Jul 4, 2018

Axios AM

🇺🇸🎂☄️ Happy 242nd, America. Thanks to all of you who are working today. And good times to everyone who's enjoying feasting, family and friends.

Situational awareness: "Across the country, older adults and retirees are climbing into the lifeguard chair as fewer young people seek what was once a rite-of-passage summer job for high schoolers and college students," per WashPost.

  • "[T]he teen summer job is drying up as extracurricular commitments and internships eat into summer breaks."
1 big thing: Reasons to love America, 2018
Expand chart
Adapted from a Gallup report. Chart: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Forget D.C. Forget Twitter. Forget what's on your screens. On America's 242nd birthday, the numbers in the poll above should be a hell of a lot higher.

Gallup this week began its report on the poll above (taken by phone June 1-13; 1,520 U.S. adults; ±3-point margin of error for total):

  • "This Fourth of July marks a low point in U.S. patriotism."
  • "For the first time in Gallup's 18-year history asking U.S. adults how proud they are to be Americans, fewer than a majority say they are 'extremely proud."
  • "Currently, 47% describe themselves this way, down from 51% in 2017 and well below the peak of 70% in 2003."

A USA Today/Ipsos poll made a clever distinction in its questions and had a more encouraging result (taken online June 26-27; 1,004 U.S. adults; ±3.5 margin of error for total):

  • 72% felt proud to be Americans.
  • 42% feel proud of America right now.

Our thought bubble: When we begin conflating "America" with partisan forces on either side, they've won. The strength of our country has been that it transcends the fads, fevers and foul-ups of the moment.


  • "The U.S. had more job openings this spring than unemployed Americans." (Wall Street Journal)
  • We travel freely: Every day, 2.5 million of us board 42,000 flights.
  • 25% of us do volunteer service.
  • The U.S. government spends close to $50 billion (1% of total federal budget authority) helping the world, plus billions more from U.S.-based philanthropies.
  • Americans are part of just 39% of the world population judged by Freedom House to be "free."
  • "Violent crime in the U.S. has fallen sharply over the past quarter century." (Pew Research Center)
  • "Crime in New York City Plunges to a Level Not Seen Since the 1950s." (N.Y. Times)
  • "Powered by a booming stock market and a strong economy," charitable giving in the U.S. last year "exceeded $400 billion in a single year for the first time." (Giving USA)
  • About 1.3 million of us are on active duty in the military, and 20 million of us once served. (But, per the Pentagon: "[T]he number of Americans with firsthand experience with service members or veterans has declined precipitously since the beginning of the all-volunteer military in 1973.")

There's plenty we can do better, and that our leaders should do better. We write about that on Axios all day, every day. Axios AM's highest purpose is to give you a clear-eyed view of a disruptive world, so you can make smarter decisions.

But enjoy today, and the country. America, here's to 243!

2. Shock poll: Two Americas

Americans can't even agree on which food is the "most American" to eat at a July 4th cookout, according to a new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll.

Expand chart
Data: SurveyMonkey poll, June 25-27. Poll methodology. Chart: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
3. "My staff told me not to say this"

Trump pressed aides on Venezuela invasion, U.S. official says ... "As a meeting last August in the Oval Office to discuss sanctions on Venezuela was concluding, President Trump turned to his top aides and asked an unsettling question: With a fast unraveling Venezuela threatening regional security, why can't the U.S. just simply invade the troubled country?" AP's Josh Goodman reports from Bogota, Colombia:

  • "The suggestion stunned those present at the meeting, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, both of whom have since left the administration."
  • "This account ... comes from a senior administration official familiar with what was said."
  • "In an exchange that lasted around five minutes, McMaster and others took turns explaining to Trump how military action could backfire and risk losing hard-won support among Latin American governments to punish President Nicolas Maduro for taking Venezuela down the path of dictatorship."
  • "But Trump pushed back. Although he gave no indication he was about to order up military plans, he pointed to what he considered past cases of successful gunboat diplomacy in the region, ... like the invasions of Panama and Grenada in the 1980s."
  • "The idea, despite his aides' best attempts to shoot it down, would nonetheless persist in the president's head."
  • "The next day, Aug. 11, Trump alarmed friends and foes alike with [public] talk of a 'military option' to remove Maduro from power."
  • "[S]hortly afterward, he raised the issue with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos."
  • "Then in September, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, Trump discussed it again, this time at greater length, in a private dinner with leaders from four Latin American allies that included Santos."
  • "The U.S. official said Trump was specifically briefed not to raise the issue and told it wouldn't play well, but the first thing the president said at the dinner was, 'My staff told me not to say this.'"
Bonus: Pics du jour

New York Harbor, July 3, 2018 ...

Photos by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Worthy reading ... David McCormick, co-CEO of Bridgewater Associates and a veteran of the First Gulf War, "Virtuous Leadership and Restoring the American Dream" — a "thoughtful analysis on why America needs more veterans in leadership positions, across business, media and politics."

4. Boys may be taken out of Thai cave in stages
Courtesy N.Y. Post

"A new video has been released of the 12 boys and their [soccer] coach trapped in a Thai cave, in which they say they are in good health," per BBC:

  • "The video ... shows the team draped in foil blankets to keep them warm. ... "Smiling and at times laughing, they introduce themselves one by one."
  • "They were found on Monday after nine days trapped deep in the cave by rising water and have since received food and medical treatment."
  • "But their rescue may take months as they must either be taught to dive or wait for the water to recede."
  • "The concern is that the rainy season has only just begun, so water levels in the Tham Luang cave will almost certainly continue to rise."
5. Quick catch-up

"Trump Voters May Be the Biggest Losers From Trump’s Auto Tariffs," per N.Y. Times:

  • "European companies have turned Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee into auto manufacturing powerhouses in recent years ... Trump won 63 percent of the vote in Spartanburg, S.C., home of BMW’s biggest factory anywhere in the world. But Allen Smith, president of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, said the president’s tariffs would threaten the region’s livelihood."

"Even before a round of U.S. tariffs levied on China comes into force Friday, there are signs that the long-feared slowdown in global trade is under way," per The Wall Street Journal. "Business surveys published this week show that global export growth, strong in 2017, has slowed to a relative crawl."

"The Senate Intelligence Committee strongly backed the finding by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, ultimately intending to help Donald Trump win," per Bloomberg.

  • Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.): "The Committee has spent the last 16 months reviewing the sources, tradecraft and analytic work underpinning the Intelligence Community Assessment and sees no reason to dispute the conclusions."

Turning point for affirmative action — lead story of both N.Y. Times and WashPost, which reports:

  • "The Trump administration [yesterday] discouraged the use of race in college admissions and public school enrollment by revoking federal guidance on affirmative action from the Obama era. The announcement is the latest step in a decades-long debate over the use of race in admissions, a tactic for many schools seeking to diversify and overcome the legacy of segregation."
6. 1 spell thing

This was originally posted with "pour over my tweets," then corrected to "pore."

Happy holiday. If you need your fix, we're updating all day on Axios.com.