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Belmont Club

“It’s the Real Thing”

January 13th, 2014 - 4:15 pm

What do you mean, dead?

A study by the Director of National Intelligence argues that Osama Bin Laden is alive and well where it matters: in the imaginations of his followers, living in virtual space.

“Imagine that jihadist supporters create a detailed avatar of Usama bin Ladin and use his many voice recordings to animate the avatar for up-close virtual reality experiences that could be used to preach, convert, recruit, and propagate dogma to the media,” the study states, using the spelling “Usama” widely used within the intelligence community. The report noted that those conclusions did not represent an endorsement by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the federal intelligence community.

“The Bin Ladin avatar could preach and issue new fatwas for hundreds of years to come, as the fidelity of his likeness would be entirely believable and animated in new ways to keep him current and fresh.”

To many people, the virtual is real. Take money for example. It is for the most part only a database entry. Or take enrollees in Obamacare for another. How do we know they are real? They are real because they can execute a telephonic signature. You don’t have to put your name on the dotted any more. Say and it’s good enough. As Enroll America explains, you can now send a variety of government services to a voice on the phone.

A telephonic signature is a type of electronic signature that uses an individual’s recorded verbal assent in place of an ink signature, and it is considered legally enforceable in both the private and public sectors under certain conditions. In addition to significant use of telephonic signatures in the private sector, the federal government has been testing various ways to implement telephonic signatures since the 2008 Farm Bill, which allowed state agencies to accept “spoken signatures” for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program).5 The goal of this rule change was to develop a more efficient and cost-effective application process for individuals and government agencies by allowing SNAP applicants to avoid the lengthy and often unreliable mail exchange to submit ink signatures. A review of various approaches to implementing telephonic signatures approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides useful insight into the kinds of technology that work best for consumers.

It is the modern equivalent of the “X” mark made by “illiterate, incompetent, or disabled people”. The fact that Obamacare must rely upon such methods in a 21st century America is indicator of something; probably of the level of instruction of our modern and fine public schools.

Billions of dollars are sent to these voices. And maybe they vote too.  Why recently New York City’s Department of Investigations found that non-existent voters were allowed to vote 97% of the time.

DOI undercover agents showed up at 63 polling places last fall and pretended to be voters who should have been turned away by election officials; the agents assumed the names of individuals who had died or moved out of town, or who were sitting in jail. In 61 instances, or 97 percent of the time, the testers were allowed to vote. Those who did vote cast only a write-in vote for a “John Test” so as to not affect the outcome of any contest. DOI published its findings two weeks ago in a searing 70-page report accusing the city’s Board of Elections of incompetence, waste, nepotism, and lax procedures.

I once got a Skype message from someone who was dead. It turned out to be a relative cleaning out the computer of the deceased. But the electoral system goes that one better. It receives votes from people who are actually dead and the administration still assures us there is no problem with the validity of the message.

Take another thing that is not a problem. Was the President’s War Strategy ever real? Michael Crowley, writing in Time, hearkens back to memory lane. It seemed real enough then.

On Sept. 12, 2007, Barack Obama gave one of the most important speeches of his first presidential campaign. Then still an underdog challenger to Hillary Clinton, Obama — speaking, perhaps impishly, in the town of Clinton, Iowa — laid out his plan for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. The plan was good politics, but Obama also carefully cast his position as responsible — not a hasty, politically-motivated retreat that could jeopardize American security. To that end, he assured that the U.S. would retain the capability to continue striking against terrorists within Iraq even after our combat forces were gone….

Six years later, even with al-Qaeda showing alarming strength in Iraq — and across the border in Syria — nobody thinks Obama will “go back into Iraq” anytime soon. As Secretary of State John Kerry put it Sunday: “This is a fight that belongs to the Iraqis.”

“We are, in the worst-case scenario, months away from even starting to think about direct U.S. action,” says Douglas Ollivant, a senior fellow with the New America Foundation and former national security council director for Iraq in the Bush and Obama White Houses.

Now it’s a distant dream. Don’t even bring it up. We’ve moved on, remember?

Did it ever exist? Maybe, as Robert Gates explained in his new memoir, President Obama’s war strategy was only virtually real. He apparently never intended Afghanistan as a “war of necessity” to be won or Iraq as an interest that was going to be defended against al-Qaeda. It was all for show, as real as press release, as genuine as a three dollar bill.

“President Obama simply wanted to end the ‘bad’ war in Iraq and limit the U.S. role in the ‘good’ war in Afghanistan,” Gates writes. “His fundamental problem in Afghanistan was that his political and philosophical preferences for winding down the U.S. role conflicted with his own pro-war public rhetoric (especially during the 2008 campaign), the nearly unanimous recommendations of his senior civilian and military advisers at the Departments of State and Defense, and the realities on the ground.”

So he lied. Maybe the word is misspoke. Because we live in a world without lies we necessarily live in a world without truth. Real must be relative.  Take insurance. Recently the Daily Mail described the experience of those who attempted to claim treatment under their Obamacare in northern Virginia.

‘They had no idea if my insurance was active or not!’ a coughing Maria Galvez told MailOnline outside the Inova Healthplex facility in the town of Springfield.

She was leaving the building without getting a needed chest x-ray.

‘The people in there told me that since I didn’t have an insurance card, I would be billed for the whole cost of the x-ray,’ Galvez said, her young daughter in tow. ‘It’s not fair – you know, I signed up last week like I was supposed to.’

The x-ray’s cost, she was told, would likely be more than $500. … It’s unlikely that a valid insurance card would have changed Galvez’ fortunes, however.

Her Carefirst plan, identified on the Obamacare website as BlueChoice Plus Bronze, carries a $5,500 per-person deductible for 2014 – an amount she would have to pay out-of-pocket before her coverage would apply to medical expenses.

Virtual things can appear and disappear. These patients are still covered, except they’re not. CNN recently ran an article “Help! I can’t use my Obamacare benefits”. It described the experience of Jeanne Patterson who always had insurance in the past and now finds the number given for her to call is wrong;  her ID card doesn’t work and who after being treated at an emergency room made an appointment with her doctor only to discover she couldn’t see him. She had not designated him as a “primary care provider”. ”I can’t get a person no matter what I do,” said Patterson, who is unemployed and lives with her husband in Drexel Hill, Penn.

But she does have Affordable Health Care.

There’s no contradiction, Obamacare is as real as the administration wants it to appear to be. Healthcare means a health card. As to getting better, why bring that up? In such an atmosphere, how far behind can an avatar be? Would a virtual Osama bin-Laden be real? The avatar would be as real as its ability to order those who believed in it to kill. And it can do that. Spirits have long spoken through the mouths of men. Why should they not speak through a computer avatar?

By that standard, it will be real enough. At least to generations of Jihadis to whom the avatar is as authentic as anything in their world ever was.

The Left has always said that “you can’t kill an idea”.  Or as Tom Joad once put it, “Then I’ll be all around in the dark – I’ll be ever’where—wherever you look.”  That’s Osama’s promise too: to be everywhere and be able to kill you. He might do just that.

But to promise everything and be nothing, well that’s the White Houses’ shtick. And by that standard Osama bin Laden may prove to be more real in the long run than Barack Hussein Obama.


Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
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Top Rated Comments   
There is nothing real about Buraq Hussein Ubama [stolen] except the damage that he has done to this country. Not one thing he has done has been to its benefit. Not one of his promises has come to pass. He AND EVERYONE WHO HAS ENABLED HIM are enemies of the country, the American people, and the Constitution. The surest bet in the world right now is if Obama or his people say that something is "A", then it is a matter of ontological certitude that it is something "B-Z" if not "ψ", "щ", or maybe "Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó".

And while I trust US Navy SEAL's implicitly [and have worked with an ex-SEAL and have trusted him with my life], I have zero trust in Buraq Hussein and his minions. Wretchard opened with the question of whether Usama was really alive or dead. The disposition of his body was almost as if designed to make him appear dead with no way of proving he was.

Neither alive or dead.

There is a lot of that going around.

We are now in Schrödinger's Health Care System. We will only know if we are alive or dead when it is fully opened.

Subotai Bahadur
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
They have Virtual Usama, the product of over 1,500 years of dreams. They already know the image the poetry the music and the message. We have Obama as Max Headroom. The Great Orator of the high tech future has turned out to be a decaying styrofoam dud with a busted teleprompter and cartoon website.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was reading a review of "Lone Survivor" -- which I haven't seen. And as you all know the SEALs were in Taliban territory when some Afghan herders stumbled on their hide. The question for the team was whether to "neutralize" the herders or let them go. The team voted to let them go, whereupon they ratted on them to the Taliban, who came in their hundreds and only Marcus Luttrell survived.

Let's try a thought experiment. Suppose you were there with the SEAL Team and could tell them that the whole thing was a practical joke. That their commander in chief had dreamed the whole thing up -- not just the mission -- but the war itself as a PR exercise. Would they have voted to kill the herders?

My guess is the SEALs still would not have killed the herders. And for the least tangible but most real of reasons. Because they felt they owed it to someone not to. Even though the entity they owed it to was not the man in the White House, there was still something which had a call on their sacrifice.

And thinking on that, it occurs that it makes sense for there to a be a God. Because it would be too grotesque if all these lying politicians had the last laugh.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (47)
All Comments   (47)
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Tieing somebody up so they really can't get away or make noise is a lot easier in the movies. If you did manage it, and the tied person wasn't found for a week or so, what kind of monster would you be then? Kinder to kill them quickly at once. But if you weren't willing to do that in the first place, you are back to square one.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
That occurred to me but if the boy was out herding goats and didn't bring them in that night it seems that his family would've come looking.

It don't matter now ...
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Re the SEALs letting the boy go I've often wondered why they couldn't tie him up or something. Clearly they thought of it and couldn't but I've often wondered why.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
During the discussion in that scene from Sole Survivor, that possibility was raised... countered by the argument that the wolves or the cold would kill them.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...by that standard Osama bin Laden may prove to be more real in the long run than Barack Hussein Obama."

That is gonna leave a mark!

At least we know Osama is dead. Right?
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
No birth certificate for one, but it doesn't matter,
no death certificate for the other, but it doesn't matter.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
OT, via Drudge: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/01/13/NY-State-Assemblyman-Resigns-Over-Numerous-Harassment-Charges

Another state government level politician, a level of hell poised between the insanity of a municipal council and the serious money of Congress, caught up in scandal. The attached article is a delicious read.

Conservatives are generally predisposed to believe in federalism. They want state and local government empowered. At the same time though the very triviality of the work, the vulgar corruption, and the lack of prestige all serve to keep competent conservatives away. This serves the purposes of the Left. As in the work place, where the most dishonest and abusive will create a hostile environment to drive away others, so in politics the most abusive gain by depressing the image so as to keep the more qualified away.

Why was this Democrat forced to resign after serially propositioning the 20 something female staffers? The comments to the article raise but did not as I saw it answer the question. My guess is that Governor Cuomo (D) is cutting liabilities before the next election. He is unhappy about the new NYC Mayor de Blasio's call for higher taxes and does not want to hand any more ammunition to Republicans. Cuomo is certainly not concerned because of his superior sense of morality or economics makes him unwilling to work with abusive or incompetent or dishonest or insane Democrats. That is good news because it shows that they know that the fight is not over. When we assume that all is lost and give up we are selling ourselves short.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
When Obama spoke the word “affordable” most Obama voters heard in their minds “free."
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
To our growing generation of moochers and layabouts, free no longer means that it costs no money-it means that it costs no money and requires no effort to claim it.

In these "insureds" being turned away from hospitals, we see what happens when the unreal world collides with the real.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
We have an asymetrical enemy fighting an asymetrical war against our now asymetrical government who tell us asymetrical truths about our asymetrical rights.

Freedom is an illusion. Truth is an illusion. Matters are "settled" when we are told they are settled. No sense in being a "denier" of "settled" matters. To deny asymetrical truth is to be racist and tinfoil hat donner.

Obama had no intention of prosecuting an asymetrical war against any Muslim or any communist country, group or terrorist network. Ever.

He does seem to like Erdogan's style and wants to give Putin his best "flexibility"...and Iran a chance to "prove their word is their bond".

So radical Islam and radical leftism can "give peace a chance"...by allowing China to aggressively flex it's muscles, Iran to become the unstoppable power, the Muslim Brotherhood to seize the day and for Europe and America and Israel to be cut off at the knees.

No? I guess it only appears that way. And the matter is settled.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have mostly given up correcting spelling. But when you use a word seven times in one post, for emphasis, you really should spell it right - "asymmetrical".
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
You should try giving up harder. But thanks.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Meant to post this two threads back with "The Trouble With Maids." Enjoy.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ahqu1nd3Zu8
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
So Comrade Zero is the Max Headroom of our day!

In other news: those of you who love the English language need to read this piece by the lucid Heather Mac Donald -- guess what they're doing to Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Milton in the universities? It's worse than your worst nightmares:

http://www.city-journal.org/2014/eon0113hm.html
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
There's a scene in the Lord of the Rings movie where a hobbit accidentally drops a bucket down a well and wakes all the demons in Moria, including the Balrog. Obama may have accidentally done the same thing. He's unchained all the imps in the nether regions.

Robert Kaplan writing in Politico (http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/01/post-america-conflict-from-beijing-to-jerusalem-101917.html) says the world is collapsing into "one mega-zone of conflict" from Beijing to Jerusalem.

The good news is that in the resulting upheaval the forces of Osama bin Laden are bound to lose -- but to an unexpected foe. It is the new energies supplies unleashed by fracking, by drilling, in a word by all the forces that Obama disdained, that will crush the Jihad. Crush them by beggaring them.

But not before it kills many. And as for the bad news it is obvious. One can gloat at a fire in the Middle East only for so long, until the flames lap at our eaves and the sparks jump into our own properties. And then the conflagration becomes general.

"What have you done, fool of a Took?" Gandalf said. "What have you done? Now it comes. Drums from the deep."
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not so fast, Wretchard: Al-Q is poised to take over in Nigeria. Nigeria = still greater oil wealth, alas. I got this from a man who's working security vs. piracy in Somalia.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Al-Q in Nigeria will produce a bloodbath equal to anything we've seen since WWII. It will rival the Congo War...5 million dead...but, like most of the horrors in Africa, it will be off the radar
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Apropos of Obamacare, Wretchard notes that "Virtual things can appear and disappear." Well, it isn't just the native speakers of English who are being hosed. Apparently illegals and unassimilated Spanish speakers are finding that O-Care loses a lot in translation: "If you're reading this, you can be thankful at least that you don't have to rely on ObamaCare's "Spanish-language" website. It's called CuidadoDeSalud.gov, which, as the Associated Press notes, literally translates as 'For the Caution of Health.' It sounds as if Señora Sebelius relied on Google Translate . . . Among the problems with the ObamaCaution site: It launched more than two months late. 'A Web page with Spanish instructions linked users to an English form.' And Adrian Madriz, a Miami ObamaCaution navigador, tells the AP: 'When you get into the details of the plans, it's not all written in Spanish. It's written in Spanglish, so we end up having to translate it for them.' . . . And wait till they hear about los paneles de la muerte. Anyone know how to say 'You have no chance to survive make your time' in Spanglish?"
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304549504579318670295720710?mod=WSJ_Opinion_MIDDLETopOpinion&mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702304549504579318670295720710.html%3Fmod%3DWSJ_Opinion_MIDDLETopOpinion
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Okay, now I have Co-Cola all over my monitor . . . .
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
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