Patterico's Pontifications

9/8/2007

Fisking Bin Laden

Filed under: Terrorism — DRJ @ 3:02 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Is it possible to fisk an Osama Bin Laden videotape? Absolutely, and NRO’s James S. Robbins shows us how:

The new bin Laden videotape is a great disappointment. No new threats, no new deals, just a new beard, if it is even real. Apart from being dyed, the shape is a departure from previous styles, and it looks a bit too full on the sides. Losing his beard would of course be counter to the Islamist orthodoxy, but the requirements of the life of the fugitive will out. Hasn’t al Qaeda instructed its operatives to shave, wear Western clothes, and hang out at strip clubs to allay suspicion?

His speech, such as it is, is an interesting fusion of pseudo-Marxism and standard Islamism, sprinkled with political sound bites that rob the address of whatever seriousness it might aspire to. The real terrorism is global warming and the failure to observe Kyoto! Please. And the bit about how Americans are suffering under credit card-debt and mortgage payments — it’s like his speech team is cribbing from the presidential debates. I really expect more from a terrorist mastermind.

Much more at the link …

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling …

Filed under: Immigration — DRJ @ 1:11 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Mexican trucks may not be rolling through your town anytime soon but they will in mine now that the Bush Administration has given final authority for the US-Mexico reciprocal trucking pilot program. As of Friday, September 7, Mexican trucking company Transportes Olympic of Nuevo Leon had activated its American insurance and two Mexican trucks had crossed into Texas:

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Is Osama bin Laden a Knockoff of Asimov’s Hari Seldon?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:43 am

Thursday night, the news of yet another Osama bin Laden video got me thinking: isn’t this Osama bin Laden character like Hari Seldon, of Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” series?

I stuck the idea into Google, thinking I couldn’t be the first person to have thought of this. Sure enough, I wasn’t:

Asimov’s best-known novel sequence, half a century old, features the fall of a great but now decadent Galactic Empire. One man, Hari Seldon, has the vision to predict the decline of the West (as you might call it). So he creates an organization on a remote and poverty-stricken world which will eventually take over and run the galaxy properly — once the Empire has finished its inevitable fall.

Seldon is so confident of his thousand-year Plan that he prepares videotapes to be shown at key points in the future, bragging about his correct forecasts and the scheme’s ongoing success. The dying Empire itself is annoyed by all this, and with its remaining military might attacks the power-base set up by Seldon … but owing to historical inevitability, even the Great Satan itself can’t upset the orderly progress of the Plan and the prophetic vision of Hari Seldon.

The small but alarming coincidence is that this is Asimov’s “Foundation” series (Seldon’s outfit is called the Foundation), allegedly popular among Arabic-speaking SF readers under its translated name Al Qaeda. Usually rendered into English as The Base, this also means The Foundation.

Interesting.

This theory of the origin of the name “Al Qaeda” has been around since October 2001, so it’s not really news. But I never heard about it until I went looking for it. If you want to read more about the theory, this extensive article in the Guardian from 2002 will tell you everything you could possibly want to know.

So how will it all end? Well, if you buy the connection, you’ll have to read the series to find out. (If you haven’t, you should anyway.)

Civil Disobedience and the Vote (Updated)

Filed under: Public Policy — DRJ @ 6:37 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Is Jane Balogh the Rosa Parks of voter registration?

“Jane Balogh had a pretty good idea who was calling when the phone rang and the caller asked for Duncan M. MacDonald. Duncan is the dog Balogh registered as a voter seven months before the November 2006 election. Duncan’s absentee-ballot envelope was signed with a picture of a paw print.
***
Balogh, who lives with Duncan, an Australian shepherd-terrier mix, and four other dogs and four cats, registered her dog as a protest of a 2005 state voter-registration statute that she says makes it too easy for noncitizens to vote.”

Balogh, a 66-year-old grandmother and Army veteran, made her point: It’s easy for a voter to register illegally. She was also “… arraigned in King County Superior Court on Tuesday [June 19, 2007] on a misdemeanor charge of making a false statement to a public official.”

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