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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Suicide

Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade were not alone. Suicide is a national problem as a death of despair. From CDC:Graphic: Suicide rates rose across the US from 1999 to 2016
Graphic: Differences exist among those with and without mental health conditions.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Wireless Nation 2017

Preliminary results from the July– December 2017 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) indicate that the number of American homes with only wireless telephones continues to grow. More than one-half of American homes (53.9%) had only wireless telephones (also known as cellular telephones, cell phones, or mobile phones) during the second half of 2017— an increase of 3.1 percentage points since the second half of 2016. More than 70% of adults aged 25-34 and adults renting their homes were living in wireless-only households. This report presents the most up-to-date estimates available from the federal government concerning the size and characteristics of this population.
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 Three in four adults aged 25–29 (75.6%) and aged 30-34 (73.3%) lived in households with only wirelesstelephones. These rates are greater than the rate for those 18–24 (67.1%). The percentage of adults living with only wireless telephones decreased as age increased beyond 35 years: 64.5% for those 35–44; 48.1% for those 45–64; and 26.4% for those 65 and over.
Nearly four in five adults living only with unrelated adult roommates (77.5%) were in households with onlywireless telephones. This rate is higher than the rates for adults living alone (59.7%), adults living only with spouses or other adult family members (45.2%), and adults living with children (60.5%).
More than seven in ten adults living in rented homes (72.0%) had only wireless telephones. This rate is significantly higher than the rate for adults living in homes owned by a household member (44.6%).
Adults living in poverty (68.1%) and near poverty (58.1%) were more likely  than higher income adults (53.1%) to be living in households with only wireless telephones. (Footnote 3 in Table 2 gives definitions of these categories.)
Hispanic adults (65.6%) were more likely than non-Hispanic white (50.2%), non-Hispanic black (52.3%), or non-Hispanic Asian (53.4%) adults to be living in households with only wireless telephones.
Adults living in the Midwest (55.6%), South (56.7%), and West (56.9%) were more likely than those living in the Northeast (39.3%) to be living in households with only wireless telephones.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Declaration of Conscience

Senator Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME), June 1, 1950:
As an American, I am shocked at the way Republicans and Democrats alike are playing directly into the Communist design of "confuse, divide, and conquer." As an American, I don’t want a Democratic Administration “whitewash” or "cover-up" any more than I want a Republican smear or witch hunt.

As an American, I condemn a Republican "Fascist" just as much I condemn a Democratic "Communist." I condemn a Democrat "Fascist" just as much as I condemn a Republican "Communist." They are equally dangerous to you and me and to our country. As an American, I want to see our nation recapture the strength and unity it once had when we fought the enemy instead of ourselves.

It is with these thoughts that I have drafted what I call a "Declaration of Conscience." I am gratified that Senator Tobey, Senator Aiken, Senator Morse, Senator Ives, Senator Thye, and Senator Hendrickson have concurred in that declaration and have authorized me to announce their concurrence.

The declaration reads as follows:


1. We are Republicans. But we are Americans first. It is as Americans that we express our concern with the growing confusion that threatens the security and stability of our country. Democrats and Republicans alike have contributed to that confusion.

2. The Democratic administration has initially created the confusion by its lack of effective leadership, by its contradictory grave warnings and optimistic assurances, by its complacency to the threat of communism here at home, by its oversensitiveness to rightful criticism, by its petty bitterness against its critics.

3. Certain elements of the Republican Party have materially added to this confusion in the hopes of riding the Republican party to victory through the selfish political exploitation of fear, bigotry, ignorance, and intolerance. There are enough mistakes of the Democrats for Republicans to criticize constructively without resorting to political smears.

4. To this extent, Democrats and Republicans alike have unwittingly, but undeniably, played directly into the Communist design of “confuse, divide and conquer.”

5. It is high time that we stopped thinking politically as Republicans and Democrats about elections and started thinking patriotically as Americans about national security based on individual freedom. It is high time that we all stopped being tools and victims of totalitarian techniques -- techniques that, if continued here unchecked, will surely end what we have come to cherish as the American way of life.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Commander in Chief

In his concurrence in Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952), Justice Robert Jackson wrote: "There are indications that the Constitution did not contemplate that the title Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy will constitute him also Commander in Chief of the country, its industries and its inhabitants."

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Changing Face of Think Tanks

At American Affairs, Ignacio Delcavoli finds that think tanks are paying their executive much more than in the past.
There also appears to be no significant correlation between the change in an organization’s impact over time and growth in executive compensation, much less the dramatic increases in impact that would be required to justify the high compensation growth shown above. On the other hand, there does appear to be some evidence of a change in focus at most major think tanks. Almost across the board, h-index scores (a more academic measure) have noticeably declined, while op-eds (typically written to advance a more immediate political concern) have noticeably increased. Various explanations can be offered, but one interpretation is that think tanks, initially conceived of as “universities without students,” are now mostly functioning as advocacy organizations.
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Think tanks are widely known to be breeding grounds for congressional staffers and presidential appointees (despite Trump’s relative unpopularity at think tanks, the current administration is no exception), and they have numerous points of contact with politicians. Thus a more significant measure of impact might be the number of think-tank fellows appointed to executive or legislative roles or the number of nonpublic meetings held with politicians and their staffs. In other words, think tanks today may mainly function as lobbying firms, and many donors may evaluate their impact primarily on that basis.
This was essentially the conclusion of a 2014 paper by Ken Silverstein entitled “Pay to Play Think Tanks: Institutional Corruption and the Industry of Ideas.”8 Silverstein details the many ways in which think-tank agendas (across the ideological spectrum) are increasingly driven by donors, including large corporations and foreign governments. In exchange for larger contributions, many think tanks allow donors to set or veto research topics, sponsor public events under the aegis of a nonprofit organization, enjoy private access to influential politicians or foreign leaders, and so on. Silverstein reports that scholars at the Center for American Progress were told to speak to the development office before publishing on topics that might adversely affect donor interests. Silverstein also describes situations in which think tanks worked to burnish the image of foreign governments and corporations after receiving large donations from them.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Ever-Growing US House Districts

The U.S. House of Representatives has one voting member for every 747,000 or so Americans. That’s by far the highest population-to-representative ratio among a peer group of industrialized democracies, and the highest it’s been in U.S. history. And with the size of the House capped by law and the country’s population continually growing, the representation ratio likely will only get bigger.
In the century-plus since the number of House seats first reached its current total of 435 (excluding nonvoting delegates), the representation ratio has more than tripled – from one representative for every 209,447 people in 1910 to one for every 747,184 as of last year.
That ratio, mind you, is for the nation as a whole. The ratios for individual states vary considerably, mainly because of the House’s fixed size and the Constitution’s requirement that each state, no matter its population, have at least one representative. Currently, Montana’s 1,050,493 people have just one House member; Rhode Island has slightly more people (1,059,639), but that’s enough to give it two representatives – one for every 529,820 Rhode Islanders.
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There have been occasional proposals to add more seats to the House to reflect population growth. One is the so-called “Wyoming Rule,” which would make the population of the smallest state (currently Wyoming) the basis for the representation ratio. Depending on which variant of that rule were adopted, the House would have had 545 to 547 members following the 2010 census.
However, a recent Pew Research Center survey found limited public support for adding new House seats. Only 28% of Americans said the House should be expanded, versus 51% who said it should remain at 435 members. When historical context was added to the question, support for expansion rose a bit, to 34%, with the additional support coming mainly from Democrats.
 The House’s hefty representation ratio makes the United States an outlier among its peers. Our research finds that the U.S. ratio is the highest among the 35 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, most of them highly developed, democratic states.


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Cabinet Communicators!

Kevin Bogardus at E&E News:
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos last year praised President Trump's decision to pull the United States from the Paris climate accord.

Her staff later told her what she had said about it.

DeVos' chief of staff approved the secretary's two-sentence statement on Trump's exit from the climate change agreement, with her espousing the president's rollback of "overreaching regulatory actions" and keeping his promise "to put America and American workers first." Aides later worked to bring it to DeVos' attention, according to emails obtained by E&E News under the Freedom of Information Act.

The emails offer a behind-the-scenes look at how the White House ordered agency leaders to publicly praise Trump's announcement on Paris, which was a year ago today. Cabinet secretaries and their communications shops jumped into action, with messages ranging from DeVos' vague praise of putting "America first" to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross decrying the "economic carnage" of the climate treaty.
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DeVos was one of several Trump Cabinet officials to issue statements on the president's Paris decision. At least nine officials, including many not heavily involved in the move to withdraw from the agreement, released statements that day (Greenwire, June 2).

The public relations push came after a request from the White House, according to other records obtained by E&E News under FOIA.

"Cabinet Communicators!" Kaelan Dorr, then an aide in the White House press office, said in an email a little over two hours before Trump announced his decision.

"Please join our surrogate briefing call at the below number at 1:30pm. We need all Cabinet agencies to prep statements of support for the decision being announced at 3:00pm in the Rose Garden," he said, asking those statements be sent to him and other White House press aides for approval within 30 minutes of the call's conclusion.

"No exceptions," Dorr said, adding that talking points would also be distributed after the call.