Another Day, Another Mass Murder In Gun-Loving America

August 4, 2019

Another day, another mass shooting in America. No, I am not making light of Saturday’s slaughter of twenty people, plus twenty-six more wounded at a Wal-Mart store in El Paso, Texas, it is just that based on FBI criteria of four or more people shot in one shooting spree constitutes a mass shooting, America averages one such shooting every single day. Sadly, twelve hours later, another young white man, dressed in body armor, armed with an AK-47 style assault rifle loaded with two massive magazines, killed nine people and wounded twenty-seven others enjoying a night on the town in Dayton’s historic Oregon District early Sunday morning.

In a country which is still fighting its two longest wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention our quasi wars in Libya, Somalia, Syria, Pakistan, Niger and Yemen, how is it possible that by far, more Americans die from gunfire at home than on all those battlefields combined? Fortunately, both massacres could have been much worse had police not been able to respond so quickly. Dayton police confirm they killed the shooter within a minute of him opening fire in the crowded entertainment district.

Here’s one sure way to help curb America’s thirst of violence; make gun manufactures once again responsible for the armaments they sell by repealing the law which prevents victims of gun violence from suing the manufactures. In 2005, Congress passed, and President George W. Bush signed into law the “Protection Of Lawful Commerce In Arms Act,” which basically gives the gun industry carte blanche to sell their deadly products. Though there are six very minor exceptions to the law, the act states that gun manufactures cannot be held liable in civil court for the carnage created by their weapons of mass destruction.

Is there any other industry that receives such a huge benefit, especially one constantly surrounded by death?

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Editor’s Note: This rant was started late Saturday night, only as a letter to the editor of my hometown newspaper, and was basically finished, needing only another final proof-read or three. I went to bed around the same time the shooting started in downtown Dayton, roughly fifty miles from where I now live. I drive by the Oregon District three or four times a year when I go to the Dayton VA Medical Center.

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The Squad Vs. The Donald

July 22, 2019

The sad thing is not that the president has yet again proven himself to be more Archie Bunker than Ronald Reagan, this time with his twitter rants over the weekend, telling four women of color freshmen Representatives to go back where they came from. One of those “shithole” countries the president is so fond of, I assume.

No, the sad thing, no make that the appalling thing is that the president is so ignorant that he does not realize that three of the four Representatives were born in America. Yes, Ilhan Omar was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, however Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was born in New York City, Rashida Tlaib was born in Detroit and Ayanna Pressley was born in Cincinnati. It doesn’t get any more American than that.

The sad thing is that Republican leaders such as Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have become such hypocrites, more laughing-stock than leaders of their party. Three years ago, these four senators (one of which is the Senate Majority Leader) called the future president far worse names than any Democrat has, and yet now heap nothing but lavishing, lovingly praise on every single thing he tweets or does.

Don’t they know how foolish they look?

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Build That Barrier!!!

February 18, 2019

Before devotees of President Trump get too giddy with excitement over Friday’s Rose Garden announcement that he will declare a “national emergency” along our southern border, and confiscate precious funding from other departments to build that wall. Or, is it finish that wall? In reality, it’s building a very small section of it. $3.6 billion will come from the Military Construction Fund, 2.5 billion will come from the Pentagon Drug Prevention Program and 600 million will come from Treasury’s Drug Forfeiture Fund. Several Democrats have already announced they will take the declaration to court.

During the presidential campaign, devotees were promised the greatest wall of all-time (hard to beat that little wall China built), and will end up with maybe two hundred and thirty-four miles of some sort of “barrier.” The president even admitted during his press conference that this isn’t an emergency by opining “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it faster, I want to get it done faster, that’s all.” If there actually was a crisis at the border, why didn’t Republicans take action the past two years, when they controlled every aspect of the federal government? Even more ironic, the president immediately flew down to Mar-a-Lago for a weekend of golfing, despite the looming national crisis.

Never mind there is no national emergency along the southern border (not only are immigration rates at historic low levels, but there are more illegals leaving the country than entering it). Never mind that most illegals enter the country via airports, than sneaking across the desert border. Nor are drugs smuggled into the country on the thighs of immigrants, they are smuggled in mass quantities via vehicles through border crossings (ninety percent of drugs enter via official ports of entry). Last, but not least, there is no statistical evidence that terrorists enter through the desert either, as the president claims. Doing so, only strokes the fear of terrorism. This is nothing more than fear mongering.

Forgetting all that, what Republicans need to remember is that one day soon (as soon as November 3, 2020?), Democrats will take back the White House, and start declaring their own national emergencies. How about a national emergency over climate change? Or sensible, national gun laws? Or a huge increase in income tax rates on the nation’s wealthy elite? Or better yet, how about a real national emergency regarding our entire rapidly deteriorating infrastructure system? Or health care?

I have a great idea, let’s make Mexico pay for that wall. I don’t understand why no one has thought of this before!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

An Open Letter To My Congressmen

November 14, 2018

The following is a copy of my letter to Senator Sherrod Brown, regarding President Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting Attorney General, temporarily replacing Jeff Sessions, who “resigned” just one day after last week’s mid-term elections.  Similar letters were also sent to my other senator and to my representative.  Isn’t the word processor a wonderful thing?

November 13, 2018

The Honorable Sherrod Brown
United States Senate
713 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Brown,

With the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions only one day after the mid-term elections, and the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting AG, I must write once again to voice my concern that the “president” (I will stop using quotation marks when he starts acting presidential) is taking steps to either fire Robert Mueller or shut down his investigation into Russia hi-jacking the 2016 presidential election. The “president” has even gone so far as to threaten war against Democrats, threatening to sic the Republican-controlled Senate on them, after they took back control of the House of Representatives, fearing numerous investigations into both his private business and presidency.

Although Sessions gave his resignation, at the request of the “president,” it doesn’t take a political scientist to know the former AG was fired because he recused himself from the Mueller investigation. Ironically, Mr. Whitaker might have even more reason to recuse himself, though we both know that will never happen. During the past two years, in television interviews and an op-ed piece, the acting AG has called Mueller’s investigation a “hoax,” a “witch-hunt” and has stated that it has “gone too far.” Whitaker has even opined he could see a scenario where a new Attorney General reduces Mueller’s budget so great that it basically shuts down the investigation.

How can America trust a man as its Attorney General who has tweeted “note to Trump’s lawyer: do no cooperate with Mueller lynch mob”? In addition to his incriminating comments, which proves he has already formed his opinion of an investigation in which he will lead, Whitaker chaired the Iowa state treasurer campaign of Sam Clovis, who had ties to the Trump presidential campaign. All of this adds up to more than enough reason for Whitaker to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation due to massive conflicts of interest.

The following are a few more quotes by Whitaker, furthering documenting his bias opinion regarding the investigation, providing even more evidence for his recusal;

“It does not take a lawyer or even a former federal prosecutor like myself to conclude that investigating Donald Trump’s finances or his family’s finances falls completely outside of the realm of his 2016 campaign and allegations that the campaign coordinated with the Russian government or anyone else. That goes beyond the scope of the appointment of the special counsel.”

Regarding the infamous June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and several Russians attending, Whitaker said “You would always take that meeting.” Federal law prohibit foreign nationals from giving something of value to U.S. election campaigns. I’m no lawyer, but I have heard more than one state that giving incrimination information on an opponent constitutes something of value.

“I think what ultimately the president is going to start doing is putting pressure on Rod J. Rosenstein, who is in charge of this investigation, his acting attorney general. And really try to get Rod to maybe even cut the budget of Bob Mueller and do something a little more stage crafty than the blunt instrument of firing the attorney general and trying to replace him.”

There is even some debate as to the legality of Whitaker’s hiring, as the Federal Vacancies Reform Act requires a president to replace Senate confirmed positions with individuals who have already been confirmed by the Senate. Mr. Whitaker was confirmed by the Senate in 2004, when he was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa in 2004. However, he resigned that position in 2009, when he and two other attorneys formed the law firm Whitaker, Hagenow & Gustoff LLP. His job as chief of staff to Sessions did not require Senate confirmation.

One more additional piece of information indicating Matthew Whitaker’s character, concerns his last job before becoming Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff, where he represented World Patent Marketing as counsel and was an Advisory Board member. It seems the Miami, Florida based business scammed thousands of customers out of millions of dollars. After being fined $26 million, the company was shut down the federal government.

According to Federal Trade Commission documents, after being threatened by Whitaker, one customer, listed as A. Rudsky (an attorney) emailed back “Do not email me with your scare tactics. Stop with your bullshit emails…You are party to a scam…You will be exposed.” Although this has no bearing on his ability to objectively oversea the Mueller investigation, it does provide oversight into his qualifications as acting Attorney General.

It does not take a genius to see why Matthew Whitaker was appointed acting AG, as he is nothing but the “president’s” toady. He was appointed preciously because of his views on the Mueller investigation. Donald Trump finally got his “Roy Cohn.”

Sincerely,

Steven H. Spring

Brett Kavanaugh vs. Christine Blasey Ford

September 20, 2018

To believe the Republican controlled Senate Judiciary Committee is seeking truth regarding a sexual assault claim against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by Professor Christine Blasey Ford is asinine. To conduct a hearing in which only Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford will testify, only a few days after the allegation came to light, without an investigation, is asinine. To require Dr. Blasey Ford to present her written testimony by the Friday before the Monday hearing, with only two days notice is asinine.

To refuse to allow the FBI to conduct an investigation before a hearing is held, an investigation in which former U.S. attorneys and prosecutors state is the only proper way in which to conduct the Judiciary Committee’s investigation, is asinine. To refuse to subpoena Kavanaugh’s high school drinking buddy, Mark Judge, whom, based on his many writings might not be the best character reference, whom Dr. Blasey Ford has stated was in the room during the alleged assault, and that she was only able to escape the assault was when Judge jump on top of them, is asinine.

To believe Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, who tweeted “…No other OUTSIDE investigation is necessary for the Cmte to do its investigation” is impartial is asinine. To believe committee member Orin Hatch, who has stated he believes Kavanaugh when the jurist said he wasn’t at the party, and that he seems “honest and straightforward,” or that there are “lots of reasons not to believe” the professor and that she must be “mixed up,” will be impartial is asinine. Or, to believe committee member Lindsey Graham, who has stated that a longer process would be “not about finding the truth, but delaying the process till after the midterm elections,” will be impartial is asinine.

It’s funny how Republicans are so concerned about appointing a Supreme Court justice so quickly, when they saw nothing wrong with not even giving Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to replace Antonin Scalia, an interview, citing the upcoming presidential election, which was nearly a year away. For Republicans to rush through this nomination, with midterm elections only six weeks away, not to mention the Robert Mueller investigation, which has indicted more than thirty people, including seemingly everyone associated with the president along with many Russians, and appears to be very close to knocking on the White House door, is asinine.

The Senate Judiciary Committee does not appear inclined to learn the truth about this allegation, they only seem hell-bent on appointing a very conservative jurist, someone who now believes a sitting president not only should not be indicted, but not even investigated. This newfound opinion is a complete about-face from his view of that two decades ago, when he co-authored the report that found legal grounds to impeach President Bill Clinton for committing perjury when he lied while trying to cover-up a sex act between two consenting adults.

And that, my friends, is asinine!!!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

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

An Open Letter To My Congressmen

September 3, 2017

The following is a copy of a letter to my House of Representative regarding the ongoing investigation by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller into the Trump presidential campaign and administration’s collusion with Russia and any potential criminal activities. The gist of my letter concerns the “president” openly boasting that he is about to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and taking over the investigation himself, in effect, shutting it down completely.

In addition to this letter, I also sent letters to my two Senators as well. Isn’t the word processor a wonderful thing?

Steven H. Spring
Earth

September 1, 2018

The Honorable Warren Davidson
United States House of Representatives
1004 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-3508

Dear Congressman Davidson,

With the reporting this past week by the Washington Post that the “president” (I will stop using quotation marks when the “president” starts acting presidential) will most likely fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions after the November mid-term elections, I must write again to implore my three members of Congress to act now to ensure that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is allowed to complete his investigation. After all the bad news last week, in which former campaign manager Paul Manafort was found guilty of eight felony counts, personal attorney Michael Cohen plead guilty to eight felony counts, including implicating the “president” on two counts, and both American Media Inc. chairman David Pecker and Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg received immunity from prosecution in exchange for their testimony, it doesn’t take a prosecutor to realize that Mr. Mueller is not only getting close to the “president,” but to everyone associated with him, including his family.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, infamous for his midnight visit to the White House to allegedly view classified documents, going as far as to swap vehicles along the way, recently went to England, to investigate British MI6 agent Christopher Steele and his dossier. It has been reported that British intelligence officers refused to meet with the Congressman. It was also reported Friday night that Department of Justice lawyer Bruce Ohr testified to Congress last week that Steele told him in 2016 that Russian intelligence had the “president” “…over a barrel.” Ohr is also alleged to have said that former Trump campaign aide Carter Page had met with more senior Russian officials than he has previously acknowledged.

To think that the “president” can fire the AG and replace him with one of his cronies, who in turn can completely shut down the Mueller investigation, or lock the final report in a safe, never seeing the light of day is asinine. I’m no constitutional scholar, but this scenario surely cannot be what our founding fathers had in mind. They must be rolling over in their graves. Yet, during a campaign rally in Evansville, Indiana this past Thursday, the “president” told the crowd that if the Justice Department doesn’t “…start doing their job and doing it right,” he will get involved and take over the investigation, something he has said in the past he has every right to do. Senator Lindsey Graham’s one hundred and eighty degree about-face regarding what would happen if Sessions was fired is appalling. It was only a year ago that he stated “there will be holy hell to pay” if Sessions was fired, now he says the “president” has every right, and valid reason to do so.

Is this potential firing not a classic case of obstruction of justice, a crime in which Richard Nixon was charged with the first of three articles of impeachment, although admitting to NBC nightly news host Lester Holton that he fired former FBI director James Comey in a failed attempt to end the investigation enough evidence to warrant an obstruction of justice charge? Congress needs to do the right thing by taking a stand and put country ahead of party and this, or any presidency. Congress is one of the three equal branches of government, it is past time for it to live up to the enormous responsibility given it. Doing so is the only way to restore some sort of its long-lost integrity.

Despite the “president” whining every single day about the rigged witch-hunt, one need only look at all the indictments, guilty pleas and convictions to see that this investigation is anything but that. And those are only the tip of the iceberg, as only Mr. Mueller knows what all else he has uncovered. Political pundits and legal experts all say the “president” has the right to fire the Attorney General and end the investigation, but does that make sense? How can someone being investigated have the right to end an investigation? And, in a funny, ironic sort of way, it is being reported that Republicans have created a spreadsheet, listing all the potential investigations, not to investigate the “president” themselves, but to be prepared to thwart the Democrats, who are expected to take back the House, at the very least come November’s blue wave, or potential tsunami.

Russia hijacked our 2016 election, and yet our government is doing absolutely nothing to ensure they do not do so again this November. I urge you and your fellow members of Congress to do the right thing, and insure that Robert Mueller is allowed to finish his investigation, and let the “president” know that firing Sessions will result in him being charged with obstruction of justice, resulting in him being charged with articles of impeachment.

What better way of honoring the life and spirit of John McCain, than by Congress regrowing its backbone?

Sincerely,
Steven H. Spring