Shep Smith: “Politics is Weird and Creepy”

Shep Smith tells it like it is:


US Military Burns Koran. Gingrich Blames Muslims and Liberals.

The following is an excerpt from an article in Russia Today regarding protests in Afghanistan directed at the US:

Thousands of protesters in Afghanistan rallied against the US this week after discovering that Americans had charred and purged copies of the Koran. President Obama was quick to extend an apology, but some of the GOP want things the other way around.

“I wish to express my deep regret for the reported incident,” Obama wrote this week to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.“I extend to you and the Afghan people my sincere apologies.”

Gingrich responded to the president’s attempt to qualm anti-American sentiment by insisting that Obama is in the wrong for trying to make peace with people whose religion has been ridiculed by US troops. American officials are calling the Koran incident inadvertent, and, nonetheless, Gingrich says there is no point in the president saying he’s sorry.

“There seems to be nothing that radical Islamists can do to get Barack Obama’s attention in a negative way and he is consistently apologizing to people who do not deserve the apology of the president of the United States period,”Gingrich told supporters during a campaign stop Thursday in Washington State.

“This destructive double standard whereby the United States and its democratic allies refuse to hold accountable leaders who tolerate systematic violence and oppression in their borders must come to an end,” Gingrich added in a statement.

Administration spokesman Jay Carney told reporters early Thursday that Obama’s apology was “wholly appropriate, given the sensitivities to this issue, the understandable sensitivities.”

“His [Obama’s] primary concern as Commander-in-Chief is the safety of American men and women in Afghanistan, of our military and civilian personnel there,” said Carney. “And it was absolutely the right thing to do.”

Gingrich said hours later that things should be reversed, in his opinion. “It is Hamid Karzai who owes the American people an apology, not the other way around,” said the speaker.

“And, candidly, if Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, doesn’t feel like apologizing then we should say good bye and good luck, we don’t need to be here risking our lives and wasting our money on somebody who doesn’t care,”he added.

You’re right Mister Gingrich, what was Obama thinking? We spent billions of dollars on the war in Afghanistan, investing a decade of our precious time invading their country and we are the ones who have to live with the burden of killing tens of thousands of the Afghani people and desecrating their dead bodies. They should be apologizing to us. I mean, what were we supposed to do not invade their country and kill their people?  If they can’t understand our glorious reasons necessitating our continual war against their country then they don’t deserve us.

All sarcasm aside, however, Gingrich is actually right on two counts here:

1. The United States’ foreign policy is indeed plagued by double standard. We impose sanctions and threaten military aggression against Iran because we think that maybe they could have nuclear weapons in the future – yet we have the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, with no move made towards disarmament, we remain the only country to have ever used a nuke with a nuclear program with even less transparency than Iran’s and we’ve been involved in two wars of aggression in the last decade while Iran has engaged in . . . zero. We spout on and on about how much we love democracy, how we want to bring it to the rest of the unenlightened world, and about how our wars abroad will spread democracy but we give foreign aid to dictators around the world – in fact, we give more foreign aid to Israel’s enemies than we do to our ally, Israel. We talk about how our national defense is under constant threat yet we have the single most aggressive foreign policy in the world resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of foreign civilians.

2. We do not need to be in Afghanistan risking our lives and wasting our money. Because it is a waste: in both of our country’s time, resources and human lives. We need to bring our troops home out of harm’s way and let the Afghani people run their own country.

My only question, though, is this: If our military is “inadvertently” burning Korans are they inadvertently burning Bibles as well? Maybe we should demand that Afghanistan apologize for our military’s hypothetical Bible burning as well.

Why America Needs Ron Paul

Ron Paul has been called extreme, radical, crazy and even dangerous. His views are often portrayed as too far out there – they are unrealistic and impractical. I don’t think Congressman Paul is crazy and I certainly don’t think he is dangerous to the American common good but I do cede that he is extreme, he is radical, he is an idealist and it certainly may be argued that his proposed policies are not practical. However, America’s problems are also extreme and will require extreme solutions. In short, the woes of our nation beg an idealist man – not a practical man, not a down-to-earth man, but a theoretical man who, when Rome burns, isn’t constrained by the limitations of convention. The tried-and-true methods are wonderful when times are good but to rely on such “practical” measures in the face of unprecedented challenges is erroneous. Our practicum has tried-and-failed and only the theoretical idealist can get us out now. Don’t believe me? Lets look at a mere few of the problems plaguing our country right now.

Our national debt is 15.4 trillion dollars, or 136,021 dollars per taxpayer. Our total unfunded liabilities are over 117.7 trillion dollars at over one million dollars per taxpayer. Our federal government overspends beyond its revenue at a rate of over 1.2 trillion dollars per year. Ron Paul’s spending plan cuts $1 trillion in spending during the first year of presidency, eliminating five cabinet departments (Energy, HUD, Commerce, Interior, and Education), abolishing the Transportation Security Administration and returning responsibility for security to private property owners, abolishing corporate subsidies, stopping foreign aid, ending foreign wars, and returning most other spending to 2006 levels. Ron Paul proposes the most extreme budget cuts of any presidential candidate by leaps and bounds. Yet, by cutting 1 trillion we still fall 200 million short annually of a balanced budget. That means that by cutting spending by an amount equal to half our revenue we will still be accruing debt and won’t even begin paying off our massive debt! Under the implementation of Ron Paul’s spending plan we would have a balanced budget by 2015 and then, finally, we can begin the arduous but essential process of reducing our debt burden. This is the most radical plan of action out there, proposed by a man considered so extreme the MSM undergoes frequent media blackouts in an attempt to curb his influence, and yet all it proposes is doing the bare minimum to get America’s economy back on track.

Ron Paul is labeled extreme because he wants to use the American people’s money prudently – instead of allowing our federal government to have free reign with the billions entrusted to them by us. His plan to eliminate government waste makes a 10% reduction in the federal workforce, slashes Congressional pay and perks, and curbs excessive federal travel. To stand with the American People, President Paul will take a salary of $39,336, approximately equal to the median personal income of the American worker. Meanwhile, the “practical” fiscal conservative Santorum who voted multiple times for congressional pay raises thinks that this is just too radical – and Romney, Gingrich and Obama agree.

The issue upon which conservatives seem to find Ron Paul’s stance most abhorrent though is on foreign policy. First, lets set the stage: what is the current state of American national defense and foreign policy? Today, hundreds of thousands of our fighting men and women have been stretched thin all across the globe in over 135 countries – often without a clear mission, any sense of what defines victory, or the knowledge of when they’ll be permanently reunited with their families. Ron Paul believes that acting as the world’s policeman and nation-building weakens our country, puts our troops in harm’s way, and sends precious resources to other nations in the midst of an historic economic crisis. Taxpayers are forced to spend billions of dollars each year to protect the borders of other countries, while Washington refuses to deal with our own border security needs. Congress has been rendered virtually irrelevant in foreign policy decisions and regularly cedes authority to an executive branch that refuses to be held accountable for its actions. Constitutionally, we cannot declare war without congressional approval. Do you remember a declaration of war from congress against Iraq? How about Afghanistan? Me neither. Thats because the executive branch has usurped the power to go to war – the same executive branch that, under NDAA, can now detain any American citizen indefinitely and without trial. Ron Paul, instead of spending billions in military ventures abroad and paying off tin-pot dictators around the world, would rather see strong borders at home and our money invested in the the American people – not in North Korea, Egypt, Pakistan and others. Is this extreme? Compared to American politics as usual, absolutely.

Rick Santorum, the object of adoration by many Catholic conservatives (and my own second choice), has denounced Ron Paul on the issue of abortion. Yet, Ron Paul seeks to immediately save lives by effectively repealing Roe v. Wade and preventing activist judges from interfering with state decisions on life by removing abortion from federal court jurisdiction through legislation modeled after his “We the People Act.” Additionally, Ron Paul will define life as beginning at conception by passing a “Sanctity of Life Act.” Furthermore, because Congressman Paul agrees with Thomas Jefferson that it is “sinful and tyrannical” to “compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors,” Ron Paul will also protect the American people’s freedom of conscience by working to prohibit taxpayer funds from being used for abortions, Planned Parenthood, or any other so-called “family planning” program. Compare this to Santorum who voted for a budget bill that contained millions in funds for Planned Parenthood, who proudly defends federal funding for contraception including the Pill which has been shown to be abortifacient (skip to 9:05) even though he personally opposes contraception, and who endorsed a militantly pro-abortion candidate against a pro-life candidate to his own political gain.

Ron Paul’s views are extreme . . . to a conventional political system that has no place to fit a man who doesn’t behave the way a politician is “supposed to act”.  Ron Paul doesn’t strategically endorse candidates for political gain like other politicians do, he only accepts campaign donations from individuals and not corporations like other politicians do, and he gives unused funds from his allotted office budget back to taxpayers every year to the sum of $100,000 last year which other politicians don’t do (except for his son, Rand Paul). Politicians like Santorum or Romney are too entrenched in the trees to see the forest – they’re a part of the same establishment that has failed us in every facet of government involvement so how can they possibly reverse the trend?

Ron Paul doesn’t limit himself to our current system because he recognizes that the system is broken. Its the system, politics as usual, thats the problem. We can vote for men like Santorum or Romney or Gingrich or Obama who will continue the “tried-and-true” trends of increased government spending, increased federal powers, suppression of rights, serial foreign warfare and continued government takeover of the private business sector while throwing us a bone once in a while or we can vote for a man whose been ideologically consistent for 30 years, who is uncompromising in his ideals, who stands by the constitution and who has had the audacity to offer real solutions with real change. Ultimately, the decision is ours and, if we find ourselves stuck with four more years of ad nauseam corporate fascism at the hands of an Obama or a Romney then we have no one to blame but ourselves. In politics, we tend to get what we deserve so, this time around, lets try to deserve something a little better.

Linkstorm: The Americanist Edition

Fantasizing about peeing on dead Afghan soldiers is patriotic but joking about a Superbowl ad is categorically un-Americanist and cannot go unpunished. 

After tough sanctions, Iran meets some of Obama’s demands . . . sort of.

NATO airstrike kills seven children aged between seven and 15 and one adult who was a 20-year-old mentally-handicapped person.

Apparently, not only is it okay for America to be the policemen of the world, but we have a responsibility to to do so. We, “must keep an eye on the entire world.” White man’s burden, anyone?

President Obama decides that its okay for wealthy corporations to contribute to his campaign when merely 16 months ago he called the very same super PACs a “threat to Democrats” and a “threat to democracy.”

Santorum says that as president he would demand Iran “open your facilities, you begin to dismantle this nuclear program, or we will dismantle it for you.” Even though Iran has a far more transparent nuclear program than the United States and we retain the right to our own massive nuclear arsenal. Gingrich and Romney both complain that China is “cheating” in order to bolster their economy. Romney wants to take measures that could lead to sanctions against America’s biggest importer – never mind that China would almost certainly considered such measures an act of war. 

Patrick Vandapool provides a fitting illustration for Americanist ultra-nationalism.

Golden Rule Booed

The actual candidates were not the only ones to disappoint in last night’s debate. The crowds themselves made some statements of their own that spoke volumes. Newt Gingrich’s call that we deal with our enemies by killing them, period, end of sentence, was met with thunderous applause while in stark contrast the crowd emphatically booed down the Golden Rule. Watch the video below to see (hear) for yourself:

For a country saturated in Christian moral teaching and culture we sure are quick to abandon one of our most basic principles at the beat of the drums of war. Another writer compares the booing of the Golden Rule to the story of St. Telemachus’ stoning to death as he protests the gladiator fights in Christian Rome:

War on Terror Proponents . . . Promote Terrorist Attack?

Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan's funeral

By now it has been all over the news that yet another Iranian scientist linked to Iran’s nuclear program has been assassinated last Wednesday. The story can be found here. Many US politicians have endorsed the bombing, including Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum who stated, “On occasion, scientists working on the nuclear program in Iran turn up dead. I think that’s a wonderful thing, candidly.” Santorum went so far as to say that we should treat nuclear scientists working for the Iranians like enemy combatants. While no one has claimed responsibility for the bombing, Iran blames Israel and the United States and, while the US denies involvement, Israel has made numerous implicit statements regarding covert operations in Iran, stating that 2012 would be critical for Iran — in part because of “things that happen to it unnaturally.”

While I am no fan of Iran or the increasingly tumultuous relationship between Iran and the United States these tactics are intrinsically evil under just war theory and their approval by US leaders is disgraceful. The rationale that assassination of Iranian scientists is licit because 1: Iran is developing nuclear weapons and intends to use them against the US and Israel, and 2: anyone involved in Iran’s nuclear program is an enemy combatant is categorically wrong on both counts.

A recent report released by the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran offers intelligence that according to the IAEA “indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device.” This highly-anticipated report has been politically abused to “prove” that Iran is building nuclear weapons and to justify acts of war against Iran like the assassination of scientists and international sanctions. GOP nominee hopefuls Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have both stated that they would not rule out preemptive missile strikes against Iran based on the premise of an Iranian nuclear weapons program. However, according to a statement made by an Obama senior administration official, “The IAEA does not assert that Iran has resumed a full scale nuclear weapons program nor does it have a program [sic] about how advanced the programs really are.” Apparently, the new report does not necessarily contradict US intelligence that has thus far found zero evidence of nuclear weaponization in Iran.

Furthermore, the report’s authenticity has been called into question. Robert Kelley, a former director at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), made the following statement regarding the new IAEA report.

“In 2009, the IAEA received a two-page document, purporting to come from Iran, describing this same alleged work. Mohamed ElBaradei, who was then the agency’s director general, rejected the information because there was no chain of custody for the paper, no clear source, document markings, date of issue or anything else that could establish its authenticity. What’s more, the document contained style errors, suggesting the author was not a native Farsi speaker. It appeared to have been typed using an Arabic, rather than a Farsi, word-processing program. When ElBaradei put the document in the trash heap, the UK’s Times newspaper published it.”

Kelley added that “the new team under the new director general, Yukiya Amano, also, in effect, fished the discarded document out of the trash heap”. In contrast, there is a wealth of investigations and intelligence to counter this solitary report, affirming time and again Iran’s assertions that they are not pursuing nuclear weaponization. Secretary of Defense and former CIA Director Leon Panetta, the man at the top of the US intelligence food chain, stated that Iran is NOT building a nuclear weapon. Furthermore, if the faulty evidence of the November IAEA report is excluded, every single investigation of Iran’s nuclear program has yielded zero evidence of any attempt at weaponization since 2003. Iran’s clean record is even more impressive when considering that Iran has one of the most transparent nuclear programs in the world, allowing additional protocol in IAEA investigations, including surprise investigations, that countries such as the US have never allowed.

The IAEA’s November report reeks of the same kind of “report” that claimed that we had evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That was our pretext for war with Iraq and it turned out that the paper was a sham. A decade after we went to war with Iraq and still the “evidence” of the report remains unverified and no WMDs have been found. We cannot justify assassinations and other acts of war, risking war with Iran that would lead to thousands of American deaths and possibly hundreds of thousands of Iranian deaths, on such faulty evidence.

Secondly, the rationale that scientists associated with Iran’s nuclear program are “enemy combatants” and therefore “fair game” is erroneous. Assassination of Iran’s scientists breaks the following laws of war:

Rule 1. the parties to the conflict must at all times distinguish between civilians and combatants. Attacks may only be directed against combatants. Attacks must not be directed against civilians.

Rule 2. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited.

Rule 4. The armed forces of a party to the conflict consist of all organized armed forces, groups and units which are under a command responsible to that party for the conduct of its subordinates.

Rule 5. Civilians are persons who are not members of the armed forces. The civilian population comprises all persons who are civilians.

Rule 6. Civilians are protected against attack, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities.

As well as the following principles of Catholic just war doctrine:

Just cause:  innocent life must be in imminent danger and intervention must be to protect life.

Last resort: Force may be used only after all peaceful and viable alternatives have been seriously tried and exhausted or are clearly not practical.

Distinction: Just war conduct should be governed by the principle of distinction. The acts of war should be directed towards enemy combatants, and not towards non-combatants caught in circumstances they did not create. The prohibited acts include bombing civilian residential areas that include no military target and committing acts of terrorism or reprisal against civilians.

Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan with his son.

Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was not a soldier, not a terrorist and in no way was part of Iran’s military complex. He was a scientist working towards advancing Iran’s nuclear technology and therefore a civilian. Thus, his death, no matter how advantageous politicians like Santorum may claim it to be, is murder and a grave evil both according to Catholic moral teaching and the secular laws of war. It is the responsibility of the United States to defy such tactics and publicly denounce their use. The targeting of civilians for lethal attack is an act of terrorism regardless of whether such attacks are directed towards Americans as was the case on 9/11 or if it is against our enemies such as the car-bombing of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan. There is no fundamental difference.

– Christian Ohnimus