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Die Hard

Posted by MLGoodell on November 17, 2014 at 5:15 PM Comments comments (0)

The American president’s reaction to the recent GOP wave election was extraordinary. In his droning press conference he pointed out that two-thirds of the voting age population didn’t vote. He seemed to suggest that, rather than listen to those who voted, he preferred hear the voices of those who didn’t. Which is an interesting way to hold office, though, to be honest, many of Obama’s actions over the past six years have been characteristic of someone hearing voices in his head.

Undeterred by an historic rejection of his policies, the president and his party have responded by condemning ostriches for being too nosy. Some Democrats have said this wasn’t a wave election, it was an anti-incumbent election. Which it was, as long as the incumbent was a Democrat. Senate Democrats, surveying the ruins of their power, decided they had been neglecting the base. Yes, their conclusion was, let’s move to the left. They appointed Sen. Elizabeth Warren to a new leadership post, Panderer in Chief, or Native American Liaison, or some such thing.

Another extraordinary conclusion reached by Senate Democrats, according to the Wall Street Journal, was that the American people didn’t see any difference between the parties. That’s right. Voters, when confronting a partisan slate, simply chose at random. By some amazing coincidence, all their random choices happened to be Republicans.

Having announced a willingness to work with Republicans, as long as they’re willing to admit defeat, Obama has laid out his agenda of rule by fiat. Since Congress hasn’t yet done what he wanted, and is only less likely to do so once the new Congress has been seated, Obama is doubling down on his extra-legal actions.

Apparently recognizing that cases move slowly through the courts, the president figures he can declare new laws at a faster rate than justices can render justice (especially since a growing percentages of them believe supporting the president’s agenda is more important than upholding the rule of law). This is the point when the president has stopped playing politics and has declared open war on his enemies. (It is a pity that the only enemies this president has are other Americans--oh, right, and Israelis). It is clear he will continue to rule by decree until Republicans are forced to initiate impeachment proceedings.

Only a lunatic fringe (also pronounced Ted Cruz) actually wants this. If forced to impeach it will be reluctantly, with regrets, and knowing full well the consequences. The domesticated media will condemn Republicans for “trying to impeach every Democratic president,” or ascribe it to racism. The Ferguson claque will be sharpening their spears, ready to take their insurrection on the road.

The public, proving again Hans Gruber’s perspicacity, will respond as instructed and blame Republicans for being “too partisan,” and will vote accordingly. (Yes, I know his name is Jonathan, but I wanted to tie this in with the title).

The president will do his finest Brer Rabbit impersonation, begging the GOP not to throw him into the briar patch. (Trigger Warning: The author of this essay would like to apologize to his younger brother and others seeking to identify racism as the underlying theme of all his criticisms of the man currently Occupying the White House).

He really can’t lose. If they don’t impeach, the rule of law will be irrecoverably damaged by his actions. If they do, the Republican party will be irrecoverably damaged by their actions. Beware a president seeking a legacy. While this has long been true, we now confront something called the Obama Corollary: Beware a young president who believes the best job in the world is UN General Secretary.

#NaNoWriMo This!

Posted by MLGoodell on November 6, 2014 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I love this time of year, when I get to haul out my favorite hashtag, #NaBuMyBoMo. Inspired by the success of #NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, #NaBuMyBoMo stands for National Buy My Book Month. (If you don't currently have a Twitter account, you may be unfamiliar with the whole hashtag business, as well as the concept of a hashtag, such as #NaBuMyBoMo, trending. A trending hashtag is one that is being picked up, repeated and retweeted and generally becoming popular throughout the world of Twitter).


I thought #NaBuMyBoMo could provide a public service by offering an antidote to the mind-fogging silliness of #NaNoWriMo. It is based on one of the pernicious myths ever propagated on a gullible populace, namely that everybody has a novel in them. That, of course, is manifestly not true, as evidenced by the percentage of seat mates on transcontinental flights who don't exchange a single word during the entire trip. It's not that they're antisocial, it's simply that they dread their neighbor might be one of those who labors under the misapprehension that she has a novel inside her.


Even if it were true, that does't mean everybody can write one. I suppose it is as a writer that I find this self-indulgence particularly offensive. It serves to denigrate what I do. It says the only reason everyone hasn't written a novel is because they haven't yet availed themselves of a gaggle of #NaNoWriMo cheerleaders celebrating their daily output. Come on, you can do it! Just 1,500 words a day! Don't worry about quality, or content, the volume is the important thing.


Actually, it's not. It may come as a surprise to the perpetual teenaged girls who populate the realm of #NaNoWriMo, but there is no dearth of published books in the world. Even post-apocalyptic, dysfunctional, urban vampire romance mysteries take up a room or two in the virtual bookstore.


Writing is a skill not everyone shares, sort of like being an electrician, or a mechanic, or being able to hit a 95-mile-an-hour fastball. Not everybody can do it. If I need to rewire my living room, I call an electrician. I don't go to #NaWiMyLiRoMo and announce how many feet of wire I strung today, to the cheers and encouragement of other hashtag electrician wannabes.


Maybe I'll start a new hashtag, to compliment my incredibly successful #NaBuMyBoMo. I'll call it #NaBeAProBaPlaMo, or National Be A Professional Baseball Player Month. Would that be fun? Stepping in against Morgan Fairchild, the San Francisco Giants' World Series MVP, with two out and the game on the line. And why not? I bet everybody's got a walk off home run in them.


I was listening to one of the #NaNoWriMo founders on NPR this morning extol the many wonders of the hashtag sensation, and I got to thinking, "Wow, that guy would kill it at Awesomenessfest." But that's another story altogether. Actually, what the guy said that made me write this screed in the first place, along with nearly driving off the road, was that the best part of #NaNoWriMo is it gives us a chance to focus on ourselves for once.


Yep, that's definitely been the problem with the American culture, we're not sufficiently self-indulgent. I wonder what kind of world he lives in where Americans spend all their time thinking of others, to the detriment of their own self regard and esteem. In fact, we are probably the most self-regarding nation since the last days of the Roman Empire.


Why, I oughta write a book about that.



Obama: We Were Wrong

Posted by MLGoodell on September 29, 2014 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)

 During an appearance on Sixty Minutes, Barack Obama justified a return to a more aggressive posture toward terrorist groups whose avowed intention is the destruction of the United States. “We underestimated the insurgents’ strength,” the previously infallible president admitted. “After 2012, when our enemies were demoralized, and, at the very least, reduced to a ‘manageable problem,’ I’m afraid the intelligence community took their eye off the ball.”

However, after a summer of disease-ridden children inundating the border, followed by the mass rape, torture, and beheading of Arab Christians and other religious minorities by Islamic State functionaries, Obama’s approval ratings went into the toilet. The numbers got so bad that state controlled media operatives stopped taking public opinion surveys.

“I’ve often said it’s hard being president,” Obama noted wistfully. “It’s not like in China where those guys say ‘Jump’ and the people say ‘Hao hai!’ But it’s worse when you can’t even line up a putt on the 15th green without some aide running up with the latest poll numbers showing even Michigan is in play. You try being reading the break with that going on.

“So, yeah, I’ll admit it. We underestimated our opponents. We honestly thought the Republicans had been degraded to the level of, say, the junior varsity, or even the US Ryder Cup squad. We had no idea they were even relevant, let alone competitive.” This, the president agreed, was a mistake, though it wasn’t really his fault. “Let me be clear, I gave the American people the foreign policy they said they wanted. Hell, they reelected me, didn’t they? How was I to know they hadn’t actually thought it through?”

In fact, as it turned out, the American people had given little more consideration to the consequences of a neo-isolationist policy than the president had himself. This lack of foresight resulted in diminished American influence, enhanced terrorist threats, and the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians. Disgusted with themselves, Americans grew disenchanted with the once godlike Occupier of the White House.

“Let me be clear,” the president said, “I never thought the Republicans had a chance of making this a wave election. Have we screwed up? Of course we have. Have we critically weakened the country while giving aid and comfort to America’s enemies? Sure. Have we shredded the constitution through our utter disregard for the rule of law? Naturally, and I’m proud of all those achievements.” Obama shook his head, gravely. “But would I have done it if I thought it might cost us the Senate? No way.”

The president pointed out that these weren’t Iranians or Ukrainian dissidents he was facing. “They were Republicans,” he scoffed. “Republicans,” he repeated, bearing an expression of disgust mixed with awe, with just a soupcon of concern wreathing along the edges of his lips. “These people have no backbone, no values, no beliefs. Their only reason for being, or ‘raison d’etre,’ as Kerry would say, is to win elections.”

Obama shook his head sadly before continuing. “Apparently one thing the Republicans have going for them is they aren’t me, and they aren’t my party. It seems the American people aren’t quite ready to surrender after all. Because of that, the Senate, and according to some, civilization as we know it, is in jeopardy. We underestimated our opponents, so now we have to start bombing trucks and bases and the occasional hospital to show how tough we are. We have a little over a month, but I am confident if we kill enough people we can send the Republicans back to their caves and retain control of the Senate.”

Mr. Obama Goes to War

Posted by MLGoodell on September 4, 2014 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)


And so it came to pass that the president was forced to pause in his nation-building at home to reflect on a world coming apart at the seams, or as he preferred to describe it, a world no messier than before, but a mess more visible thanks to 140 character descriptions. Indeed, if it weren’t for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the latest social media outlet, Whathaveyou, no one would know the world was going to hell in a hand basket.


(I have an English friend whose Twitter handle is @Chopper, and suddenly I start to wonder if he is a member of ISIS. Upon further reflection, I recall he was never very good at basketball, and couldn’t make the varsity squad. Hmm.)


Maybe the president has a point. Maybe we ought to force Facebook to install a Don’t Like button. Then we could all Don’t Like ISIS and Putin, and they would have to give up, wouldn’t they? I mean, it’s one thing if the President says there’s no place in the 21st Century for that kind of behavior, but if you lose have your followers overnight, then you know you’re in trouble.


After the second American journalist was YouTubed to death, the president got good and angry. Not as angry as the Veep, mind you, but pretty danged mad. He might not promise to follow ISIS to the gates of hell, but he definitely won’t allow them any three-foot gimmes.


How serious is the president? During a confidence-building stop in Estonia, he vowed to “degrade and destroy” ISIS. In fact, “If we are joined by the international community,” he will degrade and destroy ISIS “to the point where it is a manageable problem.”


The president declined to reveal how many decapitated Americans constitute a manageable problem, and how many more it takes for the world to be “appalled.” Some people were less than impressed with the president’s verbal jujitsu. Or as The Wall Street Journal put it, “The president’s statement drew criticism from Republican critics,” which is to distinguish them from Republican praisers. Apparently some of the Republican critics wondered why it was necessary to qualify destruction with the term manageable.


In response State Department spokesperson Jan Psaki snarked that Republican critics’ criticism was little more than “a word game,” a point she illustrated by tweeting a smirking selfie holding a sign reading #StopNitpickingUs.


Now, about that confidence-building stop, not just Estonians, but all three Baltic States (if you can name them, chances are you didn’t attend an American Public School), breathed a big sigh of relief when the president failed to warn the Russian president that invading them would be tantamount to “crossing a Red Line.”


The bad news was he assured them that NATO will “be here for Estonia. We’ll be here for Latvia. We’ll be here for Lithuania. You lost your independence once before. With NATO, you’ll never lose it again.”


Such a bold, forthright statement has stymied the Russian president. At this very moment he is closeted with his generals, trying to figure out what to do next. Invade Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania? It has to be one of the three. If the American president makes such a specific promise, he obviously doesn’t mean it. (Incidentally, those nude photos of the president circulating on the Internet didn’t come from Kate Upton’s phone. In fact, they were hacked from his new tailor’s iPad).


If the president has made one thing clear over the last six years, it’s that when he speaks his enemies laugh, and only his allies tremble. As should Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. NATO members all, they presumably would fall under the protection of Article 5, which points out that an attack on one NATO country is an attack on all of them. Of course, Putin won’t blatantly invade. He’ll go the Sudetenland route, as he did in Ukraine, triggering protests by Baltic-based Russians. He’ll hope for an overreaction by the authorities, and failing that, generate one himself.


Then he’ll arm the same “militants” who “rose up” in Ukraine. By the time NATO acknowledges Russian troops have invaded the Baltics someone will have figured out an escape clause, something along the line that Article 5 only applies to the original NATO members, not the slew of new ones which came in after the USSR imploded.


Putin will be happy to only swallow portions of the tiny Baltic nations, allowing them the appearance of sovereignty, albeit fully within the Russian orbit. Such a partition will allow the American president to pivot from denying he ever said “We’ll be here for Estonia. We’ll be here for Latvia. We’ll be here for Lithuania,” to pointing out that those small parts of the three countries which remain independent constitute yet another “promise kept.”

You da Bomb, Joe

Posted by MLGoodell on August 7, 2014 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (0)


After listening to a second-hand anecdote involving Vice President Joe Biden, a semi-private dining room, a tipsy woman describing a glass of wine as “da bomb,” and some tightly wound Secret Service agents, I wondered aloud if, should I ever meet the man, I would have the courage to say, “Hey Joe, you’ve come pretty far for the son of a Welsh coal miner.”


Referring, of course, to 1988 when then Presidential candidate Biden appropriated British Labour Party Leader Neil Kinnock’s stump speech as his own. This was not a simple matter of failing to attribute a quote, Biden actually stole Kinnock’s biography. Needless to say, Biden’s campaign vanished faster than those insurance plans his current boss promised you could keep.


Stealing another politician’s go-to speech is wrong on so many levels. It is stupid, for one thing. It is also arrogant, a display of contempt for the public, a reflection of the belief that the people are too stupid to catch on. Most significantly, it demonstrates that the man has no character.


So it’s not surprising Biden’s bid was immolated. What is surprising is thirty years later not only was the man still a sitting Senator, but he was deemed worthy of the office of vice president. Even more amazing, his selection was hailed by many as lending “gravitas” to the untested Democratic Party standard bearer.


There should be no statute of limitations of poor character. Once manifested, that person should be rendered unfit for public office. Stealing another man’s speech shows no character. Bimbo eruptions? No character. Driving your car off a bridge and leaving a young woman to drown, should result if not in a prison sentence, then certainly not in reelection. And definitely, that cur should never have been eulogized as “the Conscience of the Senate.”


This is not a partisan issue. George H. W. Bush should have resigned after vomiting in the Japanese Prime Minister’s lap. Make all the excuses you want, but when he “committed Bushusuru,” he brought shame to his nation and disgrace to the office. He should have resigned. Mark Sanford rightfully deserved to be hounded from office after Appalachian Affair. He never should have been elected again. Again, there should be no statute of limitations of character issues. The good people of South Carolina displayed all the judgment and discretion of ghetto dwellers when they sent the “mad hiker” to Congress.


At a time when elected officials enjoy the same level of public respect as trial attorneys, carjackers and those guys wearing matching jerseys who ride their bikes four abreast on busy highways, it is surprising how little emphasis the electorate places on character. If we continue to elect and reelect men and women who by voice and deed demonstrate they have no character, then why should we be surprised when they put their petty interests above those of the people they were elected to serve?

The Goalie's Anxiety at the Political Kick

Posted by MLGoodell on July 9, 2014 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)


As the 2014 FIFA World Cup winds down to its final few games, let’s reflect on what we’ve learned along the way. The most surprising thing, other than the fact that none of the stadia collapsed, is how politicized supporting the sport has become.


The ideologically extreme MSNBC mouthpiece Chris Hayes mocked non fans for being wedded to antiquated ideas. “The aversion that some hold in joining the world to embracing soccer is often weirdly tied to American Exceptionalism,” Hayes said. “And once again, this year, a few anti-soccer trolls reared their ugly heads. But they really don’t matter . . . Even the president of the United States caught the game today. . . And while we didn’t win, that’s ultimately alright because part of embracing a truly worldwide competition is accepting the fact the U.S. cannot simply assert its dominance.”


So, if you’re one of the cool kids you like soccer just as much as you like transgendered urinals. Another ideological brownshirt, Peter Beinart, observed on CNN that soccer fans are generally younger, more liberal, more tolerant of others and “are far less likely than older American to say that America's culture is superior or to say that America is the greatest country in the world.” He thinks that’s a plus.


Beinart explains, “if you look at the states where soccer is most popular, they're overwhelmingly blue states, and the states where soccer is least popular are red states. The only difference between the soccer coalition and the Obama coalition is that African-Americans are right now are not such big soccer fans and of course important parts of the Obama coalition . . . So you can see the Obama coalition as essentially soccer plus basketball. The Republican coalition is essentially baseball plus golf plus NASCAR.”


Which begs the question, what stands out more, Beinart’s incoherence or his ineffable silliness? Of course, the left doesn’t have a monopoly on silliness. Not when it comes to futbol. Ann Coulter spewed her own version of dementia, declaring soccer to be beneath American’s contempt because “It’s foreign.” Like the metric system, it is from “Europe,” and therefore verboten. Even worse, it’s a game played by sissies, and liberals. “Liberal moms like soccer because it's a sport in which athletic talent finds so little expression that girls can play with boys,” Coulter fulminates. “ No serious sport is co-ed, even at the kindergarten level.”


Not to be outdone, the other day Bernard Goldberg passed his judgment in a piece on National Review Online (which effectively transformed a once-respectable forum of ideas into the intellectual version of “The National Enquirer.”). Soccer, he declared, is for losers. “It’s not just because it’s so dull that I don’t like soccer. Another reason I don’t like it is because of the Americans who do like it. Most of these sports fans — a term I use with no regard for either word, “sports” or “fans” — wouldn’t know a fumble from a first down, a hit-and-run from a double play. But every four years they show up at bars and go wild when the American team ties the Tunisians zero-zero, or nil-nil, as they call it.”


The debate over soccer seems like the last nail in the political coffin which is contemporary American society. Why can’t someone simply enjoy a good match without feeling morally superior? Conversely, can’t I choose not to follow the sport, or even actively mock it without attacking true soccer fans? (True fans, by the way, follow the sport year-round, not just every four years–it’s like the Olympics. We can enjoy the passion and drama of Olympic competition without describing ourselves as huge track and field, or luge fans).


An English friend once described soccer as a gentlemanly game play by thugs, as opposed to rugby, which is a thuggish game played by gentlemen. Another English friend refers to the sport as “kiss ball,” yet he lives and dies with the fate of his National Team. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is reputed to have soothed her shattered nation following an unlikely loss to the German National Team by noting that “England has twice defeated German at their national game.”


So there’s a lot of tradition and history to soccer. Ironically, on a continent given to scorning nationalism, Europeans exult in the fortunes of their National Teams. An Englishman who will look down his nose at American patriotism will willingly and reflexively bite the nose off a Frenchman’s face in the unlikely event of a froggish goal.


To be honest, I dislike soccer because it is mired in the past. It was yet another English friend who expressed his envy for the way Americans constantly tinker with our sports. Baseball, hockey, football and basketball are constantly evolving to accommodate changes in equipment and improvements in diet, training and performance.


Consider baseball. Over the years the pitching mound has gotten lower and the strike zone has effectively been cut in half. Every change has been made to improve the batter’s chances of hitting the ball. If those changes hadn’t been made, most baseball games would finish one-nil after 18 innings, contested before as many as three dozen people.


Baseball has changed with the times. Soccer hasn’t. Which is why players fall to the ground and writhe in agony, until they realize they won’t be rewarded with either a penalty kick or the issuance of a yellow or red card. The reason they do this is not, despite what Coulter might say, because they are “sissies,” but because about the only way to score in modern soccer (we’ll leave Germany-Brazil out of this discussion) is by penalty kick or a man advantage.


Which means most games come down to which side is best able to game the system, or to phantom penalties called or legitimate ones ignored. Soccer is too much in the hands of the officials, and not enough on the feet of the players. Which is why I don’t like it. It’s ironic when you think of it. According to trendy-leftie elites, by definition I don’t like soccer because I am a conservative, while in fact, I don’t like soccer because it hasn’t changed. Advocating change is not the purview of the right, which means, I don’t like soccer because it is too conservative for me.

Captain America: Whiner Soldier

Posted by MLGoodell on May 1, 2014 at 4:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Considering he’s the most timorous and geopolitically unformed President since Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama is remarkably prolific when it comes to slaughtering straw men. Take for example his recent press conference hissy fit in Malaysia. Or it may have been a calculated outburst, it’s hard to tell with this guy. Ostensibly a defense of his nuanced, highly sophisticated foreign policy, by the time Obama was done hyperventilating, the field was so strewn with straw man corpses, it bore a striking resemblance to one of that noted education reformer Bashar Assad’s charter school projects.
Slaughtering straw men is one of the president’s favorite rhetorical devices. When faced with criticism, he presumes to define the terms his critics used, generally in a manner bearing no more connection with reality than his administration’s policy toward, say, Iran. He then proceeds to demolish the arguments nobody has made.

In Malaysia he imputed to his foreign policy critics a desire to invade foreign countries, or to put boots on the ground, in one of his favorite phrases. They still haven’t learned the lessons from our disastrous involvement in Iraq, he charged. What is the matter with these people? How on earth can they continue to pursue the misguided, failed policies of the past? Obama’s arguments completely destroyed all those critics calling for us to invade every country that looks at us cross-eyed. The only problem with his rhetorical victory is nobody has made the arguments he just blew out of the water.

And that’s the seductive appeal of the Straw Man approach. If you put words in your critics’ mouths, it’s easy to destroy them. When Obama opens a can of Whupp Ass on his critics, he looks like Rambo. Okay, he looks like Rambo with skinny arms, but still, that’s a whole lotta mayhem raining down.

Even Rambo, er, Obama knows he can only take this Straw Man thing so far. Here’s what he said about Syria. “Those who criticize our foreign policy with respect to Syria, they themselves say, ‘No, no, no, we don’t mean sending in troops.’ Well, what do you mean? ‘Well, you should be assisting the opposition.’ Well, we’re assisting the opposition. What do you mean? “Well, perhaps you should have taken a strike in Syria to get chemical weapons out of Syria.” Well, it turns out we’re getting chemical weapons out of Syria without having initiated a strike. So what are you talking about? And at that point it kind of trails off.”

What can we learn from this sophomoric outburst? One, we can conclude it’s not just tobacco the President is still when Michelle isn’t looking. This sort of incoherent recapping of an amazing internal dialogue suggests that the Choom Gang is alive and well and hanging out by the White House basketball court.

We can also conclude that the reason it “kind of trails off” at the point where Obama brags about getting chemical weapons out of Syria is because his imaginary interlocutor considers it rude to say, “Really, Mr. President? Tell me, are you lying to my face or are you really that stupid? Because anybody who can read a newspaper knows that Syria has missed every deadline you’ve extended for turning over the chemical weapons they say they have. We don’t even know about the rest of them because there’s no independent inspection team to verify. Furthermore, you may recall the only reason we’ve gotten this far is because Vladimir Putin came riding to the rescue. Do you remember when you were wilting from an attack of the vapors because grown ups in Washington said you needed to do something because Assad violated what you called a red line? Do you remember how panicked you were? Do you remember denying ever calling it a Red Line? Do you remember how you crumpled in Putin’s big, strong arms when he untied you from the railroad tracks like Dudley Dooright?”

“Did you ever stop to  think, Mr. President, that if you hadn’t proved yourself worse than a coward over Syria, that Russia might not have invaded Crimea? Did you stop to think how far your foreign policy is from robust? Did you ever stop to think that what you call a calibrated, low-profile set of diplomatic maneuvers’ is the geopolitical version of hiding in a bathroom stall until the jocks have gone off to football practice?”

That’s probably the main reason your critics start drifting off at that point.

We’ve gotten to a pathetic point in history where people want to believe our president actually intends to destroy American power as a force for good in the world, because it is hard to imagine someone stupid enough to do this by accident.

Happy Spring Black Friday!

Posted by MLGoodell on April 19, 2014 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)

We owe a debt of gratitude to the folks at Home Depot who came up with the wonderful concept called Spring Black Friday. At last, we have a name for the awkward Friday before Easter. For years people have referred to it as, uh, you know, that day when schools are out, Wall Street is closed, and there’s nothing to do but go to church.

But now, we have a name for it. Spring Black Friday. It is the perfect counterpoint to the traditional Black Friday, which occurs the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday, of course, is as close as Americans come to a religious holiday, that day after the gluttonous feast, when families go to the local mall and worship at the feet of the Great God Commerce.

Fulfilling as Black Friday is, when we all buy things we can’t afford for people who don’t need them, all to observe what we call “Holiday,” it is sometimes hard to go a full year without worshiping again. Granted, there is Valentine’s Day when we buy chocolates, flowers and cards, and St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo, when we gather in bars to drink ourselves into oblivion, but somehow these minor Holy Days don’t quite fill the gap between Holiday and Graduation Day (which occupies the entire month of June).

Thankfully, last year the marketing department at Home Depot came up with Spring Black Friday. This year, they’re doing it again, and joined by such stalwarts as Lowes and Walmart, it promises to be bigger than ever. At last, all Americans will have a place to worship during this bleak, empty season. Spring Black Friday should fill out our religious calendar. We will be fulfilled.

In his “Inferno,” Dante described the nine circles of hell. Actually, he got that wrong. There is a tenth circle, and it is the exclusive domain of everyone in the marketing and advertising racket.

Eich's Auto-da-fe

Posted by MLGoodell on April 9, 2014 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

My head tells me to leave it alone. Don’t write about it. Just leave it alone. The damage is already done. You can’t save a culture intent on suicide. So keep your mouth shut, don’t make waves. Don’t intentionally offend those whose taking of offense is beyond your ken.

Then my heart tells me in Nazi Germany they called this attitude “internal exile.” That was the place  where those intellectuals, writers and artists unable or unwilling to flee would hide. That place was inside their heads, because that was the only place it was safe to be. So I wondered is it right to witness our slide into totalitarianism without at least letting people know where they are headed?

What triggered this bout of introspection was Brendan Eich’s resignation as CEO of Mozilla. Eich, by all accounts a brilliant man, invented JavaScript which is, they say, the language which writes the web. Now, I don’t know the difference between JavaScript and FijiCursive, but I do know  that civil society begins to die when bigots are able to punish people for what they think.

What was Mr. Eich’s crime? What did he do that rendered him unemployable? Did he rape a child? Did he bribe a Senator? Lie on his resume? No. He donated $1,000  to support Proposition 8, the California initiative which defined marriage as an act between a man and a woman. At the time this was the position held by just about every public figure and virtually every American citizen capable of rational thought (or somewhere close to 300,000 people). It was a time when reasonable people could disagree on whether the state should redefine marriage. It was a time when people could oppose state-sanctioned same-sex marriage and not be accused, and convicted, of hate crimes. It was just six short years ago.

Most articles about Mr. Eich’s auto-da-fe refer to Proposition 8 as an initiative to ban gay marriage. Actually, it did no such thing. In fact, there has not been a single initiative or law passed anywhere in the country which banned gay marriage, or made it illegal. All they have done is confirm, or codify the status quo. Gays have been free to marry as long as Barbra Streisand has been singing show tunes. That’s why God invented the Unitarian Church, and SWAT teams have never been dispatched to arrest Rev. Samantha while she unites Warren and Bruce in Holy Matrimony.

Nobody has ever banned gay marriage, because, in the eyes of the state, and in the eyes of history, gay marriage has never existed. You can’t ban something that has never existed. Yet none of this matters as our culture goes careening over the cliff of rationality. Nor does it matter how his Inquisitors learned of Mr. Eich’s despicable deed. Which is the worst part of the story.

An Internal Revenue Service employee illegally leaked the names of National Organization for Marriage (NOM) donors. This crime is another example of the dangerous extent to which the current administration has politicized the bureaucracy. Even more disturbing than the actual leaking is the refusal of the (even more politicized) Justice Department to investigate and prosecute.

This is no small matter. This is the erosion of the rule of law upon which our nation was established. When the state is allowed to pick and choose which laws it will enforce, and when the state abets those who would punish others for their beliefs, we are creeping perilously close to totalitarianism.

In short, it is not the series of actions which are so terrifying, but the lack of response those actions have inspired.

Stick it to the Man

Posted by MLGoodell on April 4, 2014 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I woke up yesterday morning with our president’s voice whispering in my ear. No, I haven’t bought an ObamaLama, (Note: The following is a paid advertisement. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the editorial staff at www.mlgoodell.webs.com).

ObamaLama is the revolutionary new alarm clock now sweeping the nation. Yes, thanks to the same technology which enabled millions of uninsured Americans to finally get the health care they deserve, the ObamaLama, allows you to wake up each day to the sound of our beloved President’s voice. Just set the time you want to wake up, by turning the innovative devices on the back  called dials, and the next morning (or afternoon if you’re one of the millions of Americans freed from job lock!) you can start your day full of confidence, knowing that our President “has your back.”

(We now return you to our regularly scheduled program).

Again, I don’t yet have an ObamaLama, mainly because, since the merger,  Amazon.gov is having fulfillment issues whenever traffic exceeds 100,000 users. Instead, our beloved leader’s words came to me through the miracle of NPR on my clock radio, reporting on his campaign speech in nearby Ann Arbor. Bolstered by reports that ramping up the minimum wage would free another half-million Americans from the humiliation of having to go to work each day, Obama was in town to support a statewide initiative to boost it to $10.10 an hour.

Among other crowd-pleasing remarks, the president extolled the merits of allowing anyone to earn that much, “regardless of your last name, the color of your skin, which country you were born in, or who you love.” That Angelou-esque litany of interest groups, which passes as policy these days, gained  the expected cheers from the crowd of reliably liberal collegians, though none was greeted as enthusiastically as “who you love.”

This struck me as curious. Why on earth should our president’s by now obligatory nod in the direction of homosexual normatization generate such acclaim? Could it be that this generation of children, having been indulgently raised free from restraint or even guidance, nonetheless feels the need to rebel? Grasping for issues, they can find only one which reflects a generational divide. That, of course is same-sex marriage. Our president has evolved in dramatic fashion, going in just three short years from believing marriage is between a man and woman to claiming “marriage equality is the defining issue of our age.”

So for the purposes of pleasing the crowd, the President boasts he has their collective back. It is a bit off-putting, though, this pandering to an unformed audience. It should be somehow beneath the office of the president to assist children’s bid to shock their parents. Whenever Obama gets in front of a collegiate audience, he reminds me of that old Sprint commercial in which a business executive brags that  the money he is saving is his way of “Sticking it to the man,” to which his assistant replies, perplexedly, “But you are the man.” (See it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZG-VB5xb6KM).

Because, in fact, that is what the President is doing in front of his youthful audiences. He is sticking it to the man without understanding that he is, for what it’s worth, the man. Given their upbringing in a culture defined by self esteem enhancement and moral relativism, today’s college freshmen are arguably the most ethically immature and spiritually unformed generation ever to matriculate in what used to be called the civilized world. Is it any surprise then that whenever the mean old world gets too icky and scary, this President  flees to where he feels most comfortable, before an audience of his intellectual peers?