If he's from Hawaii, why can't he surf?

The release of President Obama’s “long form” birth certificate today appears at first to settle claims by “birthers” that Obama’s citizenship was in doubt, but serious questions still remain.

Did the President just call Donald Trump a “carnival barker?”

It certainly appears so.  But the President may not here be faulted for using derisive language to describe a potential opponent, as truth is a defense against slander.  While we have enjoyed watching Mr. Trump careen through the political landscape launching stink bombs in all directions, this is probably a good time for Republicans to consider the damage he does by distracting voters from more realistic alternatives.  If there are any. The real question remains:  can the GOP field a name that doesn’t induce drowsiness in the electorate, or jubilation among the Democrats?

Is Hawaii really part of the United States?

Hard to tell.  But if we disqualify a region from statehood just because it lies an improbable distance from the continental 48, Sarah Palin has a real problem.  Of course, for the GOP, that could be a win/win situation, as Palin”s chances of winning a presidential election enjoy the same order of probability as ski lifts in Dubai.  (There are ski lifts in Dubai?  Well, anything is possible, we guess, but the surest path to a second term for Obama is a Palin nomination.)

Why did the President wait so long?  Isn’t that suspicious?

Like any reasonable person, perhaps he simply had no patience for any interaction with a bureaucracy that was not compulsory.  Anyone who has attempted to obtain a replacement social security card can attest to the length of time, number of steps, and frequency of miscues that attend that process.  Getting a copy of a birth certificate would probably be even more difficult.

Does this settle this matter once and for all?

Of course not.   We will now endure all manner of allegations of forgery.  Nor will this end with the birth certificate.  One blog has already suggested that Obama himself is a hologram.

Why do people focus on things like this when there are real problems that urgently need attention?

Because people don’t really want to hear about real problems.  They are complex, and defy clear solutions.  If they didn’t, they would be fixed by now.  It’s much easier to build straw men and knock them down than to admit that no one can really predict the future,  that economics is not really a science, and that we are scared shitless by the size and intricacy of the issues that continue to confront us.  We have understandably become unhinged by a near-catastrophe of our own making in our economy, shaken badly by tsunamis and meltdowns in Japan, and confront more dangers to our social and fiscal health from areas in Europe and the Middle East that are largely beyond our ken or control.

While there are countless Krugmans who insist that they have the wisdom and prescience to prescribe perfect solutions, and squall like spoiled brats at the stubborn stupidity of those who will not submit to them, the fact is that no one really knows what will work in our brave new world.  All we can do is hope that our leadership will abandon its petty power struggles and refocus on finding sensible ways to fix what can be fixed.  What they can’t fix, they would be well-advised not to make any worse by rash and faith-based initiatives like light rail lines from nowhere to nowhere.  And for Americans, whether they were born in Hawaii, Alaska or American Samoa, the prospect that the ruling class will come to its senses in time becomes more remote with each passing day.