In his new book, “Barack Obama: The Story,” biographer David Marannis delves into the details of a young Obama and his time in the “Choom Gang” at the Punahou School in Hawaii. The Choom Gang was a group consisting of Obama and some friends, the mission of which was to get high on marijuana as often as possible. As Marannis writes, Obama was already showing his leadership skills in starting a trend called “TA,” or “Total Absorption,” the purpose of which was to not “waste” any of the marijuana smoke by exhaling it, but rather to hold it in the lungs until it was fully absorbed.
Writes Marannis, “When you were with Barry and his pals, if you exhaled precious pakalolo (Hawaiian slang for marijuana, meaning “numbing tobacco”) instead of absorbing it fully into your lungs, you were assessed a penalty and your turn was skipped the next time the joint came around.” Considering the complete abdication of the press in vetting then-candidate Obama, this may come as a surprise to many Americans, or at least the ones who’ve not read his book “Dreams From My Father,” in which he chronicles the time he spent smoking pot, getting drunk, and occasionally using cocaine.
Undoubtedly, we are all allowed forgiveness for some youthful indiscretions, although it is interesting to note the laser-like focus with which the media covered George Bush’s drinking habits in his younger days, and the virtual blackout that greets Obama’s history of illicit drug use.
Normally I would say that this is all water under the bridge, but a comment by our illustrious Choomer-in-Chief this week causes me to wonder if maybe the stress of the job isn’t causing Obama to resort to resume his old habits behind the closed doors of the Oval Office. Specifically, in a White House press conference on Friday, while discussing the economy, President Obama declared that “the private sector is doing just fine.” Those aren’t the words of a sober person.
Just fine? Really? The latest jobs report, showing an anemic 69,000 jobs created nationwide during the month of May, caused a drop in the stock market. That was the smallest growth in a year, and coincided with news that the unemployment rate ticked up again. That number is already artificially low considering there has been a 20% increase in the number of Americans receiving Social Security disability benefits under Obama (due mainly to a relaxing of the qualifying standards for mental illness and self-reported pain by the Social Security Administration), which conveniently removes them from the unemployment rolls even as it places an even greater strain on the reduced number of taxpayers that bear the burden of paying for those benefits.
Even more frightening is the fact that, under the skewed formula used to calculate unemployment, people that give up hope of finding a job and simply stop looking for work are no longer included in the ranks of the unemployed. That means the actual number of people unemployed or underemployed is far, far higher than that 8.2% currently reported. Additionally, that 8.2% rate means that we have had an unemployment rate above 8% for essentially his entire presidency (the majority at or above 9%), the longest period above 8% since the Great Depression. It seems the “stimulus,” “shovel-ready jobs,” and “Recovery Summer” were not what he had hoped for.
In true Obama fashion, Obama blamed his mess on Republican obstructionism and economic “headwinds” from the fiscal crisis in Europe. If that phrase sounds familiar, it’s because he started using that excuse two years ago to explain why the stimulus had not produced the millions of new jobs he promised. He can’t quite explain how Republican obstructionism led to a failure of economic growth when for the first two years of his presidency he had a supermajority in the Senate and a huge majority in the House, and was able to pass whatever he wanted without need of a single Republican vote.
For those who may have lost count, I’ll summarize. None of this is Obama’s fault. His policies have been brilliant, but circumstances beyond his control have conspired to keep the economy lethargic. It is not his antagonistic rhetoric towards the free market, his vilification of “the greedy rich,” or his complete disdain for the rule of law (just ask the GM shareholders who got shafted). It is not staggering levels of debt or skyrocketing spending charged to our children’s credit card without thought to how it will be paid off. It’s not his constant push for higher taxes, more regulation, and the uncertainty of the cost to employers of the ObamaCare mandate. It’s not his use of taxpayer money to prop up “green energy” companies that are now going bankrupt at a blistering pace without the slush fund of taxpayer bailout money. No, it is none of these things.
Do you know what IS causing this sluggish recovery? It is airport kiosks and ATMs. It is the Japanese earthquake and the European debt crisis. It is the TEA Party and the Arab Spring (and the Arab Summer), the “fat-cat” Wall Street bankers (the ones he goes to for campaign funds), corporate jet owners, greedy CEO’s, oil companies gouging the working man, and the fact that he didn’t realize when he took office just how bad the economy truly was. Not that it matters, because none of this could possibly be his fault since it was an economy he “inherited. “ That’s right, as we approach the end of his four years as president, it is STILL George Bush’s fault!
In a way, I feel bad for Obama. He’s had a rough time of late. In several of the recent Democrat primaries, Obama has had embarrassing results. In North Carolina, 21% of Democrats voted for “no preference.” In Arkansas, Obama gave up 42% of the vote to some random lawyer from Tennessee. In West Virginia, he lost 41% of the vote to a convicted felon still sitting in federal prison. In Kentucky, 42% of Democrats voted for “uncommitted.” Wow, who would have thought that the much ballyhooed party of diversity, the great protectorate of the poor and minorities, would be filled with so many racists (because you must be a racist if you oppose Obama)?
To pile on, Fed chief Ben Bernanke admitted the deficits are so large that they pose a serious threat to the economy. Then former president Bill Clinton poured salt in that wound by declaring Mitt Romney a worthy candidate for the presidency who has had a “sterling” career in the private sector. He, like Newark Mayor and black Democrat Cory Booker, expressed appreciation for the value of venture capitalists, thereby undermining a central element of the Obama campaign theme against capitalist Romney and greedy, heartless private business. Clinton even had the audacity to declare the Bush tax cuts should be extended. Did he not get the talking points from the White House?
In short, Obama is banking on a sleight of hand campaign that attempts to misdirect the voters’ eyes away from his dismal record as president. It has got to be demoralizing for a man who announced that his very nomination would heal the earth and cause the ocean levels to recede.
A couple of months ago, First Lady Michelle Obama said in an interview, “…you know one fantasy I have, and the Secret Service they keep looking at me because they think I might actually do it, is to walk right out the front door [of the White House] and just keep walking.” You know what Michelle? Tens of millions of Americans have been having that same fantasy. Just make sure you take your husband with you.