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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

June 11, 2004
Up, Up, and Away!

Terrorism is up.

Oil prices are going up.

Defense spending is up.

Interest rates are going up because inflation is going up all over the place.

Reports of a history of US prisoner abuse are up.

The number of dead and wounded in Iraq is up.

On the other hand, voter dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq is up.

Things are up all over, aren't they?

Posted by AnneZook at 07:35 AM


Comments

One question remains: Are Americans "fed up" enough to boot Bush out of office. Time will tell.

Posted by: roxanne at June 11, 2004 12:39 PM

Woo-hoo, we're #1, we're #1! Ooh-ess-eh! Oh-ess-eh! Time for Mongo's feeding now!

Posted by: Elayne Riggs at June 11, 2004 12:56 PM

Oil prices may be up here (I'm just visiting) but not in Iraq, since the US is subsidizing the price of gas heavily - it is down to 50 cts per "gallon" (whatever that may be) according to what I read in Democrat and Chronicle.

I have also noted a remarkable achievement of the present administration: they have made pres. Reagan look like a great statesman!

Posted by: Bengt O. at June 11, 2004 01:04 PM

We are so on the wrong track these days.

We can only hope Bush's numbers stay down and he fails (again) to get elected.

Posted by: Anne at June 11, 2004 08:35 PM

You should have told me you were coming, Bengt. I'd have come by to say hello. :) I hope you have a good trip!

Posted by: Anne at June 11, 2004 09:02 PM

Anne:
Have you actually read and assessed the report on terrorism you've been citing recently?

First, I think the Bush administration would be a little silly to make a big fuss about the numbers. You can spin the numbers in favorable ways. For example, the numbers would have to increase by over 50% to even catch up to the reported numbers during the "low points" of the Clinton years.

Yes, it would only have to increase by 5% to pass 2002, but again, one could argue that 2002 (which showed a marked decrease) was the year we finally went on the "offensive" and now the terrorists have had a chance to regroup and adapt to our effects on them.

Or you could simply point to the location of attacks. North America - 0 (that would be a key point)...but down in Asia and Africa...and up in Europe which could be a useful statistic to throw back at our European friends and tell them that terrorism may be like air in a balloon - push on certain points and it simply shifts to somewhere else (unless it pops!).

But I would argue as a metric, the whole report is of limited value. It appears to treat one terrorist incident as equal to another. Yet, common sense tells you that sort of a "body count" mentality has only limited usefulness in determining whether you're actually making progress in the overall campaign. The report in the overview states the highest number is in Asia (70), but fails to point out that is a decline of 30%. And you have to really read the entire report to then go back and make some qualified assessments on the statistics.

I'm sure it is easy to point out the the change in numbers, but where's the critics actually asking the hard questions of this (and previous administrations)? For example, what has happened to the funding flows? What has been the change in the quality, characteristics, sophistication, and targets of terrorist attacks? How many Madras have we changed? What's the rate of employment change among young males in those countries we believe are breeding grounds for terrorist recruitment? Whose taking care of the millions (?) of Aids orphans, especially in Africa, in order to prevent a future generation from falling into the hands of groups with extremist, anti-Western views?

So, how superficial for either group to argue about minor changes to a dubious data point that at best offers only a historical and not rather predictive perspective, especially when either side doesn't want to offer any context for the data.

Defense spending is up..but as a percentage of GDP, it's basically flat and still below the 4% mark we haven't been over in more than a decade..and even the slight increase as a percentage for 2003 depends on how you count the supplemental (of which only 25% was for US defense spending)..but since the other 75% was as a result of the war, I won't argue the issue you could lump the whole amount as "defense" spending. But if you look at the President's five year defense spending, defense spending falls in real terms. Of course, since Congress is the body that actually appropriates defense spending per Art 1, Sec 8, we'll have to wait how many of those politicians on both sides pack on their pet spending projects.

Inflation affects nominal, not real interest rates..and real interest rates are the key. Of course, real interest rates may rise, but that's a reflection of the real growth in the economy and the Fed's control over the money supply. At least rising interest rates shouldn't be surprise to anyone - both to individuals (debt refinancing, the fact that bond prices fall when interest rates rise) and corporations (how they structure their debt, etc.)

Well, the total number of dead and wounded can't go DOWN..at best it can remain unchanged. Again, the real issue is the trend pattern of casualties. It will be interesting the post 30 June conduct of operations and whether we begin to become more hands off and patrol less. I suspect given the election, you'll see far less involvement in direct action..if you want a better statistic to cover - it's the power capacity in Iraq..when that goes up, businesses can run (so people are employed) and individuals can enjoy comfort in their homes (and thus stay off the streets).

As for the election, you forget the one thing that according to a Gallup poll from 3-6 June is down:

With Nader in the race, the margins are less favorable to Kerry in all three groups of states. Kerry leads Bush by 15 points in the blue states (WENT FOR GORE by more than 5%), and trails Bush by 6 points in the red states (WENT FOR BUSH by more than 5%). In the purple states (TOSS UP STATES - WON BY EITHER BUSH OR GORE BUT BY LESS THAN 5%), Kerry's lead is DOWN to 45% to Bush's 43%, with Nader getting 7% support.

And really, we know this election is going to be close and decided in a few states by a (relatively) few voters..the more pertinent question maybe why isn't Kerry doing better given all the events over the last few months (rising oil, flat market, highest month of casualties in a year, etc..)?

Posted by: Col Steve at June 11, 2004 10:39 PM