Axios AM

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October 03, 2017

1 big thing: 3 hard truths

In a moment of such jarring tragedy, three sad but indisputable realities of America 2017 were exposed — and then amplified — within minutes of the shooting:

1. Our gun manufacturers are heavily incentivized by market demand and lax laws in most states, and by the federal government, to allow mad men to accumulate all the firepower they crave for mass killings. This didn't change after Columbine or Sandy Hook. And won't now.

2. President Trump and congressional Republican have every incentive to protect the status quo. Read and reflect on this chilling text from Steve Bannon to Axios last night. when asked if Trump will revert to his earlier support of gun control:

  • "Impossible: will be the end of everything," Bannon told Jonathan Swan.
  • When asked whether Trump's base would react worse to this than if he supported an immigration amnesty bill, Bannon replied: "as hard as it is to believe actually worse."
  • Go deeper: Why Trump is unlikely to do a Chuck-and-Nancy deal on gun control.

3. Yesterday, the same platforms the Russians used to manipulate voters were the middle men for B.S. conspiracy theories about Vegas.

  • Google results amplified an online claim that the shooter was "a Democrat who liked Rachel Maddow,, and associated with the anti-Trump army," per CNN's Oliver Darcy.
  • "Facebook promoted several dubious websites on its Crisis Response page."

Be smart: Trump's election showed the capacity for an unconventional politician to beat the system. But the dynamics post-shooting are the same — and we would argue getting worse, because heartless people can use social media to spread lies and fear with such ease and precision.

2. 23 guns in his suite

Here's the latest on the rampage on the Las Vegas Strip, which started at 10:08 p.m. Pacific time on Sunday:

  • Stephen Paddock, 64, a reclusive real estate investor and gambler, hauled 23 weapons up to his 32nd-floor suite of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and turned it into a hunting platform. (L.A. Times)
  • Paddock shot nearly 600 people enjoying the open-air country music concert across Las Vegas Boulevard: 59 killed and 527 injured.
  • "At least 23 firearms, including a handgun, were found in Mr. Paddock's hotel suite ... Some were rifles equipped with scopes ... Paddock used multiple rifles during the attack." (N.Y. Times)
  • "In addition, ... police retrieved 19 firearms, as well as explosives, several thousand rounds of ammunition and 'electronic devices' from Mr. Paddock's home in Mesquite, Nev."
  • The victims: "They came from Alaska and Tennessee, Riverside and Simi Valley, commercial fishermen, police officers, teachers, retirees — drawn together only by a love of country music." (L.A. Times)

Even as our national system stalls, our citizens fill the gap, as they did during the Texas floods after Hurricane Harvey:

  • "Las Vegas Valley residents ... rushed to help the wounded; donated blood, supplies and money; and prayed en masse for victims and their families," the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
  • Local hospitals had drilled for mass-casualty incidents, and heroically handled this the hundreds of incoming.
  • Civilians took truckloads of strangers to local trauma units, and moved injured in wheelbarrows and on luggage carts, per the Review-Journal.

N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Shami Espinoza, a concertgoer from California who was caught in the gunfire at a Las Vegas music festival: "Either run and get shot and die, or stay and get shot and die."

3. The conversation

As President Trump heads to Puerto Rico today, and Las Vegas tomorrow ... Nicolle Wallace, former George W. Bush aide and now an MSNBC host, to Brian Williams on MSNBC:

  • "This is a moment that the president has to come and meet. ... He has shown a capacity to root for people who root for him. But there have not been a lot of displays of empathy or compassion for people who have been either critics of his, or detractors."
  • "Presidents and presidencies are always shaped by how a president reacts to an event out of their control."
  • "Yet White House staffs spend much of their time either crafting legislation, or trying to force their will, or force an agenda, on the moment. When most people, going about their lives, judge a presidency by how the president responds to a moment not of their making."

N.Y. Times' Peter Baker, to Brian Williams:

  • "When President Clinton responded to the Oklahoma City bombing [of 1995], it really helped him recover from the debacle of the midterm elections of 1994, and transcend and restore his presidency. He was seen again as a leader, rather than just a weakened prime minister."
  • "Same with President Bush: Early in his tenure, he transcended the divisiveness of the recount and the early days, and became a national leader in that moment with the bullhorn ... and in the National Cathedral speech" after the 9/11 attacks.
  • "These are moments [when] presidents rise to the occasion because we as a country want them to, and need them to. So for President Trump, this is both an obligation and an opportunity."

The late-night hosts turn somber, via AP TV Writer Lynn Elber:

  • ABC's Jimmy Kimmel, who grew up in Vegas: "I don't know why our so-called leaders continue to allow this to happen ... Or maybe a better question — why do we continue to let them allow it to happen?"
  • Trevor Noah on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show": "Just to give you an idea of how far away America is from actual gun control, this week Congress is going to vote on deregulating gun silencers. Because I guess Congress is thinking gun violence is out of control: 'How can we make it quieter?'"
  • CBS' Stephen Colbert: "So then, what are we willing to do to combat pure evil? The answer can't be nothing. ... You want to make America great again? Do something the last two presidents haven't been able to do. Pass any kind of common-sense gun control legislation, that the vast majority of Americans want."
  • TBS' Conan O'Brien: "When did this become a ritual? And what does it say about us that it has? ... I don't think it should be so easy for one demented person to kill so many people so quickly. The sounds of those automatic weapons last night are grotesquely out of place in a civilized society."

Bonus: memorable graphic

4. Tweet du jour

5. Who could do this?

6. Hope reignites for criminal justice reform

Criminal justice reform is moving again at the federal level after more than a year of inertia and disappointment for advocates. Two bills are being introduced this week, Axios Jonathan Swan reports:

  • Why this matters: These bills — while only the first step in a long process — mark the first serious congressional engagement on criminal justice reform for more than a year.
  • Reformers lost all their momentum during brutal 2016 political season, in which candidate Trump elevated "tough on crime" politics at the expense of bipartisan efforts to reduce prison sentences for non-violent criminals.
  • Go deeper.

7. Trump to spend 5.5 hours in Puerto Rico today

"About a quarter of Puerto Rico will regain power by next month," Puerto Rico's governor, Ricardo Rosselló, told a news conference yesterday, via NBC News.

  • About 10% of households are expected to have electricity in the next two weeks.
  • "The governor also said ... 47% ... of residents have running water and the number should climb to 60% by the end of the week."
  • Per Defense Department, 37% of residents now have cellular phone service.

8. 10 million saw Russia-linked Facebook ads

Facebook's Elliot Schrage, vice president of policy and communications, writes that an estimated 10 million people in the U.S. saw the Russia-linked ads that the company delivered to Congress yesterday:

  • "Most of the ads appear to focus on divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum, touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights. A number of them appear to encourage people to follow Pages on these issues."
  • "44% of total ad impressions (number of times ads were displayed) were before the US election on November 8, 2016; 56% were after the election."
  • N.Y. Times: "Facebook ... turned over more than 3,000 of the Russia-linked advertisements from its site over to the Senate and House intelligence committees, as well as the Senate Judiciary Committee."
  • WashPost: "One of the Russian-bought advertisements ... featured photographs of an armed black woman 'dry firing' a rifle — pulling the trigger of the weapon without a bullet in the chamber."
  • Go deeper ... "Facebook announces ad updates in response to Russia probe," by Axios David McCabe and Sara Fischer.

9. Work like Elon

Dave Schools, entrepreneurship expert and Axios contributor, outlines the high-efficiency habits Elon Musk uses to run his day:

  • Don't skimp on sleep. Asleep by 1 a.m.., Musk sleeps a healthy 6 to 6.5 hours a night, or he feels grumpy.
  • Get inspired in the shower.
  • Hyper-efficient meetings. In the middle of one meeting, Elon said to a quiet attendee: "You haven't said anything. Why are you in here?"
  • Diet for productivity. Drink two coffees a day and Diet Coke. Skip breakfast half the time. Cut down on sweets. Scarf lunch in five minutes during meetings.
  • Exercise 1-2 times a week. Usually treadmill and lifting weights.
  • Schedule everything, even if it's in 5-minute slots.
  • Read the whole post.

Business bonus ... WashPost's Tom Heath: "Laurene Powell Jobs, a billionaire philanthropist, entrepreneur and president of the Emerson Collective [and investor in Axios], is buying a significant stake in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, a sprawling $2.5 billion complex that includes the NBA Wizards, NHL Capitals and Capital One Arena."

10. 1 sad thing

Grammy winner Maren Morris posted this song, "Dear Hate," which features Country Music Hall of Fame member Vince Gill, yesterday afternoon.

  • Her Instagram post: "I wrote this song 3 years ago, recorded it last year with Vince Gill, and always have fans asking when I'll put it out. I never knew when would be the right time, but I realized today that there's never a right time ... Any cent I see from this I'm donating to the Music City Cares Fund."
  • Listen on YouTube. (Cowboy hat tip: Kurt Bardella)