Jan 11, 2021

Axios AM

ūüߧ Hello Monday. Today's Smart Brevity‚ĄĘ count: 1,099 words ... 4 minutes.

ūüŹą President Trump on Thursday will present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the New England Patriots' Bill Belichick, the only coach to win six Super Bowls. ‚ÄĒ AP

1 big thing ... Growing GOP problem: Powerlessness
Workers install a flag on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol ahead of President-elect Biden's inauguration. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP

Republicans are losing power where power matters most at the national level: in politics, media, technology and the workplace.

  • Why it matters: Republicans often felt mistreated when they had real power in the form of the presidency and Senate. Watch Fox News or listen to Ben Shapiro, and you will see and hear how this new isolation will feed Republican worries and grievances in the months ahead.
  • Tucker Carlson warned on Fox: "Tens of millions of Americans have no chance ‚ÄĒ they‚Äôre about to be crushed by the ascendant left."

Democrats will soon control the White House, Senate and House. They already dominate most mainstream newsrooms, own Big Tech companies, and often band together inside corporations to force politically motivated decisions.

  • Republicans will be left with Mitch McConnell as party leader of a 50-50 Senate, prime time on Fox News and The Wall Street Journal editorial page.
  • Most importantly, the right has the Supreme Court, which might prove to be the one reliable counterbalance, and the majority of power at the state level.

Conservatives long ago lost so many key institutions that define the national conversation, including culture, media and higher education.

  • But since 1980, the party had political power and policy-making capability.

Now, President Trump has cost Republicans those tools, and the party will have to rebuild around new people and ideas.

2. Tech becomes cop in government void

Via Fox News

Government has done next to nothing to regulate misinformation on large tech platforms. Now, while belatedly and begrudgingly, large tech companies are creating de facto regulation policy in real time:

  1. On many platforms, hate speech was always punishable.
  2. Twitter and others, in banning President Trump, are suggesting that patterns of misinformation ‚ÄĒ even by the most powerful man in America ‚ÄĒ are grounds for disqualification and silencing.¬†
  3. Apple and Amazon Web Services are suggesting a minimum level of human moderation for using their services.

Between the lines, from Axios managing editor Scott Rosenberg: For years, tech companies improvised their own "regulations" via community standards and terms of service.

ūü•ä Stripe cut off payment-processing for the Trump campaign's website, for violating policies against encouraging violence, The Wall Street Journal scoops.

3. America's population growth slows
Data: William Frey analysis of census data. Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Even in an unlikely "high growth rate" scenario, America's population will grow at the slowest rate since at least the 1930s, Axios' Stef Kight writes from Census Bureau projections.

  • Why it matters: America is aging. A growing number of people are out of the workforce, and a relatively smaller number of people are trying to support them. That could cripple programs like Social Security and slow economic growth.

What's happening: Americans aren't having as many babies as they used to, mirroring a trend in many developed countries.

  • In the lowest growth rate scenario, the U.S. could see the slowest 10-year increase in its population since at least the 1790s, according to a Brookings analysis.

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4. ‚õ≥ÔłŹ PGA shanks Trump

Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. Photo: Seth Wenig/AP

The PGA of America voted to move the 2022 PGA Championship from Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey, Axios Sports author Kendall Baker reports.

  • Why it matters: The PGA is the first sports organization to abandon Trump after the Capitol siege.

Between the lines: The Trump Organization owns or operates 17 golf courses around the world, and they generate about a third of the family's revenue, the N.Y. Times reports (subscription).

5. Mayor warns of inauguration danger

New fence around Supreme Court yesterday. Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security that she is "extremely concerned" about next week's inauguration, citing "new threats from insurgent acts of domestic terrorists."

A New York Times investigation (subscription) into the security failure ("FLOOD OF FAILURES LET MOB RAMPAGE THROUGH CAPITOL") found:

  • "[G]overnment agencies have no coordinated plan to defend against an attack on the Capitol."
  • "Poor planning and communication among a constellation of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies hamstrung the response."
  • "The country got lucky. Hundreds of rioters carrying weapons breached the seat of American power ‚ÄĒ some with the clear intent of injuring, holding hostage or even killing federal officials to stop them from certifying the vote."
Capitol Police officers salute the hearse of Officer Brian Sicknick, who was killed by rioters. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who resigned Friday, told The Washington Post in his first post-riot interview: "My concern is if they don’t get their act together with physical security, it’s going to happen again."

6. Stunning "60 Minutes" image
Photo: CBS News

In her first interview since the riot, Speaker Pelosi showed Lesley Stahl of "60 Minutes" the damage in her office:

  • "You see¬†what they did¬†to the mirror there? The glass was all over the place. ... And then the desk¬†that they actually were at was¬†right there ‚ÄĒ that they defamed in that way, feet on the desk and all that."

Go deeper: Watch, read the segment.

‚ö° What's next: Pelosi said in a letter to members that the House will begin steps toward impeachment today, with a resolution calling on Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment within 24 hours.

  • "Next, we will proceed with bringing impeachment legislation to the Floor.¬†"
7. ūüíį Business rethinks donations after Capitol siege

In a shock to Washington Inc., several corporations are restricting or suspending political contributions after the Capitol siege:

  • JPMorgan Chase is pausing all giving to both parties for six months. "The country is facing unprecedented health, economic and political crises," said Peter Scher, chair of the Mid-Atlantic Region and head of corporate responsibility. "There will be plenty of time for campaigning later."
  • Citi's head of global government affairs, Candi Wolff, said in a letter to colleagues that the bank will pause all contributions in Q1, and that after that, "[W]e will not support candidates who do not respect the rule of law."
  • Marriott International said the hotel giant will pause donations "to those who voted against certification of the election."
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield Association said it will suspend contributions to "lawmakers who voted to undermine our democracy" by challenging Electoral College results.
  • Boston Scientific, the medical device maker, is pausing all federal gifts.
8. Data drives clean-fuel competition

Illustration: A√Įda Amer/Axios

One of the most important trends in climate change isn‚Äôt anything you heard on the campaign trail, but instead something as basic as data ‚ÄĒ and the technological exploitation of it, Amy Harder writes in her "Harder Line" column:

  • Companies have been disclosing more data on greenhouse gas emissions since the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, and a new trend cropping up uses that to foster competition for greener energy.
  • Expect far more of this under President-elect Biden.

Keep reading.

9. Going viral

Photo: Frank Fastner/Arnold Schwarzenegger via AP

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Austrian-born "Terminator" actor and former California governor, released a 7¬Ĺ-minute video comparing the Capitol riot to a rampage that was a prelude to atrocity:

  • "Wednesday was the Night of Broken Glass right here in the United States."
  • In 1938, Nazis in Germany and Austria vandalized Jewish homes, schools and businesses during an attack that became known as Kristallnacht.

Schwarzenegger likened American democracy to his sword "Conan the Barbarian," which grew stronger when it was tempered. (AP)

10. ūüď¶ New return policy: Keep it

Amazon, Walmart and other retailers are using AI to decide whether a return makes economic sense:

  • "For inexpensive items or large ones that would incur hefty shipping fees, it is often cheaper to refund the purchase price and let customers keep the products," The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription).

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