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Obama Derangement Syndrome

The Most Bizarre Letter to the Editor Ever

Last week our paper, the Midland Daily News, published a letter to the editor by Jeffrey D. Behr titled "World changing."  After alluding to childhood trauma and thoughts of suicide, his reasons for writing letters to the editor despite the negative impact they might have on his business, and the ways he believes that the United States has become "perverse," Jeffrey ends his letter with with this fascinating paragraph:

We have elected Barack Hussein Obama to be our president. He and his wife are actually haters of America, bent on punishing anyone who disagrees with them and punishing America for slavery. My greatest prayer these days is that God will rise up our founders and give them a chance to make up for that terrible and evil mistake, giving them the power, utensils, equipment, command of animals, insects, viruses and bacteria. Their mission being to move over our great country and destroy all adult human beings who do not have authentic, good, honorable American spirits. When the smoke clears there would only be a remnant few still standing. People of all colors, sizes and shapes. Christians, Jews, Islamics, Catholics and agnostics too. We would at that point be the most powerful nation in the world in spite of the human loss.

The Founding Fathers raised from the dead and controlling the insects! Wow.

National Indebtedness

I recently cited an article on taxes in Forbes by Bruce Bartlett, economist and former Reagan administration official.  From a recent follow-up from Bartlett:

The truth is that the greatest addition to national indebtedness occurred in 2003 when Bush rammed through the Republican Congress a massive expansion of Medicare to provide drug benefits even though the system was already broke. According to the latest report from Medicare's trustees, the drug benefit added $7.9 trillion to the nation's indebtedness. This should have led to massive tax protests on April 15, 2004. But, of course, there weren't any. Those protesting this week were only protesting because it is a Democrat who has increased the deficit. When a Republican did worse, it's like Emily Litella used to say, "Never mind."

Of course, people are free to protest whatever they want whenever they want, and are also free to change their minds. Maybe this week's tax protesters would have been out protesting even if McCain were president, but I don't think so. I believe this was largely a partisan exercise designed to improve the fortunes of the Republican Party, not an expression of genuine concern about taxes or our nation's fiscal future.

People should remember that while they have the right to their opinion, they are not entitled to be taken seriously. That only comes from having credibility gained by the correct presentation of facts and analysis and a willingness to be even-handed--criticizing one's own side when it is wrong and not only speaking up when the other party does the same thing.

I'm sure many of the protesters were very concerned about Bush's spending and (hypothetically) feel like they would have reacted the same if McCain had been the one bailing out the banks and stimulating the economy.  Still, in the last ~ 30 years of ballooning deficits, there have only been 2 years when the Republicans controlled neither the White House or Congress, yet conservatives have picked such a period of relative impotence to take to the streets about taxes and debt?  That doesn't seem like good timing to me.

Miscellany 10 Apr 09

» You might be confusing tyranny with losing...

» A reminder about the big picture regarding faith and politics

Psalm 146:3-6

3 Do not put your trust in princes,
       in mortal men, who cannot save.

4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
       on that very day their plans come to nothing.

5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
       whose hope is in the LORD his God,

6 the Maker of heaven and earth,
       the sea, and everything in them—
       the LORD, who remains faithful forever.

Isaiah 14:13-17

13 Who has understood the mind of the LORD,
       or instructed him as his counselor?

14 Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him,
       and who taught him the right way?
       Who was it that taught him knowledge
       or showed him the path of understanding?

15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
       they are regarded as dust on the scales;
       he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.

16 Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires,
       nor its animals enough for burnt offerings.

17 Before him all the nations are as nothing;
       they are regarded by him as worthless
       and less than nothing

National Debt

In response to Obama's weekly statement last week, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) said the following:

“In the next five years, President Obama’s budget will double the national debt; in the next ten years it will triple the national debt.

“To say this another way, if you take all the debt of our country run up by all of our presidents from George Washington through George W. Bush, the total debt over all those 200-plus years since we started as a nation, it is President Obama’s plan to double that debt in just the first five years that he is in office.

“He is also planning to spend more on the government as a percentage of our economy than at any time since World War II.

I don't blame Gregg for being concerned about debt.  We simply can't continue to grow the debt forever.  That's common sense, but let's keep Obama's budget proposal and Gregg's sensationalist response in historical perspective.  Let's take a look the history of our debt.  The national debt is currently about $11 trillion.

Largest % of GDP since WWII?  Well, conventional wisdom says that we're also in the midst of the worst recession/depression since the Great Depression that immediately preceded WWII.  Conventional wisdom also says that it was deficit spending in response to the Great Depression and WWII that got our economy back on track.  Though we should be concerned about the debt, Keynesian economics says now isn't the time to cut spending.  Here's a plot from that illustrates the debt as a percentage of GDP:


Gregg is also quite concerned that in 5 years Obama will double the 200-plus years of debt since we started our nation.  Well, that 5-year to 200-year comparison is silly.  For many of those 200 years, the size of our economy was nothing like it is now...they simply aren't comparable.

From Data360, here is a plot of debt history in absolute terms.


The blue line is what Gregg is talking about in his 200-plus-year concept.  However, take a look at the value when Reagan took office ($1 trillion).  Then follow the line to the present day.  That little plateau and slight reduction were during the Clinton years.  During the 20 years that Reagan, Bush, and Bush were in office, the debt grew from $1 trillion to $11 trillion, a factor of 11.  Compare that to the debt growth that is freaking out Gregg: doubling in 5 years (equivalent to 2x2x2x2 = 16 over 20 years) and tripling in 10 years (equivalent to 3x3 = 9 over 20 years).  That is, Obama plans the debt to grow by a factor comparable to what happened under Reagan and the two Bush presidents. 

Reagan had his tax cuts and immense military build-up.  His peace-time debt growth was unprecedented.  Bush had his tax cuts and war in Iraq.  Obama has his economic stimulus, healthcare reform, and addressing climate change.  Regardless of how you look at the debt (in terms of % GDP or in absolute terms), it seems to me that Obama's budget plans are more or less a continuation of the addiction to debt pioneered by Reagan, Bush, and Bush.  It's no secret that fiscal conservatives aren't too happy with the debts racked up by George W. Bush, but I don't get the impression that the feel the same about Reagan.  I'm pretty sure that the debt accumulation by neither Reagan nor Bush elicited the doomsday projections that Obama's is prompting.  Does Obama Derangement Syndrome deserve any of the blame.

Did He Bow?

The peeps of the guy pictured here

hands and here


are freaking out because of this?

bowing to Saudi King 



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