The Bankrupt States of America

From USA Today:

…The big difference between the official deficit and standard accounting: Congress exempts itself from including the cost of promised retirement benefits. Yet companies, states and local governments must include retirement commitments in financial statements, as required by federal law and private boards that set accounting rules.

The deficit was $5 trillion last year under those rules. The official number was $1.3 trillion. Liabilities for Social Security, Medicare and other retirement programs rose by $3.7 trillion in 2011, according to government actuaries, but the amount was not registered on the government’s books… (emphasis added)

The report goes on to note, among other things, that for Social Security to be solvent we’d need to have $22.2 trillion set aside and earning interest.  Clearly, that is an impossible sum – we don’t have it and we can’t get it, ever.  And that is just Social Security – it doesn’t count the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, the upcoming ObamaCare bill, other entitlements and, of course, all the other bloated, wasteful spending which is built in to our government.  And it entirely leaves aside the amount of debt our State and local governments have accrued.  The bottom line:  the United States is bankrupt.

For now, we’re able to play around with this – pretend, that is, that we’re not bankrupt and that money will be there for everything.  But the reality is there – Paul Ryan is right:  we’re heading for the most predictable financial disaster in human history.  Unless we take charge of our nation and reform our taxing, spending and regulations, we’re doomed to an economic wipe out which will make the Great Depression seem like small potatoes.  If you want to see where we’re heading, look at Greece…and land of riots, bank runs and a government which can’t even pony up for the prescription drugs they promised the people of Greece; and I don’t mean “having trouble paying”…the Greek government simply stopped paying for the drugs.  They are out of money.

We’re probably three to five years away from that point…maybe as many as 7 years if we really go flat out with money-printing and financial gimmicks (which would also be disastrous in terms of rapid inflation and other dislocations).  But unless we fundamentally change how things are done, we’re doomed sooner or later (and I think sooner – the latest data from Europe and China indicates they are in recession and I bet we’ve been in recession for a couple months now, but the data are being fudged…they were being fudged in Europe and, especially, China, too…but you can’t “hide the decline” forever).  This is why November 6th is so crucial – a re-elected Obama, even if he’s set with a fully GOP Congress, simply will not make any move to disturb business as usual.  Even if he’s not able to increase spending the fact that we won’t have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate will prevent any budget from being passed…and we’ll be saddled with year after year of “continuing resolutions” which lock in place the bonanza of extra spending Reid and Pelosi piled on in 2009.  Obama must go if America is to avoid catastrophe.

Romney, on the other hand, is enough of a business man to know we can’t go on like this – and while he might want to compromise more with the left than we’d like, an increasingly conservative/libertarian Congress will ensure that a lot of really good policies are enacted.  Additionally, the force of circumstances will push Romney and the Congress towards the radical solutions needed.  It won’t do anyone any good getting a good write-up about bi-partisanship in the Washington Post if failure to act responsibly leads to35% unemployment in 2014.  With their backs against the wall, a GOP government has a good chance of doing something worthwhile.

This is serious, good people – we’re in quite a fix and like Obama’s old preacher used to say, “America’s chickens are coming home to roost”.  We’ve spent too much for too long while harrying wealth creators with a regressive tax and regulatory system.  It is change it, or die.

 

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53 thoughts on “The Bankrupt States of America

  1. Cluster

    This is not rocket science people. We have the means to solve our problems, we just need the political will and the political smarts.

    On the expense side of the ledger, our entitlement programs are the main drivers of the debt and need to be reformed – period. SS & Medicare are currently unsustainable financially, and a few common sense reforms can resolve that issue. Welfare reform is also a priority, as is downsizing many of the currently bloated federal agencies. these few actions will make a big impact.

    On the revenue side of the ledger, the current tax codes are antiquated and allow for too many loopholes, all as a result of lobbying and politicians currying favor, so the tax code needs to be flattened and broadened. We are also sitting on a absolute gold mine in shale oil, estimates of which are upwards of a trillion barrels which would not only make us energy independent, but could also result in us becoming an oil exporter, and could eliminate our current $16 trillion dollar debt within a few years.

    Now the question is – which party is more likely to address these issues?

    1. dbschmidt

      Well, if one looks at ObamaCare alone–it reduces the payouts to hospitals and doctors on average to 30% below what Medicaid is currently paying. Doctors have already stopped accepting new patients (and this doesn’t take effect till 2013) on Medicare and without real insurance (UHC, BCBS, or another private insurer) these folks just will not have any doctors to go to. In ObamaLand–problem solved!

      What we need to pass is a law stating that any and all laws and/or regulations affect the CongressCritters immediately as everything they pass must be so good for the average Americans they represent. Welcome to SS & MediCare all of the Congress and Whitehouse.

    1. neocon1

      The Trojan horse in our gates,

      The Cloward–Piven strategy is a political strategy outlined in 1966 by American sociologists and political activists Richard Cloward (1926–2001) and Frances Fox Piven (b. 1932) that called for overloading the U.S. public welfare system in order to precipitate a crisis that would lead to a replacement of the welfare system with a national system of “a guaranteed annual income and thus an end to poverty”

    2. neocon1

      look at that dimwit……she is good for a “Lewinsky” only, and according to Ubamas SS that is around $35.00

      next??

    3. James

      Religious bigotry and now profanity. As we have warned you, you would have one more chance. You used it. You failed. You are gone. //Moderator

      1. GMB

        James, you are a joke. The only thing about you thats not clear is if you are a real joke or just a joke sock of one of the mods/bloggers.

        Until furthur evidence becomes available, I’ll put the odds at 50/50.

      2. tiredoflibbs

        Well, tommy-boy, then the “unbiased view” should be easily refuted instead of showing us another reason for you to change your panties, which are clearly twisted into knots after reading about another FAILURE of your AMATEUR pResident.

      3. Cluster

        Yes, please show us the proof that Dem. Sen. Patti Murray pays her female staffers the same as their male counterparts to refute that biased source. It’s a big opportunity for you.

  2. GMB

    Lets wait and see how many pink slips President Romney hands out on Jan, 21 2013. Then we will know how serious the repub party is about putting things right.

    1. GMB

      Is this video from the same sort of people that just added the new black panthers to thier list of “rightwing terrorist” groups.
      :) Whatever bomber.

    2. Cluster

      You know Mitch, we really need to get away from this juvenile obsession of money and profit and to stop demonizing those who do well. Bain has been successful in over 75% of their ventures, so too continue to bleat on about the “unfairness” of the failed investments is too display a shocking lack of understanding of capitalism, and a very immature view of economics. However this level of discourse does put you on par with the current moron in the White House.

      1. J. R. Babcock

        Bain has been successful in over 75% of their ventures, so too continue to bleat on about the “unfairness” of the failed investments is too display a shocking lack of understanding of capitalism

        And completely ignores the Obama Administration’s dismal record “investing” in green energy companies.

      2. neocon1

        some of Bain’s investors…………….UNION PENSION FUNDS, UNION 401K’s, geeeee imagine that.

        one of Ubamas largest bundlers,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Bain imagine that again

        hey bmitch ever hear of BLACKSTONE??

      3. neocon1

        By Devin Dwyer

        May 14, 2012 1:13pm
        Obama Courts Private Equity Cash at New York Fundraiser

        ap president obama jef 110906 wblog Obama Courts Private Equity Cash at New York Fundraiser

        The Associated Press

        On the same day his campaign launched an attack on Mitt Romney‘s record in private equity, President Obama is attending a big-dollar fundraiser at the Manhattan home of one of the industry’s top figures.

        Hamilton “Tony” James — the president of the Blackstone Group, the nation’s largest private equity firm — is hosting a $35,800-a-head dinner for Obama, with 60 Democratic allies expected to attend, according to a campaign official. Many in attendance are expected to have ties to the private equity sector.

        James donated $35,800 — the legal maximum to Obama’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee — in November 2011, according to Federal Election Commission filings. He was also a guest of the Obamas’ at the most recent White House state dinner in honor of British Prime Minister David Cameron, joining more than three dozen of Obama’s campaign bundlers who also attended.

      4. neocon1

        does put you on par with the current moron in the White House.

        OUCH…that hurt…..

    3. Count d'Haricots

      “… Mitt Romney believes it was OK to load companies up with debt, put thousands out of work, and bankrupt companies — all so a handful of investors can make a fortune,

      This theme “load the company up with debt” “lay off workers” “bankrupt companies” & “make a profit” struck me as an odd way to run a business since those items would surely be a poison pill to any investment and defeat the purpose of investing or consulting.

      The Obama reelection henchmen perpetrating this line of attack must be completely ignorant of simple accounting or believe everyone else is. I believe the cynical Democrats responsible for this meme are spreading it with a wink and a nod to the venture capitalists supporting their form of crony capitalism; investment without risk at taxpayer expense. But, more on that later.

      For now I believe some facts are in order.

      In the simplest terms, business related accounting breaks down to the formula

      Assets = Liabilities + Owners’ Equity

      Assets are the things of value the company holds; buildings, equipment, inventory, and intangibles like licenses, copyrights, employees’ talent and creativity, the company’s name and reputation and of course money. Liabilities are the things the company owes and to whom, this includes outstanding loans, interest on those loans, taxes due, pension fund and insurance payments, and of course what the company owes the shareholders. “Owners’ Equity” just means “Value” and in the case of publicly traded companies, the value of the company’s stock shares.

      Using the commutative law we can restate the equation as;

      Assets – Liabilities = Owners’ Equity

      So an investment company that buys up a company become the Owners and are dependent on the assets and liabilities of the company they bought to realize profit. When they buy their shares become part of the liabilities. Adding additional debt or more liability is counterintuitive to making a fast buck since money borrowed is added to the Assets, but the liability for that loan is the money borrowed plus the additional interest owed on that loan. In the 1990s interest on these loans averaged around 5.5% so the short term every $1.00 borrowed added $1.05½ to the liabilities, and much more than that to the long term liability since the loans were never intended to be paid back in on year.

      Buy a company, load it with debt then sell it is a quick way to lose your shirt and a stupid way to run an investment company.

      But the logic goes that Bain forced the companies to pay off Bain’s investment “causing” the companies to go bankrupt. Although some forms of bankruptcy are beneficial to struggling companies, and the catharsis of this exercise may buy the time necessary to reestablish a company, it is rarely the reason an investor would invest.

      Simple accounting shows that Bain’s investment would lose money at this point so there is no way this sequence would work u n l e s s the time period between investment, loans, the end of Bain’s investment and the layoffs & bankruptcy is deliberately misrepresented.

      And Quelle Surprise! The meme for the galacticly stupid! And only the mouth breathers like mitch repeat this stuff as though they understand.

  3. Retired Spook

    Ya gotta love this from today’s Media Research Center newsletter:

    Charlotte, NC is the site of this summer’s Democratic National Convention, and things aren’t going too well for liberals there.

    The North Carolina Democratic Party is embroiled in a despicable sexual harassment scandal. The state’s unemployment rate is above the national average. Since North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, the gay rights lobby is demanding that the convention be moved. National unions are outraged by the use of non-union labor at the convention site. And, Barack Obama’s biggest speech in a campaign focused on bashing capitalism will be delivered at Bank of America Stadium!

    On top of all of this, national liberal leaders are terrified of what the Occupy Wall Street loonies will do during the convention.

    The Jackass mascot just seems so appropriate for this bunch.

      1. Retired Spook

        There was a “Recreate ’68″ movement in 2008 that pretty much fell on it’s face. Hopefully they’ll be more successful this time around.

  4. Retired Spook

    OT, but every once in a while someone steps up and says something that kinda makes you sit back and say, whoa baby! Ann Barnhardt had such a post yesterday. Ann doesn’t do permalinks, and it’s relatively short, so I’ll post the whole thing. I hope the muckity-mucks from the Catholic Church are reading her blog.

    The Bishops are Being Played. Like Cheap Fiddles.
    Posted by Ann Barnhardt – May 23, AD 2012 7:27 PM MST

    I do not understand how it is that this isn’t glaringly, beat-you-over-the-head obvious, but whatever. I’ll explain it. Listen up. Especially if you have a hat shaped like the blade of a posthole digger in your wardrobe, and people actually call you “Excellency.”

    Withdrawing health insurance (like Franciscan University at Steubenville, Ohio), shutting down schools, closing adoption agencies, soup kitchens or ANYTHING ELSE in “protest” of ObamaCare and the HHS “mandates” is EXACTLY, PRECISELY, TOTALLY and COMPLETELY what the Obama regime wants.

    Further, the reason why the “press” has OBVIOUSLY been given the order to keep all of this quiet and to not report in any way on the lawsuits filed by the dozens of various Catholic organizations this week against the Obama regime – the largest religious legal action ever taken against the U.S. government by a long shot – is obvious.

    The Obama regime is sitting back and watching all of you cowardly fools fold your own tents. None of the stupid bread-and-circus addicted crowd knows anything about any of this. You have to break out of your narcissistic little world and understand that even though these things are earth-shattering to you, uh, most people in this country don’t even know that their “government” has declared war on the Church.

    So, in a few months, after you all have played right into their hands and shut down your facilities, hospitals, schools and services, congratulating yourselves on your “brave protest”, the Obama regime is going to make a ginormous propaganda offensive telling all of the stupid TV-addled idiots that the Catholic Church doesn’t give a crap about “the people” because they have shut down their hospitals, schools, their soup kitchens, their adoption agencies and won’t even provide health insurance plans to the poor, poor youths attending their universities. The Catholic Church hates “the people”, hates charity, hates sick people, hates women, hates children, hates poor people and is hoarding all of its money.

    Oh, but the Obama regime LOVES you. The Obama regime will provide you and anyone else who joins their Free Shit Army with all of the “free healthcare”, “free education”, “free food” and free unicorn farts they could ever want or need.

    Listen, you fools. YOU DON’T SHUT ANYTHING DOWN. You keep going exactly as you have been, and you force those dirty rotten SOBs to literally storm your hospitals and shut YOU down at gunpoint. And I’m not kidding. Make them physically shut down your hospital by dragging you out at gunpoint. Make them physically shut down your schools. Make them shut down your university by force because you won’t cover abortions in your student health plan. Make them physically shut down your soup kitchens. Make them shut down your adoption agencies because you won’t hand a baby boy over to two men who like to jam various and sundry body parts up each others’ rectums.

    In other words, STAND AND FIGHT.

    The only proper course of action is total non-compliance with these totalitarian edicts of the regime, and FORCING THEIR HAND.

    Anything less than that, and you LOSE. MEN fight wars. If you refuse to do your duty and act like MEN, then the war is already lost. And make no mistake, cowardice is a grave sin, and you will answer for it.

    Every bishop is given a crosier upon his ordination to the episcopacy. A crosier is a shepherd’s staff. It is a six to seven foot long staff that a shepherd uses to beat the crap out of wolves. That’s your job. Beating the crap out of the wolves – not killing all of the sheep yourself so that there is nothing left for the wolves to eat.

    MAN UP!!!! FIGHT, YOU FOOLS!!!

    1. Count d'Haricots

      I wonder if that “beating the crap” stuff is mentioned during the examination.

      Principal consecrator: “Are you resolved to use this here crosier to beat the crap outta da wolves looking to harma you flock?

      Hey Dominic, sho ‘dis rookie your swing … lethal right?”

  5. Retired Spook

    Anyone else following the big story about how Obama is claiming to have increased federal spending at a slower rate than any president since Eisenhower? No, I’m not making that up. Rush was on fire about it today.

    1. Cluster

      That story is all over and typical of liberal dishonesty. They attribute all spending up until October 2009 to Bush, and then use that as the new baseline. So the December 2008 TARP (which was during the Bush term but should not be counted as baseline spending), & the 2009 $800 billion stimulus, which together total nearly 1.5 trillion, is used as the new baseline govnment spending. So based on that, Obama’s 1.3 trillion dollar deficits are flat lined. See how that works.

      When you’re inherently dishonest, you can make anything look good.

      1. Retired Spook

        The MarketWatch article that advanced the premise of slower spending growth by Obama has generated over 1,800 comments. Seems like they have the same Left/Right divide that we do here.

    2. tiredoflibbs

      Spook, he can claim that as long as he counts the ENTIRE FY2009 as BUSH’s spending.

      Of course, the dumbed down, mindless drones like denny, mitchie, watty, velma, CO, James (tommy-boy, etc. etc. will swallow that batch of kool-aid with no questions asked!!!

      1. Retired Spook

        Tired,

        The ultimate irony is that Reid and Pelosi never presented a budget for Bush to sign in the fall of 2008. They simply passed a CR until Obama was inaugurated, after which they passed the porkulus and a $410 billion omnibus spending bill in the first quarter of 2009. Those two pieces of legislation, neither of which were in the annual budget Bush submitted to Congress in Feb., 2008, just about equaled the deficit that Obama “claimed” he inherited. Talk about slight of hand.

      2. neocon1

        Ubomas “sons” jus out fo som skillets n teas

        Flash Mob Steals From Baltimore 7-Eleven; Beats Store Manager Who Tries To Stop Them

      3. neocon1

        Frank To Harvard Grads: ‘You Can Call Me A F*g’ Unless ‘You’re In The Banking Industry’

        Note to bwaney……we ALWAYS have

      4. neocon1

        Former GE CEO: Romney More Qualified to be President Than Someone Who Handed Out Leaflets as a Community Organizer

        “Piers! It’s not even close!”

      5. neocon1

        we have met the enemy and they are us……

        House Republican proposes measure to protect Planned Parenthood funding

      6. tiredoflibbs

        Spook, Pelosi sent a letter to Boehner asking him to immediately bring a permanent extension of middle income tax cuts to the House floor for a vote.

        She is playing the class warfare game again with the usual dumbed down rhetoric of “asking the rich to pay their fair share”.

        This dumbed down rhetoric has been disproven time and again. If they repealed ALL of the Bush tax cuts, this would get about $3 trillion … over ten years. Our deficits (under obAMATEUR) run almost half that EVERY YEAR.

        We see denny stating that repealing these tax cuts (thus bringing back the PROGRESSIVE tax code) would once again make it more fair and would make the middle class thrive!!! But it would not really since obAMATEUR has already taken out the Bank of China credit card and charged our children’s and grand-children’s future into massive debt (Senator obAMATEUR’s own words against Bush).

        pathetic.

      7. Count d'Haricots

        Obama signed the 2009 Budget in March 2009. It included TARP and Porkulus.

    1. Cluster

      Aw c’mon GMB, you just don’t understand how great Obama is, and what’s a few more bucks out of your pocket to ensure that economic justice prevails?/sarc

      I would hope that Mitt will unleash the energy sector and on all fronts, coal, crude and natural gas.

      1. GMB

        I can always always go back to the way I grew up. However most people out there can not survive without electricity. There is no reason why electricty should cost as much as it will in 2015 if barky is still around.

        However, I have no confindence that a Romney administration will roll back these enviro regulations. I do not believe Mitt has addressed this issue yet.

  6. Raging Bull

    question: if zerobama claims that the economy was saved and is growing because of government spending, then claims that the spending was done by bush, then isn’t the alleged economic growth due to bush then?

    1. Amazona

      I’d like an analysis of the equation less spending = more debt

      Because if this is true, then wouldn’t the opposite be true, too? more spending = less debt ? ‘Cause that’s something I would like to try, if I could figure out how it works.

  7. Jeremiah

    I don’t see how Obama gets away with telling lies like he does … I mean, in front of millions of people on national television. But they seem to suck down every word he says.

    How in the world can the man’s conscience not be on fire? Time after time after time, lies upon lies upon lies. Well, evidently he has not conscience. He’s most definitely a reprobate.

    Work harder, folks…people on welfare need you!

    1. neocon1

      jer

      I always used to wonder how hitler and stalin rose to power…now it is happening here right before our eyes..

      Dumb down the population, put a huge number of them on the govt plantation, allow 30 million peasants with no bond to our nation flood in put them on the plantation feed them with OPM and let them “vote”
      a recipe for disaster.

      1. Jeremiah

        Neo,

        Had it been me or you up there, they would want our head on a silver platter.

        In a court of law, one swears an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And here we have a man holding the highest office in the land who tells lies on a regular, everyday basis…to everyone in this nation. How in the world does he get away with it??? Man oh man!!!

        All heil O’barry!!! Who rubs noses with Muslim cut throat Imams!!

    2. neocon1

      jer

      Well, evidently he has not conscience. He’s most definitely a reprobate.

      he is this century’s first Anti Christ.

      1. neocon1

        WOW Duuuuuude did I sayyyyy sonssss? Pftttttttt I must have been channelling tra von…….maaaaan!!

        Obama Twice Mistakenly Mentions ‘My Sons,’ While Defending Contraception Mandate

        Obama and His Pot-Smoking ‘Choom Gang’

        ap Barack obama high school nt 120525 wblog Obama and His Pot Smoking Choom Gang

        Young Barack Obama

        Unlike Bill Clinton, Barack Obama never tried to say he didn’t inhale.

        In his 1995 memoir “Dreams of My Father,” Obama writes about smoking pot almost like Dr. Seuss wrote about eating green eggs and ham. As a high school kid, Obama wrote, he would smoke “in a white classmate’s sparkling new van,” he would smoke “in the dorm room of some brother” and he would smoke “on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids.”

        He would smoke it here and there. He would smoke it anywhere.

        Now a soon-to-be published biography by David Maraniss entitled “Barack Obama: The Story” gives more detail on Obama’s pot-smoking days, complete with testimonials from young Barry Obama’s high school buddies, a group that went by the name “the Choom Gang.” Choom was slang for smoking marijuana.

        Maraniss portrays the teenage Obama as not just a pot smoker, but a pot-smoking innovator.

        “As a member of the Choom Gang,” Maraniss writes, “Barry Obama was known for starting a few pot-smoking trends.”

        The first Obama-inspired trend: “Total Absorption” or “TA”.

        “TA was the opposite of Bill Clinton’s claim that as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford he smoked dope but never inhaled,” explains Maraniss. Here’s how it worked: If you exhaled prematurely when you were with the Choom Gang, “you were assessed a penalty and your turn was skipped the next time the joint came around.”

        As one of Obama’s old high school buddies tells Maraniss: “Wasting good bud smoke was not tolerated.”

        Another Obama innovation: “Roof Hits.”

        “When they were chooming in a car all the windows had to be rolled up so no smoke blew out and went to waste; when the pot was gone, they tilted their heads back and sucked in the last bit of smoke from the ceiling.”

        Maraniss also says Obama was known for his “Interceptions”: “When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted ‘Intercepted!,’ and took an extra hit.”

        Although Obama himself wrote that he and his pot smoking buddies were a “club of disaffection,” Maraniss says that’s not really true.

        “In fact, most members of the Choom Gang were decent students and athletes who went on to successful and productive lawyers, writers and businessmen,” Maraniss writes. One notable exception was Ray, the group’s pot dealer who, known for his ability “to score quality bud,” would years later be killed by a scorned gay lover armed with a ball-peen hammer.

        Obama himself managed to be a pretty good student despite all the pot smoking and unconventional study habits.

        “He told his Choom Gang mates that the trick was if you put the textbook under your pillow the night before you would perform better on an exam,” Maraniss writes. No way, dude!

        Back to the pot smoking.

        Hawaii of the early 1970s was something of a pot-smoking Mecca.

        “It was sold and smoked right there in front of your nose; Maui Wowie, Kauai Electric, Puna Bud, Kona Gold, and other local variations of pakalolo were readily available,” writes Maraniss.

        Obama’s pal Mark Bendix had a Volkswagen microbus known as “the Choomwagon.” They would often drive up Honolulu’s Mount Tantalus where they parked “turned up their stereos playing Aerosmith, Blue Oyster Cult and Stevie Wonder, lit up some ‘sweet-sticky Hawaiian buds’ and washed it down with ‘green bottled beer’ (the Choom Gang preferred Heineken, Becks, and St. Pauli Girl). No shouting, no violence, no fights; they even cleaned up their beer bottles.”

        Of course, smoking, drinking and driving on mountain roads could also be a little dangerous. Especially the night they tried drag racing.

        The race to the top of Mount Tantalus pitted the “Choomwagon” against another friend’s Toyota. Obama was in the Toyota. The Choomwagon made it to the top first. When the other car didn’t show up, those in the Choomwagon drove back down to find them. Here’s how Maraniss describes what happened next:

        “On the way down, they saw a figure who appeared to be staggering up the road. It was Barry Obama. What was going on? As they drew closer, they noticed that he was laughing so hard he could barely stand up.”

        His friend had rolled the car. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. And, amazingly, they avoided trouble by leaving the driver alone to deal with the police by claiming it was just an unfortunate “mishap.”

        Maraniss concludes his chapter on Obama’s high school years by looking at a note Obama had written in his high school yearbook in a section reserved for students to give a line or two giving thanks to those who helped along the way.

        Obama had written this: “Thanks Tut [his grandmother], Gramps, Choom Gang, and Ray for all the good times.”

        Maraniss notes: “Ray was the older guy who hung around the Choom Gang, selling them pot. A hippie drug dealer made his acknowledgements; his mother did not.”

        The White House told ABC News that it has no comment.

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