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« Open Thread, and Also, Chris Christie Signs Bill Forbidding Mental Health Professionals From Performing Gay-to-Straight "Conversion" Services on Kids 18 or Under | Main | Actual Open Thread »
August 19, 2013

"But do you not see?" An Extended Excerpt from the Book Mentioned by "Required Reading," Christian Nation

Our Theocracy Nightmare: President Palin's Martial Law, at the failed idiot group blog Salon.

Below, please enjoy, to the extent it is possible, an example of the writer's gift for human dialogue. The dialogue, or, rather, the alternating monologues, occurs after Muslims attack seven different cities and kill seven thousand people on the same day, 7/22. Two days later, President Palin suspends habaeus corpus and declares martial law. A television station called "F3" -- which I assume is "Fox 3," the suggestion being that many channels on the dial are now Fox stations (how clever!) -- is rootin'-tootin' in favor of President Palin's call for complete expurgation of the Muslim threat.

Oh by the way: I have not read the book. I will bet any amount of money that it does not turn out that Muslim terrorists were really responsible for 7/22, but rather that it was all the work of Christian militiamen pretending to be Muslim terrorists in order to pull a Reichstag Fire in order to gift Sarah Palin with plenary executive power. (Of the sort Barack Obama now claims, but who's counting?)

I know I will not have any takers for this bet because it's always the same damn thing with these guys. Serious You Guys False Flag Christian Militia.

When Alex Jones prattles on about this, the right goofs on him; when "Frederic Rich," leftist fantasist extraordinaire does, W.W. Norton books says "Let's publish that."

Anyway, as you read the following Compelling and Realistic Simulacrum of Human Speech, be sure to get yourself some milk, orange juice, and toast, because this dialogue has so much Snap! Crackle! Pop! it makes part of a well-balanced breakfast.

The weekend after 7/22, my friend Sanjay, who runs Theocracy Watch, was at our apartment and the three of us were flipping channels and comparing the coverage. F3 was, as usual, the most dramatic and compelling. The network had suspended regular programming and was running stories on the prior uses of martial law in an attempt to dispel the widespread disquiet by numerous commentators that the loss of constitutional protections represented a victory of sorts for the terrorists. F3 cited, in some cases incorrectly, the Chicago Fire, Hawaii after Pearl Harbor, coal riots in West Virginia, and even Hurricane Katrina as prior uses of martial law. They argued that martial law was routine and necessary in times of national crisis.

Of course, it was not. What was new here was the remarkable cognitive shift required for the states’-rights and individual-freedom-loving opinion makers of F3 to now show unbridled enthusiasm for federal usurpation of fundamental state prerogatives, suspension of the Bill of Rights (including, notably, their precious Second Amendment), and an unprecedented projection of Beltway power into the heartland. Not two years before, F3 itself speculated that, faced with a far more limited projection of federal power, the “bubba” and Christian militias would rise up and defend the Constitution and the people from the threat of tyrannical abuse. This time around, there was no talk of militias or tyranny.

My wife Emilie was not surprised.

I'm totally not gay and my wife Emilie can tell you that.

No, not under oath. What a stickler.

“It depends, of course, which side you are on. If Barack Obama were in the White House and 7/22 happened exactly as it did, the Christian right would be screaming bloody murder about martial law. But since they’re in charge, it’s OK. It’s that simple. Surely you understand that much.”

To be honest, I did have trouble understanding even that much.

Just thought I'd take a break here to allow you to make up your own jokes.

My mind expected and sought principle and coherence.

Another little break for you.

I was not programmed to deal well with pure expediency, and I found it difficult to accept that people could be so easily manipulated into supporting positions that contradicted both their self-proclaimed values and their own interests.

I don't really have to do anything but provide a little space for reflection.

But Karl Rove, Steve Jordan, and the other brilliant political strategists of the republican far right had made their reputations and fortunes doing just that.

“Emilie is right,” said Sanjay. “I think it is that simple. Power is good if it is in your hands and bad if it is in the hands of the enemy. And by the way, the corollary rule is that once extraordinary power is in your hands, risking that same power transferring into the hands of your enemy through free and fair elections is difficult to accept.”

This is sort of true. Sanjay should ask Barack Obama about this, and maybe the entire editorial staff of Salon.

How 'bout this dialogue, folks? I've never been so riveted. I feel like I'm watching the first halting attempts at speech by robots.

And not very bright robots, either.

“Are you saying she’ll suspend the election?” asked Emilie.

“Not at all. She doesn’t need to. This is an election that now she cannot lose. But I am saying that the Christian right has backed itself into a corner. Whether or not the time is really right to make the big push to some kind of theocracy, they have left themselves little choice. Either end martial law before the end of Palin’s second term or use it to create the Christian Nation.”

Of course even Sanjay, with all his foresight, didn’t call that one exactly right.

“And Greg,” Sanjay continued...

I love how everyone mentions eachother's name in every paragraph of dialogue, exactly the same way they do in real life.

Anyway, let's have that all again, without my editorializing. I don't want you to miss out on this brilliance.

"And Greg,” Sanjay continued, “as to the cognitive dissonance, with respect, this is an example of how ‘thinking like a lawyer’ can get you into terrible trouble. People are endowed with reason, but it rarely rules their minds. They have access to logic, but they use it sparingly. One of the most remarkable things about the human brain is its ability to embrace contradictions.”

“San, dear,” Emilie interrupted...

And San. And Greg.

That's how people talk. They say "And," and then the name of the person they're addressing, and then go on for a paragraph or two.

“San, dear,” Emilie interrupted. “if you are going to protect us from Christian extremist knuckleheads, you are going to need to speak more plainly. No one knows or cares about ‘cognitive dissonance.’ Just say what you mean. Most Americans will believe almost anything—golden tablets from God buried under a hill in upstate new york, alien souls bouncing around the universe and inhabiting our bodies, getting to fuck seventy-two virgins as a welcome present when you arrive in heaven—it’s all the same crap. If you are raised to believe it, or are dumb enough and desperate enough, then you’ll believe anything.”

Sanjay, unusually, seemed both amused and annoyed. “You, Emilie,..

"You, Frederic Rich," I said. "Are you kidding me with this?"

Sanjay, unusually, seemed both amused and annoyed. “You, Emilie, will not be writing my speeches.

HAL 9000 will be writing my speeches.

Well not HAL 9000. HAL SPORT, the discount model of HAL.

Okay, I'm going to put this quote all back together so you can see the whole thing in all of its glory.

Are you guys ready? Take a breath. Sanjay's taking a deep breath.

He's about to talk for two or three pages.

Sanjay, unusually, seemed both amused and annoyed. “You, Emilie, will not be writing my speeches and my comments were targeted at tonight’s particular audience, who I assumed to be sufficiently intelligent and educated to handle a bit of philosophical digression. But since I apparently was wrong, let me give you a specific easy-to-understand example. Remember Terri Schiavo? I think history will record the Terri Schiavo affair as one of the seminal events of our modern history, a singular watershed for the evangelical movement and for conservatives. The reconstructionists, previously somewhat at the margins, were propelled to the center of a fight that galvanized the entire Christian right. and what was at the heart of it? You had a question—whether to let the doctors remove life support from a brain-dead woman as authorized by her husband and opposed by her parents. This is and always has been a question solely for the states. There is absolutely nothing in the Constitution that makes any part of this a federal question. Think of it this way: if the Florida court had ordered that the feeding tube not be removed, then any federal intervention would have been anathema to the Christian right—yet another in the long line of grievances where federal courts frustrate the will of the people on federal or constitutional grounds. But this time, the state court ordered the feeding tube removed. So, was their response consistent with their own fundamental political belief—that is, to defer to the state and keep the federal government out of it? no. When federal courts properly declined to intervene, George Bush flew back from Texas, Tom DeLay recalled Congress, and the Congress of the United States attempted, by federal law, to prevent the doctors of a brain-dead woman in Florida from removing her feeding tube because, in the particular belief system of a single sect of a single religion, this is seen as euthanasia and contrary to the law of the Old Testament. A few brave Republicans at the time saw the monumental hypocrisy. You know what Chris Shays, the congressman from Connecticut, said?”

Well that's easy for you to say, said Leo Tolstoy's motor-mouthed brother Serge.

One of my movie reviews just called, it wants its brevity back.

Okay technically that's merely a page and a half of a single, no-paragraph-break speech, at the standard rate of 250 words per page, but I tellz ya, I get the sense this is one of those Big Font/Big White Space books they do. You know, where the book is really a novella at best but no one buys novellas so they try to make it look like a full novel.

So I bet on the actual page it's almost three pages.

And where are the paragraph breaks, for crying out loud?

You know, it's like... okay, hear me out. It's like he doesn't want people to talk in paragraphs -- like maybe someone told him "don't have your characters talk in paragraphs" -- and so he thinks that means don't employ paragraph breaks, even when a character's dialogue should be broken up into several long paragraphs.

It's like he doesn't know how to do that.

"Here's how you do that.

"You just don't end the previous line of dialogue with an end-quote.

"You just keep making new paragraphs with the start-quote but no end-quote, at least not until you're done with unending, eternal speech."

Whew. But there's a little more left.

“I haven’t a clue,” said Emilie, “and I’m not really sure that I care.”

The Amazing Kreskin put an envelope to his head and said, "Mmmm... one thing that describes you, and one thing that describes me."

Sanjay was not deterred.

You can't deter him, you can't reason with him. He's like the Terminator of Bordeom.

“He said, ‘My party is demonstrating that they are for states’ rights unless they don’t like what states are doing. This couldn’t be a more classic case of a state responsibility. This Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy.’”

“Of course,” said Emilie, oozing sarcasm.

I hear cranberry juice takes care of that.

“Theocracy. It’s where all roads lead. Our karma.”

“Not necessarily. But do you not see? The imposition of Christian values by the federal government violates fundamentally the conservative principles of individual liberty, states’ rights, and limited government. You could be forgiven for thinking that this is an absolute barrier to a conservative embrace of theocracy. But it is not. these values, what some conservatives call ‘process conservatism,’ will always be thrown under the bus if they conflict with ‘substantive values,’ such as the right to life. Mike Huckabee, the governor of Arkansas, was at least frank about it. He just shrugged and said, ‘There’s a larger issue in play, and that is the whole issue of the definition of life.’ So there you have it. Personal freedom, states’ rights, and limited government—all pushed aside in a moment when there is a ‘larger issue.’”

Why this doesn't at all read like a blog transformed into a novel by just adding some "quotation marks" around different "posts."

Uh, oh, time for someone else to speak, and you know what that means.

That's right, someone's name is appearing in the first two words of the speech.

“Sanjay, you seem as preoccupied with this Terri Schiavo person as the knuckleheads are,” said Emilie. “For God’s sake, it was seven years ago. That’s an eternity.”




That was something, wasn't it?

You betcha!

Thanks to @davereaboi

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