Pay-to-Praise: Professional Sports Loves Our Veterans (This Is Not a Paid Announcement)

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 13: A large American flag is stretched across the field for the National Anthem before the Houston Te
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 13: A large American flag is stretched across the field for the National Anthem before the Houston Texans play the Kansas City Chiefs in the second quarter in a NFL game on September 13, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

So the sports moguls are getting paid for patriotic events at ballparks like the singing of "God Bless America," surprise homecomings and "Hometown Heroes" ceremonies? This tells us more about American fakery than we want to know, and the pre-eminent place of professional sports in this era of boundless greed and the death of shame.

Good for Senators McCain and Flake for pursuing the truth. It's helpful when legitimate criticisms of pseudo-patriotism come from a military hero; we can get past the usual nonsense more quickly.

So who are the bad guys? Is it the Feds for using taxpayer money to manufacture patriotic sentiment, or the ever greedy sports barons for charging us for doing the right thing? Or both?

The government decision to pay-to-praise comes under the heading of "What were they thinking?" DOD has a legitimate need to project its' heroes and to recruit, and paid media are traditionally part of that. Maybe we're all so used to manufactured reality, manufactured emotions and manufactured politics that we wouldn't have caught the embarrassing consequences either. But it was the wrong thing to do.

But the professional sports guys? The charge here is way beyond dopiness; it's greed and hypocrisy. They get billions in tax dollars in subsidies and write-offs (Bernie Sanders could learn a few things about socialism from the Steinbrenner/Goodell/Dolan left-wingers.) Couldn't they sing "God Bless America" on the cuff? Just to be nice?

How we treat our military heroes is a deep and disturbing subject. Look at the number of homeless vets, or the delays at the VA. It's a national disgrace.

So here's an idea. Gary Shepard of Soldier On, which serves over 7,000 vets in need, told the sports guys what they need to hear: "You make billions of dollars. Step up to the plate, put up a few bucks for permanent housing and health care for returning vets. You might even want to hire a couple of them."

This is not rocket science. They can afford it. They say they care.

Dr. Johnson said that "patriotism was the last resort of a scoundrel." Ambrose Bierce disagreed. He said it "was the first." Either way what McCain and Flake uncovered is disgusting and hypocritical and these guys should stop it and make amends for what they've already taken. Maybe then I won't have to wonder who is the paid sponsor of the "Star Spangled Banner." Play Ball.