NRA: Mojo rising

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; Chapter 6

Our Antichrist is busy getting all Antichrist-y in this chapter, but does he know that’s what he’s doing?

On the one hand, our story so far has often suggested that Nicolae Carpathia must know that he is the Antichrist of Tim LaHaye’s “Bible prophecy” mythos. Much of his behavior only makes sense if he knows this — if he has studied the footnotes of the Scofield Bible and the premillennial dispensationalist writings of people like LaHaye and Hal Lindsey. He has been following their End Times check list too precisely to accept that he is not intimately familiar with it.

A “literal” reading of the Bible never says that the Antichrist will have hypnotic super-powers. But then, of course, a literal reading of the Bible never mentions “the Antichrist.”

Just consider the city of New Babylon. Nicolae spent much of his first year and a half in office building this gleaming new world capital in the middle of the desert just so that he could claim to have rebuilt ancient Babylon. That’s something no one would ever imagine or attempt unless he was intent on establishing himself as the very particular sort of Antichrist imagined by a very particular school of “Bible prophecy.”

The building of this city is too weird and too specific for any possibility other than that Nicolae has a dog-eared copy of The Late Great Planet Earth that he’s using as a daily planner. It shows he knows himself to be the Antichrist — and not just some generic Antichrist type, but explicitly the PMD Antichrist. It is only in that particular school of End Times mania that anyone reads biblical allusions to Babylon as prophecies of the rebuilding of Nebuchadnezzar’s literal kingdom on its original site. (This is just one of many ways that any random reggae musician is a more reliable biblical exegete than Tim LaHaye.)

On the other hand, our story has also often suggested that Nicolae Carpathia cannot know that he is the Antichrist. It seems that for every action he takes that only makes sense if he’s studying LaHaye’s check list, he takes another action that only makes sense if he is completely ignorant of these “prophecies” and what they say is coming next.

It won’t help us to sort this out by skipping ahead to later volumes or to the prequels, where the authors imagine they settle this question. The story so far is too firmly committed to both answers for the contradiction to be resolved that way. Based on his actions and his agenda thus far, Nicolae has to know that he is the Antichrist. And based on his actions and his agenda thus far, Nicolae cannot know that he is the Antichrist.*

In this chapter, during his business meeting with his “sovereign” underlings, Nicolae again suggests both contradictory answers. He shrugs off the significance of Tsion Ben-Judah, seeming as though he’s never heard of the army of Jewish converts LaHaye’s prophecy check list foretells. And he lays out a long-term political agenda with plans for infrastructure and energy investment that he would never bother with if he knew he was the Antichrist and had only five and a half years remaining before Armageddon. Yet this chapter also gives us one of the most explicit scenes yet of Nicolae employing his Antichrist superpowers with a deliberateness that would seem impossible unless he knew, with certainty, exactly who he was and what his role was in the unfolding prophetic check list.

Here, again, Nicolae wields the mind-control mojo** he used back in the anticlimax to the first book. This time Jerry Jenkins tries to give us a clearer picture of how these mind-control powers work. In doing so, he shows Nicolae enjoying the use of his powers and employing them in a way that only makes sense if he knows he is the Antichrist.

Rayford Steele, eavesdropping on this meeting, gets a case of the sanctified shivers in the presence of this display of the dark arts:

Rayford felt a tingle up his spine and nearly turned, convinced someone was standing right outside the cockpit door. Finally the feeling became so foreboding and pervasive that he whipped off his headphones and stood, leaning to peek through the fish-eye peephole. No one was there. Was God trying to tell him something? He was reminded of the same sense of fear that had overcome him when Buck had told his terrifying story of sitting through a meeting where Carpathia had single-handedly hypnotized and brainwashed everyone in the room except Buck.

That last sentence is clumsy, but when you’re trying to have one protagonist remember the feelings of the other one it’s hard to write clearly.

Only born-again Christians like Rayford and Buck feel this ominous sense of evil when Nicolae works his magic. And having their spiritual amulet of protection, such Christians are shielded from the effects of the spell. I’m not sure whether or not Nicolae knows this about his mind-control powers, but if he does, then that effectively gives him another super ability — the ability to detect born-again Christians.

Rayford sat back in his seat and put the headphones on. When he depressed the intercom button, it was as if he were hearing a new Carpathia. Nicolae spoke very softly, very earnestly, in a monotone. None of the flourishes and inflections that usually characterized his speech were evident. “I want to tell you all something, and I want you to listen very carefully and understand fully. …”

I’m trying to imagine what an earnest monotone sounds like, but I suppose what Jenkins is going for here is your standard B-movie hypnotist spiel, so I’m guessing Nicolae is speaking here in the same kind of voice in which one would say, “You are getting sleepy … sleeeeepy.”

Still speaking like a sideshow hypnotist, Nicolae describes his plan:

“Within the next few months we shall all announce unanimous decisions allowing us to control business, education, health care, and even the way your individual kingdoms choose their leaders. The fact is, democracy and voting will be suspended. They are inefficient and not in the best interests of the people. Because of what we will provide people, they will quickly understand that this is correct. Each of you can go back to your subjects and honestly tell them that this was your idea, you raised it, you sought support of your colleagues and me for it, and you prevailed. I will publicly reluctantly accede to your wishes, and we will all win.”

After all the murky tax and energy discussion, it’s refreshing to hear the embodiment of evil endorsing something more unambiguously wicked — and I think the abolition of “democracy and voting” certainly counts as truly evil. But I can’t figure out why Nicolae, or the authors, thinks this is a new step at this point in the story.

The 10 men Nicolae is talking to here were appointed by the potentate to rule over their “kingdoms.” They were not elected and they did not face the prospect of needing to be re-elected. They have, for more than a year, been accountable only to the potentate above them and not at all to their “subjects” below them.

So I have no idea what it means now for the Antichrist to “suspend” democracy and voting. He did that 18 months ago. Democracy and voting haven’t been part of this story since all the children disappeared. And he isn’t proposing any change in the way the “individual kingdoms choose their leaders” — he already did that when he chose their leaders for them.

No one says anything at first in response to Nicolae’s suggestion, but it’s not because they’re confused by the suspension of non-existent democracy. It’s only because his mind-control mojo apparently takes a moment to take effect:

Rayford listened to a long silence, wondering if his bugging device was malfunctioning. He released and depressed it several times, finally deciding that no one was saying anything in the conference area. So this was the mind control Buck had witnessed firsthand.

Eventually, the mojo-ified princes all begin suggesting back to Nicolae the same policies he just fed them. They begin “talking over each other” and “parroting back to him” the instructions he had given them.

“The meeting lasted another couple of hours,” Jenkins tells us. I’m grateful he opted to summarize most of that. We don’t hear any more of Nicolae’s specific evil plans until one last final spasm at the end of the chapter, in which the authors pull out the big guns and have the Antichrist endorse the mostest-evilest thing they can imagine: legal abortion.

“We cannot pretend that the world as we know it has not been almost destroyed by this outbreak of global war. It is not over yet. There will be more skirmishes. …”

Raining nuclear bombs on major cities isn’t usually described as a “skirmish.” But enough about nuclear mass-murder, what about the really evil stuff? What about abortion?

“There will be more surreptitious attacks. We will have to reluctantly access our power base of weaponry, which you all know I am loath to do, and many more thousands of lives will be lost in addition to the hundreds of thousands already taken. …”

The authors seem to regard Nicolae’s estimate there of “hundreds of thousands” of dead as roughly accurate. This is after he has destroyed (at least) the cities of London, Washington, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Toronto and San Francisco with nuclear weapons — metropolitan areas that are home to more than 40 million people.

Once again, population estimates don’t seem to be the authors’ strong suit, which is why they have their Antichrist fretting about the supposed strain of post-Rapture, post-nuclear overpopulation. A problem he proposes solving with lots and lots of — yep, here it is — abortions:

“Those who would oppose us will take advantage of the impossibility of our peacekeeping forces to be everywhere at once, and this will result in famine, poverty, and disease. In one way, there is a positive side to this. Due to the incredible cost of rebuilding, the fewer people we must feed and whose standard of living we must raise, the more quickly and economically we can do this. As the population level decreases and then stabilizes, it will be important for us to be sure that it does not then explode again too quickly. With proper legislation regarding abortion, assisted suicide, and the reduction of expensive care for the defective and the handicapped, we should be able to get a handle on worldwide population control.”

Here again a reminder: Every child on Earth disappeared in the Rapture. Every parent left behind became immediately childless. Every mother lost her every son and every daughter. Every father lost his every child. Every grandparent lost all of their grandchildren. Every aunt and uncle lost every niece and nephew.

This has had no effect on the plot of this story. This has had no effect on the characters in this story.

The Event didn’t just take away every child, but every pregnancy, with every pregnant woman on the planet instantaneously becoming un-pregnant at the moment of the Rapture. The authors drew particular attention to that aspect of the Event back in Book 1 — describing a video from a hospital maternity ward that captured the moment on tape:

Then came the scream and the dropping of the camera, terrified voices, running nurses, and the doctor. CNN reran the footage in superslow motion, showing the woman going from very pregnant to nearly flat-stomached, as if she had instantaneously delivered.

And yet never, in the hundreds of pages that followed, did the authors or any characters in their story ever wonder — after the disintegration of every child on Earth along with the miraculous termination of every pregnancy — if this meant that humans would never again be able to have children. The jarring “Eighteen months later” time-skip at the end of the second book skipped over the period nine months after the Event in which, if it were possible, the first children would have been born in the post-Rapture baby boom.

The authors never tell us that baby boom happened, but they never tell us it didn’t happen either.*** Like all of their characters, the authors don’t seem to have given a second thought to the missing children or to the implications of a childless world.

It is only now, more than 800 pages later, that we get this back-handed, tangential acknowledgement that apparently, yes, pregnancy and childbirth are indeed possible post-Rapture. And the only reason we learn this is because without such new pregnancies, the Antichrist would have nothing to abort.

Of course that still doesn’t explain why, just 18 months after the world’s population instantaneously dropped from 7 billion to less than 4 billion, anyone would be worried about trying “to get a handle on worldwide population control.”

- – - – - – - – - – - -
* This is one of the reasons I enjoyed Gordon Currie’s portrayal of Nicolae in those awful movie adaptations of the first two books. As the actor playing this character, Currie had to make a choice. It had to be one or the other — either he could play Nicolae as knowing he was the Antichrist or play him as not knowing. Yet neither the screenplay nor the books would allow him as an actor to commit to one or the other and stick with it without contradicting that choice several times along the way. So Currie chose the only option he had left and just camped it up as much as he could get away with. Since that was the only choice left to him, I think it was the right choice. If the character you’re playing isn’t permitted to make sense, then you can at least try to make him entertaining.

Still no word on who will be playing Nicolae in the upcoming Nicolas Cage-led reboot of Left Behind. I’m hoping for Charlie Sheen. I might have said Adam Baldwin, but since the parts of Rayford and Buck have already been cast, I’ve had to give up on my dream of an all-Baldwin ensemble, with Alec as Rayford and Stephen as Buck.

** Since the authors insist that these books are a literal portrayal of the literal events literally prophesied in the Bible, you may be wondering where in the Bible it says that the Antichrist will have superpowers, including his own Satanic version of the Jedi mind-trick. The Bible doesn’t actually say that.

My guess is that the authors gave Nicolae such superpowers based on their “literal” reading of Revelation 13, which describes two “beasts” — the first of which the authors regard as their Antichrist. Of that first beast, the Apocalypse says, “the dragon gave it his power and his throne and great authority. … The beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months.” And then of the second beast, it says, “by the signs that it is allowed to perform on behalf of the beast, it deceives the inhabitants of earth.”

Once you understand how the authors got from that to Nicolae’s mind-control mojo, you’ll understand what Tim LaHaye really means when he says he always reads the Bible “literally.”

*** Here is, as far as I remember, the only conversation in any of these books in which anyone expresses the slightest concern or curiosity about whether the conception of new children would be possible post-Event. This is Hattie Durham and Rayford Steele talking on the phone, back in the first book:

“Things are getting so strange,” she said. “You know I have a sister who works in a pregnancy clinic.”

“Uh-huh,” Rayford said. “You’ve mentioned it.”

“They do family planning and counseling and referrals for terminating pregnancies.”

“Right.”

“And they’re set up to do abortions right there.”

Hattie seemed to be waiting for some signal of affirmation or acknowledgment that he was listening. Rayford grew impatient and remained silent.

“Anyway,” she said, “I won’t keep you. But my sister told me they have zero business.”

“Well, that would make sense, given the disappearances of unborn babies.”

“My sister didn’t sound too happy about that.”

“Hattie, I imagine everyone’s horrified by that. Parents are grieving all over the world.”

“But the women my sister and her people were counseling wanted abortions.”

Rayford groped for a pertinent response. “Yes, so maybe those women are grateful they didn’t have to go through the abortion itself.”

“Maybe, but my sister and her bosses and the rest of the staff are out of work now until people start getting pregnant again.”

“I get it. It’s a money thing.”

“They have to work. They have expenses and families.”

“And aside from abortion counseling and abortions, they have nothing to do?”

“Nothing. Isn’t that awful? I mean, whatever happened put my sister and a lot of people like her out of business, and nobody really knows yet whether anyone will be able to get pregnant again.”

Rayford had to admit he had never found Hattie guilty of brilliance, but now he wished he could look into her eyes. “Hattie, um, I don’t know how to ask this. But are you saying your sister is hoping women can get pregnant again so they’ll need abortions and she can keep working?”

“Well, sure. What is she going to do otherwise?”

  • P J Evans

    FWIW, the label ‘Discussion’, at the top left end of the thread, hides the preference setting for comment order. Since Disqus sucks, it uses the default value of ‘best’. Set it to either ‘oldest’ or ‘newest’, and you at least get them in some kind of order.

  • misanthropy_jones

    thinking about it, i’d like to see a story about an antichrist who is sincerely trying to make the world better. only everytime he comes up with a good idea, it gets screwed up due to his bungling sidekick.
    sorta like gilligan’s island, only setcagainst the backdrop of the apocalypse…

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Soy bombs. They’re just like the real thing, provided you’ve never tasted an actual nuclear weapon. ^_~

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

    And it might be that there’s a little yellow bar to the right side of the bottom of the last comment you’ve read, which will open the newer comments if you click it. Or, Disqus might just be buggy as hell.

  • piny

    Wait, but…that…I mean…you’re going to resurrect someone just because it will give you a way better opportunity to kill him again than if you’d just let him stay dead? Is that the argument? Is this what happens to your brain when you try to insist that the Bible is meant to be taken literally? You start thinking like a concussed Timelord?

  • Helena Constantine

    This is highly relevant to this week’s section, and has to be read to be beleived:

    “Every time I see a headline about a group’s reaction after a closed door meeting with Obama, I can’t help but think of how Buck felt watching the room full of people be hypnotized by Nicolae Carpathia.

    The Republicans saying, “Obama is really reaching out”, or “I really think we made some headway in solving this problem”, etc.

    It kinda scares me. Is he blackmailing them? Has he had the FBI snoop into their backgrounds to find any dirty little secret. Is he bribing them? Has he threatened their families? Why were they so willing to cave in to his agenda?

    If only DC was filled with godly people. (sigh)

    Can’t wait to meet the Lord in the sky.”

    http://rr-bb.com/showthread.php?184846-Creepy-quot-Left-Behind-quot-Thought&p=2369026#post2369026

  • Lori

    Sadly, that comment doesn’t surprise me at all. The posters on Rapture Ready are pretty much exactly what you’d expect from people who hang out at a place called “Rapture Ready”.

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

    One detail I rather like is that it doesn’t really matter a bit whether or not the Prince of South America actually had a drug & weapons cache; it’s still just as effective against his peers & successor regardless.

    On the other hand, what’s this about “elect[ing]” a new Prince??

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Really reminds me of L&J’s take on the way the antichrist works. “Oh no! People are making peace! That must mean… they’re making war! Don’t trust the wolves in sheeps’ clothing! Quick! Everybody! Back to the wolves!”

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    sorta like gilligan’s island, only setcagainst the backdrop of the apocalypse…

    Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
    A Tale of the End of Days,
    It started in an aeroport,
    ‘Twas writ by Tim LaHaye
    The Cap was a douchey flyin’ man,

    The reporter, we’re not sure,
    If he’d ever done reporting ‘fore
    The millennial rapture
    The millennial rapture
    The plotting started getting rough,
    Heroic deeds were lost,
    It they didn’t have a captive audience,
    Their sales would all be lost
    Their sales would all be lost!

    The narrative ran aground with this
    Dull UN Potentate, for
    Afghanistan!
    Albania!
    Algeria!
    Andorra!
    Angola!
    Antigua and The Rest!

    Here! On! Left! Be! Hind!

  • Quijotesca

    But BIG GOVERNMENT!!111!!!

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    You know, I wonder if most clinics that provide abortion (I refuse to say “abortion clinics” because that tends to imply that is their primary or only function) also offer public facility tours? The next time some group of protesters gathers outside, offering them open spots on a scheduled tour. Heck, get a good script going, maybe a little wall with posters explaining not only the process, but why people might make that choice.

    Make living in ignorance the path that requires more effort than informing themselves would. Open up the cracks in the wall of ignorance, and let the waters of knowledge pour in and do their work.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I suppose that does work in the logic of the post-tribulation world.

    I just wonder how that applies to people in this world who believe in a sinless innocence before coming of age while simultaneously condemning abortion “because of the children”.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    In my defense, I had myself sterilized before my twenty-second birthday.

    I decided that I had to do my part to prevent any uncontrolled generation of progeny, I have to be just as responsible as anyone else of any sex.

    So as you can imagine, putting any similar technology on men is not something I have any issues with.

  • Mark Z.

    I like your vague reference to “authorities”. What “authorities”? Oh, you know, some authority. It’s not like anyone would abuse that power. They’d only control who gets to reproduce.

    Don’t pretend that has anything in common with the goal of making birth control available. They’re not related at all. You don’t want to give people the tools to control their own fertility; you want to control it for them.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Less eugenic and more economic.

    I believe that such technologies could be used to help mitigate these inequalities. Having a child is a little like having an ongoing medical condition, not only is it a burden to deal with but you are stuck paying bills for the rest of your life. We can make sure that having a child does not happen, by accident or misplaced intention, until the couple is in a position to handle it.

    Plus, it allows us a great amount of control over how fast the market expands. We can adjust the rate quite easily to prevent families from flooding the market with new people faster than we can structure to ensure available jobs. In this way, combined with other approaches, we can adjust the economy to remove some of those structural issues that allow things like poverty to develop. When the total amount of people is at close to parity with the total number of jobs, we will see a wide rise in wages as companies actually have to compete for employees.

    People have value. Unfortunately, when there are too many they become under valued, under payed, and treated like crap. I want to make sure that our structure’s ability to value and care for people is not over taken by our ability to produce new people. Everyone deserves a chance, let us make sure that enough chances exist for everyone.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    In fairness, depending on the yield of the bomb and where it detonated, it might not destroy a whole city, just a substantial part of it.

    The people caught in the initial blast zone will die almost instantly. The people in a zone just outside that will be… less lucky.

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

    Not on Safari. Also Disqus seems to keep resetting to “best”.

    I know the flat order is in there, I get it when I turn off Javascript. (Hint to Safari users: enable the Develop menu in the Advanced pane and get quick access to disable all sorts of annoying things).

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Okay, fair enough. I just assumed that the reason executed abortion providers were so rare on the trees by that time was because they had been the first up against the wall when the revolution came, and the others were just stragglers that had been dragged out of hiding to be killed with the others.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche
  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I think that the reality is that a lot of the Republican politicians are getting just as tired of the obstructionist thing as the Democrats are, and the element of their base which demands it is increasingly marginal, and thus the political costs for cooperating are being reduced.

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

    Wow. It sounds like the thing became a total charlie foxtrot.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    That sounds like an idea that has a lot that’s good about it, but would likely have insurmountable problems with security and maintaining patient privacy.

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

    You’d think, but the protesters, high off their own self-righteous indignation, would probably just take the chance to wreck shit.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    It is not clear to me that using technology to forcibly control the fertility of other people would be a more feasible solution to making “sure that having a child does not happen, by accident or misplaced intention, until the couple is in a position to handle it” than “And if you tell the state you’re pregnant, they will step in and give you financial assistance, tax benefits, medical benefits and whatever else they can come up with to help ensure that the you are in a position to handle it.” But it’s quite clear to me that it is a less moral one.

  • Lorehead

    Well, you can interpret the Gospels so that Satan did get Jesus killed; C.S. Lewis drew on that reading. Nikos Kazantzakis had a different and interesting take on this in The Last Temptation of Christ.

  • AnonaMiss

    “Elect” just means “choose” – though we tend to assume it means democratically, it doesn’t have to.

  • Lori

    The exact nature of the charlie foxtrot was a surprise. Thank goodness it’s not every day that someone stands up in public, in polite company and goes full white supremacist.

    Still, the fact that the panel went horribly wrong in some fashion is not a surprise at all. The title alone perfectly sums up everything that’s awful about the GOP and race, and then the speaker and the audience threw in a nice slice of what’s wrong with the GOP on women’s issues as a side order. Bonus!

    I wonder what ol’ “Liberals Are Just Mean” Jeff has to say about the whole brouhaha? I suspect we’ll never know.

  • j_bird

    Well, yes, I understand the attraction of the hypothetical benefits of state-controlled fertility. And yes, I understand that having a kid is a huge, lifelong burden. It’s why I am considering not reproducing.

    But you haven’t addressed my concerns about classism and racism, nor stated why *putting a chip inside every woman’s body* would be a better idea than simply giving out free birth control (and replacing all the abstinence education that’s still out there with real, shame-free sex ed). Besides, are we assuming that this is some futuristic miracle device that has no potential for damage to the body or adverse reaction and cannot be surreptitiously removed by the implantee?

    I agree that the idea is good fodder for a BSG episode. But if you seriously think it would be a good idea for the real world, I would suggest that you think through the ethical problems and maybe read about the history of letting only the right people reproduce. (Trying not to Godwin the thread here, but it’s hard.)

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

    And “how not to sound racist?”

    Just… NO. (>_<)

  • Lori

    The actual title of the panel was, if anything worse. It was “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?”

    Just try to unpack all the “Oh hell no” in that.

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

    The only reaction can be WUT U DOIN REPUBS. STAHP.

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    I’m writing this as a response to a comment that has already been made, but because of how Disqus shuffles things around I can’t find which one:

    Okay, so we’re trying to demonstrate Nicholae is evil. And instead of him doing anything overtly cruel or evil, his big master plan he’s describing is sort of… trivial. Mundane?

    Thing is there’s sort of a great missed opportunity here. For comparison, I’d draw attention to the Coalition Provisional Authority, the government which ruled Iraq during the critical year after the fall of Saddam Hussein. (Note: The following is from memory and I have not double-checked all of this for cites.) This government faced Nicholae-like problems– a world which was descending into violence and chaos around them. And their response to these problems was… well, trivial. They shut themselves off in well-guarded palaces, didn’t look at the pain and suffering around them. They passed regulations on health care and income and business taxes– model laws the young Republicans running the place would have liked to have seen in the U.S.– while the hospitals weren’t open, the economy was not functioning, and the basic municipal government that would have collected or used those taxes was essentially switched off. They spent gobs of money on rebuilding elaborate ports, that no ships were coming to, and the oil wasn’t able to flow to anyway. I think this gives us a pretty good model for evil– the sort of Kafka/Dick Cheney model, where sufficiently advanced incompetence has become indistinguishable from malice. Nicholae could be sitting safely in his jumbo jet, clinically spinning plans to institute a gas tax and set up a cell phone network, while entire cities erupt in nuclear fireballs around him. That sounds to me like a supervillain. Even the weird abortion thing would make sense in this context– just as the politically conservative CPA failed to worry about basic reassertion of civil law and focused on ideological hot-button issues like taxes that only made sense in the context of U.S. politics to start with, the politically liberal Nicholae might figure that family planning measures are the most important thing to focus on at the *exact* moment, as the bombs fall and the still-recent disappearance of the world’s children remains unexplained, that this is the last thing on anyone’s mind.

    This doesn’t seem to be what the authors were thinking in this chapter though– they certainly don’t sell it. The excerpts in which Nicholae debuted his gas-tax plan, as well as the abortion bit here, seem to be presented as if the authors expect us to feel mounting horror at the whole outlines of Nicholae’s increasingly solid world-dictator power, with the global gas tax and suspension of democracy having roughly equal weight. I think this is the mindset of the authors leaking though. In the real world, in America, the things woven into Nicholae’s evil plan are the kinds of things that *they* care about, when they get worked up about the passage or prevention of laws in their own provincial state/federal government. Things like, I dunno, fracking aren’t really on their radar. They read the newspapers and they’re super concerned about gas taxes and VATs and they’re definitely concerned about abortion. When asked to outline an “evil” government, all they can think of is the small-politics day to day things they care about and think of as “things political leaders make decisions on??” when following politics in their own country. As privileged individuals, they have never actually suffered oppression, and thus called on to outline a system of oppression they can’t really seem to think of anything.

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

    That’s an interesting point. We’ve noticed before that they rely heavily on strawman Democrats for their idea of supervillainy. It also ties into the tendency of Libertarians to view universal health care and food stamps as being roughly the same, in terms of eroding civil liberties and establishing a nightmarish police state, as (for example) drone strikes and warrantless search and seizure. Sometimes I wonder if they lack perspective; they really don’t see the difference between taxation and slavery, so to them everything is just as bad.

    There’s never a sense that Nicolae’s escalating the way real dictators do; he doesn’t gradually erode civil liberties — in fact, his very first order of business to abolish 99% of the world’s languages, governments, media, religions, etc. and replace them all with ones that he personally controls. His second order of business is to seize control of the world’s weaponry and immediately use it to wpe out several major cities.

    After that, it’s almost impossible for him to really escalate from that point, unless he starts conquering other planets or something.

    It would be like comparing the contemporary Russian prison system to the Soviet gulags. Both are bad, but the sheer horror of the latter makes it almost impossible to top. It’s the same scenario here; Carpathia can’t do anything worse than what he’s already done. Later on, he starts building internment camps and guillotining people, but that’s like stepping down from Hitler to, I dunno, Robespierre. Still bad, but not the same league of devastation.

  • JohnK

    If you’re being accused of being a racist, and you know that you’re
    not, but it still bothers you, then spend some time thinking about how
    some of the things that you say or do may create these impressions.

    What are the odds that any of the recommendations on that panel involved any introspection? Their traditional response to charges of racism made against conservatives usually involves something along the lines of, “black people are racist too!!” (true, and?) or “liberals are racist too!!” (so?) or a sneering comment about welfare queens, liberal ghettos, liberal plantations, or entitlement mentalities, and it sounds as if the panel devolved into merely repeating those comforting things to themselves.

    And they wonder why blacks don’t vote for them in large numbers! Can you imagine if GOP candidates went to evangelical or religious fundamentalist conferences and addressed them with the same generally dismissive and disrespectful attitude that they use when they’re addressing the NAACP? How long do you think they would have a firm grip on that demographic?

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

    Right, but she’s telling them to choose. Rather than choosing herself. That’s what struck me as odd.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I noted last week that it seems like they’re actively trying to do a sort of anti-NABA thing here. A reversal of the way that, say, the defenders of Enhanced Interrogation and Carpet Bombing Civilian Targets will say “Well okay, it’s not ideal, but Hitler killed millions of people. We’re Not As Bad As Hitler, so stop complaining!” Contrariwise, Ellenjay want to be able to point at liberals and say “You want to raise taxes on gasoline by three cents and give everyone free healthcare! You’re Just As Bad As the Antichrist!”

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Even better, half of such discussions wind up breaking down as “Democrats are the REAL racists. They’re the ones who fought for slavery!”

    Because the Democratic party of the 1800′s is exactly like the one of the 2000′s, I suppose.

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

    Speaking of the NAACP the sad fact is that Romney’s was probably the nicest they’ve had in a decade or so. Well, from a Republican.

  • trogon

    As someone who just went more or less through this process to be able to adopt a child, a process far more invasive than getting a basic secret security clearance and infinitely more humiliating, I think this is a horrible idea. Nobody not “approved” by whoever’s in power at the time can have kids? Maybe they’re the wrong race or combination of races, or the wrong religion. Maybe a lesbian couple wants one of them to bear a child in a conservative state, or maybe one or both of the couple just hold politically unpopular positions. Sorry, no kids for you!

    If it was just a “no more accidents” issue of perfectly reliable birth control removable at zero cost by any physician, it’s one thing. But getting “the authorities” in on it? No way in hell.

  • http://twitter.com/DataSnake DataSnake

    There is one explanation for Nicky’s behavior that holds up: he’s toying with supernatural forces, but not quite the ones L&J are thinking of. I’m picturing something more akin to Charles Stross’s Laundry Series: the RTCs who disappeared were worshippers of the Old Gods; they sacrificed their own children to open a portal between worlds and every other child on the planet was sucked through mostly by accident. Before doing this, they carefully seeded the world with “in case of rapture” videos to dupe their surviving loved ones in to sabotaging the authorities’ attempts to prevent armageddon, as well as leaving behind a few “repentant non-RTCs” like Bruce Barnes to guide their catspaws toward the right conclusions. Nicky, meanwhile, is giving himself a crash course on practical magic while trying to hold the world together. The sites he nuked were where other groups of cultists were preparing to open new portals (he didn’t drop anything on NHVC because Bruce was poisoned by Loretta after accidentally letting his true intentions slip and was therefore unable to complete his ritual). He picked Baghdad for his new HQ because it had some occult significance. The pig incident and the whole thing with the mark were increasingly desperate attempts to find a spell that would close off the material world from the realm of Djesus once and for all. Once I get all the details hammered out, I plan to write up a fanfic about this for Right Behind.

  • Mary

    I can’t bring myself to watch that episode because the idea of being forced to carry a pregnancy to term makes me feel sick. I have an extreme fear of pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood (for myself, not for people in general). Even if the human race was in danger of dying out it wouldn’t change my mind about this. It is ALWAYS wrong to force someone to carry a pregnancy to term against their will and it definitely makes me feel iffy about admiring President Roslin too much.

  • SirThinkALot

    I think they should have gone with a literal reading of Revelation and have the anti-christ be a literal multi-headed dragon/lion monster.

  • SirThinkALot

    Just consider the city of New Babylon. Nicolae spent much of his first year and a half in office building this gleaming new world capital in the middle of the desert just so that he could claim to have rebuilt ancient Babylon. That’s something no one would ever imagine or attempt unless he was intent on establishing himself as the very particular sort of Antichrist imagined by a very particular school of “Bible prophecy.”

    Thats actually not THAT crazy, Saddam Hussein tried to re-build Babylon back in the 80s and 90′s and broke the entire country of Iraq in doing so. In fact he was often pegged as the anti-christ back then for that very reason.

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    Maybe Satan is just really bored.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    Your Nicolae is like a cross between Groucho Marx and the Joker. Affably evil, charming, at times funny and so inhumanly erratic that wearing the wrong color tie to work could spell the difference between a promotion to his second-in-command and a death by slow public torture. His attention is insanely dangerous whether he likes you or not, and even his approval can get you killed–few of his lieutenants live more than a few weeks before they say or do something that sets him off; and sometimes they don’t have to do anything at all. He starts wars and creates disasters as sick practical jokes. He welcome any and every grotesque event as an amusing novelty, and he makes elaborate plans but often deliberately wrecks them them simply because he gets bored with them. When he doesn’t, they’re nonsensical and strange, such as attempts to empty the Atlantic Ocean, or carve his face into the Moon, and all of them result in famine, destruction and death.

    And he regards it–all of it–as art, and it’s more important to him than even being tortured by Turbojesus in Hell for eternity. Maybe he even regards THAT as art–the ultimate dramatic ending.

    Creation’s first fully-functional homicidal artist. He makes art until the universe dies.

  • Ima Pseudonym
  • Nick

    I want to see Anton Yelchin (Checkov from the J. J. Abrams Star Trek movies) as Nicolae. The ham must continue!


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