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We really know that the 2016 Presidential Election cycle is underway.  Candidates are beginning to form their own PACs to get ready for a run, Rep. King held his Iowa Freedom Summit, and the Koch Brothers have announced that they plan to spend $900 Million on the 2016 campaign cycle.

Remember, the Koch Brothers and their PAC are not the only players in the game either.  There is of course Citizens United, Conservative Victory Fund, National Conservative Political Action Committee, the NRA, and a host of others.  I am sure that each of them will add significantly to the money to be spent.

All of these conservative PACs were invented to purchase politicians in the first place.  Now, they are even going so far as to say how much money is up for grabs well before the election cycle officially opens.

With all of this money around for Politicians to take advantage of, I thought it would be nice of me to offer some suggestions on how much conservatives should charge these groups for their votes.  After all, if we are going to be selling our elections why not have a Price Tag on each vote?

I have only included figures for federal elections.  The columns run House, Senate, President.  The House and Senate may be different only because of the length of their terms.

  • Support Anti-Abortion and Anti-Birth Control
  • $10M           $15M             $25M
  • Eliminate Minimum Wage
  • $11M            $18M            $30M
  • Allow Export Of American Crude Oil
  • $15M           $20M            $40M
  • Sign Pledge Not To Raise Taxes On Wealthy
  • $20M          $30M            $45M
  • Privatize Social Security
  • $30M          $40M           $50M
  • Privatize Medicare
  • $30M          $40M           $50M
  • Eliminate Obamacare Replace It With Nothing
  • $45M          $55M            $60M
  • Permanently Shut Down EPA
  • $65M          $70M           $75M
  • Permanently Shut Down Department Of Education
  • $45M          $50M           $50M
  • Permanently Shut Down OSHA
  • $45M          $50M           $50M
  • Eliminate Immigration For All Non-Whites
  • $60M          $65M           $80M
  • Eliminate And Privatize Public Education
  • $20M          $25M           $25M
  • Eliminate Food Stamps But Increase Farm Subsidies
  • $20M          $25M           $25M
  • Pass Law Banning Unions As Communist
  • $50M          $55M           $60M
  • Ban Same-Sex Marriage
  • $55M          $60M          $65M
  • Eliminate Need For Gun Licensing
  • $60M          $70M          $75M
  • Overturn The Civil Rights Act
  • $40M         $50M          $65M

I am sure that you can think of other issues that could be on this list like tougher voter suppression laws or outlawing and deporting all Muslims.  But this is at least a start.  Plus, PACs can pick-and-choose which issue needs the most support in a particular state or region.

Isn’t “Democracy For Sale” a wonderful capitalist concept?

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As you may have noticed, I have avoided talking about the uproar about the movie “American Sniper”.  In honesty, I have not seen the movie, and I really don’t plan on seeing it.  I did attempt to read the book, but I gave up because I thought it was poorly written and full of self-aggrandizement which does not help tell the story.

The movie is based on the book of the same title written by Chris Kyle.  You all probably already have your own opinion about whether or not Kyle is telling the truth in his book or making things up as he goes along.  I am not going to get into this fight.  I am not even going to get into the argument whether the movie is honoring war or is anti-war.  Especially since I haven’t seen it.

The thing that bothers me most about the arguments that have exploded over this movie, is the hero/anti-hero arguments that are going on.  I have written before that we vets are not heroes just because we are vets.  Those of us who have served our country have done so because we believed that we were doing something honorable and because we believed in what we were doing.

Our service does not make us heroes.  It makes us people who chose a profession, did our duty, and served our country.  In short words, we did our jobs.  There are true heroes, of course.  Those who go beyond and above the call of duty.  Those who abandoned self-interest for the good of their comrades.  Unfortunately, most of them were killed in action.  Some survived, and they deserve to be called heroes.

The rest of us do not.  That detracts from the meaning of the word and the actions of those who really went above and beyond the call of duty.  Kyle was a sniper.  He was credited with about 160 kills.  That, in and of itself, does not make him a hero.

Sorry, but as a vet, I find it extremely offensive when someone like Sarah Palin says something like “Hollywood leftists are spitting on the graves of freedom fighters who allow you to do what you do.”  Or, when Bill Maher said the film was about a “psychopathic patriot.” It is obvious to me that neither has any idea why we serve our country.  It is also obvious to me that neither has any idea of who we are.

Those of us who wear or have worn the uniform are just people.  There are a thousand reasons why we joined the service.  In the old days most were drafted.  Some join out of a desire to serve our country.  Some join because we see it as a way to get a college education.  Some join simply because it is the best way out of poverty by learning a lifetime skill.  Very few I know join because they want to be “heroes.”

We are people with all of the good and bad habits that comes with being people.  Kyle was no different.  In all of the hoopla over the movie, you will see good and bad things about him.  I don’t really care about that either.  But, from what I read in his book, I think that he probably fell into the last reason for why he joined.  That was his choice and I am not going to argue for or against it.

The real problem with this gala of stupidity, is that everyone on both sides of the conversation are arguing for or against Kyle.  That is not what the argument should be about.  The argument should be about whether there is a real need for war or not.  The argument should be about the justification to wage any war.

I joined the service in 1970 during the Vietnam War.  Times were different then.  We still had a draft.  Most of those who served in Vietnam were draftees.  Protests were raging against the war.  Trust me, very few people called us “heroes” back then.  Over the years the attitudes towards us have changed.  Even people who were against the Iraq war supported the troops.  The war was being protested, not those serving our country.

It was once said that war is the result of failed diplomacy.  Yet, I do believe that there are times when we must fight a war.  When we were attacked at Pearl Harbor, we were justified in fighting WWII.  I even believe that the war in Afghanistan was justified because that is where our attackers were.  The war in Iraq I opposed because there was no justification for it, other than that the junior Bush wanted to finish the job that he thought his father didn’t.

The other problem with the nonsense over this movie, is the thousands of vets who were wounded or suffer from PTSD as a result of their service are being forgotten, again.  The hero worshipers always forget them in their conversations.  If they were not forgotten, they would not be pleading for help as many vets are.

I love organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project.  They have helped thousands of our wounded vets.  But, once again I must ask the questions.  Why are such organizations necessary?  Why do private non-profit organizations have to fill the gaps to help our vets?  The answer to both questions is very simple.  Because the hero worshipers just want to use us a propaganda.  They don’t really care if our lives were ruined.  They don’t care about the surviving spouses and family of those killed in action.  They believe that is our problem.  Especially if they are asked to throw a few extra tax dollars in our direction to give us the assistance we have earned!

Shortly after 9/11 the far right opened the Cathedral of Hero-Worship in America.  They love to call vets heroes and praise us for their political gain while criticizing anyone who doesn’t join them at the altar.  In the meantime, they simply want to throw us to the curb when our service is over and forget our plights.  This brouhaha over the movie “American Sniper” is really about the False Religion of Hero-Worship.  Yet, we supposed “heroes” are always the losers by the actions of those who claim to worship us.

Unfortunately, veterans in this country have endured pain because we have a very long history of forgetting our veterans.  We are an unpleasant lingering fact of what war is really about.  Plus, we cost too much.  For me, the False Religion of Hero-Worship makes that pain even harder to endure.

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It has been less than one month since Republicans took control of both houses of congress.  When they opened the new session, both the Speaker of the House, John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said they were going to “get things done.”  Since then, they had to backtrack on bills because of an uproar in their own party.  The latest was this week.

As usual, the House does not want to vote on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill that was passed with a bi-partisan vote in the Senate almost 2 years ago.  No, they want to do their piece-meal bills instead.  The first that was to come up for a vote this week is called the “Secure Our Border First Act.”

The first thing this Act does is throw a whole bunch of money at “finally completing that darn fence.”  This Berlin Wall style fence is supposed to stop those damn illegals from simply walking across the border.  That is nothing new for Republicans.  They have wanted that fence completed for years.

But, here is where it all gets just a little tricky.  According to the Bi-Partisan bill that passed the Senate, the goal is to arrest about 90% of those trying to cross illegally.  This bill makes that number 100%.  Of course anyone with only half of a brain knows that 100% is impossible.  The bill gives the Department of Homeland Security 2 years to gain control of the heavily traveled areas and 5 years to gain control of the entire Southwest border.

Besides being unrealistic in its number of defining “gain control”, the bill takes another twist with the penalties that the Department of Homeland Security will face.

The border bill would require DHS to have the southwest border under “operational control” in five years. If the department fails at that objective, the legislation dictates that political appointees at the agency cannot travel in government vehicles, be reimbursed for nonessential travel, or receive pay increases or bonuses.

Rep. Mike McCaul, the Homeland Security Committee Chairman, calls it the “the toughest border security bill ever before Congress.”

So far, so good for the Republicans.  But there is an oops!  The right flank is upset with the bill.  They think it is too namby-pamby for them.  Sen. Jeff Sessions, the most ardent anti-immigration member of the Senate thinks the bill leaves too much “wiggle room” for the President to release apprehended undocumented immigrants.  In response the National Journal said “Such objections have Republicans and Democrats alike privately musing that this is the exact reason leaders had sought to rework the immigration system in a comprehensive manner.”

Other conservatives think this bill is a “trap.”  They see it as a tool that Boehner will use to get them to vote for full funding for the Department of Homeland Security next month when its money runs out.  But the real secret agenda, according to these fine people is that this bill is the first step in granting that evil “amnesty” to illegals.

Conservative critics don’t trust GOP leaders and fear the border security bill would be used as an excuse to move other legislation allowing more immigrants into the country to work and providing legal status for those already here.

“Consider the title: Secure Our Border First. First before what?” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies. “Before we move on to the amnesty and expansion of guest worker programs that appears to be the real priority for top congressional Republican leaders?”

In their own words, “God forbid we let more immigrants into the country!”

As a result of this ongoing infighting in the GOP, the Secure Our Border First Act has been put on hold.  That also means that the funding the Department of Homeland Security needs by the end of the month may also be put on hold.  It makes so much sense to shut down the one Department in our government that is responsible to stop undocumented immigrants from entering the country.  I guess that would really show those “deportables”, as Rep. Steve King calls them, that we mean business.

I expect that at some point they will be able to pass this absurd bill.  I doubt that anything else will be done about immigration reform.  Plus, as I said before, what about all of those “socialist” Canadians who can cross the border and try to impose their “single payer” health insurance plan on us?  Shouldn’t we put a wall up between them and us too?  Remember, almost all of the terrorists we have caught came to us through Canada not Mexico.

I don’t know.  I believe that these “hiccups” the GOP has been facing just proves that they are incapable of governing in any way.  How in the hell to they expect the Democrats or the President to agree to anything they come up with if they can’t even come up with something they can get past their own caucus?

If this is the Republican definition of “governing” we are in deep doo-doo.

 

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Well, the 2016 campaign, at least on the Republican side, is officially on.  Many of the people who think they would make an excellent President went to Iowa last weekend for Rep. Steve King and Citizens United “Freedom Summit.”  This is the Tea Party’s dog-and-pony show for the most Conservative Candidates.  But the party was very limited in scope since Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Bobby Jindal, et al were not present.  As a matter of fact, King called the non-attendees “second stringers.”

One thing that all of the candidates railed against was Common Core.  Yes, they all went on about the “exceptionalism” of America, but they all seem to think that education is not part of that “exceptionalism.”  They are wrong.  Among the candidates were people like Scott Walker who is trying to kill unions in Wisconsin, especially the teacher’s unions.  Then there was Chris Christie who gutted $1 Billion from New Jersey’s education budget and laid-off thousands of teachers.

I believe there is an extreme weakness in the American Education Process.  It is what the right calls “local control” of our schools.  There was a time when I can see that “local control” of the schools was important.  But, as times have changed, local control of schools has actually hurt education more than it has helped.  In fact it my opinion that “local control” is killing education in America.

When America was young, people did not travel around much.  It was an agrarian society.  People went to school for fundamentals, but were expected to work the fields after they graduated.  As we moved into the twentieth century and urban centers more evolved, manufacturing became another place where people were expected to work.  As a result, global economics and even intra-state commerce were never considered in educating children.

Back in the 50s and 60s when I attended school, most people who graduated either went into the fields, factories, fishing boats, or other such occupations.  Yet, most children in those days could point to a map and tell you where Portugal was on it.  We all learned about reading, writing, and arithmetic, but we also learned about science, geography and history.  Everyone received an education that would make them eligible for college if that was their choice.

Many high schools also offered career oriented classes like shop.  If you were disinclined to attend college, you could learn a trade that would pay you a living wage.  Whether people want to believe it or not, there were national standards that had to be mastered.

With today’s global economy, it is not proper to let local communities determine the curricula for the schools anymore.  There are still areas in the country where people who graduate from school are still expected to work the fields, factory, or fishing boats, etc.  They have no concern about the global economy their children will be expected to live and survive in.

“American Exceptionalism” as the right likes to talk about is based on the ability of our citizens to be more productive and, basically, smarter than our competition.  Innovation, research, invention are all items necessary to continue to outpace the competition in the world.  With “local control” of our elementary and high school education, we are losing those competitive advantages.

The primary purpose of education is to prepare our children for the real world.  We must educate them in things like literature, science, math, history, and even geography.  Without these skills, they are at a disadvantage in the real world.  Besides, without these skills, they will never be able to critically think.  Critical thinking is what fosters innovation, research and invention.

It is time we stop the stupidity of “local control” of our education.  It is time that real standards be set so every student, wherever they live, get the same education as everyone else.  Common Core is not a federal government standard.  It is something that was put together by states.  Many states have adopted Common Core.  Many are fighting it tooth and nail.

The real reason this fight is going on is because of the “local control” aspect.  Local communities still believe they know what is best for their children.  But, they use education as a political football instead of something that is necessary.  They use “local control” to change science classes so things like evolution are not taught, but creationism is.  They go further to not teach climate change is real and that it is man-made even though all of the evidence proves them wrong.

But, if you live in an area that relies on coal mining, that is not something that you want your children to learn.  After they graduate, most are expected to work in the mines.  So, you have to teach that there is nothing wrong with coal.  Economically, it is a sound point since the whole economy of the region relies on the mines.  Educationally, it hampers those who decide to go on to college where they will be competing against students who were not hampered in science classes because of ideology.

Of course the biggest argument against Common Core is that the “feds” are running education.  That is always a fear for anyone who really doesn’t like the idea of a federal government.  But, as I mentioned above, Common Core is NOT run by the federal government, nor was it created by the federal government.

The paranoia the right-wing has created in this country is killing the very thing they like to crow about, “American Exceptionalism.”  You don’t have to look far to see I am right.  America used to lead the world in educating our children.  It has slipped to about 26th in the world.  If we don’t stop the attack on education by the right, we can see that standing slip even further.

Teachers are not the problem.  Teacher unions are not the problem.  Children are not the problem.  The real problem is “local control” of elementary and high school education.  Look at reality.  How many people on your local school board that determines the curriculum for your child’s education even have a college degree?  I believe that you will be amazed how many school board members never went to college.

Whether we keep Common Core, which I believe we should, or go with another version that is even more strict about standards, something must be done to remove “local control” from our education system.  If not, the only thing that will be “exceptional” about America is that we will be an industrialized nation with a third world education of our children.

Unfortunately, the attack on our education system by the right makes me think that is their true definition of “American Exeptionalism.”  As usual with their agenda, our country and our children are the true losers.

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Five years ago, The Supreme Court of the United States made one of its most outrageous decisions on campaign financing.  They ruled in favor of Citizens United.  Basically, as we know, they ruled that corporations were “people” and should not be kept from donating whatever amount they wanted to campaigns.

They further went with Citizens United that non-profit PACs could also donate to whomever they want at whatever amount they want.  This included unions as well a corporate non-profits.  The result has been that corporations have a bigger voice in our politics.  It has also triggered the biggest income inequality in our history.

The President has been on a crusade, recently, to change the rules that Citizens United forced in our elections.  As we might expect, the right-wing is against any changes to Citizens United.  They argue that the decision has “made our elections more competitive.”

Another thing that the Supreme Court took into consideration was that these contributions would naturally be transparent.  Yet, there are no formal rules requiring “transparency” in donating to these organizations.  Thereby, opening up the flood gates of “dark money” into our elections.  The President has stated that Citizens United has opened the door to foreign corporations or individuals being able to effect our elections.

Over at Fox News, Hans A. von Spakovsky argues that he is not telling the truth.  He states, rightly so, that rules in the federal election laws forbid foreign nationals or foreign corporations from directly, or indirectly influencing our elections.  Therefore, the claim of foreign influence is just not possible.

He fails to mention that the “confidentiality” of the donor lists of these non-profits keeps the names of donors secret.  Therefore, it is impossible to say how many foreign corporations or individuals are contributing, and therefore, influencing our elections.  Why must these lists be kept secret?

He further goes on to say, again rightfully, that the decision affected unions as well as corporations.  However, he fails to mention that unions must show “transparency” in their donations, while corporations and PACs do not.  As a matter of fact, unions must follow an “opt-out” for union members if they don’t agree with whom the union is supporting.

On the other hand, corporations are not forced to follow similar “opt-out” rules for any shareholders who do not agree with the candidates the corporations support.  As a result, if you own shares in a corporation and they support a specific candidate, you cannot tell them not to use your money to support that candidate.

Once a corporation or non-profit PAC supplies a candidate with millions of dollars, they expect a return on their investment.  Let’s take Americans For Prosperity as an example.  Yes, other PACs have similar sway over elected officials.

Americans For Prosperity is a PAC that was founded by the Koch Brothers, Charles and David.  They own Koch Industries — the petrochemical, manufacturing and commodity speculating conglomerate.  That is important to remember when you read further.

At the National Press Club yesterday, AFP president Tim Phillips and several officers with the group laid out their agenda. The group is calling for legalizing crude oil exports, a repeal of the estate tax, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, blocking any hike in the gas tax, a tax holiday on corporate profits earned overseas, blocking the EPA’s new rules on carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants, and a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, along with a specific focus on the medical device tax.

If you are wondering, the AFP agenda is exactly the same as the Koch Industries lobbying efforts in Washington.  When everyone is screaming about “energy independence” why are the Koch Brothers asking for legalizing crude oil exports?  The only answer can be to further line their pockets.

The estate tax they are against, they call the death tax, only affects .15% of the population.  This tax only affects those who stand to inherit from family members with $5.43 million in wealth.  That takes in a very small portion of the population.

Their support for the Keystone XL Pipeline is due to the fact that Koch Industries owns a large chunk of Canadian Oil Sands.  Without the pipeline it will be difficult for them to get their dirty oil to the Gulf Coast to be refined and shipped overseas.

The Federal Transportation Highway Fund is about to go broke.  This fund comes from gasoline taxes.  With more efficient vehicles, and Americans driving less, this fund is about to dry up.  There is work being done in congress to fix this problem, or thousands of road projects will come to a halt and tens of thousands will lose their jobs.  That is why this tax is mentioned in the agenda of both Koch Industries and AFP.

The coincidence about all of this is that the Republican Right Wing agenda is also exactly the same.  Since AFP and Koch Industries spent hundreds of millions of dollars in an off-year election, I see a direct correlation.  As I said, they are not alone in this either.  In the 2012 election, Sheldon Adelson spent an estimated $150 million, $98 million through dark money channels.

In my opinion, there has been a direct correlation between what I have called “corporate socialism” on the right to the Citizens United Ruling.  The Supreme Court has swung the outcome of elections in favor of corporations and taken it out of the hands of the electorate.

The worst part of the decision is that “corporate agendas” have become public agendas that do not favor the working people of America.  Unless the rules are changed, we may be looking at renaming our country to the United Corporations Of America.  That is not a principle I served to protect.

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I like football.  I don’t love football.  I played the game when I was young and enjoyed playing it.  On the other hand, I am not one to sit on the couch all weekend to watch football games.  I admit when my poor Bears are on TV, I will flip back and forth to see how they are doing.  I don’t think I have watched an entire game in years.

One of the reasons I don’t watch a lot of football is because, in my opinion, the game has changed so much that it isn’t football anymore.  Forgive me for being old, but the fundamentals of the game have just about disappeared.  I am sick of watching grown men making millions of dollars who can’t even tackle properly.

The rules have changed so much, to protect the players which is a good thing, that no one even knows what a penalty is anymore.  Including the referees.  The last two games involving the Dallas Cowboys proves that point, I think.  As a result, all we see during the games is a bunch of men running around trying to “slam into” the opponent instead of trying to “tackle” them.  It has become very boring to me.

We have instant replay to “get the call right” but things like penalties cannot be reviewed.  Which is why in those two games involving the Cowboys in the playoffs there was no review.  So much for “getting the call right.”  On top of that, players “trash talking” has gotten so bad, I feel like I am watching Pro-Wrestlers at the microphone rather than Pro-Football Players.

I don’t have anything against trash talking on the field.  But, when you bring it to the post game news conference, it is more like WWE than football.  All of this is going on when the NFL has a problem.  It has mishandled all kinds of situations that crept up during this season.  Look at the Ray Rice and the Adrian Peterson cases.

Before the Seattle Seahawks game on Sunday, the NFL said that if Lynch wore “gold-colored spikes” he would be disqualified for the game and fined to boot.  They said it would violate the uniform rules.  They have fined him thousands of dollars already for not speaking to the media, and threaten to fine him in excess of $50,000 if he doesn’t speak to the media during Super Bowl week.  Then they fined one of his teammates for giving an obscene gesture after a touchdown.

This brings us to what is becoming the infamous “deflategate” incident in New England.  According to reports, the New England Patriots were using under inflated footballs in the game.  One of the Colts complained after he intercepted Brady because he thought the ball felt funny.  It turns out that 11 of the 12 balls the Patriots were using were under inflated by 15%!

According to the rules, footballs must be pressurized between 12.5 and 13.5 PSI.  All of these balls were retested at halftime and were found to be at 11 PSI.  I grew up in the north and I know that weather affects PSI.  But, not at a 15% rate.  Besides, the footballs that were used by the Indianapolis Colts were not under inflated.  So, you should be able to rule out the weather being a factor.

I know this doesn’t sound like something very egregious.  Nor am I suggesting that the Colts might have won if the footballs were not under inflated.  Let’s face facts, the Colts stunk in the game.  But, having played the game, I can tell you that under inflating the ball does make it easier to grip it making passing easier and forced fumbles harder.  Especially on cold wet days like Sunday was in New England.

You must also remember that it was Tom Brady and Payton Manning who lobbied the league to allow each team to bring “their own footballs” to the game.  Before the 2008 season, the home team supplied all of the game balls.  But because quarterbacks each like the ball a little different, Brady and Manning lobbied the league in 2007 to change that rule.  Now each team plays with their own footballs during the game.

Besides, we have to take into consideration that this is not the first time New England has been discovered to be cheating.  Remember “spygate?”  If the NFL is truly out to “protect the integrity of the shield” as they claim, then the only correct thing for them to do is suspend Brady and Belichick for the Super Bowl.  During their news conferences yesterday, both men said “I have no idea what happened” over, and over.

In an ironic twist, Brady said he wants his footballs at 12.5 PSI, but then said he doesn’t feel any difference during the game.  That is a real stretch for me.  He says he can’t feel the difference in the one piece of equipment he handles all of the time, but thinks 12.5 PSI is the “perfect football.”  Look, I like Tom Brady, but I believe he just got caught in his own lie and needs to be punished.

Belichick claims he knows nothing about inflating footballs.  Yet he also contradicted himself when he said that he alters the inflation of the balls in practice so his players “practice under the most extreme conditions” like during the game.  Another contradiction that is hard for me to swallow.

During his news conference Belichick threw his quarterback under the bus.  His quarterback then threw the equipment staff under the bus in his news conference.  All the while standing in front of a backdrop that read “Gillette Flexball.”  Now there is a subliminal message if there ever was one!

To use Belichick’s and Brady’s own words, I would be “shocked” if anything was done to punish the New England Patriots before the Super Bowl.  Even if there was some kind of punishment handed out before the game, it will not include the suspension of either Belichick or Brady.

Even if both men are telling the truth that they don’t know how the balls were under inflated, which I find hard to believe, remember what Commissioner Goodell said during the news conference handing out punishment for the Saints in “bountygate”.  He said:  “ignorance is not an excuse.”

I know “boutnygate” was far more serious than “deflategate” but as he likes to say, “rules are rules” and must be followed by all.  Therefore, I see no recourse but to suspend both the coach and quarterback for the upcoming game.  Otherwise we will continue to see the NFL become more and more like the WWE.

I think you can only sum up this NFL season as a really shitty one for the league!  Only, they have no one to blame but themselves.

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Senator Rand Paul wants to be President.  We all know that.  The Senator decided to give a “rebuttal” to the President’s State of the Union address.  Before we get into this little discussion, we must remember that the Senator is trying to walk in two different camps.  First, he claims to be a Libertarian like his father.  On the other hand, he is trying to walk in the camp of the far right-wing to ensure he gets enough primary votes to get the nomination.

The other thing to remember about the Senator is that he is a doctor.  Which is why he was glad to include that training in his rebuttal.  However, the “prescription” he is recommending as a cure, would collapse the economy and bring down the country as we know it.

Just after the President announced that the economy is recovering strongly, Rand Paul said  “I wish I had better news for you, but all is not well in America.”  He really never said what was “not well in America” but went on anyway.

He started by explaining how his medical training will help cure the problems he sees.  “As a physician, I was taught first, do no harm. To think before you act. To analyze the unintended consequences of your actions. I think America would be better off if all of our politicians took the same approach. First, do no harm.”

Hooray, finally a Republican who wants to “do no harm.”  So, Senator what is your prescription to make sure the country does no harm?

“It’s self-evident that the president and Congress are unable to do what every family in America must do: balance their budget. If Congress cannot, or will not, balance the budget, then we should amend the Constitution to make it mandatory.”

I do have one small question for everyone.  Do American families really “balance their budgets?”  I would think that if American families truly “balanced” their budgets, there wouldn’t be as much personal debt as there is.  I thought balancing your budget meant you only purchased things you could “pay for” when you buy it.  I believe that racking up credit card debt is not “balancing” your budget.  Or is that it just me?

Hmmm.  Still, the far right-wing of the Republican Party has been calling for a Balanced Budget Amendment for years.  It hasn’t happened, even when they had control of both Congress and the White House.  I wonder why it has been so hard to get something like this passed?

Well, reasonable people know that if we had a Balanced Budget Amendment it would handcuff the Federal Government when economic conditions shift.  Right now the economy is getting stronger.  Revenues to the government are rising.  But, just a few short years ago things were much different.

In 2011 the right-wing, including Paul, were clamoring for a Balanced Budget Amendment.  Then the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities said:

When the economy slows, federal revenues decline or grow more slowly and spending on unemployment insurance and other social programs increases, causing deficits to rise. Rather than allowing the “automatic stabilizers” of lower tax collections and higher unemployment and other benefits to cushion a weak economy, the amendment would force policymakers to cut spending, raise taxes, or both. That would launch a vicious spiral of bad economic and fiscal policy: a weak economy would lead to higher deficits, which would force policymakers to cut spending or raise taxes more, which would weaken the economy further.

Okay, so the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities is considered one of those leftist groups who just want to make socialism part of our society.  But  the American Enterprise Institute’s Jim Pethokoukis seems to think that a balanced budget amendment is “not a great idea.”

Again, why do we need to actually balance the budget at all, much less ASAP? Ryan’s original “Roadmap” plan, for instance, lowered the debt-to-GDP ratio by 30 points over two decades without a single year in the black. Of course, running surpluses would accelerate the process. But keep in mind how difficult America’s aging population will make it to cut spending.

Finally, National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru chimed in with:

The senators’ amendment would make the federal government a smaller share of the economy than it has been since the 1950s. The chief economic argument against it is that it would make recessions worse. When recessions hit, they increase deficits: Revenue falls while spending on unemployment benefits (among other things) goes up. A strict balanced-budget rule would force spending cuts or tax increases at times of economic weakness. The Federal Reserve could theoretically offset these effects, but you’d want to be pretty confident beforehand that it would do the right thing.

So, there you have it.  Everyone, left, right, center all seem to think that having a Balanced Budget Amendment is a bad idea.

It really boils down to this.  When the economy is booming, a balanced budget is probably a good thing and very achievable.  However, when the economy is bad, a balanced budget amendment would hurt the economy even more.  See when revenues fall because more people are out of work, the government will have a harder time balancing the budget.  That means one of three things will have to happen.

First, congress will have to raise taxes on everyone to fill the gap.  Republicans have already sold their soul to Grover Nordquist by signing his ridiculous “no tax hike” pledge.  So, the chances of raising taxes would be slim to none, especially under a Republican controlled congress.  Besides, taking away spending money from the populace would just make matters worse.  Demand would plummet, and the economy would tank completely.

Second, congress will be forced to slash spending.  But what would be slashed?  Recent history shows that unemployment would be capped.  Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid would be cut.  Federal Pensions would be cut.  Food Stamps would be cut or eliminated.  The problem is that taking this money away from unemployed or hurting people would only make the economy even worse and not get better.  If people don’t have money to spend, the economy busts.

Third, congress would have to do both.  They would have to slash spending and raise taxes.  Since both of these are bad ideas on their own merits in a bad economy, we would be looking at the 1929 crash all over again.

That is why a Balanced Budget Amendment really has never gained steam.  Still, Senator, Doctor, Rand Paul thinks that is the prescription for what ails America.  It seems to me that he has failed to follow the third thing he was taught in medical school:  “To analyze the unintended consequences of your actions.”  Either that, or he doesn’t really care about any “unintended consequences of his actions” that he is just pandering to the far-right wing for votes.

In either case, based on his prescriptions, if my wife were seeing him as a doctor, I would make her change doctors.  I wouldn’t put my wife’s health in the hands of a doctor who doesn’t follow these three things taught in medical school.  I am not interested in putting the economic health of our country in such hands either.

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