August 19, 2010

Crabwalking the Ground Zero Mosque

Laurence Kotlikoff, an economist at Boston University, wrote a recent piece for Bloomberg News in which he argued persuasively that the USA is utterly, thoroughly, irrevocably bankrupt, with its total liabilities, honestly counted, in the $202 trillion range, or about four times the annual gross world product, and 15 times the annual American GDP. We've reached, he writes, the end of our Keynesian rope and there's simply no way out. We're trapped in zero interest rate paradigms (ZIRP) because the national debt, and the rate of new debt issuance, have become so monumental that the slightest tick upward means that debt service alone will crush the federal budget and cause the country to implode. Kotlikoff is the author of The Coming Generational Storm, a prescient look at the impending war between young and old concerning the attempts of the Baby Boom generation to retire and draw Social Security and Medicare in amounts that the American economy simply cannot support, despite what clowns like Krugman write about "trust funds" and the rest of the illusionary nonsense. Nor will the various governments, federal, state and local, be able to fund, in full, all of the pension promises they have made to former and existing employees. The money is simply not there, and future funding is based on completely unrealistic, quasi-hallucinatory 8% rates of return which haven't been around since the Clinton Administration.

While these Depressionary realities continue to roll out, it's only natural that the MSM and the Klown Kollege in D.C. would disport themselves with any distraction at hand, since if one thing has become absolutely, completely obvious, it is that the political system in this country cannot handle any real problem whatsoever. Those days are over. No part of the federal government has the resources, the competence or the good faith to deal honestly with anything, and they are going to ride the Titanic right into the iceberg, stripping the crystal chandeliers and pocketing the sterling silverware while they party on into the night.

So we learned that much, at least, with the election of Barack Obama: nothing is going to help. Good to know. You, me and the cockapoo over there at the corner of the greensward taking a dump - we're all on our own. So what's to report?

Well, we can get excited about whether Muslims will build a new mosque within a few blocks of "hallowed" Ground Zero. Barack calls it "hallowed ground," echoing Lincoln at Gettysburg, as if that makes any sense whatsoever. Gettysburg was hallowed ground, in Abe's estimation, because of the pitched battle which had occurred there not long before his speech at the height of the Civil War, and the deaths of soldiers on both sides, particularly the armies of the North fighting to preserve the Union. That's not the same thing at all as the site of a terrorist attack; it gives way too much credit to the terrorists. But Americans are not deep historians, so who cares.

Obama began his participation in the "controversy" by saying something banal, obvious, almost principled: in America, under the First Amendment, the right to practice religion shall not be abridged, for anyone, and the equation of American Muslims with al-Qaeda or the terrorist cell which attacked on 9/11 is bigotry. So far, so good. Then, as usually happens, he frightened himself with his unguarded candor and began hemming and hawing, in his usual irritating way. What he meant was, see, yeah, we have a First Amendment and everything, I'm not taking that back, but is it such a good idea for Muslims to be building a mosque near Ground Zero, because, you know, those were Muslims who attacked us and everything, and people could get the wrong idea, and...

So then we were back to Louis Gates, the Cambridge cop and the Biergarten moment. Lah dee frickin dah. Where else could we wind up? For the aid of invertebrates everywhere, here are what I think are the two principled positions possible on this issue:

1. We have freedom of religion. Thus, the right to build a place of worship is equally accessible to any religion which applies. Thus, Muslims can build a mosque in Lower Manhattan, and Catholics can build cathedrals near elementary schools.

2. There is something suspect about Islam. They don't make enough noise about anti-Americanism, they won't condemn terrorists, they tend to institute Shariah law whenever they get enough critical mass together to influence politics. We have to start rolling back Islam in this country, as some European countries are doing now, as in France with the anti-head scarf rules, et cetera. What the United States is doing in Afghanistan and Iraq, and probably soon in Iran, really is a crusade against Islam, not a coincidence connected to oil or oil pipelines, and we're taking the war to the new battlefield, right here at home.

Take your pick. Strict Constitutional approach or something different. What's it gonna be? Saying you wonder about whether it's "wise" to build a mosque in Lower Manhattan is not leadership. It's an attempt not to take a position. Not that I'm telling you anything you didn't already know.

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