U.S. Arms Sales Hit Record High

While reading the front page August 27th Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch article “U.S. arms sales shoot to record high: $66.3B,” I wasn’t sure what to think.  Was New York Times columnist Thom Shanker really praising the United States for heavily arming planet Earth?  Does no one see the irony of the United States being perpetually at war all the while arming every one else?

With America selling more than seventy-five percent of the total global arms market, far out-selling second place Russia at a mere $4.8 billion, we must not forget that many times these very same military weapons come back to haunt us.  Have we forgotten that it was America who armed Osama bin Laden when he was in Afghanistan fighting the former Soviet Union or that we armed Saddam Hussein when he was fighting Iran?

For every action, there is a reaction.  Heavily arming our entire planet might be great for the American military-industrial complex bottom line, however, in the long run, it greatly impedes world peace.

Steven H. Spring





Barack Hussein Obama, Manchurian Candidate?

As presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney proudly boasted to a hometown crowd during a campaign rally in Michigan this past Friday that “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate,” the issue of President Barack Obama’s place of birth once again came to the forefront in this closely contested election.  Mr. Romney later tried to downplay his jab at the president, saying that “there’s no question about where he was born” and that “we’ve got to have a little humor in a campaign.”  The sad fact is though; there are a great many Americans, including many prominent Republican leaders that still believe, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that President Obama is not a natural-born U.S. citizen.

Why is it that my Republican friends, whom I consider intelligent though somewhat misinformed, still believe to this day that President Barack Hussein Obama (Republicans sure do like to throw in his middle name whenever possible, as if it ties the president to former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein), is both a Muslim and Kenyan?  They are wrongly convinced of both his religion and origin of birth no matter how many birth certificates, newspaper announcements or other facts are presented as evidence to the contrary.

However, what I really find ironic in their argument is that when asked the name of the of the controversial former pastor of the Trinity United Church Of Christ, the Chicago church President Obama attended for two decades, my Republican friends know the answer, that being Jeremiah Wright.  It was Pastor Wright who baptized Obama in 1988, who married him to Michelle in 1992 and later baptized his two daughters.  How then, do my Republican friends determine that the president is a Muslim?  The president has described his mother and her parents as non-religious and his father as an avowed atheist.  Even if the president was a Muslim, does this really matter?  Does it make him incompetent to be president?

Regarding the origin of his birth, how much evidence does it take to convince someone the president was born in Honolulu, Hawaii?  Why do so many Republicans, including many influential television talking heads, believe he was born in Kenya, into some sort of left-wing liberal, Islamic (isn’t this an oxymoron?) Manchurian candidate plot to overthrow the United States government, some fifty years after his birth?  If the president were a white man named Joseph Smith, there would be absolutely no questions raised regarding his religion nor place of birth.

Even if the president was born in Kenya, Chapter 8, Section 1408 of the United States Code states: “If one parent is a U.S. citizen and the other parent is not, the child is a citizen if: the U.S. citizen parent has been “physically present” in the U.S. before the child’s birth for a total period of at least five years, and at least two of those five years were after the U.S. citizen parent’s fourteenth birthday.”

I am not a constitutional lawyer, an expert on United States Code nor an authority on the genealogical history of President Obama, however, is seems that his mother did meet both criteria for his citizenship and as such, no matter where young Barack was born, he is a citizen of this country, thus making it a moot point as to whether he was born in Honolulu or Kathmandu.  Yet, to my Republican friends, his incorrectly perceived birthplace and religion make him unfit to be president of the United States.

How pathetic and unpatriotic!

Steven H. Spring




Are NFL Players One Percenters?

It was only because I had set a reminder on the cable box channel guide earlier in the day to turn on the Packers-Chargers pre-season football game Thursday night that I was able to watch some of the game as I had plugged in and gone electric a little while earlier, pickin’ and grinnin’ with my Fender Stratocaster hung around my shoulder, rockin’ my little metro complex via headphones for a good hour and thinking very little of anything else.  It was during a brief break between jams that I caught the announcers talking about the scab referees calling the game, including Shannon Eastin, the first female ever to officiate an NFL game.  I got to thinking about how the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) and the players themselves threw such a fit earlier this year concerning the talk of the NFL adding two additional regular season games each year.  Injuries where sure to mount up, the union and players screamed, balking at the suggestion of playing two more games each season while reducing the number of preseason games.

The irony soon set in about the lack of solidarity by the NFLPA and its members.  The players very easily could be walking the picket line with their game official brothers, all the while getting out of several meaningless, only in America glorified scrimmages where the starters and stars play a very short period of time while unknown players with almost no chance of making the team get their shot at glory.  In a league in which the stars are paid many times more than the average player’s salary, that average salary is still two millions dollars a year.  At that figure, NFL players are differently one percenters.

Isn’t it ironic that quasi-amateur collegiate players play their first game of the season without the benefit any pre-season games?  Why then, do highly paid professional athletes, who have been playing far longer than their college brethren, require four pre-season games in order to get ready for the regular season?  In this day and age in which the very heart, soul and legality of worker unions are being undermined by the Republican Party, wouldn’t you think the NFLPA would show support to their union brothers?  However, just the opposite is happening as the Players Association have already begun criticizing scab officials, not for working in place of the striking officials, but for their deemed inequality to NFL officials, going as far as to blaming them for injuries that might be suffered by players due to blown calls.

I guess though, when hard times hit home, with decent jobs nowhere to be found, no matter what the working man is working for, he is only working for himself.

Steven H. Spring




Presidential Campaign Commercials

As a political junkie, I love politics as much as the next addict.  However, election campaigns in America have turned into nothing more than thirty or sixty-second sound bite commercials that seem to have absolutely nothing to do with neither facts nor reality.

The latest example of one party or candidate purposely distorting the truth involves presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who in his latest commercial shows President Obama appearing to be stating that entrepreneurs did little to create their business, that they did not build it, it was our government that deserves all the credit.

However, anyone who heard the president’s entire comment knows this commercial is not accurate.  What President Obama really said was that it was because of government’s investment in infrastructure and education, among other tangible assets, that made it possible for any entrepreneur’s business to be successful, in that if not for roads built by taxpayers, and an educated workforce, it would be almost impossible for a business to get its goods built and to market.

The problem with the president’s comments was that he did not eloquently state it much as Elizabeth Warren did a few months back during her Massachusetts senatorial campaign.  And if truth be told, Mitt Romney said very much the same thing ten years ago to Olympic athletes while he was, in his own words, helping “save the Olympic games.”

Steven H. Spring





Voter Suppression

In an affront to democracy, the Republican Party has begun suppressing the number of Democratic voters via voter identification laws and the purging of voter registration lists in the name of eliminating voter fraud.  Voter eligible citizens who lack a government issued photo ID most often are of the following demographics: low-income, minorities or the young, citizens who usually vote Democratic.  What Republicans fail to articulate is that voter fraud is basically nonexistent, something like 0.00005 percent of the total votes cast over the past decade.  Their true intent is to reduce the size of the opposition.  Since 2001, almost one thousand new bills have been introduced in forty-six states that would strengthen voting laws.  In the 2008 election, more than two million voters were unable to vote because they did not have the appropriate form of identification.  In what seems an absurdity, Texas law allows voters to show their concealed handgun licenses as a proper form of identification but not a university issued ID.

With twenty-four states having recently passed or are considering new voter suppression laws, it is estimated that five million eligible citizens will be unable to vote this coming November.  In a dead heat election, which the presidential race is shaping up to be, several thousand votes in one key state could decide the outcome.  Just ask Florida Democrats.  This attempt to eradicate the opposition was made perfectly clear when Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai boasted earlier this year to a Republican State Committee that his state’s new voter identification law, which has been estimated to eliminate up to ten percent of his state’s registered voters, “…is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania” this November 6th.

Isn’t it ironic that Republicans are so adamant about voters presenting proper ID to cast their ballot yet see nothing wrong with having million dollar campaign contributors influence the outcome of an entire election.  Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who previously contributed tens of millions of dollars to Newt Gingrich’s fail presidential campaign, has pledged to contribute $100 million to the Mitt Romney campaign.  Are we, the American public that gullible as to believe Adelson expects nothing in return?  Despite millions of dollars in contributions from the uber- rich and corporations, the American public has no idea who they are since current law requires no posting of contributions until after the election, if at all.

Due to the 2010 United States Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which decreed the First Amendment to the Bill Of Rights prohibits our government from limiting how much corporations and unions can contribute to election campaigns, America no longer is a democracy, governed by we the people, but has now become a full-fledged plutocracy, governed by the wealthy elite, be they individual citizens or corporations.  Money is not free speech.  Money is influence!

Steven H. Spring