TCG Weekly Digest – October 16th, 2015


Week ending October 16, 2015

Weekly roundup about our democracy and The Common Good community

  • Obama will keep US troops in Afghanistan. No end to that war as he had hoped.

  • GOP split on Paul Ryan in hunt for Speaker

  • Hillary gives strong debate showing; Sanders too.

  • Tensions rise in wake of knife attacks and troop reactions in Israel.

  • Suicide bombings  in Turkey rattle the nation


2016 Republican Presidential Nomination: Trump 24, Carson 23, Rubio 9, Fiorina 5, Cruz 10, Bush8, Huckabee 5, Paul 3, Kasich 1, Christie 1, Jindal 1, Pataki 1 [FOX News]

Carson gains momentum: While the status quo was maintained, with Trump first, Ben Carson second, and so on, Trump’s lead over Carson was only one percentage point — the smallest lead Trump has seen in Fox polling and down from an 8-point lead in September.

President Obama Job Approval: Approve 45, Disapprove 50  [Gallup]

Congressional Job Approval: Approve 9, Disapprove 69 [The Economist/YouGov]

2016 Presidential Campaign

Clinton and Sanders reveal their differences in Dem debate: “The first debate will be defined by two moments: When the topic turned to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) chief vulnerability, Hillary Clinton jumped at the opportunity to draw a sharp contrast. When the roles were reversed, Sanders threw her a lifeline. Those two exchanges—the first on gun control and the second on Clinton’s use of a private email account as secretary of state—exemplified not just the different political DNA of each candidate, it underscored the brewing intensity of a Democratic primary that few thought would be competitive.” Sam Stein and Amanda Terkel, The Huffington Post [More]

Clinton invokes Obama to lend credence to record: “Clinton’s positions on Iraq, Syria and Libya were a prime target for her Democratic rivals, as Senator Bernie Sanders hammered her 2002 Iraq War vote as “the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of this country,” and warned that her support for a Syria no-fly zone could drag America into another Middle Eastern “quagmire.” Clinton seemed energized by the back-and-forth on global affairs, making no apologies for her record.”Michael Crowley, POLITICO [More]

Did the media get the Dem debate wrong?: “In the media coverage of Tuesday’s Democratic debate, there was almost universal agreement that Hillary Clinton came out on top. In online polls, several focus groups, and much of social media, though, the story was rather different. Many people insisted that Bernie Sanders was the victor… But we won’t get a reliable reading of public opinion until we see some scientifically conducted surveys based on random samples of Democratic voters.”John Cassidy, The New Yorker [More]

Grassroots anger in the Republican Party: “Establishment and conservative figures see a new GOP taking shape in the tumult of the speaker election in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail. [E]stablishment party figures … worry an unguided fury will keep the GOP from reclaiming the White House next fall. But that same turmoil is eliciting cheers from many in the party’s grass roots, who, far from fearing the turbulence, think it serves their burning desire to force changes in the government.” Janet Hook and Patrick O’Connor, Wall Street Journal [More]

Money and power – the families funding the 2016 election: Special report how 158 families are providing almost half of the early funding for the presidential election campaign. Nicholas Confessore, Sarah Cohen, and Karen Yourish, New York Times [More]

The Economy

Report finds U.S. economic freedom decreasing: “The Economic Freedom of the World report seeks measures of five key indicators of economic freedom: security of property rights, soundness of money, size of government, freedom to trade globally, and the extent of regulation…Relative to other countries, listed most free to least free, the US has slipped from the number 3 spot all the way to number 16.” Jeffrey A. Tucker, Foundation for Economic Education [More]

Treasury warns Congress of default risk: Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said on Thursday that if the debt ceiling isn’t raised by Nov. 3, it will have to fund the government solely using daily cash flow, and that it could run out of cash to pay its bills soon after that.” Nick Timiraos, Wall Street Journal[More]

Fed Vice Chair finds it appropriate to raise rates:[Stanley] Fischer added that there were “considerable uncertainties” surrounding the pace of activity and that Fed policymakers could not be certain about how quickly headwinds holding back the domestic economy would fade. He highlighted America’s poor export performance, which has been held back by slowing demand overseas and the 15 per cent appreciation in the trade-weighted dollar.” Sam Fleming, Financial Times [More]

Consumer confidence rebounds in October: “The University of Michigan preliminary consumer sentiment index for October, jumped to 92.1 from a final September reading of 87.2. “The rebound in confidence signifies that consumers have concluded that the fears expressed on Wall Street did not extend to Main Street,” said Richard Curtin, the survey’s chief economist. Mr. Curtin said consumers are adapting their spending to an up-and-down economy. Low inflation and continued job growth, meanwhile, are supporting renewed confidence.” Jeffrey Sparshott, Wall Street Journal[More]

Sachs: The Japan Syndrome comes to China: “China is now experiencing what Japan went through a generation ago: a marked slowdown in economic growth after demands by the United States that it restrict its exports. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Japan was criticized by the US as an “unfair trader” by virtue of its soaring manufacturing exports. The US succeeded in pushing Japan to overvalue the yen, which helped to bring Japanese growth to a screeching halt. That may be happening again, with China’s growth slowing markedly under the weight of an overvalued currency urged by the US.” Jeffery D. Sachs (TCG Speaker), Project Syndicate [More]

Foreign Affairs and National Security

Iraq withdrawal looms over Obama’s decision in Afghanistan: “Whether keeping a residual American force in Iraq would have made a difference is a point of contention, but the president chose not to take a chance this time. In seeking to avoid a repeat of the Iraq meltdown by keeping 9,800 troops in Afghanistan next year and 5,500 after he leaves office, he abandoned his hopes of ending the two wars he inherited.” Peter Baker, New York Times [More]

Washington Post correspondent convicted in Iran: “Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian,imprisoned in Tehran for more than 14 months, has been convicted following an espionage trial that ended in August, Iranian media reported Monday. The verdict — belated and opaque — was strongly condemned by the journalist’s family and colleagues, as well as the U.S. government.” Carol Morello and William Branigin, The Washington Post  [More]

Suicide bombings in Turkish capital worsen political divide: “Weekend suicide bombings…killed at least 97 people in the Turkish capital. No group has claimed responsibility for the bombings, which threatened to further destabilize a key U.S. and NATO ally already reeling from months of civil strife between Kurdish separatists and security forces. Security officials said the attack bore the hallmarks of two other recent strikes that authorities blamed on Islamic State-linked militants from Turkey.”Emre Peker and Ayla Albayrak,Wall Street Journal [More]

Zakaria: Stop swooning over Putin: “Washington’s foreign policy elites have developed a mind-set that mistakes activity for achievement. They assume that every crisis in the world can and should be solved by a vigorous assertion of U.S. power, preferably military power. Failure to do so is passivity and produces weakness. By this logic, Russia and Iran are the new masters of the Middle East. Never mind that those countries are desperately trying to shore up a sinking ally.” Fareed Zakaria, The Washington Post  [More]

Ignatius: U.S surprises allies in Syria: “A Syrian Kurdish militia that was initially seen by U.S. commanders as a sideshow has emerged as the strongest U.S.-backed force against the Islamic State—forcing a hasty re-evaluation of U.S. strategy after the collapse of a $500 million plan for training and equipping Syrian rebels.” David Ignatius, The Washington Post  [More]

Is a Third Intifada inevitable?: “Call it the Third Intifada, a “wave of terror,” or the “Jerusalem Awakening” — perhaps the best way to describe the violence is, simply, “the future.” Netanyahu has ruled the land for six years and seems to have no aspirations beyond indefinitely prolonging the status quo. Abbas is exhausted and isolated, and while he succeeded in raising the Palestinian flag outside the United Nations, that symbolic gesture brings Palestinians no closer to raising it over a capital in East Jerusalem.” Gregg Carlstrom, Foreign Policy [More]

Domestic Affairs

GOP establishment stands by amidst anti-Ryan criticism: “As the right continues to beat up Paul Ryan, hoping to preempt a bid for speaker, much of the GOP establishment is letting him twist in the wind. Their thinking: Any public display of affection for Ryan from D.C. players would be his kiss of death — handing ammunition to activists to use against the Ways and Means chairman…The establishment’s “say nothing” strategy is a stark contrast to the active role that conservative groups such as Tea Party Patriots are taking. The group launched a “call to action” on Tuesday, urging members to meet with lawmakers over the Columbus Day recess and tell them not to vote for Ryan.” Anna Palmer, POLITICO [More]

Bipartisan effort revises Obamacare’s small business rules: “President Obama signed legislation that makes a significant change in the health law’s small business rules. The revision updates the definition of what constitutes a small employer so that companies with 51 to 100 workers won’t become subject to the small group insurance reform provisions next year. Instead, the law allows those companies to continue as large group plans, unless states step in to define them differently. Lawmakers from both parties argued that classifying these companies as small businesses would increase their health insurance premiums significantly…” Michelle Andrews, NPR [More]

GOP now reaching consensus on how to replace Obamacare: “After years of trying, Republicans are coalescing around the outlines of a plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Jeb Bush unveiled an ObamaCare alternative on Tuesday that is similar to the proposals from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), his presidential rival, and former 2016 hopeful Gov. Scott Walker. The Bush plan overlaps significantly with proposals from congressional Republicans. The plans all center on a tax credit intended to help people afford health insurance, along with more limited protection for people with preexisting health conditions and a cap on federal payments to states for the low-income Medicaid program.” Peter Sullivan, The Hill [More]


Review: “The Last of the President’s Men” by Bob Woodward (TCG Speaker): “Forty-one years after Richard Nixon’s disgraceful resignation over the biggest political scandal in American history, one of his closest former aides says the former president had more secrets. Nixon’s former deputy assistant Alex Butterfield shared detailed memos from his White House days with the legendary Washington Post reporter, Bob Woodward. These memos and 40 hours of interviews are the basis of Woodward’s new book, “The Last of the President’s Men,” which reveals more of Nixon’s lies, crimes, and even his most petty obsessions throughout his presidency.” Rebecca Lee, CBS News[More]

Good Shows

For thoughtful entertaining fare, here are some film recommendations: He Named Me Malala, The Diplomat, and Bridge of Spies.

Archive of Past Digests

TCG Weekly Digest – October 9th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – October 2nd, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – September 25th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – September 18th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – September 11th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – September 4th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – August 28th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – August 21st, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – August 15th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – August 7th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – July 30th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – July 24th, 2015