Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Pen, a Phone and GDP Contracts by 2.9%

:: By: Larry Walker, Jr. ::

Back on January 14, 2014, POTUS 44 announced, “We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need. I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.” Well, great!

Then on June 25, 2014, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), in its third and final release, announced that real gross domestic product (GDP) decreased at an annual rate of 2.9 percent in the first quarter (that is, from the fourth quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014). In the fourth quarter of 2013, real GDP increased 2.6 percent.

Well, so much for going it alone. Please stop with the help already, it’s not working. Did anyone seriously believe this guy was some kind of economic prodigy, capable of single-handedly leading the U.S. economy to the Promised Land? Oh, please! My first impression was “What a moron.” Isn’t this the same guy who hired a 35-year-old fiction writer as his Deputy National Security Advisor? And, isn’t this the same guy that (ad infinitum)… believe me, it's not worth it.

After the first release estimate, Zerohedge.com reported, and I’m paraphrasing, “...if it wasn't for the (government-mandated) spending surge resulting from Obamacare, which resulted in the biggest jump in Healthcare Services spending in U.S. history, GDP growth would be negative.” Well, it so happens that, according to the BEA's third and final estimate, GDP growth actually was negative.

It seems that if all the cash sucked out of discretionary consumer spending during the first quarter, by way of artificially high (government-subsidized) health insurance premiums, and neatly tucked away into insurance company reserve funds (savings accounts), had instead been unleashed into the economy, GDP surely would have been positive.

Where I come from, a contraction in GDP of 2.9% should indicate that someone or something’s about to get the ax. Let’s just pray it’s this ridiculous pen and phone strategy. And, while we’re at it, how about losing that idiot fiction writer. Whose bright idea was that anyway?

Revised and updated on June 25, 2014.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Benghazi Mastermind

Adventures with Inspector Lestrade

:: By: Larry Walker II ::

US officials announced Tuesday that a joint Special Forces and FBI operation successfully nabbed Libyan national Ahmed Abu Khattala, the man suspected as the ringleader for the 2012 attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.” The piece I read was titled, “9/11 Benghazi Attack 'Mastermind' Who Hid in Plain Sight for Years Captured By US Forces.” That's all well and good, however, I believe a conviction in this case is about as likely as one against John McFarlane in the case of the Norwood Builder.

Back on October 18, 2012, a month after the attack, a New York Times (NYT) article stated that, witnesses and authorities had named Ahmed Abu Khattala one of the ringleaders of the Sept. 11 attacks. The Times went on to say that as Khattala sat on the patio of a luxury hotel, in Benghazi, a month after the attack, sipping a strawberry frappe, he accused the United States of “playing with the emotions of the American people” and “using the consulate attack just to gather votes for their elections.”

I somehow find Khattala’s reasoning more plausible than what the mainstream media carelessly tossed into the public trough. It’s good to know, at least according to the NYT, that there were witnesses to the attack, but it’s too bad none have come forward publicly with any credible evidence. I guess we’re supposed to just take the NYT’s word that, (1) there actually were witnesses, and (2) that verifiable, although nameless and faceless, authorities actually believed Mr. Khattala was one of the ringleaders.

The NYT article continued, “Although Mr. Abu Khattala’s exact role remains unclear, witnesses have said they saw him directing other fighters that night. Libyan officials have singled him out, and officials in Washington say they are examining his role.” Sounds like the NYT had this case sealed from the get go. But what was Mr. Khattala’s account?

“But Mr. Abu Khattala insisted that he had not been part of the aggression at the American compound. He said he had arrived just as the gunfire was beginning to crackle and had sought to break up a traffic jam around the demonstration. After fleeing for a time, he said, he entered the compound at the end of the battle because he was asked to help try to rescue four Libyan guards working for the Americans who were trapped inside. Although the attackers had set fire to the main building, Mr. Abu Khattala said he had not noticed anything burning.” Sorry, but where’s the evidence that Khattala actually planned the attack? Maybe Fox News has something.

Also in October 2012, Fox News’ Greg Palkot spoke to Khattala in an off camera interview. Here are the facts gleaned from his account.

  1. Khattala was easy to contact and did not appear to be in hiding.

  2. He admitted to being at the scene of the consulate attack, but claimed that he did not plan it.

  3. He said he went to the consulate to look after militia members who had been guarding the complex and were possibly injured.

  4. He maintained that he was no longer a member of Ansar al-Sharia, although he was previously a key member of the militia group.

  5. He said he was directing traffic outside of the consulate on the night of the attack.

So far, I haven’t seen or heard anything that could be considered prima facie evidence against Mr. Khattala with regard to planning, coordinating, or for that matter even participating in the attack. But perhaps the New York Post can expound.

According to a New York Post article written earlier this year, ‘when The New Yorker magazine came to interview Khattala at his home in Leithi, a neighborhood in Benghazi, in April, he looked and behaved more like a suburban homeowner than a terror mastermind.’

‘Abu Khattala was relaxed and greeted passing neighbors, before sitting down in a green leatherette chair to tell the magazine he had no fear of US forces coming after him.’ “I am living a normal life here. I am not afraid of anything, because I trust in God,” he told the magazine. “This is fate. If God determines you will be here today and gone tomorrow, there is no escape.”

‘Abu Khattala proclaimed his innocence in connection with the September 2012 attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. He admitted to being at the scene, but said he did nothing more than help direct traffic outside. He challenged US prosecutors to make a case against him.’

“There is no case against me,” Abu Khattala said. “But I am not the one who needs to prove my innocence. The Americans must prove their accusation.”

What a providential thing that the very mastermind of the attack was found hiding in plain sight, that he welcomed interviews with the news media and from US officials, and didn’t even put up a fight while being kidnapped by US forces. Well then, that is final. Case closed. Let’s just hang him quickly and put this matter to rest, right?

The Norwood Builder

Not so fast. This case reminds me of one of my favorite Sherlock Holmes stories, The Norwood Builder, in which Inspector Lestrade thought he had solved a murder after the discovery of a bloody thumbprint in the middle of the wall down a dark hallway. “Step right this way, if you please, gentlemen, and I think I can convince you once for all that it was John McFarlane who did this crime,” he said.

“This is where young McFarlane must have come out to get his hat after the crime was done. Now look at this.” With dramatic suddenness he struck a match, and by its light exposed a stain of blood upon the whitewashed wall. As he held the match nearer I saw that it was more than a stain. It was the well-marked print of a thumb.

Lestrade continued, “You are aware that no two thumb-marks are alike?”

“I have heard something of the kind,” said Holmes.

“That is final,” said Lestrade.

“That is final,” said Holmes... Then, making desperate efforts to restrain a convulsive attack of laughter, he finally said, “Dear me! Dear me! Well, now, who would have thought it? And how deceptive appearances may be, to be sure! Such a nice young man to look at! It is a lesson to us not to trust our own judgment - is it not, Lestrade?”

Knowing full well that the thumbprint was not there on the day prior, because he had thoroughly examined the crime scene, Holmes continued, “What a providential thing that this young man should press his right thumb against the wall in taking his hat from the peg! Such a very natural action, too, if you come to think of it. By the way Lestrade, who made this remarkable discovery?”

Well, as you can probably imagine, John McFarlane had nothing to do with the murder. In fact, in this case, it turned out that the victim was still alive, and had himself planted the thumbprint in the middle of the night. But even more significant, the housekeeper, who discovered the thumbprint, was an accomplice to the crime.

Framing a Mastermind

As for Ahmed Abu Khattala having anything at all to do with the 9/11/2012 Terrorist Attack at Benghazi, who might I ask made this remarkable discovery? Was it not the mainstream media that first discovered this man, interviewed him, and then held him out as a possible suspect? And is not the same mainstream media now holding him out as the “mastermind” behind the attack? Does the mainstream media have any proof of Khattala’s guilt, beyond the questions put to him, and the answers he provided? Because, if that's all there is, the evidence appears to lead nowhere.

Is Mr. Khattala the mastermind because he was at the scene on the night of the attack, or because he’s the only one who was there that the news media could find at the time? From the videos most of us have been allowed to view, it appears there were lots of people rummaging around the Consulate that night. In fact, at one point a group of individuals found the US Ambassador within the burning building, dragged him out and carried him to the hospital.

Is Mr. Khattala the mastermind because he opined that he didn't think America should be meddling in Libyan affairs? If that's the reason, then virtually all of Libya, not to mention most of the world, is rife with suspects.

Aside from a dearth of evidence, what criminal mastermind ever gets his hands dirty at the scene of the crime, and then lounges around in plain sight, granting interviews to the news media straightway after pulling off the crime of the century? To know, I guess we'll have to wait for this fella to receive his “fair” trial, which I remind you, will be conducted by the same justice system that found O.J. Simpson innocent, and just freed five top-level Taliban commanders after being held for 10 years without so much as a trial.

The most damning statement for or against Khattala being the “mastermind” comes from his interview with CNN’s Arwa Damon in May 2013, when he responded, “I didn't know where the place was. When I heard, we went to examine the situation. When we withdrew and there was shooting with medium guns, and there were RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) in the air and people panicked, we tried to control traffic.” From this we learned that Mr. Khattala didn’t know where the consulate was located. And, why would he know? Who told him where the consulate was located? I would contend that the person behind the attack, or if you will the mastermind, would be someone with precise knowledge of not only where the consulate was located, but of Ambassador Stevens presence on that awful night.

I have no idea whether Mr. Khattala is completely innocent, or whether he is indeed the Mastermind behind the Benghazi attack, however, based upon the heretofore presented flimsy reed of circumstantial evidence, handed down by none other than the mainstream news media, my guess would be the former. Yet upon this one point I offer my opinion. If this guy turns out to be completely innocent, I hope to God that everyone responsible for framing him is sued for everything they have, charged as accomplices to the crime, and does time in a federal penitentiary.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mass Shootings Hoopla

Iraqi Citizens Executed by ISIL Terrorists (06/2014)

There's No Place Else Like This

:: By: Larry Walker II ::

Reminiscent of Secretary of State Kerry's now infamous speech in Mexico, in which he erroneously declared that temperatures in Europe and in Vietnam were at “unprecedented” levels, and had broken "every record that's ever been seen", last week, referring to the latest school shooting in Oregon, Potus 44 proclaimed, "We're the only developed country on Earth where this happens. And it happens now once a week. And it's a one-day story. There's no place else like this."

Really? Are we the only developed country on Earth where school and mass shootings occur? Well, I guess that depends on ones definition of the word "developed", as well as upon which Earth one happens to reside (i.e. apparently there is more than one). Granted the term "developed" would exclude the entire Middle-East, where mass killings are interwoven with religious dogma and thus a way of life, whenever I hear code words like "every", or "only", they generally precede a gross exaggeration, mass deception or an outright lie.

Ironically, in this case, at nearly the very moment Potus attempted to twist our emotions, over what seemed like a rash of public-school kids losing their minds (at the hand of the US Department of Education), the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) resumed its deadly drone attacks in Pakistan, perhaps encouraging the next mass killer. US drone strikes hit houses in Dande Darpa Khel village in Pakistan’s North Waziristan on Wednesday and early Thursday, leaving at least 16 people dead. But I guess that's okay, because after all we're at war with Pakistan, right? And, war always involves covertly firing missiles into the personal residences of one’s enemy, regardless of whether school-aged children are present.

Coincidentally, earlier this month, a Wall Street Journal report said that during secret negotiations over the release of Bowe Bergdahl, the Taliban warned Washington that its drone attacks had come close to killing him on several occasions. Thus, the CIA halted attacks for around 6 months, resuming immediately after his release. Well what do you know; maybe the poor fella's life really was in danger. Now here's the Catch-22.

US drone strikes have killed hundreds of civilians in several Muslim countries including Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. And, according to Ben Emmerson, a UN human rights investigator, the death toll of civilians in US drone strikes in Afghanistan and Yemen continues to rise. So although I feel Potus 44's concern over 12-year-olds flipping out in government-run schools, rather than his preoccupation with upending US laws, currently protecting more people than they harm, perhaps he should focus on his own murderous policies.

Granted that none of the above are considered "developed" countries, as implied by Potus 44, and thus really don't matter all that much, it's pretty far from okay when the very dude responsible for mass killings around the globe tries to convince the rest of us that we are the problem.

Potus 44 continued, “The United States does not have a monopoly on crazy people.” Well, you got that right. “And yet we kill each other in these mass shootings at rates that are exponentially higher than any place else." Wait! We kill each other? Hmmm, well that's kind of a tough sale. And we do so at rates exponentially higher than any place else? Where’s the backup?

Following is a non-exhaustive list of school and mass shootings in developed and semi-developed countries beyond the borders of Potus 44's America. It excludes places like Syria, where the death toll in its three-year conflict has climbed past 160,000 (averaging 146 a day), and Iraq, where 603 civilians were killed just last month, and hundreds more continue to be slaughtered daily.

March 13, 1996 - Dunblane, Scotland - 16 children and one teacher killed at Dunblane Primary School by Thomas Hamilton, who then killed himself. 10 others wounded in attack.

March 1997 - Sanaa, Yemen - Eight people (six students and two others) at two schools killed by Mohammad Ahman al-Naziri.

April 28, 1999 - Taber, Alberta, Canada - One student killed, one wounded at W. R. Myers High School in first fatal high school shooting in Canada in 20 years. The suspect, a 14-year-old boy, had dropped out of school after he was severely ostracized by his classmates.

Dec. 7, 1999 - Veghel, Netherlands - One teacher and three students wounded by a 17-year-old student.

March 2000 - Branneburg, Germany - One teacher killed by a 15-year-old student, who then shot himself. The shooter has been in a coma ever since.

Jan. 18, 2001 - Jan, Sweden - One student killed by two boys, ages 17 and 19.

Feb. 19, 2002 - Freising, Germany - Two killed in Eching by a man at the factory from which he had been fired; he then traveled to Freising and killed the headmaster of the technical school from which he had been expelled. He also wounded another teacher before killing himself.

April 26, 2002 - Erfurt, Germany - 13 teachers, two students, and one policeman killed, ten wounded by Robert Steinhaeuser, 19, at the Johann Gutenberg secondary school. Steinhaeuser then killed himself.

April 29, 2002 - Vlasenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina - One teacher killed, one wounded by Dragoslav Petkovic, 17, who then killed himself.

Sept. 28, 2004 - Carmen de Patagones, Argentina - Three students killed and 6 wounded by a 15-year-old Argentinian student in a town 620 miles south of Buenos Aires.

Sept. 13, 2006 - Montreal, Canada - Kimveer Gill, 25, opened fire with a semiautomatic weapon at Dawson College. Anastasia De Sousa, 18, died and more than a dozen students and faculty were wounded before Gill killed himself.

Nov. 7, 2007 - Tuusula, Finland - An 18-year-old student in southern Finland shot and killed five boys, two girls, and the female principal at Jokela High School. At least 10 others were injured. The gunman shot himself and died from his wounds in the hospital.

March 11, 2009 - Winnenden, Germany - Fifteen people were shot and killed at Albertville Technical High School in southwestern Germany by a 17-year-old boy who attended the same school.

April 30, 2009 - Azerbaijan, Baku - A Georgian citizen of Azerbaijani descent killed 12 students and staff at Azerbaijan State Oil Academy. Several others were wounded.

April 7, 2011 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - A 23-year-old former student returned to his public elementary school in Rio de Janeiro and began firing, killing 12 children and seriously wounding more than a dozen others, before shooting himself in the head. While Brazil has seen gang-related violence in urban areas, this was the worst school shooting the country has ever seen.

July 22, 2011 - Tyrifjorden, Buskerud, Norway - A gunman disguised as a policeman opened fire at a camp for young political activists on the island of Utoya. The gunman kills 68 campers, including personal friends of Prime Minister Stoltenberg. Police arrested Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year-old Norwegian who had been linked to an anti-Islamic group.

March 19, 2012 - Toulouse, France - Mohammed Merah, a French man of Algerian descent, shot and killed a rabbi, two of his children, and another child at a Jewish school. Police believe he had earlier shot and killed three paratroopers. Merah said he was a member of Al Qaeda and that he was seeking revenge for the killing of Palestinian children.

September 21, 2013 - Nairobi, Kenya - Shabab militants, who are based in Somalia, attacked an upscale mall, killing nearly 70 people and wounding about 175. The siege lasted for three days, with persistent fighting between government troops and militants. The attack was meticulously planned, and the militants proved to be challenging for the government to dislodge from the Westgate mall.

There's no place else like this?

Reference: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0777958.html

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Wait! Who Surrendered?

White House Claims ‘Ending War in Iraq’ As Major Accomplishment

:: By: Larry Walker II ::

Borrowing from the Lonely Conservative, this week terrorists have taken over the cities of Mosul and Tikrit in Iraq. They had already taken control of Fallujah and the entire region is spiraling out of control. But, that didn’t stop White House spokesman Josh Earnest from proclaiming that ending the Iraq war is one of the administration’s major accomplishments.

The only problem with this unsound proclamation is that a war isn’t over until someone surrenders. Where’s the peace treaty? Have Al-Qaeda and its affiliates surrendered? Has the Taliban laid down arms? Well, then who in the hell surrendered? Oh, I see. It seems we did.

Hmmm, let’s think of it this way. If a band of terrorists parachuted onto the White House grounds, summarily executed Potus, then declared that the war was over and returned to their milk and honey farms, I suppose we could just accept this and go back to our busy lives, and perhaps some of us would want to, but I suspect most of us would be ready for war. For us, this would be more like the beginning, or a new beginning, rather than the end. But perhaps I stand alone.

Apparently we’ve forgotten about Hiroo Onoda, the Japanese soldier who continued fighting World War II a full 29 years after Japan surrendered. He continued to fight because he didn’t know the war was over. Despite numerous attempts to inform him and a few remaining cells of soldiers, by dropping leaflets with orders to surrender from General Yamashita, followed by more leaflets with newspapers from Japan, photographs, and letters from the soldier’s families, and despite sending delegates from Japan begging over loudspeakers to give themselves up, Onoda refused to believe the war was over. Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945 and signed the instrument of surrender aboard the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945, officially ending the war. Hiroo Onoda didn’t surrender until March 10, 1975.

His orders from his commanding officer, Major Yoshimi Taniguchi, were simple:

You are absolutely forbidden to die by your own hand. It may take three years, it may take five, but whatever happens, we’ll come back for you. Until then, so long as you have one soldier, you are to continue to lead him. You may have to live on coconuts. If that’s the case, live on coconuts! Under no circumstances are you [to] give up your life voluntarily.

It’s too bad we can’t just solve problems by declaring them fixed, and hoping and wishing the rest of the world conforms. No, it doesn’t work like that. Were it that simple, we could declare our Southern border secure, our immigration problem solved, and it would be so.

If the war in Iraq is over, I hope to God the enemy knows. Please tell me we at least dropped a C-130 full of leaflets indicating such before we left. If the war on terror is over, please tell me it was Al-Qaeda and its affiliates who surrendered. And as for those top level Taliban Commanders we just released from Guantanamo Bay, somebody please, please tell me they signed a peace treaty before we dropped them in Qatar.

“Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.” ~ Exodus 33:3 (NIV)

Reference: A Japanese Soldier Who Continued Fighting WWII 29 Years after the Japanese Surrendered, Because He Didn’t Know