Jul 13, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

⚡Breaking: At least 26 people — including prominent Somali journalist Hodan Naleyah and several foreigners (two Americans) — have been killed by gunmen and a suicide car-bomber at a hotel in Kismayo, Somalia. (BBC)

1 big thing: Dems' "American heroes" strategy

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats are seeking an edge in their uphill battle to win the Senate in 2020 by fielding military veterans against Republican incumbents in Trump country, Alexi McCammond reports.

  • Why it matters: This strategy helped Democrats take back the House in 2018.
  • Candidates with foreign policy and national security experience flipped crucial GOP-held seats from Pennsylvania to California.

Party officials think the military background helps particularly in places where folks haven't pulled the "Democrat" lever in a long time:

  • Amy McGrath, the Democrat running against Sen. Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, was the first female Marine to fly a F/A-18 fighter in combat.
  • Mark Kelly, who's challenging Sen. Martha McSally in Arizona, is a former Navy captain who flew 39 combat missions during Operation Desert Storm, and commanded Space Shuttle Endeavour.
  • Cal Cunningham, challenging Sen. Thom Tillis in North Carolina, is an Iraq veteran who was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
  • MJ Hegar, running against John Cornyn in Texas, is an Afghanistan veteran who served in the Air Force and was awarded the Purple Heart in 2009. 
  • Dan Baer, challenging Sen. Cory Gardner in Colorado, was U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), dealing directly with Russia.

Reality check ... A national-security résumé isn't necessarily a ticket to ride:

  • McGrath and Hegar ran for the House in 2018, and both lost.
  • Cunningham lost his primary for Senate in 2010.
  • Baer briefly challenged fellow Democrat Rep. Ed Perlmutter in '18 before dropping out.
2. Trump breaks a record
President Trump appears on the South Lawn yesterday with Labor Secretary Alex Acosta. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The extraordinary turnover in Trump’s cabinet — Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who's resigning as part of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, was the ninth to go — reflects the original failure of the Trump transition, Jonathan Swan points out:

  • Nominees weren't adequately vetted before Trump hurriedly announced them.
  • As we documented on "Axios on HBO," the team was shooting in the dark, with little consideration about whether the cabinet secretaries would be ideologically compatible or personally compatible — or whether skeletons could come back to haunt them.

The data: "Trump has now had more turnover in his Cabinet in the first two and a half years of his presidency than any of his five immediate predecessors did in their entire first terms." (TIME)

  • The context: "During the Obama Administration, there was no turnover in cabinet agencies, two and a half years into his first term." (CNN)
3. Where Windows 7 still lives
ExpressVote XL, Philly's first new voting machines since 2002. Photo: Matt Rourke/AP

The vast majority of 10,000 election jurisdictions nationwide use Windows 7 or an older operating system for voting or tallying — archaic systems vulnerable to hackers, AP's Tami Abdollah reports.

  • Why it matters: Private vendors, and state finances, determine the security level of election systems, which lack federal requirements or oversight.
  • J. Alex Halderman, a University of Michigan professor and election security expert, said the country risks repeating "mistakes that we made over the last ... decade-and-a-half when states bought voting machines but didn't keep the software up-to-date."

What's next: Windows 7 reaches its "end of life" Jan. 14, meaning Microsoft stops technical support and patches, although security updates will be provided for a fee through 2023.

  • AP's 50-state survey found that battleground states using Windows 7 include Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Arizona and North Carolina.
4. 🌀 Breaking: Barry becomes a hurricane
Photo: David J. Phillip/AP

Bourbon Street in the New Orleans French Quarter yesterday.

  • Hurricane Barry is threatening 3 million people across the Gulf Coast with disastrous flooding this weekend, testing flood-prevention efforts after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans 14 years ago. (AP)
5. "The new anti-Semitism"
A man walks by graves vandalized at the Jewish cemetery in Quatzenheim, France, on Feb. 19. Photo: Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images

"In Europe and the U.S., rising political forces on both the right and the left have revived old patterns that scapegoat Jews for society’s ills," writes Yaroslav Trofimov, chief foreign-affairs correspondent of The Wall Street Journal:

  • "In France and other Western societies, the proliferation of new political forces that challenge the established liberal order" is activating latent-anti-Semitism.

On issues from economic inequality to immigration, "old and new conspiracy theories blaming the Jews have gained new traction, abetted by the political polarization and general crisis of confidence permeating Western democracies."

  • "[U]nfiltered social media has pushed these anti-Semitic tropes, long confined to the fringes, into the mainstream."

Go deeper (subscription).

6. 🍽️ 1 food thing: The future of restaurants

An unfortunate collision — oversaturated markets, rising labor and food costs, changing consumer tastes and loyalties, a shrinking middle class, declines in mall traffic — mean this golden age of restaurants may be over, the WashPost's Laura Reiley writes on the cover of Sunday's Business section:

  • Why it matters: The restaurant industry can be a precursor to a bear market or recession.

For years, restaurant growth has exceeded population growth, said analyst David Henkes of Technomic:

  • And it'll be five to seven years before the huge millennial generation fits neatly in the spending sweet spot.

The Post's thesis comes from “Burn the Ice: The American Culinary Revolution and Its End,” a book out July 9 from James Beard Award-winning food writer Kevin Alexander.

  • Alexander argues that since 2006, U.S. restaurants have enjoyed a transformative period.
  • Among the innovations: "'fine casual dining' .... craft cocktails, farm-to-table dining, the hipification of non-Western food, the audacity of food truck culture, the democratization of criticism via social media."
  • Now, the shake-up. "There are too many restaurants,” Alexander told The Post. "There hasn’t been a recession since 2008, and a recession gets the people who aren’t serious out of the way. Austerity breeds creativity."

Go deeper.

Mike Allen

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