The Afghanistan Conflict

As the Afghani people continue their violent protests over the burning of holy Qurans by American military personnel, one question immediately comes to mind; why were U.S. soldiers given the task of sorting through an Afghanistan library looking for books to burn in the first place?  They obviously were not properly trained to do so.  It is bad enough that these protests have led to the deaths of dozens of Afghans and two American soldiers last week, but then came news this past Saturday that two high-ranking Army officers were shot execution style inside a highly secured Afghan government building.  This decade-long war, already the longest in U.S. history, has cost the precious lives of more than 1,800 U.S. military personnel, hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars and the loss of an unknown number of Afghan civilians, appears to have no end in sight.

It was reported in the Columbus Dispatch that Imam Mawlawi Enayatullah Baleegh was quoted as saying “Burning the Quran is an unforgivable crime and sin, but the presence of infidels in a Muslim country is even a bigger crime.”  The presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia was precisely the reason given by Osama bin Laden for his horrendous attack against America on September 11th.

America is bankrupting itself much like that of the former Soviet Union during the 1990s with its military buildup and endeavors.  What exactly is our goal in this ongoing war?  The Taliban are no longer in power and bin Laden is long dead.  Our military leaders continually talk of training the Afghan army to take our place, but what is taking so long?  We train our soldiers in ten weeks, yet we have been training Afghans for ten years.  This just doesn’t seem to make sense.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who most likely maintains power solely by the presence of the U.S. military, was quoted as saying if war broke out between the Americans and neighboring Pakistan, Afghanistan would side with their neighbor.  Now is the time for the American government to declare victory and bring all our troops home from this volatile region!

Steven H. Spring






I believe The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, though at times very crude, is the funniest show on television.  However, it can also be very enlightening.  Last week, I learned something from Mr. Stewart that I have not yet heard reported by any of the legitimate news programs and organizations that I regularly watch and read, that being the STOCK Act.  On this particular show, Stewart devoted the first ten minutes of the show discussing how members of Congress are legally allowed to conduct insider trading of stock via political intelligence (i.e., information gained from government sources that can potentially cause the stock markets and/or particular stock to fluctuate in price).  During the last ten minutes of his show, Stewart interviewed Representative Louise Slaughter of New York, a co-sponsor of the bill to further expand on this controversial issue.

From what little I do know about the STOCK Act, it is an attempt by Congress to require its members and their staff abide by the same rules in the trading of stock as that of every other citizen of this country.  However, the House of Representatives failed to see the need for such a law and passed by a 417-2 margin a much weakened version of the bill without curtailing political intelligence.  The House bill also failed to provide a provision to crack down on government officials found guilty of performing official duties that benefit them financially.  Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa was quoted as saying that this House bill was “astonishing and extremely disappointing” while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California stated “…secretly, the Republicans brought a much diminished bill to the floor.  Senator Grassley’s remarks are stunning, and a stunning indictment of the House Republicans.”  I read somewhere that as much as $400 million in insider trading goes on in Congress each year.  Is there any wonder why the net worth of members of Congress has tripled this past decade?

I find it disturbing that this country can prosecute, convict and incarcerate Martha Stewart, and as a result revoking her right to vote, for the same crime that members of Congress can legally perform.  Is there any wonder why Congress has an approval rating in the single digits?

Steven H. Spring





Guitar World Hall Of Fame

Slash beat out Eric Clapton in the annual Guitar World magazine Hall Of Fame readers poll and their caption reads Slash finally enters the Hall Of Fame?  I know any readers polls are nothing more than a popularity contest by the magazine subscribers, and that one conducted by Guitar World is most likely reflected by a majority of its readers whose musical tastes lean toward heavy rock and/or metal, whichever name best describes the music that dominates this particular magazine, however, for Clapton to lose out to Slash in this year’s poll for induction into the magazine’s Hall Of Fame is asinine.

Clapton, who has been in such seminal bands as The Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith and Derek And The Dominos before launching a five decade long solo career, was considered a guitar god before Slash was born. Granted, most previous inductees into the Guitar World Hall Of Fame probably deserves such an honor in the long run, but for someone with such an extensive musical career as EC should have been one of the first two (the other being Jimi Hendrix), if not the very first inductee into a rock guitarist Hall Of Fame.

Based solely on recorded output, nobody in the history of rock music compares to that of Eric Clapton.

Steven H. Spring