Thursday, January 14, 2016

January, 2016, Part 1, By The Numbers: Losing The War On Terror, Losing the War On Drugs, and Feeling Down In 2016

This is the first post this month in our continuing theme of “by the numbers.” We do this theme occasionally where we look at the reality of the numbers in the world and not the lies, deceptions, and spin of the American political class. I used to work for a boss whose favorite quote was: “There is nothing more devastating to an opinion than the correct number.” By looking at the statistics, trends, and numbers in our world we can cut through the politicians’ smoke screen to truly understand what is going on and hopefully, remedy the issues of the day.

And there will be a lot of smoke to cut through in the next few posts. Always believe the numbers before you believe our politicians, numbers do not lie but politicians do.

1) The Week magazine did a wonderful 2015 year end review in its December 25, 2015 issue. It compiled a series of survey statistics from a number of different reputable sources to capture the mood of the country. Unfortunately, as the numbers show, the mood of the country, seven years into the Obama Presidency, is not good:

  • 69% of Americans think the country is on the wrong track, the most pessimistic level since 2011.
  • 72% believe America is not as great as it used to be.
  • 59% believe the economy is doing poorly.
  • 47% of those polled stated their family is scraping by in day to day living.
  • 19% of those polled said they cannot afford some basic living expenses.
  • 61% believe the American dream is broken and only the wealthiest can get ahead.
  • 56% believe that today’s children will grow up to be worse off than their parents.
  • Only 40% of those polled think that the U.S. is the greatest nation on earth.
  • 54% of those polled do not like the way Obama has handled the economy and 59% think he has done a bad job handling foreign relations, two of the biggest responsibilities of a President.
  • 50% do not like the way Supreme Court’s recent actions and decisions have gone.
  • 86% do not have a favorable view of Congress.
  • 55% of those polled think that “ordinary Americans” could do a better job than the current political class now in office.
  • 50% of Pennsylvanians would rather be represented by world famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil than current members of Congress.
  • 83% of Americans fear there will be a large scale terrorist attack within the country in the near future.
  • 60% believe that terrorists are living in their home towns now.
  • 45% of Americans fear that the Federal government could seize control of some states.
  • 56% believe that Islam is not compatible with traditional American values, up from 47% in 2011.
Not a good way to start a new year: fearful for our lives, struggling economically, having little faith in government institutions, and high levels of disdain and very low regard for today’s politicians including Obama and members of Congress. A dismal picture as painted by these numbers. So much for “hope and change,” the hope has been dashed and the change looks like it has all been on the negative side of the ledger.

2) Our multi-decade, trillion dollar failed “war on drugs” is always a treasure trove of depressing numbers. Such was the case from the reporting of the Washington Post that was summarized by The Week magazine in their December 25, 2015 issue. According to the Post, heroin deaths were up 28% in 2014, the last year for which data is available. Fatal deaths from prescription medicines were up 16%. 47,055 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2014, 10,574 from heroin and 18,893 from prescription medications. 

Deaths from drug overdoses is up at least 50% in the past ten years, depending on how you measure overdoses. Far more people now die annually in this country from drug overdoses than guns and motor vehicle accidents. 

Einstein was said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Given that Nixon declared “war on drugs” over four decades ago and the numbers continue to show higher and higher levels of drug usage and deaths, maybe it is time to try something different than what the American political class has been doing since the 1970s.

3) Obama has told us that 1) ISIS is the JV team of terrorists, 2) the threat from ISIS is contained, and 3) there is no short term, credible terrorist threat from ISIS within our country's borders. In each case he was dramatically wrong:

  • ISIS has turned into the most ruthless, well funded, and heinous terror group of all time.
  • Just after Obama said ISIS was contained, the terror group launched a successful, multi-pronged terror attack in Paris that killed over a hundred people and wounded hundreds more.
  • Right after Obama said there was not short term threat, two ISIS inspired terrorists killed and wounded dozens of Americans in California.
To these out-of-touch musings of Obama we add the following numbers:

  • According to a article that was summarized in the December 25, 2015 issue of The Week magazine, the number of foreign fighters traveling to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS has more than doubled in the past 18 months.
  • There are now between 27,000 and 31,000 foreign fighters from 81 countries fighting for ISIS.
  • There are almost 5,000 foreign fighters in ISIS from Russia and former Soviet republics.
The numbers do not lie, Obama’s leadership is losing the battle against ISIS.

4) But it is not just the raw number of recruits that prove we are losing ground against ISIS and terrorism. Consider the recent opinion poll results courtesy of CNN:

  • According to the CNN/ORC poll, more Americans “are more likely to say that terrorists are winning the war against the United States than they have been at any point since the September 11 attacks.” 
  • 74% are not satisfied and not happy how the war on terrorism is going with only 3% saying they are satisfied on how the anti-terror effort is going.
  • 60% disapprove of the way Obama’s been handling the issue of terrorism.
  • 52% disapprove of Obama’s overall job performance overall. 
  • 40% of those polled say the terrorists are winning, which is 17 points above the previous high of 23% reached way back in August 2005. 
  • Only 18% say that the U.S. and its allies have the upper hand in the war on terror.
  • This is 10 points worse than the previous low that was attained way back in January, 2007.
  • Even a majority of Democrats, 59%, are not happy on how Obama has handled the war on terror.
  • Only about half of those polled feel that this administration can protect them from future acts of terrorism.
  • 45% are very or somewhat worried that they or someone in their family will become a victim of terrorism.
So what do the numbers tell us today:

  • As a new year dawns, the country is depressed, disappointed and fearful.
  • The war on drugs continues to be a losing proposition.
  • ISIS recruiting is still going strong.
  • Americans think that Obama has failed them and the country in the war on terror, a feeling that exists across political party lines.
The numbers are not good….regardless of how Obama and the rest of Washington tries to spin them, ignore them, or lie about them. More numbers tomorrow, if you can stand it.

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