Stupid Commercials ~ Direct TV (Or Is It NFL Sunday Ticket?)

September 12, 2018

It’s been a few years since I’ve posted an article about stupid commercials, not because there are no longer stupid commercials airing on television, but after buying my first new camera in thirty-three years, finally going digital five summers ago, and then buying another this past Christmas, I have been busy shooting nearly 185,000 photographs. Shooting that many photos doesn’t take long, I shot 180 earlier this afternoon in about fifteen minutes. It’s sorting through them all, choosing the best ones and then working on them that is time-consuming.

However, after seeing an advertisement for Direct TV (or is it for NFL Sunday Ticket?) the past couple of weeks, I just had to find time to comment on this rather stupid commercial. The premise of the commercial is two little girls are selling lemonade in their front yard when a lady stops by to buy a cup. All of a sudden the girls’ mother appears and grabs the biggest plastic cup I’ve ever seen from under the table and pours two pitchers worth of lemonade into it. The mother then grabs everything, including the money-box and tells the girls it’s time to go. In the closing scene, we see the girls and mom watching an Oakland Raiders football game, presumably on NFL Sunday Ticket. And assumedly, on Direct TV.

Why are the two girls getting ready to sell lemonade (the two pitchers are full, after all) if the mother knew they wanted to watch the game, but what really makes this such a stupid commercial is why would anyone have a two-gallon plastic cup?

Steven H. Spring
Earth

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Senator Lindsey Graham Is A Coward

July 28, 2017

Thursday afternoon, South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican, had this to say about the Republican Party’s latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (i.e., ObamaCare), “I’m not going to vote for a bill that is terrible policy and horrible politics just because we have to get something done.”

Graham further called the so-called skinny repeal a “disaster” and “a fraud.” He went on to call it “the dumbest thing in history” and said it would drive up insurance premiums and would destabilize Wall Street markets, which in effect would destabilize world markets. The Republican Party has been trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act for eight years, and replace it with their own plan. Eight years later, they still do not have a passable alternative. How can that be? How is it that this party now controls the White House and both Houses of Congress, and yet still cannot get a bill passed?

When the Republican Party finally got around to voting on this disaster of a bill at 1:30 Friday morning, how did Graham vote? Of course, he voted for the bill, choosing to put party well ahead of the citizens of both South Carolina and America.

Lindsey Graham should be ashamed of himself. He act of cowardice is an embarrassment to both his state and country. His yes vote on the skinny repeal, despite repeatedly calling it derogatory names all day and night is exactly what is wrong with America’s broken political system, a system controlled by Big Business and Big Money.

Senator Graham was right about one thing. His vote was indeed horrible politics.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Repealing The Affordable Care Act (i.e., ObamaCare)

July 19, 2017

Just two short months ago, House members were dancing in the Rose Garden, having been invited by the president to celebrate their huge victory after passing legislation repealing The Affordable Care Act (i.e., ObamaCare), forgetting that in order for their legislation to become law it must also pass the Senate. Low and behold, news broke late Monday evening that the Senate cannot muster the fifty-one votes required to pass their version of a new health care bill.

How is it the Republican Party, who tried repealing ObamaCare nearly seventy times during the Obama presidency, has now failed for the third time in the past six months, despite controlling both Houses of Congress and the presidency? Imagine what Congress could actually accomplish if only they worked on something other than trying to repeal The Affordable Care Act. And yet Republicans are already wasting time trying to devise one more plan to repeal the act. All the while the president’s solution is to “let ObamaCare fail,” resulting in as many as fifty million Americans losing health care benefits. Is this leadership?

I’m no journalist, but if one, I would ask every Republican member of Congress and the president why they are so set in repealing The Affordable Care Act. Why not just fix what is wrong with it? The only rationale for their repeated failed attempts to repeal President Obama’s landmark legislation giving any American who wanted it health insurance is to diminish his legacy.

No other possible explanation has ever been given.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

U.S. – Cuban Relations (Or Lack Thereof)

June 23, 2017

The recent announcement by the president that his administration will roll back the normalization of relations with Cuba as enacted by former president Barack Obama, reeks of political pandering to the very small, yet very vocal Cuban-American community in the delegate rich state of Florida. Ironically, when President Obama announced the easement of the embargo, Cuban-Americans were outraged, yet the Cuban people rejoiced.

America’s fifty year embargo against Cuba via commercial, economic and financial sanctions did nothing but hurt the Cuban people and kept the Castro brothers in power all these years as they blamed America for all their hardship. Making matters much more dire, Russia has announced they are planning on opening a military base in the island nation located only ninety miles off the coast of Florida.

Even more ironic, just days after the announcement by the president that he is rolling back Cuban relations to Cold War status, Raul Castro has confirmed his plan to not seek another term as president when his current term expires in 2018.

What could ever possibly go wrong?

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Another Massive Tax Cut For Big Business And Billionaires

April 28, 2017

With the president boasting that his one page tax reform plan (i.e., massive tax cuts for both Big Business and the wealthy elite) is the biggest in history, one thing for certain is that this proposed legislation will add to the soaring national debt, as experts are already opining that it will add an additional seven trillion dollars of debt over the next decade. The administration is saying this tax plan will pay for itself via economic growth. However, that was not the case when George W. Bush cut taxes twice during his terms in office.

Politicians, corporate leaders and business pundits all whine how the present corporate tax rate of 35% is the highest in the world, yet they fail to mention the average, effective rate paid by all corporations is only 12.8%, hardly unfair. Many of this nation’s largest corporations pay little, if any federal tax, including Boeing, General Electric, Priceline.com, Verizon, American Electric Power, First Energy, Duke Energy, Con-Ed and FedEx, among many others. These same people say reducing the corporate rate to 15% will create jobs, however, it is demand that creates jobs. U.S. corporations have been sitting on record piles of cash the past few years, which has done nothing to stimulate the economy. The problem is the working man and woman have little, if any discretionary income, as they are barely getting by on minimum wage jobs. Now days, it takes both the husband and wife working full-time jobs to raise a family, whereas a few decades ago all it took was for the husband to be the breadwinner.

Why is it that nearly seventy percent of U.S. corporations are regarded as non-profits? According to the latest available Internal Revenue Service statistics that I could find, the percentage of non-profits has grown from twenty-four percent in 1986 to sixty-nine percent by 2008. Why the sudden surge in the number of corporations that consider themselves not-for-profit? This percentage is far higher when you add in sole proprietors and partnerships.

Congress needs to investigate why, in 1959 the IRS changed the wording of the actual law regarding the qualifications for tax-exemption status, when they had no legal authority to do so. I am not an attorney, nor a tax expert (who is?); however, the law as written by Congress in Section 501(C) of the tax code requires any entity not organized for profit, applying for tax-exempt status as a social welfare organization to be operated “exclusively” for the promotion of social welfare. Some non-profit corporations that do not seemingly meet the requirement of exclusively promoting social welfare are the NCAA, PGA, LPGA and the NHL. The NFL just this month announced they are giving up their tax-free status, as Major League Baseball did in 2007.

Or, how about Wall Street bankers, earning millions of dollars a year, pay a federal rate of only 15% because their income is counted as capital gains. I guess that “golden rule” is true, isn’t it? Our tax code desperately needs overhauled, but once again slashing taxes paid by Big Business, millionaires and billionaires is not the answer. Nor will it simulate the economy. President Clinton raised taxes and the economy roared. George W. Bush cut taxes twice and he left office with the worst economy since the Great Depression.

Do I feel sorry for U.S. corporations or the wealthy elite who earn billions of dollars, yet pay little or no federal tax? Hardly.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Defense Spending Vs. The National Debt

March 3, 2017

With the recent announcement by the president that he is requesting at least a $54 billion increase to the military budget, though he also said it could approach $100 billion when all is said and done, it seems that decreasing the national debt is no longer a priority. With an annual defense budget of $600 billion, we spend thirty-six percent of the world-wide defense budget, out-spending number two China by $350 billion. When combined with our intelligence agencies, we spend nearly $1.5 trillion on defense and intelligence related expenditures every year. Moreover, this does not include America’s newly created ultra secret intelligence budget.

Since September 11th, our government has built up such a top-secret network of intelligence agencies that no one knows how much it cost, how many it employs or how many agencies it runs. The defense budget itself has nearly doubled since 2000, yet where has all this spending gotten us? As a nation, we live in fear of another September 11th attack; all the while, our country is falling apart. America is bankrupting itself and it is not from our spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It is from our imperialistic attitude and our attempt to dominate the world we call planet Earth.

In a rather sad, ironic twist, America is by far the world’s largest arms dealer, with more than half of total world-wide arms sales. Thus, not only are we bankrupting ourselves with our military spending, but we are also heavily arming the rest of the world. One must remember that America armed Saddam Hussein when he was at war with Iran in the 1980s and we armed Osama bin Laden when he fought the Russians in Afghanistan, also during the ‘80s. America has a very extensive history of arming and supporting malevolence dictators and lunatics, in the name of what is best for this country, not necessarily what is best for the rest of the world.

Making matters worse is that we spend billions of dollars on military items our generals and admirals do not need, nor want, all because members of Congress feel the need to look good to their constituents back home by keeping jobs in their districts. A prime example of military waste is the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), which Senator John McCain has proclaimed a boondoggle. Construction begun on the $13 billion carrier in 2005, and though not yet commissioned is two years behind schedule with cost overruns of nearly $3 billion. Furthermore, this does not include the nearly $5 billion cost of research and development, nor the cost of more than seventy-five aircraft that will take-off and land on her massive flight deck. One must also not forget that the Pentagon’s accounting books have been unauditable for years.

In his January 17, 1961 farewell address to the nation, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the country to beware of the mighty military-industrial complex. President Eisenhower stated “…we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Coming from a five-star general, many credit for winning World War II, America should have listened.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Government Regulations

January 26, 2017

With the boast by the president that he will cut government regulations by seventy-five percent, if not more, what could possibly go wrong if he gets his way? Regulations, like laws come about because of wrong doing. We must not forget that forty years ago, the Bald Eagle, America’s national symbol became nearly extinct because of the use of DDT. In June of 1969, the Cuyahoga River caught fire due to decades of polluted industrial waste. That was just the last time the river near Cleveland, Ohio caught fire, as it burned several times throughout the first half of the twentieth century. More recently, let’s ask the citizens of Flint, Michigan how they feel about eliminating nearly all government regulations.

Living in the Rust Belt, we like to think that our air is much cleaner than it was during this region’s steel producing heyday, and judging by photographs taken seventy-five years ago, it appears so. However, the American Lung Association deems fifty percent of all U.S. counties suffer from unhealthy air, resulting in their citizens suffering from asthma (which is becoming an epidemic, especially among our children), bronchitis, emphysema, strokes, heart attacks and premature deaths. It has been estimated that nearly five million people die every year world-wide from breathing polluted air.

Making matters worse, the president has even issued a gag order against the EPA, forbidding scientists from talking to anyone about their work. Additionally, he has frozen the agency’s funding, in effect putting an end to any future research into climate change, along with its many other services such as environmental waste cleanup and the monitoring of the quality of the air we breath. It has also been reported the agency has been ordered to begin purging its historical research data.

Ironically, the president, who bailed out son Donald, Jr.’s failed business (bankruptcy must run in the family), wants the taxpayers of South Carolina to pay for cleaning up the business site’s toxic waste. In order to do so, the president must prove he does not know the previous owner.

In what has to be the most egregious misuse of any word in the history of mankind, this president has the audacity to proclaim himself an environmentalist. This surely must be one of this administration’s alternative facts.

Steven H. Spring
Earth