(These “things that don’t make sense” are not from the recently-reviewed book, previous post, of a similar name.)

Obama just can’t shut up

Why did Obama feel compelled to wade into the controversy over the proposed mosque in New York City near the site of the old World Trade Center towers?  He claims he wasn’t getting involved in the decision over whether to allow the mosque, talking to Ed Henry of CNN Saturday, he said:

My intention was to simply let people know what I thought. Which was that in this country, we treat everybody equally in accordance with the law. Regardless of race. Regardless of religion. I was not commenting on and will not comment on the wisdom of making a decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right that people have that dates back to our founding. That’s what our country’s about and I think it’s very important that as difficult as some of these issues are, we stay focused on who we are as a people and what our values are all about.

Okay.  But go back to those first few sentences claiming we treat everyone in this country the same, regardless of race.  This is patently false, and will be so as long as affirmative action and racially-gerrymandered voting districts are around.  But he knows we collectively rationalize away these things, so he’s just providing us a little bias-confirmation cover. 

But why Obama couldn’t leave well enough alone (it’s a local matter, as the White House initially claimed) has even his putative allies in the Democratic party (at least what remains of them) scratching their heads.

(The proposed “mosque” is a fifteen-story structure that will very much look like an office building.  Fifteen stories?  Hmm.  I know what Islamofascists will think.  For them, it’ll be no different than that flag we planted on Iwo Jima was to us.)

Paul Krugman’s Premises

Paul Krugman, the Nobel-prize-winning economist turned liberal shrill as a columnist for the New York Times, has a premise he needs to ponder.  He excoriates Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in his NYT column Friday for failing to not follow his (Bernanke’s) own advice to the Bank of Japan at the start of the aughts, when their economy faced stagnation, such as ours does now:

At the time, the Bank of Japan faced a situation broadly similar to that facing the Fed now. The economy was deeply depressed and showed few signs of improvement, and one might have expected the bank to take forceful action. But short-term interest rates — the usual tool of monetary policy — were near zero and could go no lower. And the Bank of Japan used that fact as an excuse to do no more.

That was malfeasance, declared the eminent U.S. economist: “Far from being powerless, the Bank of Japan could achieve a great deal if it were willing to abandon its excessive caution and its defensive response to criticism.” He rebuked officials hiding “behind minor institutional or technical difficulties in order to avoid taking action.”

Krugman goes on to point out that the economist criticizing the Bank of Japan was none other than Ben Bernanke.  Bernanke’s underlying premise (that Krugman supports) is that Japan’s central bank could have done something different that would have mattered.  Such thinking–that monkeying around with money substantively and sustainably changes things that are real–is a central conceit of political economists seemingly everywhere.  We are all monetarists now.   But Japan’s problem with declining prices had little to do with mismanagement of the money and a great deal to do with contracting domestic demand due to demographic forces.   Had the BOJ purchased all the crap paper in the world, the demographic realities would have remained unchanged.  Krugman uses Japan as a whipping boy for what not to do (i.e., nothing) in order to implicitly argue for his prescription–infuse more money into the economy–which pretty much sums up his views about anything economic that ails us.

Krugman needs to reexamine his premise.  Can a problem not caused by monetary mismanagement be resolved through monetary solutions?  Can manipulations of the money supply effect a change in the birth rate of a population?  Can it sustainably reverse a demographically-induced decline in demand?   The Bank of Japan went on to try all manner of programs (including buying all sorts of crappy bank assets) to arrest its deflation, none of which worked for long, if at all.   Why then does Mr. Krugman believe that in our case a similar prescription would work better?  It doesn’t make sense.

Gay and Black Civil Rights are Analogous?

So, California passes a law banning gay marriage, by a ratio of about 52-48 in favor.  Then a federal district court judge holds a trial (some might say a circus) on the law’s constitutionality, and surprise (!) finds the law violates some penumbra of rights contained in the US Constitution prohibiting against discrimination based on sexual orientation.  Of course, there is no such clause to be found anywhere in the document, just as there is nothing to be found providing the right to terminate a pregnancy.  These rights are nowhere in the articles and amendments, but can only be seen when gazing at the shadow cast on the ground by the constitution in that hazy grey area between sunshine and shadow, i.e., the penumbra.

This controversy does not make sense to me.  If people think homosexual sex is such an abomination, they should then force the gays to marry.  21st century marriage is the straightest path to celibacy since St. Francis and his monks.  Besides, how much delicious fun will it be to follow the divorce proceedings of rich and famous gays (who we know, since marriage, have been living more or less celibate lives, yet now have to ask the help of a judge in splitting up their stuff so they can break the celibacy and find a lover, that they then marry, that…you get the picture)?  Gay-hating heterosexuals should be encouraging them to marry.  Let them in on the misery.  

The Christian fundamentalists that think denying a civil marriage to gays has anything at all to do with protecting the sanctity of marriage really need a lesson in their theological imperatives and how they fit into civil society.  Hey Christians, read your Bibles–the state is not God, and Christians have been instructed to live “in the world, not of it”.   That might mean worrying more about the sanctity of your own marriage than whether some homosexuals are allowed to screw up their lives as well as you did yours.

But what really doesn’t make sense is to conflate this struggle for gay celibacy with the black struggle to keep from getting cheated or abused or beaten or killed every so often at the whim of white rednecks.  Loving someone, anyone, whether of the same sex or not, does not have to be publicly acclaimed to be viable.  In fact, a very many non-celibate partners to a marriage manage to acquire such a lofty status as sexually-active expressly because they don’t publicly proclaim their love for a sex partner (when it happens not to be their spouse). 

Blacks can’t hide their dark skin, but homosexuals and heterosexuals alike are prohibited by law from publicly engaging in lewd behavior.  Everything that makes a homosexual a homosexual is done, or can be done, behind closed doors.  Being black just sort of stays with you in everything you do and everywhere you go.  Homosexual civil rights and black civil rights are not analogous.   Gays have effectively never been subject to state-sanctioned bigotry, and rarely even suffer from privately-sanctioned bigotry anymore.  They should refrain from comparing their “struggle”, even a little bit, to the civil rights struggles of blacks.