We're back from our hiatus! Unfortunately, posting will resume on a slower schedule, as I'm experiencing new and exciting Brain Symptoms. I'm planning on tidying up some choice pieces of content from my old site and bringing them over, so that will hopefully plug up the gaps.
In case you've forgotten what's going on in The Overton Window, here's a recap: Noah Gardner, rich young PR executive, has entered the orbit of Molly Ross, a member of the goofily-named Founders Keepers, a "patriot" group convinced that America is sliding towards tyranny. Noah actually knows for a fact that this is the case because he was in the room when his dad offered to help some government employees enact a plan that will end with a new world order taking over the country, but he doesn't seem to have processed this for some reason. When we last left them, they were sneaking into Noah's company to look for evidence of the plot at Molly's urging.
Meanwhile, Danny Bailey, another Trapper Keeper and Youtube sensation, has been recruited by an FBI agent named Stuart Kearns, ostensibly to participate in a sting operation looking to arrest militia members who might be plotting nefarious deeds. In reality, Kearns is working with the evil conspiracy and is duping both Danny and the militia chuds into carrying out a real terrorist attack in order to create a pretext for the new world order plot (this hasn't actually been revealed yet in the part of the book we've covered, but it's incredibly obvious).
All that aside, lets get back into it.
It's Metal Gear Noah time, as our heroes sneak into the inner sanctum of Noah's company. They're taking an elevator straight to Arthur Gardner's private office suite (this must be the one that has windows).
There was only one wrinkle in the layout: the ground-floor entrance to this elevator had to be located on the next-door tenant’s property, which was currently a multilevel, tourist-trendy clothing store.
This seems like a pretty gigantic security risk.
The stealth mission that Noah and Molly go on is kind of ridiculous. They're creeping along through racks of clothes, trying not to get spotted, which just reminds me of that Father Ted bit where Ted and Dougle are trying to get out of the lingerie department.
If Molly was right, then a cute but quirky mailroom temp had identified a grand, unified, liberty-crushing conspiracy that had been hatched in the conference room of a PR agency.
It was actually you, when you were sitting in the conference room when it happened (no, I'm not going to shut up about this).
And what exactly is "quirky" about Molly? That's not one of the adjectives I'd use to describe Molly. I'd use, like...
Calm? She's sort of... calm, I guess? In comparison to some people?
“It’s the way my father looks at things … at people, I mean: societies. The law may serve some superficial purpose, but it only goes so far,” Noah said, touching the spear in the statue’s left hand. “At some point the law needs to be taken away and replaced with force. That’s what really gets things done. People ultimately want it that way; they’re like sheep, lost without a threat of force to guide them. That’s what it means.”
Okay, we get it, Beck. No really, you can stop explaining this over and over again.
Noah and Molly use their soliton radar to sneak into the room where Noah saw the conspiracy presentation. He starts flicking through the slides to get to the ones his dad showed the government dudes after he was sent out of the room. There's some interesting stuff on them, including a list of the sectors of society and government that each of the government goons will be responsible for.
Education / Media Management / Clergy / COINTELPRO
One person is going to be in charge of education (which is sufficiently important that you'd think it would be its own department), "media management" which probably means censorship, the clergy, and... COINTELPRO, which is an acronym for shady surveillance projects the FBI did in the 50s targeted at political organizations, including the Black Panthers and other civil rights groups.
So, what, is the education and censorship guy going to be in charge of counter-acting dissidents? Wouldn't it make more sense to pair education, media, religion and propaganda together? Why are they re-using the acronym of a pre-existing (and notorious) program?
That pops up multiple times in the slides. For example, the last one says this:
Casus Belli: Reichstag / Susannah/Unit 131 / Gladio / Northwoods / EXIGENT
Casus Belli, for those who don't know, is a justification for war or some other extreme or violent act. "Reichstag" refers to the Reichstag fire, which the Nazis used as an excuse to consolidate power and sweep away democracy in Germany. Susannah and Unit 131 apparently refer to the Lavon Affair, which was an attempted false flag operation by Israeli operatives in Egypt. Gladio was the codename for NATO's stay-behind units placed in Europe in case of an invasion by Russia. Northwoods is another false flag operation.
So, okay, this is clearly all hinting that the bad guys are going to use a false flag operation to seize power and blame it on terrorists (which we already knew, because Noah's dad basically said this during the previous meeting) and I guess the idea is that Arthur was using these historical examples to illustrate the general idea.
Except...really? He really said "hey remember when the Nazis used the Reichstag fire to start oppressing people and killing their enemies? Let's be just like them."
Noah and Molly are still like "Huh??? What could this all mean???????" but thankfully they get to the end and find a handy infographic that just explains the entire plain in simple terms. There's also a very long explanation of what the Overton Window is, but I'll skip past it.
Oh wait no I won't, because in the middle of the (literally pages-long) discussion on the Overton Window, Noah drops this little bombshell in relation to manufactured crises:
If we don’t all get vaccinated one hundred thousand people will die in a super swine-flu pandemic.
Yes, Glenn Beck is an anti-vaxxer, which means he can go right along and fuck himself. I guess that "ultimate authority" parents should have over their kids includes the authority to let them die of easily preventable diseases.
And for the record, yes, getting flu vaccines could potentially prevent the outbreak of a new strain. Some flu viruses can jump way up the lethality scale in literally a single generation; if that unlucky event was going to happen in one of your epithelial cells, and you've been vaccinated, then it deprives the virus of an environment to mutate. It's not guaranteed to stop a pandemic or anything--the much bigger danger is an animal strain jumping species, which vaccinating against current human strains won't do anything to counteract--but every effort helps.
(And it goes without saying, but if you or your children are immuno-compromised in any way, it's probably smart to consider getting yearly flu vaccines).
Now they’re telling us that if we don’t pass this worldwide carbon tax right now the world will soon be underwater.
Beck is also a climate change denier, so he can double fuck off.
I care about the environment more than most, I want clean energy, I want this country to recover and be great again
Did anyone else just visibly flinch for no apparent reason? Was that just me?
“Exactly. In fact, without some big earthshaking event, like a Pearl Harbor or a 9/11, that’s the only way it can work. Just little nudges in the right direction, and before you know it you’ve progressed yourself right into their agenda.
(I know I said I wouldn't comment on the Overton Window lecture, but trust me, I've skipped most of it. It's looooooooong).
I think the book here is resting on the assumption that the only reason America entered World War II was Pearl Harbour, which is not actually the case. War between America and Japan was probably inevitable due to Japan's decision to pursue naval colonization of the Pacific islands (that's why the Japanese military attacked Pearl Harbour to begin with--to cripple the American navy before the war even started). And even without that, if it had started to really look like Germany might defeat Britain or succeed in conquering Russia, it's very likely the US would have gotten involved. America was already providing huge amounts of material support to both countries through the lend-lease program, so committing to direct action wasn't that big a step.
Beck is endorsing a particular view of history here to make his point, which is that big, dramatic shifts are what drive the historical narrative, like earthquakes and other disasters reshaping a landscape in a single day. And sometimes that does happen: 9/11 is a legitimate example, in that it was this huge bolt out of the blue and you can trace a lot of the events of the next two decades directly to it. But at the same time, 9/11 wasn't just a random event that happened for no reason; that those terrorists decided to attack America, and decided to attack those particular targets, and did it in the way that they did it, were contingent on historical events going back decades.
So here’s a little pop quiz: What do you get when you combine corporate greed with political corruption and sprinkle a few trillion on top?”
“I don’t know … fascism?”
Noah shook his head. “You get Doyle & Merchant’s newest client.”
Why are you still working for this company, again?
Eventually Noah stops blathering, and they get to the end of the presentation, which lays out the end-point of the villains' plot. I'm going to just pick out a few key points, because (like everything else in this book) it's really long and not very interesting.
Education: Deemphasize the individual, reinforce dependence and collectivism, social justice, and “the common good”
Noah states that several of the timelines for these goals are already far advanced, and points to this one in particular. But...what does that mean? What about the current American educational curriculum achieves any of these objectives?
Beck doesn't say, for a very smart reason: he's trying to appeal to as broad a range of cranks as possible, so instead of hitting their particular hot button topics he points vaguely at broad issues and lets the audience fill in their individual bugbears.
If you're a really religious person, you might look at this and say "Oh, he's talking about prayer in public schools." If you're a racist, it's teaching America's history accurately, including the bad parts. If you're an anti-vaxxer, then school vaccinations are communist or whatever and need to be abolished. Or maybe you're one of those people who think Common Core maths is a UN conspiracy (seriously), or you think they should bring back corporal punishment. Even the alt-right college campus "free speech" crusaders could read this as a dog whistle to them, despite the fact that they didn't exist when the book was written.
The one problem with education in America that this isn't gesturing vaguely to is the only real problem, namely that the education system needs more money. But that would be socialist or something so we can't have that. Enjoy your charter schools, kids!
Expand malleable voter base and agenda support by granting voting rights to prison inmates, undocumented migrants, and select U.S. territories, e.g., Puerto Rico. Image as a civil rights issue; label dissenters as racist—invoke reliable analogies: slavery, Nazism, segregation, isolationism.
The barely-existent mask of neutrality takes another slip here. It's like Beck forgot he was supposed to be pretending not to take sides.
(And I'm having a hearty lol at the idea that Puerto Ricans and undocumented immigrants are extra "malleable", given who white Americans got suckered into voting for six years after this was published.
Finalize the decline and abandonment of the dollar: new international reserve currency
The adoption of a global currency is another perennial talking point of right-wing cranks, usually as part of some batshit New World Order stuff.
Molly and Noah are appropriately horrified by all of this. Then they notice that the "Casus Belli" timeline, counting down to something called EXIGENT, only has a timeline of three days, which means that once it starts (which, spoiler, is right now), they'll have a scant seventy two hours to stop it.
Uh oh, looks like our heroes better get cracking on finding those missing nukes. Quick Molly, turn on your eagle-shaped freedom signal and rally the country musicians and conspiracy weirdos who came to the bar last night, they'll have this sorted out in no time.