May 28, 2018

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Situational awareness: Executives of big U.S. companies suggested at a Dallas Fed conference that the days of most people getting pay raises are over, and that they plan to reduce their work forces further, Steve Levine writes in his Axios Future newsletter.

1 big thing: Hometowns of Americans who died for U.S. since 9/11
Data: Defense Casualty Analysis System, U.S. Census Bureau 2016 population estimates; Note: Map does not include 111 servicemembers who came from outside the 50 states; Get the data; Map: Harry Stevens/Axios

Today is the 17th Memorial Day since 9/11. Since then, 6,940 U.S. military service members have died for America.

  • Every part of the country has lost soldiers to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Average age: 26½.
  • Go deeper: Use the interactive map.

The losses aren't distributed evenly. Axios' Harry Stevens — specializing in stories, code and graphics — found as he built the data for this map (some of it by hand) that death rates tend to be highest in the Bible Belt and the Rust Belt.

  • Some counties in the Mountain West also have very high death rates, but that's a function of very small populations that skew the data.
  • Of all U.S. counties, remote Mineral County, Colo., had the highest rate of service members killed in proportion to population — one. The Rocky Mountain county was home to Sgt. Clinton Wayne Ahlquist, who was killed in Ramadi, Iraq, on Feb. 20, 2007, at age 23.
  • Many of the dead came from big cities, including 167 from Los Angeles County, the most of any county.
  • The state with the highest rate of service members killed was Vermont — the state lost 26 troops out of a population of about 624,000. The state with the lowest rate was nearby Connecticut.

Most of the fallen — 5,019 men and women — served in the Army. 1,484 were in the Marines, 248 were in the Navy, and 189 were in the Air Force.

  • 98% of the fallen were men: 6,772, with 168 women.

Why it matters: All were Americans — someone's neighbor, child, parent, mentor, buddy.

  • Thank you.

Correction: Due to a data analysis error, the populations of 36 counties in Louisiana were incorrect. As a result, an earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that three parishes in Louisiana were among the top five places in the country for military deaths per population. The map and story have been updated to reflect the correct data.

2. Arlington Cemetery, nearly full, may become more exclusive
Soldiers from the Old Guard (formally U.S. Army Third Infantry Regiment) hold "Flags In" at Arlington National Cemetery last week. A flag is placed in front of each white marble headstone in advance of Memorial Day. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

"To preserve space for future war heroes in the country’s premier national cemetery, the Army is considering new rules that would turn away many currently eligible veterans," potentially denying it to nearly all veterans who are living today — N.Y. Times' Dave Philipps:

  • "The solemn ritual of a burial with military honors is repeated dozens of times a day, in foul weather or fair, at Arlington National Cemetery, honoring service members from privates to presidents."
  • "But ... Arlington is running out of room. Already the final resting place for more that 420,000 veterans and their relatives, the cemetery has been adding about 7,000 more each year. At that rate, even if the last rinds of open ground around its edges are put to use, the cemetery will be completely full in about 25 years."
  • "The Army wants to keep Arlington going for at least another 150 years, but with no room to grow — the grounds are hemmed in by highways and development — the only way to do so is to significantly tighten the rules for who can be buried there."
  • "The strictest proposal the Army is considering would allow burials only for service members killed in action or awarded the military’s highest decoration for heroism, the Medal of Honor."
  • "The Army is conducting a survey of public opinion on the question through the summer, and expects to make formal recommendations in the fall."
  • The photos by Damon Winter are worthy of your time.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a former Army infantry officer who led combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in between was a platoon leader with the Old Guard at Arlington National Cemetery:

  • “Memorial Day began as Decoration Day, as communities and families decorated the graves of fallen soldiers with flags and flowers. The tradition continues today across our land, with flags and flowers adorning patriot graves ... Their stories inspire our souls and give us all a renewed attachment to the noble country whose flag they wore in their final moments."

P.S. At L.A. National Cemetery, Scouts placed 90,000 flags on veterans’ graves. (L.A. Times)

3. Why more migrant kids will be separated from parents

CNN's on-screen headline as I type: "TRUMP ADMIN. LOSES TRACK OF NEARLY 1,500 MIGRANT CHILDREN."

  • How it happened, per WashPost: "[A]dministration officials have made clear that children will be separated from parents who enter the country illegally and are detained. The surge in illegal border crossings is expected to continue as the economy improves and warmer weather arrives."
  • On Thursday, Steven Wagner, acting assistant secretary at HHS, said during testimony before a Senate subcommittee that 1,475 migrant children placed with sponsors in the United States were missing their locations unknown.
  • The breakdown: "[O]fficials at the agency’s Office of Refugee Resettlement attempted to reach 7,635 children and their sponsors last year. The conversations revealed that only 6,075 were still living with their sponsors. Twenty-eight had run away, five had been removed from the country and 52 had moved in with a non-sponsor."

Why it could get worse, from WashPost: "[T]he administration announced this month that the Department of Homeland Security will refer to Justice Department prosecutors all who crossed the border illegally."

  • "The new zero-tolerance policy will almost certainly mean parents who arrive with children will be separated, because children cannot be detained in criminal jails."
  • "Those kids will then be deemed as unaccompanied minors, whom federal law requires to be placed in the care of" HHS.
Pic du jour: While we're enjoying our holiday ...
Libby Solomon/The Baltimore Sun via AP

Flash flooding from a massive rainstorm rushes through Main Street yesterday in Ellicott City, Md., just west of Baltimore, 37 miles north of Washington.

  • "[L]ocal officials said they were heartbroken to see the community so severely damaged again less than two years after a devastating flood" forced the historic city in Howard County to rebuild much of its Main Street, per AP.
  • Baltimore Sun: "Murky brown water [submerged] cars and businesses’ first floors for nearly two hours. ... The cycle replayed scenes from 2016: customers stranded in restaurants, storefronts destroyed and cars overturned."
4. Freeze frame: Day 493

What we learned on Sunday, May 27, 2018 — Day 493 of President Trump (969½ days left in this term):

  • Can you imagine joking about John McCain dying and then accusing your boss of leaking, in front of the President of the United States? Kelly Sadler did both. And still has a job. Jonathan Swan scoop in his weekly Sneak Peek, "Stunning Oval Office leak: Aides fight in front of Trump — about leaks."
  • Rudy Giuliani, one of the president's lawyers, to Dana Bash on CNN's "State of the Union": "I'm not saying Mueller is illegitimate. I'm saying the basis on which he was appointed is illegitimate." Bash: "So you think that the Mueller probe is legitimate?" Giuliani: "Not anymore. I don't. I did when I came in. But now I see spygate."
  • Sen. Jeff Flake (R.Ariz.) to Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press": "[B]ehind the scenes, there is a lot of alarm. There is concern that the president is laying the groundwork to move on Bob Mueller or Rosenstein. And if that were to happen, obviously, that would cause a constitutional crisis. ... I've been concerned that we haven't spoken up loudly enough. And told the president, 'You simply can't go there.' And he's obviously probing the edges as much as he can ... to see how far Congress will go. And, and we've got to push back harder than we have."
5. Midterm memo: Dems smartly go populist

"Democrats are more united than many people realize — and are running a pretty smart midterm campaign," the N.Y. Times' David Leonhardt writes on today's Op-Ed page:

  • "Democratic candidates aren’t obsessed with President Trump, and they aren’t giving up on the white working class as irredeemably racist. They are running pocketbook campaigns that blast Republicans for trying to take health insurance from the middle class while bestowing tax cuts on the rich."
  • Why it matters: "Americans really are divided on abortion, guns, race and other cultural issues, but they’re remarkably progressive on economics. When Democrats talk about health care, education and jobs, they can focus the white working class on the working-class part of its identity rather than the white part. And Democrats can fire up their base at the same time.

And on today's A1 ... "The Evangelical Fight to Win Back California," by Elizabeth Dias, who's covering faith and politics and the midterms for The Times:

  • As the June 5 primary approaches in one of this year's biggest political battlegrounds, evangelist Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's oldest son, is leading a three-bus caravan to bring Jesus — and a conservative political message — to a state with a vast pool of evangelical voters.
  • Graham has the NYT Quote of the Day: "Progressive? That’s just another word for godless.” Now is the time for churches to “suck it up” and vote.
  • That should go well!
6. 1 TV thing

Sen. John McCain takes the stage during 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

HBO's new documentary on John McCain ("For Whom the Bell Tolls," premiering 8 tonight) "is a thorough and intriguing celebration of the Arizona senator’s life, with many of his political peers and opponents describing McCain’s career of service," The Arizona Republic's Bill Goodykoontz writes.

  • "The filmmakers spent hours with McCain both in his Sedona home and in Washington, D.C. There are testimonials from his family, as well as personal and political friends and enemies..."
  • "In fact, the latter part of the film is given over mostly to just that, laudatory musings about McCain, of which he is certainly deserving."
  • But the rest of the film sorts through McCain’s life — and his mistakes, of which he acknowledges many."
  • "That’s far more interesting, and makes McCain far more human."

An astonishing 49 senators turned out for a Capitol Hill screening hosted by Richard Plepler, HBO chairman and CEO (and former Senate aide to Chris Dodd). 

  • McCain’s entire office staff attended and the entire Armed Services Committee was there, along with many former staff members.
  • House members and many McCain family members joined, along with Frank Gamboa, McCain’s roommate at the Naval Academy. 
  • When the filmmakers showed it to McCain, he said: “You nailed it.”
Mike Allen

Thanks for starting your holiday with us. We'll have updates all day on Axios.com.