Aug 8, 2019

Axios AM

🌞 Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,483 words ... ~ 6.5 minutes.

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1 big thing: 2020 Dems call Trump "white supremacist"
President Trump talks to reporters aboard Air Force One yesterday. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

Elizabeth Warren and Beto O’Rourke both called President Trump a "white supremacist," an extraordinary charge at an extraordinary moment in American politics.

  • Why it matters ... This is Merriam-Webster's definition of white supremacist: "a person who believes that the white race is inherently superior to other races and that white people should have control over people of other races."
  • Between the lines: This is a big shift from calling the president a white nationalist.

Warren, asked by the N.Y. Times, and O’Rourke, asked by MSNBC, were unambiguous, saying "yes" when asked if Trump was a white supremacist. 

  • Trump tweeted yesterday: "The Dems new weapon is actually their old weapon, one which they never cease to use when they are down, or run out of facts, RACISM!"

What’s next: This will put pressure on other Democrats to agree with a charge not made in a generation of American politics: that their opponent, the sitting president, believes whites are the dominant race and should control other races. 

2. Generation Alpha, the 9-year-olds shaping our future

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

What's new: They're tech heavy, extremely connected — and, at most, 9 years old. Meet Generation Alpha, Axios' Ursula Perano writes.

  • Why it matters: Millennials are reaching adulthood, and Generation Z is coming of age. So Generation Alpha is the next group to shape our future.

Generation Alpha kids, born beginning in 2010, are primarily the children of Gen Y — millennials born between 1980 and 1995, according to McCrindle, a social research agency in Australia.

  • The demographic is the first to be born entirely in the 21st century.
  • The name comes from the first letter of the Greek alphabet.

What to watch:

  • Technology: They've been wired all their lives. McCrindle's Ashley Fell says this generation is part of an "unintentional global experiment," in which screens are placed in front of children at the same time as pacifiers.
  • Diversity is a standard for Alphas, with women in the workplace, the value of inclusion and a focus on equality as overwhelming norms.
  • Life markers such as marriage, children and retirement are expected to be delayed, much like previous generations.
  • Education: Alphas are expected to surpass their predecessors, Generation Z, as the most formally educated generation in history.

The bottom line: They'll pay our bills. Labor and tax dollars are expected to be in high demand from Alphas, with an aging boom just around their adulthood.

3. Big business under pressure on guns

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

What's new: America’s biggest companies are reconsidering their relationships with the gun industry, Axios' Erica Pandey and Courtenay Brown write.

  • Why it matters: The manufacturing, selling and transportation of guns is a complicated supply chain that touches much of corporate America, including retailers, banks and shippers. These corporations don't face partisan gridlock and can take action on guns swiftly.
  • But no major companies have announced concrete gun policy changes in response to this weekend's mass shootings.

Companies are facing rising pressure from employees, activists and customers to cut ties with the gun industry as mass shootings get more frequent:

  • Walmart CEO Doug McMillon pledged "thoughtful and deliberate" responses to this weekend’s shootings, but the company said it would make no further changes to its gun retail policies. His note on LinkedIn followed an exhortation by the N.Y. Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin to use the company's massive leverage to curb gun violence.
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook called on lawmakers to "come together to address this violence."

Reality check: Smaller gun shops and gun shows make up a much larger piece of the vendor pie than big retailers do, and a lot of transactions take place in cash.

Courtesy TIME

The papers' lead stories, on President Trump's visits to El Paso and Dayton:

  • N.Y. Times: "President Uses a Day of Healing to Stoke Discord."
  • WashPost: "On arrival, Trump stokes divisions."
  • L.A. Times: "Trump visits grieving cities, and lashes out."
4. Cover du jour
Courtesy The New Yorker

For the cover of next week's issue of The New Yorker, Kara Walker pays tribute to Toni Morrison, and to the shadow that she leaves behind, with "Quiet As It’s Kept."

Walker tells New Yorker art editor Françoise Mouly for "Cover Story":

Like many artists, I looked up to Ms. Morrison for some kind of approval and validation that I usually didn’t seek in life. Through her work and words, she became something like a muse, teacher, mother, clairvoyant, and judge. Always a presence urging me on. After a number of false starts — pastel, clay, I even considered watercolor — I decided to keep it familiar, to use the cutout. It’s the work I do. I’m no portraitist, but I am a shadow maker.
5. New overnight: Climate change threatens food

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

What's new: A UN report out today finds that climate change is putting dire pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself, with the possibility that food crises could develop on several continents at once — a "multi-breadbasket failure," the N.Y. Times' Christopher Flavelle writes.

  • Why it matters: "A half-billion people already live in places turning into desert, and soil is being lost between 10 and 100 times faster than it is forming."

Go deeper, via Axios' Ben Geman: The climate peril from land degradation

6. Largest U.S. immigration raids in a decade
A handcuffed woman stares though the chain link fencing at the Koch Foods poultry plant in Morton, Miss. Photo: Rogelio V. Solis/AP

U.S. immigration officials raided seven Mississippi chicken processing plants, arresting 680 mostly Latino workers in the largest workplace sting in at least a decade, AP reports.

  • About 600 ICE agents fanned out across the plants operated by five companies, surrounding the perimeters to prevent workers from fleeing.
  • The raids, planned months ago, happened just hours before President Trump visited El Paso, the majority-Latino border city where a man linked to an online screed about a "Hispanic invasion" was charged in a shooting that left 22 people dead.

In Morton, Miss., a tearful 13-year-old boy whose parents are from Guatemala waved goodbye to his mother, a Koch Foods worker, as he stood beside his father.

  • Some employees tried to flee on foot but were captured in the parking lot.
7. Scoop: Mayor Pete adds top talent
Pete Buttigieg speaks yesterday at The Plaza Live in Orlando. Photo: Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via Getty Images

Hari Sevugan, a well-known Democratic operative, has joined Pete Buttigieg's campaign as deputy campaign manager for brand and media, Axios has learned.

  • Sevugan will oversee how the mayor's message is integrated throughout the campaign. 
  • He was a senior spokesperson for Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, and later the DNC's national press secretary.
  • He has led research, policy and communications teams on statewide campaigns, helping to elect governors Tim Kaine in Virginia and Martin O'Malley in Maryland.

Why it matters: The Buttigieg staff has grown to 250, from about 40 when he announced four months ago, in mid-April.

  • And he plans to keep hiring.
  • Sevugan will be based in the campaign's Chicago office. The mayor's headquarters is in South Bend, Ind., where he has outgrown his space twice, and is now in his third location, and he has staff in the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

Other big recent Buttigieg hires: Jess O'Connell as senior strategist ... Michael Halle as senior adviser ... Larry Grisolano and John Del Cecato of AKPD Media ... and Katie Connolly of Benenson Strategy Group.

  • They join campaign manager Mike Schmuhl, communications adviser Lis Smith and national press secretary Chris Meagher.
8. First look: David Plouffe's 2020 advice
David Plouffe (right) and David Axelrod at a President Obama stop in Springfield, Ohio, four days before the 2012 election. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

David Plouffe, manager of Barack Obama's 2008 campaign and a pioneer in grassroots organizing, will be out March 3 with "A Citizen's Guide to Beating Donald Trump" (Viking), including his advice to 2020 voters and campaigns.

  • Plouffe's message: "The only way change happens, especially on scale, is one human being talking to another. ... [I]t won't happen because of debates and conventions, it won't happen because of ads. It will happen because citizens take action."

Plouffe told me in an interview that because Trump is a master at dominating attention, "we need to have millions of people out there who are talking to that fairly small universe of [persuadable] people in those battleground states."

  • "I think the affirmative case is as important, if not more important, than a negative case," Plouffe said.
  • "So we need a nominee and volunteers who are passionate to say, 'You know what? I really think this person will be a good president — they're not just an antidote to getting rid of Trump.'"

After the White House, Plouffe — author of "The Audacity to Win" — became a senior executive at Uber. He now leads policy and advocacy at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and lives in San Francisco.

Cover: Viking
9. ⚡Breaking: Trump's next commutation?

President Trump told reporters last night that he's "very strongly" considering commuting the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who's serving a 14-year prison term on multiple federal corruption convictions, per AP.

  • Trump said he thought the Democrat had been treated "unbelievably unfairly."
  • He said he's considering Blago's wife and kids and what was, in his view, mere braggadocio.
10. Adventure story: Trying to hide from Silicon Valley
Courtesy Bloomberg Businessweek

"How to Hide from Silicon Valley" ... Joel Stein writes for Bloomberg Businessweek about his adventures with the apps, tools and clothing that allow Americans to opt out of surveillance capitalism — and how difficult it can be to disappear:

  • "If I wanted to regain my privacy, I had only one choice as an American: I needed gadgets to combat my gadgets. But I didn’t want Silicon Valley companies to know I was buying privacy gear. So I decided to get it only from companies headquartered outside the Bay Area. And to hide my purchases from Big Tech."

Worthy of your time.

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