-3 TIMES as much for health care (about 16% of GDP vs. 7-8% of GDP) as all those ‘socialist’ countries that provide universal health care. Because that is what we have been doing. And Republicans do everything they can to preserve this incredibly wasteful system.

    How about all the fraud and abuse by military contractors like Haliburton? Truman won his spurs by investigating waste … during WWII. A Democratic senator investigating a Democratic administration and CORRECTING abuses. When did any Republican demand and head up an investigation like that? Not during the GWBush administration. All they did was attack anyone who criticized anything as ‘unpatriotic’.

  • Lori

    Mark Kleiman points out another dubious bit of behavior from the party of “fiscal responsibility”:

    The Republicans, having spent all of last campaign season fretting about
    how “policy uncertainty” was crippling the economic recovery, have now decided to impose a rolling series of debt-ceiling crises on the country every three months until Santa brings them the unspecified spending cuts they wanted for Christmas.

    http://www.samefacts.com/2013/01/watching-conservatives/let-me-be-sure-i-have-this-clear/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+RealityBasedCommunity+%28The+RBC%29&utm_content=Google+Reader