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We have heard all the comparisons that the Republican Party led by their radical Tea Party Movement make about the President being similar to Hitler.  They are usually written off as lunatics, which they are.  However, they have also been quietly working behind the scenes to give us an example of what fascism in America may look like.  That window has opened quite wide in Wisconsin.

For a little background.  In Wisconsin, Justices for the State Supreme Court are elected.  The Chief Justice is not appointed, per se, but gains that title by seniority.  There have also been laws on the books in Wisconsin that explicitly defines when a jurist must recuse himself/herself from a case.  One example is when a group contributes to the campaign of the jurist, and a case involving that group comes before the court.  The jurist must be recused and not involved in the case.

This has led Wisconsin in becoming known for its fairness and jurisprudence.  Keeping potential conflicts of interest away from the courts has served Wisconsin extremely well in the past.  But, all that is changing with Governor Scott Walker.

As you may know, there has been an ongoing investigation into Scott Walkers campaign to fight off his recall a few years ago.  The complaint is that his campaign and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), among others directly coordinated in the campaign.  That is a violation of the law, even for conservatives.

There has been a case working its way through the courts that would stop the investigation.  If Walker’s campaign and these groups did violate the law, that wouldn’t make Walker’s presidential run very effective.  The case will come before the Wisconsin Supreme Court soon.

So, not wanting to take a chance of the investigation going forward and putting Walker in a bad light, he has quietly worked to change the law about the Supreme Court.  And, he is diligently working to make sure that the current Chief Justice, Shirley Abrahamson is removed as the Chief Justice before the case gets to the court.

How is this possible?  One of the first rules for conservatives is to make sure than any referendums or amendment to the constitution is put to the vote during times when no one is paying attention and you can expect low turn-out.  For example, most of the state amendments that banned same-sex marriage were passed in off-year elections when turn-out is traditionally low.

These types of laws or changes are never placed on the ballot during a Presidential election because turn-out is high and people actually pay attention.  One such period just came and went in Wisconsin.  On Tuesday, there was a “spring election ballot.”  Walker and his allies added a referendum that changed the way the state’s Supreme Court got its Chief Justice.

This referendum says that the Chief Justice will now have to be voted on by the court members.  The court in Wisconsin has shifted to a conservative majority, and Chief Justice Abrahamson is considered as a liberal.  This conservative shift is mostly a result of groups like WMC having poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into these elections.  That means she is sure to be voted out as Chief Justice.  She is suing over this change, and we will have to wait to see what happens on that.

However, not wanting to wait, Walker and his pals are trying to get her off the court completely.  She is 81 and they are trying to get a mandatory retirement age of 75 passed.  Remember, Justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court are elected.  Abrahamson was just re-elected to another four-year term.  Walker doesn’t like that, so he wants her out and is willing to change whatever law he can to ensure it happens.

If you think that is fun, the conservative majority on the court lowered the court’s conflict-of-interest standards. They approved changes in requirements for when justices must “recuse” themselves — that is, decline to participate in a case. Now special interests can appear before judges to whom they’ve made campaign contributions — and they can give money to judges even as those judges are presiding over cases to which the donors are parties.

Which brings up the investigation into Walker’s campaign practices.  A majority of the justices received big campaign contributions from Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.  However, since they changed the rules on conflict-of-interests, they can now sit in and help decide whether or not the investigation can proceed.

If you are looking for the icing on the cake, the conservative majority decided that there will be no oral arguments. The justices will meet and decide in secret.  Okay conservatives, how is that for transparency!

In a recent report, the Huffington Post said:

As he ramps up for a potential presidential run in 2016, Walker is using his executive budget to take control of judicial salaries; disband the independent council that advises all branches of state government on court practice and procedure; and weaken the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, the state body charged with investigating judicial ethics violations and recommending discipline.

So, as you can see Scott Walker is laying the ground work for what fascism will look like in America.  You have to be honest here.  Any executive who erodes the powers of the courts is creating a fascist state.  The best way to stay in power and establish your dictatorship is to eliminate the separation of powers in government.

That is exactly what Scott Walker and his cronies are doing in Wisconsin.  If there was anyone in this country that can be realistically compared to Hitler, I think Scott Walker is the man.  Remember, he wants to be president, and people like the Koch Brothers and WMC are willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to make that happen.

If his nightmare of being president should ever come true, I hope we will be able to say more than “well, democracy was nice while it lasted.”

The junior Senator from Arkansas is at it again.  The other day, he claimed that we don’t have to go to war with Iran, we simply have to drop a few bombs on Iran.  He seems to think that if the U.S. decides to bomb another country, that isn’t war.  That is a remarkably stupid thing to say.

According to Cotton:

Even if military action were required – and we certainly should have kept the credible threat of military force on the table, it always improves diplomacy – the president is trying to make you think it would be 150,000 heavy mechanized troops on the ground in the Middle East again as we saw in Iraq. That’s simply not the case.

It would be something more along the lines of what President Clinton did in December 1998 during Operation Desert Fox. Several days of air and naval bombing against Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction facilities for exactly the same kind of behavior, for interfering with weapons inspectors and for disobeying Security Council resolutions. All we’re asking is that the president simply be as tough in the protection of America’s national security interests as Bill Clinton was.

There is a major difference between what Bill Clinton did and what we are talking about right now.  Bill Clinton had military forces in the area because the Kuwaiti War made sure we kept troops in the area.  Then there is the fact that we told the Iraqis that they would face more military involvement if they did not comply with the treaty signed.  It included a “no fly” zone in southern Iraq.

But, in Iran, we have no real reason to bomb them.  We have not fought a way with Iran.  We have no legal standing to “drop a few bombs” on Iran.  And, as we already know from Bill Clinton’s bombings, they didn’t achieve anything.

The right-wing isn’t interested in bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities.  They are interested in a “regime change” in Iran.  They want to overthrow the current government.  We did that once in Iran back in the 1950s.  The CIA masterminded a plot to overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran because the right-wing thought it was leaning too much towards the Soviet Union than to us.

After the government was overthrown, the Shah was placed back on the throne by Eisenhower’s administration.  That set up a right-wing dictatorship that terrorized its own people.  As all dictatorships do.  The result was the eventual overthrow of the Shah of Iran.  How well did that work out?  Why not ask one of the couple of hundred embassy workers who were taken hostage for over a year.

We already know that at least some of Iran’s nuclear program is underground.  It would be very hard to destroy those facilities.  Additionally, if we begin to bomb Iran, it will only result in Iran being more stealthy in their pursuit for a nuclear weapon.  If what they are currently saying is true that they are only interested in peaceful nuclear energy, bombing them will certainly make them want a bomb.

Once that happens, how do we know what activities they are involved in, and how do we stop it?  We have to invade just like we did in Iraq.  I guess then Cotton will say we will really be at war.  It doesn’t take ground troops to be at war.  When you start bombing a sovereign nation, you are committing an act of war.

The other real danger in Cotton’s use of bombing is where does it end?  If America bombs Iran, what will their response be?  Will they bomb Israel?  Will they bomb Saudi Arabia?  Iran’s military is quite formidable.  They are within reach of many countries in the Mideast.  If they are bombed, what is stopping them from doing the same thing to someone else?

If they do bomb another country, like Israel, that would mean war across the board.  What will stop Russia and China from backing Iran?  If they do, would Russia invade the Ukraine?  Would Russia invade western Europe?  Would China invade Japan?  What about North Korea?  We know they have nuclear weapons, will they turn them on South Korea once we are engaged elsewhere?

The “Letter to Iran” that Tom Cotton authored and was signed by 47 Republican senators was bad enough.  But his comment about bombing Iran has rightly taken him out of the right to take part in any discussion on the Iran deal or anything else for that mater.  Being so reckless as to not consider the reactions of others in this matter, which could lead to another global war, is so irresponsible that he needs to be censored.

The deal being worked on may still fall apart.  It may become necessary for other drastic measures.  But, unfortunately, there are too many other idiots in Congress who think the same way as Cotton.  They are actively trying to sabotage the deal before it is even struck.  That says more about their willingness to go to war than their claim to be defending our national security.

Sorry, but these are very dangerous times, and too many of our elected officials are actually fanning the flames of war.  For the sake of our children, and the world, let us hope that calmer heads prevail.

We all like the word compromise when it comes to legislation.  Anytime a bill is introduced, the member sponsoring the bill loves to talk about how this bill has bipartisan support.  In theory, that is a good thing, right?  Well, not always.  Sometimes this bipartisan support is something that actually hurts Americans or, at the very least, rewards corporations for cheating in the first place.

There is just one bill that is making its way through the Congress right now.  That bill would offer a “Tax Holiday” to corporations who have been hiding money offshore so they don’t have to pay any taxes on it.  This is not the first time such a “Tax Holiday” has been introduced or passed either.

In 2004 a similar “Tax Holiday” was offered to corporations who have cheated on their taxes.  Amazingly, it was called “The American Job Creation Act.”  As with most “job creation” bills it failed miserably because there were no teeth in the bill to ensure jobs were actually being created.

At that time, it was estimated that about a half-trillion dollars were sitting in offshore accounts.  The purpose was to offer a reduced tax bill, like 5.5% instead of the 35% they should have paid, to bring that money back to the U.S. and create jobs.  However, that money did not go into research, factories, jobs, or anything else.   It was used by companies to buy back stocks to drive the price of those stocks because CEO compensation includes stock options.

As a matter of fact, rather than creating new jobs, it is estimated that the biggest companies who brought money back actually laid off over 600,000 jobs in the two years following that “Tax Holiday.”  As a result, not only were there no new jobs, many people lost their jobs, and the government lost revenue.

Now they are at it again.  It is estimated that approximately $2.1 Trillion is kept in offshore accounts.  This money was profits that companies made in the U.S. but was placed in countries like the Cayman Islands or Ireland where there is very low corporate taxes or none at all.

The funny thing, if you want to call it that, is that most of this money is actually in U.S. banks overseas.  You know, banks like Citi Corp.  Meaning the companies have direct access to that money right here in the U.S. even though they don’t pay any taxes on it.  This $2.1 Trillion breaks out to be about $90 Billion per year in lost revenues to the government.

Money that could be spent on infrastructure.  We already know that transportation infrastructure is broken and nothing has been done for years about it.  $90 Billion per year would not only pay for that infrastructure, but many others too.  This would also create about 1.8 million jobs across the country that were good paying, middle-class jobs.

This “Tax Holiday” isn’t intended to help small businesses.  It isn’t intended to help the average American.  It is designed to help large corporations who have basically cheated on their taxes for years.  Rather than changing the laws that allow these loopholes in the first place, Congress is now willing to create another bogus “Tax Holiday” and claim it is “bipartisan.”

So, as you can see, bipartisan support isn’t always a good thing for the American people.  Sometimes it is just another handout to big corporations who control the purse strings of campaign funds.  Both parties are guilty of pandering to these corporations.

So, as you fill out your tax forms, if not already done, remember you are being ripped off.  Not because your taxes are necessarily too high, but because companies who are making billions of dollars in profits in the U.S. are able to hide their profits offshore and not pay any taxes on them.

The next time a bridge collapses, or a water main breaks, just remember that $90 Billion per year is being denied our government to use to fix these problems and Congress seems happy to let it happen.  Bet they will be willing to raise your gas tax to pay for it though.

Kansas has a real problem.  It doesn’t have enough money for its budget.  The major reason for this budgetary shortfall is that they cut taxes dramatically, especially on the wealthy and corporations.  The plan was to “encourage” new businesses to flock to Kansas because of their favorable tax codes.

In the four years since, the plan hasn’t worked.  Kansas lags behind the rest of the Midwest in job creation.  Its debt has grown, and the only way the governor has to help reduce the debt is to cut spending on education and social services.  In short, the Conservative Utopia they hoped to create in Kansas, so far, has turned out to be a nightmare.  It even is one of the leading states in the region of people leaving!

So, to place the blame for all of this where I rightly belongs, Kansas has passed a bill that would be considered humorous, if it didn’t hurt so many people.  They actually passed a law that prohibits spending welfare checks and/or food stamps on cruise ships!

It is hard to imagine welfare recipients flocking to cruise ships for vacation when a family of three in a high-paying, more urban county in Kansas receives $429 a month; a rural family gets $386 a month.  On top of this, there is no evidence, and not one of the proponents of the bill have made any argument that welfare money going to cruise ships is a problem.  In fact, it doesn’t exist.

But, the ban on cruise ships is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are other things in the bill that make it even harder to survive on this paltry amount of money.  The new law awaiting Governor Sam Brownback’s signature also prohibits a long list of activities including shopping at jewelry stores, lingerie shops, video arcades, theme parks and even swimming pools.

There is also a provision that bans TANF recipients from withdrawing more than $25 per day from an ATM machine.  But, since most ATM machines do not work in $5 increments, that means you are restricted to $20 per day.  Oh, plus the 85 cents TANF charges and the $2 fee the ATM machine charges.

So, why is it so immediately necessary to pass such a law?  The only answer can be to revive the Ronald Reagan “Welfare Queen” stereotype that got him elected.  The only reason Kansas needs to revivie this is because their Conservative Utopia is failing and they need a “fall guy.”  Who better to blame than the so-called “Welfare Queen” spending all her money on a cruise ship?

“This is not about a real problem, this is not a public policy decision,” says Liz Schott, of the Center on Policy and Budget Priorities. “This is all about politics and creating a wrong impression that public welfare recipients can’t spend their money wisely.”

Kansas isn’t alone in this either.  In Missouri, a Republican state legislator has introduced legislation that would ban “cookies, chips, energy drinks, soft drinks, seafood or steak.”  I always believed that seafood and/or steak, in moderation was good for your nutrition.  But, Republicans seem to think that TANF recipients don’t deserve food that is good for you.

Many if not most TANF recipients are “unbanked,” and without a checking account, how will they take out enough money to pay their rent?  It would appear that this law is not based on any understanding of the daily reality of making ends meet on these inadequate benefits.

But Brownback and the Kansas Republican lawmakers don’t really care about these people’s lives.  They needed a scapegoat and welfare recipients and TANF recipients are perfect for the job.  Instead of focusing on their failed policies, they are looking to distract the issue to a target they know will be easy fodder.

Brownback and his Republican cronies need to fix the problems they created in Kansas and not look to lay blame on others.  But then, this just proves Republican “supply side” economics only slows down the economy and bankrupts the budget.  But don’t worry, you can always blame those on welfare and TANF.  All in the name of catering to your donor base.

As soon as the framework for a nuclear deal with Iran was announced, the right-wing went to war against the President.  What else is new?  As you remember, they started firing volleys before any deal was even announced.  Remember their letter to Iran?

But, things have gotten a lost worse since the deal was announced.  According to the right-wing, we are “giving away the house” with the deal and getting nothing in return.  It will surely mean that Iran will be nuking Israel within two months of signing any deal.

Of course, Netanyahu hit the talk shows yesterday complaining that this was a bad deal.  He claims that Iran is going to be able to have a free hand in making nuclear bombs if the deal is finalized.  But, he let loose with a few quotes that somehow makes his argument sound hollow, at least concerning the actual deal.  According to Netanyahu, the deal is bad because it does not force Iran out of the terrorism support game.

On ABC’s “This Week” he said:  “They’re not going to use it for schools or hospitals or roads,” Netanyahu said of the potential economic boost from sanctions relief. “Martha, they’re going to use it to pump up their terror machine worldwide and their military machine that is busy conquering the Middle East now.”

That would make the real concern for Israel’s Prime Minister not a nuclear bomb being achieved by Iran, but rather their support of terrorism.  That is a fair concern.  Israel does face many dangers and has many haters in the region.  But, one thing Netanyahu could do to help calm down a lot of this hatred is to sit at the negotiating table with the Palestinians and work out a peace deal recognizing the Palestinian State.

Of course that would mean he would have to stop the settlement program on the West Bank and that would piss off his own right-wing.  Since Netanyahu has publicly stated that there will be no “Palestinian State as long as I am Prime Minister,” the prospects of calming down the Mideast problems are slim to none.

Which brings us back to the deal’s framework that was announced.  I will be honest, as Republicans say, “I am not a scientist,” and most of this deal requires some scientific knowledge about nuclear material to fully understand it.  But, from what I understand of the deal, the so-called experts say it will hold back Iran from gaining any nuclear weapons for at least 10 years.  Some on our side of the Atlantic think that is too short and that we should just bomb the facilities.

Well, John Bolton – who places more faith than anyone in the power of bombs to solve problems – says that an enthusiastic application of explosives to Iranian nuclear sites could set the program back a whopping three to five years.  Call me silly, but 10 years seems longer than three to five years.  Besides, who knows what the two sides will look like after those ten years?  Things could be good enough to go back to the negotiating table.

Of course the whole deal is going to be dependent on whether or not Iran agrees to the verification process that will be necessary.  The one thing Ronald Reagan said that I do agree with is “trust but verify.”  Somehow, I think that if that policy was good enough to negotiate with the Soviet Union who was far more powerful, it should be good enough to negotiate with Iran.

There is nothing in the framework that would preclude sanctions to be imposed again if Iran breaks the deal.  That is the hammer that the world can use against them to ensure their compliance.  Besides, the sanctions do not immediately come off.  Iran needs to comply with the deal first.  What was announced was a “framework” not an actual finalized deal.  That still needs to be hammered out.  This can still fall apart.

Yet, the Republican Presidential Candidates all hate the deal.  Most have even gone so far as to say they would scrap it on the first day in office if elected.  One of their biggest claims against the President is that our “allies don’t trust us” anymore.  What better way to gain their trust than to break our word on you first day in office?

Remember, this deal is not just with the U.S.  It is with the 5 plus one nations.  These nations include France, Germany, Britain, Russia, and China.  Their support is critical in making any deal with Iran stick.  If the U.S. decides not to go along with it and everyone else does, Iran will still have the vast majority of sanctions lifted by these other nations.  We will not be able force to Iran to the table again because acting alone won’t be enough to affect their politics or economy.  As a result, Iran would become even more dangerous than it already is.  And, it would be our fault.

Finally, what other options are there?  This question has been raised to these candidates and they don’t want to answer the question.  When asked what they would do if there was no deal or if they scrapped it, they don’t offer up anything.  The reason they don’t offer up anything is because the only other alternative is war.

Yes, there are basically two ways to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.  One is through diplomacy, which is always tricky, and the other is through an invasion.  After almost 14 years of war, Americans are not ready for another one in the Mideast.  If you think Iran’s military is a pushover, you better think again.

The real reason the Republicans are so against this deal is not because it is so bad, it is because they don’t want a deal with Iran.  Their puppet-master in Israel is telling them that the only answer is war with Iran.  And, they are willing to fight the war for him.

As a result, we are getting more of the same fear-mongering about Iran that we got about the old Soviet Union.  It appears that our conservatives aren’t happy unless there is some kind of cold or hot war going on somewhere.  And, in order to keep their fear-mongering alive, they are even willing to break our word with our allies.

What a wonderful way to conduct foreign policy.  Break your word to you allies, and bomb your enemies.

I know I have written several times about these laws being discriminatory.  However, as you all know, when I discover I made a mistake, I am willing to say so.  Maybe, I have made a mistake here.  Maybe we should be thanking Indiana and Arkansas for pointing out just how much our religious liberties have been trashed by governments everywhere.

At first I always wondered why it was okay for a baker, for example, to refuse to serve same-sex couples and still serve adulterers.  A florist in Georgia set me straight on that one.  She said it was okay because “they were different kinds of sin.”  Wow, I never thought of that!

Apparently, I never picked up on the lessons in religion where we are allowed to choose which sins we won’t tolerate to honor “Jesus who died on the cross for us” as the same florist says.  Somehow, I came out of those classes believing that sin was sin.  I also remember those teachers telling me that you can go to hell for lying just as much as murdering someone.  Maybe they never heard that we are allowed to choose the sins we don’t like either.

But, even more importantly, these laws do open up a whole lot of things that have been considered taboo in this country.  For starters, what about polygamy?  Both the Mormons and Muslims believe that men are allowed to have more than one wife.  The Muslim faith says a man can “have no more than four wives.”

The Mormons don’t put a number on how many they can have.  And, remember, according to Mormons, they are the only ones who will be able to have sex in heaven.  The rest of us are out of luck on that one.

When the backlash to these laws started, conservative critics said that we need to know what is in the law.  Both laws say “the state shall not substantially burden a person or business religious practice unless it can prove that doing so “(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”

I don’t see how a government can prove a compelling governmental interest in outlawing polygamy.  If all parties are adults and agree to polygamy, that should be enough to allow it.  Besides, most of the characters in the Bible that Christians like to honor had multiple wives!  Polygamy was a fact of life in those days.

Even abortion is now covered by this law as being legal.  If a woman states that her religious beliefs say it is okay for her to have an abortion, and the doctor providing it can say his religious beliefs say it is okay to provide the abortion, what possible “compelling governmental interest” is there to stop the abortion from taking place?  That would be placing a “substantial burden” on the individual’s religious practices.

Almost all religions that I have studied say the marriage is for life.  Remember those religious vows that you take that say “until death do us part?”  According to these laws, anyone who disagrees with divorce and remarriage will have the right to deny service to anyone who falls into this category as well.  That is very unlikely because if florists and caterers and bakers exclude divorced people, they would probably go bankrupt since that is the majority of their wedding business.

Even same-sex marriage is now legal in these states no matter what the Supreme Court finally rules.  If two people believe that their religious beliefs do not prohibit them getting married, then the state has no “compelling governmental interest” in refusing a marriage license to them without creating a “substantial burden” on their religious practices.

These are just four examples to show just how liberating these laws really are.  We didn’t even know that we have had our religious beliefs trampled on.  We never knew that an ardent catholic could refuse to take photos at a wedding of a divorced person before.  We never knew that the ban on polygamy was really our liberties being trampled on.  We never knew that bans on abortion were trampling on our religious liberties.  We never knew that it was always illegal for the government to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages.

These laws, like so many around the country, are a godsend.  Now, we can do whatever we want in the name of “religious liberty” and the government has no right to “substantially burden” us with any law that disagrees with those beliefs.

So as you can see, we should be thanking the legislatures and governors of Arkansas and Indiana for their bravery in opening up this whole new world full of liberties we never knew we had.  On the other hand, how much do you wanna bet that the Christian Cult who introduced these laws never thought of all of this!

 

 

It is Final Four weekend.  Both the men and women’s Final Four are being held this weekend.  The men play on Saturday and Monday, and the women play on Sunday and Tuesday.  I think it is a shame, but hardly anyone seems to be following the women’s tournament.  It has been suggested that the NCAA move the woman’s tournament so it doesn’t directly conflict with the men’s.  I don’t know if that will do any good, but it may.

However, there is one piece that has come out that actually says negative things about men’s and women’s basketball.  That is Geno Auriemma’s comments that men’s basketball is “a joke”.  Part of his quote points out one of the problems facing basketball, and for that matter many sports.  He said: “….the bottom line is that nobody can score, and they’ll tell you it’s because of great defense, great scouting, a lot of team work, nonsense, nonsense. College men’s basketball is so far behind the times it’s unbelievable. I mean women’s basketball is behind the times. Men’s basketball is even further behind the times.

I have to admit that Auriemma is correct.  Scoring in college basketball is, on average, 10 points lower than it was about 20 years ago.  There was more scoring in the game before the 35 second clock.  That 35 second clock is another stupid item in the men’s game.  Heck, even the women play with a 30 second clock!  Why does it take the men 35 seconds to run a play?

Auriemma goes on to say that “Every other major sport in the world has taken steps to help people be better on the offensive end of the floor.”  That is also true.  However, I must ask Auriemma why these rule changes are necessary to improve or “help” be better on the offensive end of the floor?  There is a simple answer.  Players are not being taught, and not being held responsible to use the “fundamentals” of the game.

There is one “undefeated” team left in men’s basketball.  Kentucky.  However, the one knock against them is they don’t score!  Their shooting percentage is horrible!  Yes, they play good defense, but their shooting and free throw shooting are terrible.  That is their achilles heal.  I don’t know if it will hurt them in the Final Four, and that is the problem with the game.

There were at least two games in the “Elite Eight” that were decided because one team or the other couldn’t make free throws!  Half of the Final Four are in there because their opponent couldn’t make free throws.  What is wrong with that picture?  Why aren’t players, and their coaches, emphasizing fundamental play anymore?  Because it isn’t “sexy” enough and won’t get them on Sports Center “Top Plays.”

I believe the two sports most affected by this lack of fundamental play is basketball and football.  I am talking about both at the college level and at the professional level.  I am tired of hearing about Player A “going off for 45 points” as if he did something terrific.  Player A took about 50 shots himself.  When you take into consideration free throws and three pointers, that pencils out to about 38% shooting!

Not to mention that if Player A made half of his free throws, he might have scored 50 points.  I am also tired of being told that the “Top Plays” are dunks.  Let’s face facts, if a man 6 feet 6 inches tall cannot dunk a basketball, he probably shouldn’t be playing basketball.

Then there are the “violations” that aren’t “violations” anymore.  Like walking or palming the ball.  How can we expect players to use fundamentals when they aren’t being enforced by the referees?  I can’t tell you how many “traveling violations” I counted in just one game last weekend that were not called.  Before you argue that I am just being biased, I did referee high school basketball.

When these players move into the NBA it gets even worse.  The NBA almost never calls “traveling.”  On top of that, the NBA uses a “star hierarchy” to determine who gets the foul called against them.  If a “star” makes a move and there is a collision, the “star” gets the call in his favor, even if he was the one to commit the foul.

Football is even worse.  How many times have you seen a running back “break” six or seven tackles on one run?  Once in a while it is because the runner is that good.  The vast majority of the times is because the defensive players don’t know how to tackle!  Again, thanks to “Top Plays” tackling has become  “run as fast as you can at someone, slam into him, and hopefully he will fall to the ground.”

Those are the kinds of “tackles” that make it to the “Top Plays” list.  As a result, fundamentals of the game are lost.  I doubt that they will ever come back either.  I played football in my youth.  I loved the game.  I have basically stopped watching the game because they don’t play football anymore.  It is more like watching a demolition derby.

Auriemma is also correct in saying ” This is entertainment we’re talking about. People have to decide, do I want to pay 25 bucks, 30 bucks to go see a college scrum where everybody misses six out of every ten shots they take, or do I want to go to a movie?  We’re fighting for the entertainment dollar, here, and I have to tell you it’s not entertainment from a fan’s standpoint.

I have more-or-less abandoned watching both football and basketball.  Yes, I watch the NCAA Tournament, but more by flipping to it during commercials on other programs.  I cannot say I have watched an entire game for years.  The same is true for football.  I used the same technique during the Super Bowl.

This is not to say there aren’t exceptional players in both sports.  There are.  The trouble is that too many “stars” don’t know how to play the game correctly.  They have become more of a one-on-one game of egos rather than the team games they are supposed to be.

As a result, I find both games very boring to watch.  I don’t understand how a team can pay out $100 million to a defensive middle-linebacker who doesn’t know how to tackle or to a 38% shooter.  You can say all you want about how defenses in basketball has gotten better.  But, when one team misses six 12 foot open jumpers in a row, that isn’t good defense, it is bad shooting.

You can also complain about athletes leaving college early for the pros.  But, remember, they came to college not knowing how to play properly, so how can you expect them to play properly in the pros?  Imagine how much more money may be available if someone could actually shoot the ball, tackle someone, or block someone.

If you need to see an increase in offense, teach the game correctly and give the players the fundamental tools they need to compete.  Then you will see offense increase.  You may even see defense increase as well.  To me, there is nothing more dramatic than watching a fundamentally sound “unstoppable” offense pitted against a fundamentally sound “unmovable” defense.  That is sports, and that is something that neither basketball nor football gives us anymore.

Oh well, enjoy the Final Four and “Go Big Ten!”

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