Every First Lady should wear that jacket

Hyperpartisans never learn one of the most basic axioms of American culture: We like our First Ladies.

We like them a lot, even if we’re not too keen on the husband. Political hacks obsess over polled approval numbers. The wife is always more popular. I’m a conservative. I like Michelle Obama, but more on why I like her in a moment.

Yesterday, because our political discourse hasn’t become ridiculous enough yet, #TheResistance morphed into the fashion police by trying to create a controversy over Melania Trump’s jacket. On the back of this $40 garment were the words “I really don’t care. Do U?”

Now, to our modern-day faux patriots, this is a sin of the highest order. FLOTUS was on her way to Texas to observe a detention facility where immigrant children (call them undocumented or illegal if you wish) were transferred to. Obviously, by her choice of outerwear, Mrs. Trump doesn’t care.


I can think of many different reasons why she absolutely should have worn that garment. Moreover, if this is how we are choosing to utilize the First Amendment, every First Lady should get that jacket when they move into the White House.

Michelle Obama should get to wear it because of the obscene racial slurs.

Barbara Bush should have gotten to wear it for the cheap insults to her appearance.

Laura Bush should wear it for a horrible things said about her daughters.

Even Hillary Clinton should wear it. She heard jokes about how bad she was in bed. Otherwise, why would Bill cheat?

In the last month alone, while Melania Trump was in a hospital bed recovering from surgery, some jerk who draws a paycheck covering politics speculated she was a battered wife. There were conspiracy theories as to Melania not being in the public view. In the last week, a famous actor wished someone would rip her child from her arms and be thrown into a cell full of pedophiles. Another has-been comic tried to revive her career by going after the First Lady.

So yeah, she should wear that jacket as a middle finger to all of those who have allowed their politics to become a pathology. Taken too seriously, politics becomes a sickness that rots the core of your being.

Which is why I like Michelle Obama, by the way. First Ladies tend to be viewed by most reasonable people as above the fray. We see in most of them a secret desire for ourselves — the hope to marry well. By all accounts, Mrs. Obama is a pretty, healthy, happy, bright lady and a responsible parent.

Michelle Obama, if she were single, would be a catch. And we want to marry well because a strong marriage is another thread that stabilizes society.

First Ladies also undertake noble missions during their husband’s terms. You may dislike Obamacare, but consider Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” program. The idea of lowering childhood obesity sounds fine to me. And she wasn’t the only First Lady to look out for kids. You may think George W. Bush is a war criminal, but Laura Bush was popular because she wanted to encourage reading. Nancy Reagan wanted to lower narcotics use. Melania Trump wants to end cyberbullying.

My God, what villains!

As a side note, it occurs to me that perhaps a reason Hillary Clinton has always been looked at with enduring suspicion is because unlike other First Ladies, she did desire political power.

Aside from that anomaly, First Ladies are seen as ladies outside of the most partisan among us. Hyperpartisan Americans are like fingernails on a chalkboard. Even if their thesis is sound, it is overwhelmed by the shrillness.

America appears to accept the thesis that Melania’s husband needs to do something about children at the border.

What American culture has shown it will not accept, time and again, are unfair attacks on women. Hyperpartisans say the current president is vile. As a response, they have attempted to outvile what they see as vile by attacking a lady.

And Melania Trump really doesn’t care.

How ladylike.

Love your enemy: Why David Hogg will fail

Before getting into the main focus of this post, a disclaimer: I was raised in journalism to avoid all insults about teenagers. It’s a sound policy. You cover, for example, a high school football game. You never write “Johnny Jones stupidly fumbled the ball with the game on the line and cost Generic High School a glorious victory. What a loser!” Instead, you go basic “Nonspecific High School recovered a fumble with 20 seconds to go to secure a victory over Generic High School.”

A lot of people who should know better — including Laura Ingraham of Fox News — violated that simple mandate for decency by taunting the Florida high school shooting survivor with insulting tweets or social media posts. Debate is one thing. But the adult needs to remember who the adult is when debating a teenager. Ingraham should have been above doing such a thing, which is why she apologized. More on that later.

But Hogg is going to fail in his quest to create massive social change when it comes to the Second Amendment.

Hogg is the latest in a long line of pretenders to the throne that remains occupied by the memory of Rev. Martin Luther King when it comes to creating lasting social change.

I have spent the last few days researching where civil rights has gone since the 1970s. It’s true that society has changed and granted more civil rights in the last 50 years, but no single person has been a galvanizing force. If anything, most individuals with an axe to grind create a backlash even if the cause is just. Remember how Cindy Sheehan was going to inspire us to stop going to war? We’re still in the middle east.

What exactly have the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton accomplished?

I keep going through name after name of activists who undermined their causes.

True, after his passing, some have besmirched King’s memory. But how was he able to advance a cause and be simultaneously revered?

The answer, in my opinion, is that King took a Biblical lesson to heart — to love your enemies.

It takes superhuman inner strength to find a way to simultaneously stand your ground over what you know is right while loving people who believe you should be oppressed. In today’s hyperpartisan culture, it seems antithetical. Yet, King was able to do that. More importantly, his flock followed his lead.

And millions benefitted from persistence that was based on love. Sheehan couldn’t do that. Sharpton doesn’t want to. Remember the people who ended friendships over President Trump’s election? The middle fingers given from #TheResistance?

How can anyone believe the slogan “love trumps hate” when there doesn’t appear to be love from people asking for change?

Standing your ground based on love has the capability to change hearts and minds.

Take a look at the reaction of activists in the wake of the Parkland shooting. We’ve seen thousands boo, jeer and vent fury at a U.S. Senator who offered to listen and help. We’ve seen children claim that adults have ruined democracy. At the center of it all is a 17-year-old who I’ve never met, and who I have yet to see express love for anything.

I don’t know if he’s a bad guy. He apparently has a little trouble getting into the college of his choice, but so did I. Can’t fault him for that.

But I know that in order to change gun laws, you have to convince legions of gun owners that it has to stop.

You don’t do it by telling them they are responsible for your friends’ deaths. You don’t do it by raising a fist in the air.

If you have any chance to do it at all, you start from a place of loving your political enemy.

Hogg could have, for example, loved himself and Ingraham enough to say, “You went over the line, but I accept your apology.” That’s what a mature person does. Instead, he called for a boycott of the her show’s advertisers, which people correctly saw as silencing political thought.

Now, Hogg and by extension his movement faces a backlash. I’m looking at an online survey from a pop culture site that calls the kid “arrogant.” TMZ, while trivial, is left-wing.

Kid, no disrespect intended. You have a long life ahead of you and you went through some real mess. I hope you find inner peace and a good college. But take it from someone who also had a big ideas and an even bigger mouth when I was your age: Find a way to love your enemy, or you will fail.

North Korea’s in-your-face sex slavery

Well, to be clear, it’s only in your face if you are watching the Winter Olympics.
Did you notice that the “unified” Korean Olympic team includes a few dozen “cheerleaders” dancing for the athletes?
Um, despite what the international press is telling you about how nice it is to see these young ladies supporting both sides of a divided peninsula, I’d like to cut to the chase. You’re watching sex slaves.
I take absolutely no pleasure in telling you that. To be honest, I am no social justice warrior, but I am anti-female-abuse and when I think of these poor girls I get nauseous. I get sick at how they have been exploited and furious at a press corps that has empowered the North Korean propaganda machine.
My sources come from research I have done for an upcoming novel. The theme of the novel I am working on is how propaganda conceals atrocities. I know. Light stuff. Included in the research are three history books from the notoriously secretive nation, including propaganda treatise “A Kim Jong Il Production.”
The authors of these books are by no means right-wingers rattling sabers against the North.
The North Koreans became master propagandists during the Kim Jong Il regime. You may have read that North Koreans believe their first family are gods. Kim Jong Il created that, crafting a story of his parents being a Korean Mary and Joseph, and that baby Kim Jong Il created miracles.
Anyway, Kim Jong Il enjoyed the spoils of being a tyrant. One such carnal pleasure is the “Joy Brigade,” a battalion of girls ages 14-22 who are taught to please the North Korean leadership. The girls are taught to dance to American pop music — which is outlawed to the public, give massages and feed their “deities.” After their dance-massage shows are complete, they obediently follow the men behind closed doors and follow orders.
Yeah, 14 year olds.
The best hope for these girls is that one of the ministers falls in love with them. If the girl marries a well-connected Kim lackey, she gets to eat after she turns 22. If not, back to your starving family.
Now the North Korean government is quite conscious of world opinion. Anything it can spin to an advantage, that government will cheerfully accept. So if North Korea is going to send a contingent of dancers to the Olympics, it will send the best.
The North Koreans sent the Joy Brigade, their mostly underage sex slaves.
And if you think the International Olympic Committee will take issue with sex abuse, have you forgotten it has a sordid past of its own?
Wanna throw up yet?
As a side note, Kim Jong Un’s sister — the one the international press is fawning over — is the North Korean minister of propaganda. In other words, she’s the one telling her countrymen scrounging the countryside for insects to eat that her brother is god.
Looked at from that perspective, and I’m not telling you to support President Trump if, I’m pretty happy Vice President Mike Pence disrespected the North Koreans.

In case I don’t see you during Thanksgiving…

Lately I’ve been reading an ugly idea: that Thanksgiving dinner is an ideal place to argue politics — as if we don’t have enough fertile ground for shouting matches with relatives. I just can’t partake in Thanksgiving politics, although I admit if I see that photo of Al Franken one more time my stomach will empty for another plate.

On this holiday, I prefer to feel gratitude — as old-fashioned as that sounds — and I have a lot to appreciate this year. It was an unusual year for me, in that I had four major goals. I accomplished them all. Despite that, I went through a three-month period of misery. It’s startling to achieve dreams and still be dreadfully unhappy.

Those three months were my last in Florida. I know what caused it. I prefer not to go into it.

So for openers, I am thankful for the people who sensed I wasn’t happy and reached out. They know who they are. I am thankful for you. I hope you have a most joyous holiday season.

I am thankful for the friends I did make in Florida, too. It is a fun state, fascinating and gorgeous. Regrettably, I didn’t make many lasting friendships there. The ones I did make? The people there I appreciate their humor, their intellect, their quirkiness. Sorry the rest of it didn’t work out for me.

Living on the east coast afforded me the chance to see most of the country at a slower pace. I am thankful for what I learned about America. What an amazing nation. My senses overloaded on the hues of our culture, which varies from state to state. It would take months to fully recall and appreciate what I’ve taken in. I savor those memories daily. The music of Nashville. The art museums of Philadelphia and Chicago. The architecture of Baltimore. The alcoholism of Kansas City.

I must admit, though, that I am extremely thankful to be closer to my friends and family here in Las Vegas. I’ve already made road trips to Los Angeles, Arizona, and I can’t wait to see my parents tomorrow. Thanksgiving is a time for overloading on comfort food, but eating all of that grub is merely a symbol. Thanksgiving dinner is a metaphor of how our lives can be delicious and bountiful. My life is abundant for the friends I have. The relationships you create lead to lasting comfort and joy.

My best friends? They know who they are. People I’ve begun to cultivate relationships with, I hope you know I value you.

Finally, I am grateful for those of you who have purchased my latest novel, “Assumption Day.” I want to keep that brief because I don’t want to make this blog post sound like a sales pitch. Thank you.

Let’s all have a warm holiday season. There are far more beautiful things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in political philosophy.

What’s the point? Or, why do authors get so hung up on theme?

About a year ago I flew to New York City to wow somebody in the publishing industry with a murder mystery novel I created. While most agents are women — which, by the way, is a good thing since women tend to make up most of the people I see in a Barnes & Noble — I happened upon a male rep in the restroom of the Midtown Hyatt in Manhattan.

“Thing I hate the most is authors who can’t stop talking about the theme of their books,” he muttered to the wall paneling just above the urinal. Then he looked over at me and added, “Pitching to me in here taking a piss I hate even more.”

Like most everything I’ve learned in the publishing industry, that simultaneously made sense and made me wince. Oh, it’s not the only thing that came across as useful and insipid. I had an agent tell me my book would stand a better chance of getting published if I could squeeze “girl” in the title. Girls on trains and with dragon tattoos kicking over hornet nests and falling into spider webs. That sort of thing.

But I digress.

My point is beyond mentioning there will always be a disconnect between authors and agents. That’s apparent. It’s also obvious to mention that agents are the first bona fide readers of a writer’s golden prose. Your friends and family may think it’s brilliant, but nobody else is going to know if it doesn’t land on a bookshelf. That’s an agent’s job. If the agent doesn’t care about theme, chances are most readers don’t either.

But I must suggest that agents let their crabby little wordsmiths prattle for 45 seconds about the brilliance of the theme.

Themes — as hoity-toity as they come across — are what push a writer across the finish line. No matter how strong that first inspiration permeates a writer’s alleged soul, in my opinion there is no such thing as a muse for a novel. I have to have a compelling reason for why I’m writing in order to finish. My current novel, “Assumption Day,” checks in at about 300 pages. It’s not exactly as long-winded as “War and Peace,” but compare that to the average article in USA Today, and that’s a hefty amount of quality time at the laptop.

Most writers that I know don’t like to wing it. (As an aside, that’s called “pantsing” in publishing, another phrase that simultaneously makes sense and creeps me the hell out.) The writers I hang with, read, etc., they want to have a reason for slogging through the process.

Theme is that reason. They want to make a point. The story, the character, or just one particular scene, can make that point.

I write murder mysteries. The point is not to say “killin’ is bad.” If the Ten Commandments didn’t convince you of that, neither would Agatha Christie.

In the case of “Assumption Day,” I studied the lengthy and turbulent history of Northern Ireland. I appreciated its music. I shook my head at its petty divisions. I learned bombmaking, not hands-on, of course. I went through the research and filled notebook with ideas came because of one salient point that has more to do with the United States than it does about the Emerald Isle.

That there’s only one Martin Luther King, Jr.

In my mind, I wanted to use Ireland to illustrate the point.

Many have tried to stake a claim to King’s mantle, and yet nobody else has even come close in Western civilization. Not in America. Not in Europe, either. Definitely nobody among the legions of social justice warriors online. Perhaps that’s why things continue to be divisive among us.

If you enjoy “Assumption Day,” maybe you will pick up on that. Maybe not. I hope not to make things that obvious.

But “Assumption Day” wouldn’t be possible without that little point I wanted to make.

Having said that, I wouldn’t want to disrupt your time in the bathroom to tell you that.

Seeing a reflection in Northern Ireland

In the 35 or so years U2 recorded music, anyone familiar with the Irish rock group’s anthology is painfully aware Bono is obsessed with the United States.

Truth be told, many of the Irish always have been. My father immigrated here with his brothers as a young man. He still has the little flag they gave him when he took the oath of allegiance. President Kennedy may be the only person outside of the Bible that he considers a hero.

I can only make half-baked guesses as to why this deep-rooted fascination with America exists. The best way I can explain it comes from when I was a comedian. Comics love poking at the scabs of American racism. So I would chat with Paul Rodriguez and after mentioning I had Irish heritage, he laughed and referred to the Irish as “the white Mexicans.”

I’ve also been referred to as “the white (insert other race here)” by other minority comics for the same reason. The conclusion to draw? Maybe I’m not on the same social level as other white folk. There were once signs on American storefronts encouraging the Irish not to seek employment there.

And yet the Irish eventually prospered here. So yeah, my brethren have an affection for the United States that it would likely never have with their next-door neighbors to the east. Simply put, many Irish loathe the British, the inevitable result of centuries of land grabs, systemic economic repression and guerrilla warfare.

Which might give you pause if you see elements of the same in the American civil rights timeline.

The British wanted to annex all of Ireland for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is improved access to the Atlantic Ocean for shipping trade and naval defense. Also, Ireland’s economy for centuries was based on agriculture, especially beef. The British look at Ireland the same way Jeff Bezos and Amazon look at brick-and-mortar stores — as an inferior target.

After centuries of struggle, the Irish believed British elites looked at them as an subordinate race prone to violence, a lack of civility and in need of the guiding hand of their superiors despite the fact that most Brits were as white as most of the Irish.

The hatred remains despite the Irish Republican Army having laid down their crude armaments. I have gone to Irish import shops where the store owner praised the right-thinking lads. In our society, we would consider those right-thinking lads as terrorists.

Despite being covered in a sheet of optimistic green clover, brimming with enchanting music and tales of mischievous leprechauns — how could Ireland not make for an ideal backdrop for a bitter, noir mystery novel? I look at Ireland the same way Raymond Chandler looked at Los Angeles.

This is what inspired me to write “Assumption Day,” which debuts Nov. 8 through the Wild Rose Press. The story takes place in Londonderry, Northern Ireland in 1970 — when a tenuous peace is threatened after young Catholics insist of civil rights and five people die. It’s up to the one trustworthy inspector in the Royal Ulster Constabulary to solve the crime before the region implodes in civil war.

To be clear, I don’t claim to have the answers for racism in the United States any more than I would the solutions for lasting real peace between the British and the Irish.

I just want a story that gets received better than the last U2 album.

Not that one game defines the Lakers, but…

As a faithful Angelino, I overloaded my DVR on Thursday to watch the Dodgers and Lakers. I learned two things from the binge watch with certitude.

Them sure ain’t the old Dodgers. Reaching the World Series for the first time in nearly three decades helped me reach that conclusion.

Also, these are the same young Lakers. There really isn’t much reason to think the Lakers are going to be appreciably better than last year.

I will stipulate to you that is an overreaction if you will stipulate that preseason hype about this being a playoff team is an overreaction.

We all get it. Magic Johnson’s first priority was to restore order after the slipshod, play-the-hunch approach from trust-fund baby Jim Buss. I am confident Johnson has taken big strides in a short amount of time.

Yet, the drubbing they took from the Clippers on opening night looked like the same no-defense, no-low post, no identity hot mess from the last three years when the Lakers finished with the No. 2 overall draft pick. Only this year, no matter how bad it gets, the Lakers won’t get any such draft relief. That was traded away.

Let’s be semipositive to start: I didn’t have much of a problem with Lonzo Ball’s nasty debut. He debuted against a chippy defensive expert. Not an easy task. He will improve.

I also liked the fact that the starting lineup included some long-needed tough decisions. In other words, there was an unstated admission that former lottery draft pick Julius Randle can’t stay awake during a game. Overall, there is some rhyme and reason to a starting lineup of Ball, Brandon Ingram, Luol Deng, Larry Nance Jr. and Brook Lopez. It should get somewhat better when Kentavious Caldwell Pope enters the lineup, bumping either Deng or Nance back to the bench.

But the playoffs? Maybe it’s a better investment to wager that in a Vegas sports book than to buy Big Baller Brand shoes. Either way, that’s not money well spent. This team won 25 games last season. To qualify for the playoffs, it would stand to reason that they would have to win more games than lose this year. To do so, the Lakers would need to win at least 16 more games. That is a huge spike.

Beyond the open paths to the rim the Lakers allowed, despite the addiction to chucking up threes with nary a teammate under the rim in case the shot goes awry, though, I was struck by a third chronic unsolved problem.

Last year, I wrote that the Lakers had no team identity or defined leader. All of that youth meant nothing if the energy was not organized and then molded. Take the Dodgers. They have an identity, a philosophy, that lead to wins. We are going to have depth across the roster — starting pitching, relievers, etc. The Dodgers are called “relentless.” But they also have defined leaders, an ace in Clayton Kershaw, an elite closer in Kenley Jansen, elite hitters in Corey Seager. Most importantly, it seems as if they have a leader in Justin Turner.

Who is the leader of the Lakers? Hell, who is their best player? Do you know? I don’t.

Last year, coach Luke Walton figured he’d just let the roster decide on its own. It was foolish then and it’s foolhardy now. There was no sign of an alpha dog on the floor who would put his teammates on his back through sheer force of will. That’s on Walton. In a roster of youngsters, he’s the adult in the room. If he refuses to put someone in position to lead, he’s going to be out of a job.

It may be the first step for actual growth, which is what — you know — you have to do to become a playoff team in the first place.

I’m looking forward to telling you more about this

My second novel, “Assumption Day,” debuts Nov. 8. You can preorder it on iBooks and other apps for $4.99. To be honest, I’m a cheapskate. I’d totally go that route. But if you prefer a paperback, I would gladly take the $16.99 from The Wild Rose Press.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be shamelessly bragging here about this historical fiction murder mystery that takes place in Londonderry, Northern Ireland in 1970. But for now, I wanted to let you know it exists.

I truly believe “Assumption Day” is a captivating read. If you enjoy it, feel free to tell your friends. I’m not looking to get rich off of the work as much as I am trying to make a name in the publishing industry.

Please end the #strong movement

I want to speak on behalf of three cities — San Bernardino, Calif.; Las Vegas and Orlando. It’s a tad presumptuous to claim to represent so many people, but having lived in all three I have a good idea of what links them.

We are not #strong. We are not #VegasStrong. We are not #OrlandoStrong. We are definitely not the extremely clunky and hard for most to spell correctly #SanBernardinoStrong.

Hear me out. This is not meant to be rant against any political party or candidate.

We didn’t join the military en masse as many millennials did after 9/11 — keep that in mind the next time we want to rip that generation. We didn’t even feel compelled to do a few extra reps at the gym.

We are not #strong because after all this time, nobody has a firm grasp on what it means to be #strong.

Take San Bernardino. When I grew up in that city, it was a proud blue-collar area. It wasn’t idyllic as Christopher Robin frolicking with Pooh Bear in the Hundred Acre Wood, but it did instill worthwhile values. I look back at that time fondly because San Bernardino did play a role in the man I became. It was diverse and a little hardscrabble. You had to respect people of all walks of life. You had to earn your keep.

I hardly recognize San Bernardino today. Industry and its Air Force base closed up. One of its malls died. Heck, you have to search for any retail in the city above a liquor store. Since then, both city and county governments have faced major ethical scandals. The city itself declared bankruptcy due to horrific mismanagement.

So a couple of Muslim terrorists open fire on a holiday party and I’m supposed to accept #SanBernardinoStrong? I can’t. Why should I? What makes a corrupt city in ruins #strong?

Orlando and Las Vegas are financially better off and relatively stable places to be, but what makes them #strong? All the marquees and billboards in the cities proclaimed their #strength after another Muslim nutjob shot up the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and believe me, you don’t have to convince me that lazy-eyed hillbilly was nuttier than a fruitcake when he opened fire from Mandalay Bay.

Being #strong isn’t limited to gun attacks, either. Boston was #strong after a bombing. Houston is said to be #strong after a flood. But what does that hashtag accomplish, exactly?

Now, people have gone to social media and asked us to #PrayFor these cities. I can respect that. I think it’s a precious gift for someone to pray for you or me, even if you don’t believe in a deity.

But did you ever notice that after 9/11, New Yorkers were not #NYCStrong? No. We stood with New York City. We were united with New York.

What I would suggest is that instead of false claims of strength, we consider telling people we are #OrlandoUnited or #VegasUnited.

Consider Orlando. I worked about two blocks from the Pulse, an LGBTQ club. You should have seen the city unite behind that community following the attacks. You hate Trump supporters? They were there to help, donating blood and money. Same for the Muslim community, I might add. I was there. I saw it. You now see the rainbow flag fly over much of that city, at Orlando City Soccer Club games, etc.

What if Houston united to make Texas safer from natural disasters?

Maybe in Las Vegas, we unite behind first responders. I doubt we join this anti-second amendment push I saw on social media, but perhaps we unite behind banning bump stocks. I don’t know yet, but what I hope for is that we unite for something bigger than ourselves.

Ironically, that would be a real demonstration of #strength.

PS — I have no idea if San Bernardino would ever unite for anything, so there’s that.

Good morning, Don Garber,

I doubt you feel much better than I do after the United States men’s national team was inexcusably eliminated from qualifying for the 2018 World Cup last night. Frankly, if you got a good night of sleep I would be surprised, because losing to Trinidad & Tobago exposed more than just how flawed the national team was.

It revealed that progress from Major League Soccer in 21 years might just be a fraud, too.

As commissioner of MLS, this should make your blood run cold.

Last night, in the midst of a take-no-prisoners rant that should be played in a loop in your office until every syllable seeps into your being, ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman included your league as part of the reason for this unacceptable collapse. And he’s right. He’s right because MLS fed this team the likes of Darlington Nagbe, Michael Bradley, Kellyn Acosta, Brad Guzan, et al. All of whom and many other MLS “stars” vanished on the world’s stage.

Hell, the USMNT was coached by a man plucked from your league’s glamour franchise, the Los Angeles Galaxy.

I could list the all of MLS contributions to the national team, but why rub your nose in it? I simply want to drive that point that players who honed their skills in your league just can’t cut it in international play. That is an ugly reflection on MLS. If the United States has regressed in soccer, which it has, then it must follow that MLS has not progressed in skill level, either. Clearly, it hasn’t.

The other item Twellman mentioned that sank like a bowling ball in the esophagus was the billion dollar investment Americans have made in soccer. We’ve made the investment in infrastructure for U.S. soccer, its youth program, and certainly in Major League Soccer. You have insisted on soccer-specific stadiums for franchises, and in most cases tax dollars have come in.

The thing about us ever-lovin’ capitalists, we expect a return on our investment. If we don’t get it, the wallets close. Philadelphia taxpayers foot the bill for most of the Union’s stadium snd nobody shows up because the team stinks.

So when we drop a billion dollars on a sport and this is the best you can do, oh immediate changes have to be made. I travelled to multiple USMNT qualifiers. I also have travelled to see MLS in Los Angeles, Portland, New Jersey, Dallas and Orlando. You think I want to climb aboard another plane for this?

Americans are looking at all those USMNT uniforms — why did they come out with five new jerseys in the last year, by the way? — with MLS player names on the back and thinking “these players are our best?”

Why would I want to see Nagbe and the Portland Timbers if Nagbe falters on the national team? Right now, Toronto FC is far and away your most exciting team. Why watch them play? Bradley and Jozy Altidore are outmatched against the rest of the world, even countries like Trinidad & Tobago. Hell, we don’t even know if Trinidad or Tobago have professional soccer.

This is not to say MLS is the problem, but it has to take an active role in being the solution. The future of your league depends on it. And U.S. soccer needs MLS to exist. FIFA doesn’t award a World Cup to a nation without a top-flight pro league.

If you haven’t already called the U.S. Soccer Federation headquarters and demanded the immediate resignation of president Sunil Gulati, you will become part of the problem. He has to answer for where that billion dollars went.

Gulati’s ouster is not a one-step fix to a systemic failure. It is a needed first step. It is one you must insist upon, because his failure is your failure. Last night’s failure, which marked the first time the USA didn’t reach the World Cup since 1986, indicates MLS has not progressed, either.

Which makes every other sport look pretty damn good right now.