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The Rural Condition: Life expectancy for Wisconsin babies falls

Boosters’ ceaseless distortions to ‘accentuate the positive’ – so common across the state and in Whitewater before, during, and after the Great Recession – meet their tragic refutation in life expectancy declines for Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Public Policy Forum reports on Troubling trends in Wisconsin: Life expectancy down; alcohol, drug and suicide deaths up:

The life expectancy for babies born in Wisconsin from 2015-17 was 80 years, down from 80.1 in 2014-16 and from 80.2 in 2013-15, according to the state Department of Health Services. Though slight, these consecutive decreases buck a longstanding trend and may reflect the deeper impact of several troubling issues facing the state.

Wisconsin residents still continue to have a longer life expectancy than the national average. While precise comparison is not possible due to methodological differences, national life expectancy in 2017 was 78.6 years. Yet mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control show Wisconsin losing ground in some areas, including deaths due to alcohol and increased mortality rates among black residents and people in their 20s and 30s.

Our research did not evaluate if the state life expectancy decline is statistically significant, as that is not calculated by the Department of Health Services. But it is clear that the national life expectancy downturn is something not seen in a century. The last such occurrence was from 1915-18, when U.S. life expectancy briefly declined during a period that included World War I and a global influenza epidemic.

Today’s decline comes amid a new epidemic: deaths from overdoses of opioid drugs. CDC experts say overdoses and rising suicide deaths have driven the national decrease in life expectancy, with an increase in alcohol-related deaths also playing a role. These changes have happened at the same time other trends, such as declining rates of death from heart disease or stroke, enabled some to live longer and caused overall mortality rates among older Americans to decline.

In Wisconsin and nationally, the rate of death due to suicide, drugs, or alcohol has increased steadily since 1999. Drug and alcohol death rates in Wisconsin have more than tripled in that span. Total drug and alcohol deaths increased from 593 in 1999 to 1,985 in 2017, the most recent year for which data are available. The rate of increase in such deaths also accelerated the last few years.

See (as a .pdf) Troubling Trends in Wisconsin: Life Expectancy Down; Alcohol, Drug and Suicide Deaths Up)

Note well: There are stated limits to this statewide study, as properly-presented research acknowledges its own limitations. (In this case and others, there is a profound difference with public officials’ and residents’ use of sham studies as marketing tools. That will prove a subject of consideration all its own.)

For those in Whitewater and other small towns who doubt what they own eyes – if open – would reveal, see more generally The rural America death spiral (‘Many of the nation’s current pathologies are taking a heavy toll on the majority-white population living in rural America, which was severely impacted by the opioid crisis and has dealt with falling populations, job losses and rising suicide rates.’)

See also A Candid Admission from the Whitewater CDA, Reported Family Poverty in Whitewater Increased Over the Last Decade, ‘Crony Capitalism and Social Engineering: The Case Against Tax-Increment Financing,’ and Three Fundamental Failures: Employment, Income, and Poverty.

Daily Bread for 8.19.19

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of eighty-two.  Sunrise is 6:06 AM and sunset 7:50 PM, for 13h 44m 07s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 86.6% of its visible disk illuminated.
Today is the one thousand fourteenth day.

  On this day in 1812, the USS Constitution earns her nickname Old Ironsides by defeating the HMS Guerriere in an engagement 400 miles southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Recommended for reading in full:

Mary Papenfus reports Mississippi ICE Raids Separate Mom From Her Breastfeeding Baby Girl:

The massive raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers at Mississippi food-processing plants earlier this month has separated a young mother from her nursing 4-month-old daughter, the Clarion Ledger reports.

The mom, arrested at Koch Foods in Morton, where she had worked for four years, is now being held in a Louisiana facility while her husband cares for the couple’s three children and continues to work. He faces his own deportation hearing, but not until 2021, according to the Ledger, which didn’t reveal the identities of the parents, who fear reprisals.

All three children, who were born in the U.S., are American citizens.

Erin Doherty reports Democrats’ Desire For Electable Candidates May Be Driven By Older Voters:

Many Democrats say the most important quality they look for in a 2020 candidate is that the person can beat President Trump. But this might not be true of younger Democrats, many of whom are saying that they care more about a presidential candidate’s policies — and less about their chances of beating Trump.

Recent polls from YouGov/HuffPost and Gallup show an age split on whether voters prioritize policy or electability. Both polls found that younger Democrats tended to prioritize nominating a candidate whose positions on issues were closest to their own over a candidate who they believed had the best chance of defeating Trump. Conversely, older Democrats were more likely to want an electable candidate even if they disagreed on the issues.

And this generational divide may be reflected in the patterns of support for former Vice President Joe Biden. Voters of all ages often name Biden as the candidate with the best chance of beating Trump. But a Quinnipiac University poll from early July found that while 28 percent of Democrats over 50 rate Biden as their first choice, just 17 percent of Democrats between 18 and 49 said the same.

It’s possible that the reason more older Democrats prioritize choosing a candidate who can win in the general election is that they have lived through other administrations and have seen how they’ve governed, according to Rey Junco, a senior researcher at the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. Junco said older Americans could be “more concerned about the autocratic tendencies in the current administration” than younger Americans, and as a result want a candidate that has the best chance of winning in 2020.

But by prioritizing electability, older Democrats may wind up backing a candidate with a major weakness: an inability to drive youth turnout.

 How The NRA Ended Up On The Verge Of Bankruptcy:

Daily Bread for 8.18.19

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will see morning thunderstorms with a high of eighty.  Sunrise is 6:05 AM and sunset 7:51 PM, for 13h 46m 45s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 91.9% of its visible disk illuminated.
Today is the one thousand thirteenth day.

On this day in 1864, the 2nd, 6th, 7th, 37th, and 38th Wisconsin Infantry regiments take part in the Battle of Globe Tavern.

Recommended for reading in full:

Progressive evangelical (and Sanders supporter) Elizabeth Bruenig writes delicately of Trump-supporting evangelicals in In God’s country (‘Evangelicals view Trump as their protector. Will they stand by him in 2020?’).

Conservative evangelical Michael Gerson writes more fittingly of Trump-supporting evangelicals in Some white evangelicals are difficult to recognize as Christians at all:

Massive budget cuts to hunger-relief programs in Africa, refusing to take in desperate Syrian refugees and separating crying children from their parents at the border are tolerable, but using the Lord’s name in vain is a bridge too far? Pathological lying, spreading conspiracy theories, misogyny, making racist comments and dehumanizing others are permissible, but swearing somehow crosses the line?

How we order our outrage says much about us. Do we feel the violation of a religious rule more intensely than the violation of human dignity? Do we prioritize our religiosity above our anthropology — above our theory of human beings and their rights?

This kind of Pharisaical preference for rules over humans reveals a large gap of spiritual education. In a poll conducted last year by the Pew Research Center, only 25 percent of white evangelical Christians said the United States has a responsibility to accept refugees, while 65 percent of those not affiliated with a religion affirmed that duty. What could possibility explain this 40-percentage-point gap in inclusion and compassion? For a certain kind of secularist, this reveals cruelty, corruption and hypocrisy at the heart of the Christian faith. But traditionally, many of the institutions that do refugee resettlement have been Christian.

The problem does not lie in Christianity but in the moral formation of Christians. Are they getting their view of refugees from Christian sources? Or are they taking their view from Fox News, talk radio and Trump? I suspect the latter. And the worship of political idols is ultimately a spiritual problem — a different kind of blasphemy.

These challenges run deeper than politics. Many white evangelical Christians hold a faith that appeals to the comfortable rather than siding with the afflicted. They have allied themselves with bigots and nativists, risking the reputation of the gospel itself. And, in some very public ways, they are difficult to recognize as Christians at all.

(Both Bruenig and Gerson are – in the complimentary language of our era – gifted. Yet Bruening’s admirable intellect fails her here, as she gives too much credence to self-identification at the expense of identity.  Gerson comes closer to the truth that self-identification becomes incredible when in opposition to any reasonable identity. Tabbies can, if they wish, call themselves lions; no one else is obligated to believe them.)

India’s Swimming Camels:

Film: Wednesday, August 21st, 12:30 PM @ Seniors in the Park, The History Boys

This Wednesday, August 21st at 12:30 PM, there will be a showing of The History Boys @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin Community Building:

Wednesday, August 21st; 12:30 PM
Rated R for language, sexual content (2006).

Remember the professor or teacher that made you think and wonder, and inspired you…? In 1980s England, an unruly class of gifted and charming young men are taught by two eccentric and innovative teachers, as their Headmaster pushes them to get accepted into Oxford or Cambridge. Based on the Tony Award winning Best Play. This film stars Richard Griffiths, James Corden (now host of the CBS “Late Late Show”), Russell Tovey (ABC’s “Quantico”), and Dominic Cooper (the “Mamma Mia” films).

Filmed on location at Cambridge and Oxford Universities.

One can find more information about The History Boys at the Internet Movie Database.

Enjoy.

Daily Bread for 8.17.19

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of eighty-two.  Sunrise is 6:04 AM and sunset 7:53 PM, for 13h 49m 22s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 96.4% of its visible disk illuminated.
Today is the one thousand twelfth day.

On this day in 1864, Wisconsin soldiers bury Confederate dead at Cedar Mountain, Virginia.

Recommended for reading in full:

Colbert King writes Don’t waste your breath trying to convince Trump supporters he’s repugnant:

The sad truth is that with all that Trump has said and done, millions of Americans don’t see where he has ever crossed the line.

Slurring Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists? Calling for a ban on all Muslims coming into the country? Suggesting that a U.S.-born judge overseeing a Trump University lawsuit should recuse himself because of his Mexican heritage (“He’s a Mexican,” Trump said)? Saying people in the United States from Nigeria will never “go back to their huts”? Referring to Haiti and African countries as “s—hole countries” while wishing the United States would take more people from places like Norway? Tweeting that four black and brown members of Congress — three of them born in the United States — should “go back” to their countries of origin? Launching a slimy birther crusade against President Barack Obama? Constantly resorting to racially charged language?

….

It doesn’t bother them at all when Trump resorts to racist, sexist and religiously intolerant tropes in his onslaughts.

Face it. They helped put — and are now fighting like mad to keep — a prejudiced president in the White House. What does that say about them?

What does it say about the rest of us if we let them?

(Emphasis added.  See also Trump, His Inner Circle, Principal Surrogates, and Media Defenders and Trumpism Down to the Local Level. It’s Trumpist officials and self-described movers-and-shakers at all levels who should be the main focus of one’s efforts.)

Riley Vetterkind reports GOP Twitter block will cost Wisconsin taxpayers $200,000:

Wisconsin taxpayers will pay a liberal group’s attorneys $200,000 because Republican lawmakers blocked them on Twitter.

State officials agreed Thursday to pay the legal bills for One Wisconsin Now’s attorneys. A federal judge ruled in January that Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Rep. John Nygren, both Republicans, had infringed on the group’s First Amendment rights.

One Wisconsin Now routinely criticizes Republicans on Twitter and other platforms. In 2017, it sued Vos, Nygren and then-Rep. Jesse Kremer of Kewaskum for blocking it.

U.S. District Judge William Conley concluded the three lawmakers had acted unconstitutionally by blocking the group on Twitter “because of its prior speech or identity.”

Kremer didn’t run for reelection and was dropped from the lawsuit after he shut down his official Twitter account.

(Infringement is expensive; don’t infringe.)

Republican stronghold Orange County goes from red to blue:

‘Deep Fakes’ in a Deeper Context

In the video Op-Ed above, Claire Wardle responds to growing alarm around “deepfakes” — seemingly realistic videos generated by artificial intelligence. First seen on Reddit with pornographic videos doctored to feature the faces of female celebrities, deepfakes were made popular in 2018 by a fake public service announcement featuring former President Barack Obama. Words and faces can now be almost seamlessly superimposed. The result: We can no longer trust our eyes.

In June, the House Intelligence Committee convened a hearing on the threat deepfakes pose to national security. And platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are contemplating whether, and how, to address this new disinformation format. It’s a conversation gaining urgency in the lead-up to the 2020 election.

Yet deepfakes are no more scary than their predecessors, “shallowfakes,” which use far more accessible editing tools to slow down, speed up, omit or otherwise manipulate context. The real danger of fakes — deep or shallow — is that their very existence creates a world in which almost everything can be dismissed as false.

Daily Bread for 8.16.19

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be cloudy with scattered showers and a high of seventy-seven.  Sunrise is 6:02 AM and sunset 7:54 PM, for 13h 51m 58s of daytime.  The moon is full with 99.2% of its visible disk illuminated.
Today is the one thousand eleventh day.

On this day in 1896, the Klondike Gold Rush begins.

Recommended for reading in full:

Molly Beck reports Robin Vos accuses paralyzed lawmaker of trying to sabotage him by seeking accommodations:

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos accused a paralyzed Democratic lawmaker of trying to sabotage a new national role for the Republican legislative leader by publicly seeking accommodations for his disability.

“(This) does not seem like an accident to me,” Vos told a conservative radio show host Thursday. “Everything they do is political and trying to make the other side look bad.”

Vos, of Rochester, earlier this year rejected Democratic Rep. Jimmy Anderson’s request to be able to call into legislative meetings he cannot attend because of his disability and to bar overnight floor sessions, which Anderson cannot participate in fully for the same reason.

Vos told WISN’s Jay Weber he believes the timing of Anderson’s public appeal, which included speaking to a Journal Sentinel reporter, was meant to undermine the announcement of Vos taking over as president of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

But Democratic legislative leaders made the request in February and Anderson reached out to a Journal Sentinel reporter in May. Vos took over the new role earlier this month, 10 days after the story was published.

“I didn’t know he was going to be named president of the NCSL until after the story had come out,” Anderson said. “The idea that I would somehow sit and wait to make Robin Vos look bad — he’s doing that all by himself. I asked for these accommodations months and months ago.”

(Vos: a small man with a big self-impression.)

Amy Taxin reports Panel rules soap, sleep essential to migrant kids’ safety:

Immigrant children detained by the U.S. government should get edible food, clean water, soap and toothpaste under a longstanding agreement over detention conditions, a federal appeals panel ruled Thursday in dismissing a Trump administration bid to limit what must be provided.

A three-judge panel for the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco tossed out the U.S. government’s challenge to a lower court’s findings that authorities had failed to provide safe and sanitary conditions for the children in line with a 1997 settlement agreement.

The government argued that authorities weren’t required to provide specific accommodations, such as soap, under the settlement’s requirement that facilities be “safe and sanitary” and asked the panel to weigh in. The appellate judges disagreed.

The Rise And Fall Of AOL:

Why We (Now) Fight

American director Frank Capra, among others, was responsible for the Why We Fight series of films during the Second World war.  The films helped American soldiers understand what was at stake in a war with the Axis powers. At bottom, it wasn’t Capra’s talent (although he was talented) that supplied the answer to the question why America was fighting; it was America’s violent and fanatical enemies who supplied that answer through their own depravity.

Likewise in our time, as we now face a domestic threat from a bigoted nationalism, we find that it is our adversaries who by their depravity justify our fight in opposition and resistance.

Steve King, a lumpen Congressman from Iowa, shows us through his perverse the imperative of a relentless resistance:

DES MOINES, Iowa — U.S. Rep. Steve King on Wednesday defended his call for a ban on all abortions by questioning whether there would be “any population of the world left” if not for births due to rape and incest.

Speaking before a conservative group in the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale, the Iowa congressman reviewed legislation he has sought that would outlaw abortions without exceptions for rape and incest. King justified the lack of exceptions by questioning how many people would be alive if not for those conceived through rapes and incest.

“What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape and incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?” King asked, according to video of the event, which was covered by The Des Moines Register. “Considering all the wars and all the rape and pillage that’s taken place … I know I can’t certify that I’m not a part of a product of that.”

Via Rep. Steve King says rapes, incest helped populate the world.

(It’s significant that anti-abortion activists, themselves, don’t make the vile claim that there is a practical instrumentality to rape and incest:

“This year, several candidates have said they will challenge King for the Republican nomination, including conservative state Sen. Randy Feenstra. Scholten also recently announced he’d again run for the seat.

After King’s comment Wednesday, Feenstra said in a statement, “I am 100% pro-life but Steve King’s bizarre comments and behavior diminish our message & damage our cause.”)

There was never a time when rape or incest was justified, and no humane person on either side of the abortion debate would imply that population increases from immoral and criminal violence against women make that violence somehow more acceptable.

A world where King’s views would hold sway – and they don’t yet have such influence – would not be a pro-choice, pro-life, pro-abortion, or anti-abortion world.

It would be a world of nihilism, of moral emptiness stretching to the farthest horizon.

That’s why we now fight.

Public Officials Should Not Be Reporters

It is a simple principle that public officials should not be newspaper reporters on their own meetings and actions. For readers, reporters, editors, publishers, and public officials this should be obvious.

Worse: public officials should not be newspaper reporters when their roles as public officials are not expressly identified. 

A Whitewater-area newspaper and a Whitewater school board member ignored this simple principle in an online story from the Daily Union entitled Fountain new principal of Whitewater Middle School.  The story has a byline from school board member Tom Ganser. (See also a screenshot of the newspaper’s online story.)

It’s right – of course – to welcome a new school principal, and it’s right to report about his hiring.

It’s not right – and never will be – for a newspaper to use a school board member to report on the hiring, especially when that school board member voted on the hiring and his status as a public official is undisclosed in the story.

I’m not a reporter, and do not want to be (blogging suits me, as pamphleteering suited our forefathers during America’s formative years). I am, however – like so many others – someone who grew up in a household with newspapers and books, where reading carefully and widely was expected.

The Daily Union’s editor (Spangler) has a history of allowing conflicted reporting that looks more like warmed-over press releases for public officials or connected business groups: 1, 2, 3.

A newspaper story about a public employee should come from someone other than a public official (especially one sharing in oversight authority).

Americans – including residents of small towns – have no need to compromise on the standards that make our country great and admirable.

If newspapers now bemoan their economic straits, then they should look to the unnecessary compromises and concessions that they have made to principle.

Whitewater deserves better.

Daily Bread for 8.15.19

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of seventy-seven.  Sunrise is 6:01 AM and sunset 7:56 PM, for 13h 54m 33s of daytime.  The moon is full with 100% of its visible disk illuminated.
Today is the one thousand tenth day.

Whitewater’s Community Development Authority meets at 5:30 PM.

On this day in 1969, Woodstock opens.

Recommended for reading in full:

Molly Beck reports No Republicans sign letter urging Assembly speaker to allow paralyzed lawmaker to call in to meetings:

Republican colleagues of a paralyzed lawmaker haven’t signed a letter urging the state Assembly’s leader to allow the Democrat to call in to meetings when he’s unable to attend in person.

All 36 Democratic members of the Assembly signed a letter dated Aug. 8 asking the house’s Republican leaders to provide accommodations for Rep. Jimmy Anderson, which they say are reasonable and fall under requirements of the American Disabilities Act. None of the 63 Republicans attached their names to the letter.

Anderson also is asking Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to prohibit lawmakers from convening in floor sessions that stretch overnight unless there is an emergency purpose for doing so, to conduct business during reasonable hours and to assign an ADA coordinator to determine which accommodations requests should be granted.

“It costs the state nothing and only asks for those in power to be considerate of Representative Anderson’s disability,” the letter reads.

Anderson was paralyzed from the chest down in 2010 after a drunken driver collided with the vehicle he was traveling in, permanently injuring him and killing his family members.

The Fitchburg lawmaker wants to be able to call in to committee meetings when he has difficulty attending them in person for health reasons associated with his disability and to bar lawmakers from meeting overnight, which could prevent Anderson from being able to participate.

See also Speaker Vos’s Distorted Idea of Respect.

Bill Lueders writes Some Wisconsin public officials are using privacy arguments to justify government secrecy:

Perhaps the most outrageous recent example of secrecy in the name of privacy is the news that Jake Patterson, the man convicted of abducting 13-year-old Jayme Closs and killing her parents, has been moved to an out-of-state prison whose location is not being disclosed, according to a state Department of Corrections spokesperson, “for his safety.” We only know he is now in a prison in New Mexico because the Green Bay Press Gazette was able to determine this independently.

So now Wisconsin is officially sending people to secret prisons to protect their privacy. Don’t ask, because the state won’t tell.

Why the US has so many tornadoes:

While tornadoes are fairly rare events, the people who actively seek out the storms start their hunts in the United States, the country with far more tornadoes than anywhere else in the world. The US records, on average, more than 1,000 twisters per year. By comparison, Canada, the country in second place, records around 100.

Wastrel

Embed from Getty Images

John Bresnahan and Burgess Everett report Deficit Don? Red ink gushes in Trump era (‘The president endorsed a bipartisan budget deal without any of the spending restraints previously demanded by Republicans’):

With a new bipartisan budget deal that does nothing to cut federal spending, Trump is on track for another $1 trillion deficit this year. And there’s no reason to believe the following fiscal year will be any different, with ballooning deficits from higher spending, the 2017 tax cuts — Trump’s signature legislative achievement, which slashed revenue — and none of the entitlement reforms long preached by Republican leaders on Capitol Hill.

Candidate Trump bragged that he would pay off the entire federal debt in eight years, but President Trump is governing as if deficits don’t matter.

In fact, Trump is approaching the level of red ink from President Barack Obama’s first term, when Obama racked up trillion-dollar deficits four years in a row. Trump is on pace to do the same, starting with this year’s yawning deficit of more than $1 trillion, according to budget estimates.

But there are huge differences: Trump has a growing economy with historically low unemployment and a soaring stock market, while Obama was battling a brutal downturn in the economy during the worst recession in 80 years, making it much harder to curb federal spending.

Austerity has an unfairly bad name, and Bresnahan and Everett imply a common claim about the tolerability of spending during recessionary times. Yet there are times when austerity is prudent.  See Use—and Abuses—of Austerity, reviewing the fine Austerity: When It Works and When It Doesn’t (available on Kindle and well-recommended).

Trump lacks a recessionary foundation in defense of ever-greater spending. Instead, he endorses spending in huge amounts, favoring chosen investors (men who catch his attention), often unconnected to areas of suffering (such as the Midwest), and propping up otherwise dead-end industries (e.g., coal).

Ironically, Tump’s trade war footing and anti-market tariffs push the economy in a wrong direction that encourages others to seek even more spending to shield against the effects of his trade war footing and anti-market tariffs.

Spending under Trump winds up benefitting those without need (wealthy donors and no-future-anyway companies) with a small part going to compensate for the damage of his own pre-modern economic policies.

Trump’s market interference may drive America to a recession, by which time his trillions in spending will leave less room for those who would otherwise seek – by their estimation – a pro-spending program to lessen that future recession’s effects.

Trump often talks about what’s huge, but his own role as a huge wastrel will only leave America smaller.