Oct 8, 2018

Axios AM

Good Monday morning, and happy holiday. 29 days to midterms ...

1 big thing ... New October surprise: Women attacked, women activated

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

For three straight years, October has shocked, not just surprised, America with revelations of sexual assaults on women.

  • The "Access Hollywood" tape of Donald Trump was revealed on Oct. 7, 2016, injecting women's empowerment as presidential campaign issue.
  • The N.Y. Times' exposé of Harvey Weinstein dropped almost exactly a year later — on Oct. 5, 2017 — launching the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
  • The Washington Post's publication of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's account on Sept. 16 set off a national debate that dominated all of early October. Amid the fracas, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court; President Trump will hold a swearing-in ceremony at 7 tonight in the East Room.

Axios' Alexi McCammond says those were such galvanizing moments because women felt they "had, in a way, lost it all" — that the country wasn't where they thought it was.

  • "November is coming" — a play on "Winter is coming" from HBO's "Game of Thrones" — has become a real rallying cry among women.
  • And women who backed Trump in 2016 (particularly suburban and college-educated women) are now one of the biggest midterm bellwethers.

The October surprises go back to Anita Hill's testimony on Oct. 11, 1991. Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, told me that each of these successive events has been "more explosive":

  • "I believe women, particularly college-educated white women who have already been energized, will have an incandescent rage fueling their highest turnout in any midterm ever."

Debbie Walsh, director of Rutgers University's Center for American Women and Politics, tracked each race this year as women set records for the largest number of candidates — then for the most nominees — for House, Senate and governor.

  • Walsh tells me the increased activism for women (including donors and advocates) began with the election of Trump and "has been sustained and fueled by the policies of the Trump administration."

But she said she thinks "this has great potential to continue beyond Trump":

  • "There is now such a clear sense on the part of women that elections have serious consequences," with the Kavanaugh confirmation as the clearest example.

Be smart: New York magazine's Rebecca Traister writes in her new book, “Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger," that feminism "had been successfully coded as unattractively old." Now, "public and politicized challenge to male dominance" has become a major force in American society and politics.

2. Dire climate forecast

"A landmark report from the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change paints a far more dire picture of the immediate consequences of climate change than previously thought," the N.Y. Times' Coral Davenport reports.

  • "The report ... describes a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 — a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population."
  • "Avoiding the most serious damage requires transforming the world economy within just a few years, said the authors, who estimate that the damage would come at a cost of $54 trillion."

Axios science editor Andrew Freedman tells me the report is "landmark both for its content and its timing":

  • "Content-wise, it's stark, in that it finds that the temperature target of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 deg F) above preindustrial levels is hugely beneficial for humanity and the environment, but only achievable if we undertake massive, unprecedented actions in the next decade. The window for global, concerted action is rapidly closing."
  • "Timing-wise, it comes as countries seem to be backsliding on climate action, as seen in the U.S. intention to pull out of the Paris Agreement and ensuing lack of global leadership on this issue."

Go deeper:

3. GOP's gender gap problem
Expand chart
Adapted from Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas via NBC/WSJ; Chart: Axios Visuals

This was a striking graphic that David Nather spotted in a recent slide deck by Bruce Mehlman of Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas.

  • It shows how rapidly women have drifted away from the Republican Party since the 2016 election — opening up a lopsided preference for Democrats to control Congress in just the last few months.

The long game: The gender gap is widening. Given that more women vote than men, this is a short- and long-term peril for Republicans.

P.S. ... Rep. Kevin Cramer, North Dakota's Republican Senate candidate, criticized the #MeToo movement on Sunday, per the N.Y. Times:

  • "Invoking his wife, daughters, mother and mother-in-law, [Cramer] said: 'They cannot understand this movement toward victimization. They are pioneers of the prairie. These are tough people whose grandparents were tough and great-grandparents were tough.'"
  • Sen. Heidi Heitkamp issued an emotional response: "I think it’s wonderful that his wife has never had an experience, and good for her, and it’s wonderful his mom hasn’t. ... My mom did. And I think it affected my mom her whole life. And it didn’t make her less strong."
4. Pic du jour
Mariana Suarez/AFP/Getty Images

The aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, illuminate the sky along the Ring Road in southeastern Iceland, between Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon and Hofn.

5. Apple v. Bloomberg

This fight is going to get bigger. Apple is getting even more categorical in its denial of a Bloomberg Businessweek story saying that Apple was among nearly 30 U.S. companies that had computer equipment compromised by China, which inserted malicious chips during the manufacturing process.

Apple yesterday wrote to the House and Senate commerce committees to say that its internal investigations "directly contradict every consequential assertion made in the article — some of which ... were based on a single anonymous source."

  • "Apple has never found malicious chips, 'hardware manipulations' or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server. We never alerted the FBI to any security concerns like those described in the article, nor has the FBI ever contacted us about such an investigation."
  • "[W]hile the story was being reported, we spoke with Bloomberg’s reporters and editors and ... methodically dispelled the often-shifting nature of their claims. ... [T]he gravity and magnitude of the claims seemed to be undermined by their uncertainty around key details."

George Stathakopoulos, Apple's vice president of information security, wrote to the committees: "I will be available to brief your staff this week to further address the information we’ve offered."

  • Apple has some high-profile backing: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Saturday that it has "no reason to doubt" the companies' denials. Britain’s national cyber security agency said the same on Friday.

Bloomberg reissued its earlier response: "Bloomberg Businessweek's investigation is the result of more than a year of reporting, during which we conducted more than 100 interviews.

  • "Seventeen individual sources, including government officials and insiders at the companies, confirmed the manipulation of hardware and other elements of the attacks. ... We stand by our story and are confident in our reporting and sources."

The takeaway: Ben Thompson writes in his Stratechery today: "[A]t this point it is very difficult to assume the story was correct. I suspect there is something there, but that Bloomberg got some very important details wrong."

6. Brazil propels "Trump for the tropics"
Bolsonaro supporters celebrate in front of his house in Rio de Janeiro. (Ricardo Borges/AP)

"Jair Bolsonaro, the divisive, far-right former Army captain, stormed to a huge lead in the first round of Brazil’s presidential elections ... as voters enraged by years of recession, corruption scandals and soaring crime rallied around his strongman message," per Bloomberg.

  • "The result puts the seven-time congressman on track for victory in the decisive, second-round vote on Oct. 28, when he will face his closest challenger, the Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad."

Why it matters, from Reuters: The vote underscores "a seismic shift in Latin America’s biggest nation as voters raged against the political establishment."

7. Worst U.S. vehicle wreck in 13 years
Barbara Douglas of Danamora, N.Y. lost four family members. (Hans Pennink/AP)

A devastating accident near Albany (Schoharie, N.Y.) killed 20, including all 18 occupants of a limo speeding to a birthday party, AP reports:

  • A 2001 Ford Excursion limo failed to stop at a T-junction, went across the road, and hit an unoccupied SUV parked at the Apple Barrel Country Store, which is popular with leaf-peepers.
  • "Relatives said the limousine was carrying four sisters and their friends to a 30th birthday celebration for the youngest."

"The crash appeared to be the deadliest land-vehicle accident in the U.S. since a bus ferrying nursing home patients away from Hurricane Rita caught fire in Texas in 2005, killing 23."

  • "And it is the deadliest transportation accident overall since February 2009, when a plane crash near Buffalo, New York, killed 50 people."

🚨 You should know: "[V]ehicles converted into stretch limousines often don’t have safety measures including side-impact air bags, reinforced rollover protection bars and accessible emergency exits."

8. Weekend of international intrigue

Grace Meng — the wife of Interpol President Meng Hongwei, who vanished in China — said that using his Interpol mobile phone, he sent her an emoji of a kitchen knife, which she thinks was to warn that he was in danger, per AP.

  • That was four minutes after he sent a message saying: "Wait for my call." It never came.
  • "China is investigating [her husband] for bribery and other crimes, Beijing said [today] in a notice that indicated the Chinese official may also be in trouble for political transgressions."
9. Midterm mood music

N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Orin Kramer, a veteran Democratic fund-raiser and founder of a hedge fund, says donating to once-obscure Democratic House candidates has gained a never-before-seen cachet on Wall Street:

  • "I’ve never seen such an appetite for candidates who people have never heard of."
10. 1 Tay thing

Breaking her long silence on politics, Taylor Swift, 28, took to Instagram last night to weigh in on Tennessee’s closely contested U.S. Senate race, endorsing Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen and harshly rebuking Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Republican nominee, per The (Nashville) Tennessean.

  • Swift: "As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me."