TCG Weekly Digest – December 12th, 2015


Week ending December 12, 2015

Weekly roundup about our democracy and The Common Good community

The Economy

Middle class is no longer a majority in U.S., study says: Analysts suggest the shift could affect politics and social stability. Rapid growth of upper-income households, along with an increase in less-educated low earners, has driven the decline of the middle-income population to just below 50% of the total this year. In 1971, the middle class accounted for 61% of the population, and has been declining ever since. Don Lee, LAT [More] [Pew Study]

Shrinking of America’s middle class due to technological change and globalisation: Strikingly, the change has been driven at least as much by rapid growth in the ranks of prosperous Americans above the level of the middle class as it has by expansion in the numbers of poorer citizens. Jason Furman, chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, says: “You have seen a hollowing out of the middle of the income distribution, and there’s neither one cause for it nor a single answer. Sam Fleming and Shawn Donnan, FT [More]

Hillary Clinton says she will push to close the tax loophole in which multinational companies shift profits to countries with lower tax rates. Amy Chozick, NYT [More]

Any action by the Fed will have a questionable effect on the market: “We can’t rely on historical precedent. The last time rates rose after remaining very low for so long was in 1941.” Robert Schiller, NYT [More]

Driverless cars are today’s Space Race: “The competition is fierce, the key players are billionaires, but the path – and even the destination – remains uncertain.” Adrienne LaFrance, The Atlantic [More]

Foreign Affairs/National Security

On the Brink of a Worldwide Climate Accord: Representatives of 195 countries [are] on the brink of reaching a landmark climate accord that would, for the first time, commit nearly every country to lowering planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions to help stave off the most drastic effects of climate change… Traditionally, such pacts have required developed economies, such as the United States, to take action to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, but they have exempted developing countries, such as China and India, from such action… The new accord changes that dynamic by requiring action in some form from every country, rich or poor. Coral Davenport, NYT [More]

North Korea hints it has a hydrogen bomb, but skepticism abounds:  Analysts are doubtful, saying the Kim Jong Un is claiming this in order to strengthen his legitimacy. Anna Fifield, Washington Post [More]

New Argentine president promises major changes and honesty: Argentine President Mauricio Macri, the former mayor of Buenos Aires who hails from one of Argentina’s richest families, faces deep polarization in the South American nation. Peter Prengaman and Vicente Panetta, Washington Post [More]

Iraqi forces take back a key section of the city of Ramadi, which was conquered by ISIS in May. BBC [More]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is TIME Person of the Year: Shortlist: 2) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of ISIS  3) Donald Trump  4) Black Lives Matter Activists  5) Iran President Hassan Rouhani. Karl Vick, TIME [More]

Beinart: How Obama differs from GOP on terrorism: “Many Republicans still see the ‘war on terror’ in … epic terms… [Obama] considers violent jihadism a small, toxic strain within Islamic civilization, not a civilization itself…and doesn’t consider it a serious ideological competitor.” Peter Beinart, Op-Ed, The Atlantic [More]

UAE Ambassador to the US on defeating extremism: “Success on the battlefield may be the easy part… True victory can only come when the more powerful forces of tolerance and progress prevail.” Yousef al-Otaiba, Foreign Policy [More]

Senior aide in Bush 43 administration on “How the GOP went Zionist”: “Republicans are now among the Jewish state’s most important friends. This was not always so.” Tevi Troy, Commentary Magazine [More]

Domestic Affairs

Gerrymandering and the Supreme Court: A significant Supreme Court order this week on how congressional districts are drawn could give more clout to rural and mostly Republican areas at the expense of Democratic-dominated cities – and shift how political power is allocated in this country. David Savage, LAT [More]

Supreme Court case could imperil affirmative action at institutions of higher education across nation: Justice Antonin Scalia added controversy with his comment that minority students with lower than average grades might perform better at lesser institutions. Adam Liptak, NYT [More]

Millennials surpassed baby boomers as the largest share of the U.S.’s voting-age population: Three of 10 voting-age Americans are millennials, and more members of the generation reach voting age each day.”  Zara Kessler, Bloomberg [More]

Bill Gates leads effort to create one of the world’s biggest public-private partnerships to tackle climate change through energy innovation from research and development of clean technologies. Coral Davenport & Nick Wingfield, NYT [More]

Former President Carter in remission: No any signs of cancer.  Jill Vejnoska, Atlanta Journal- Constitution [More]

US can’t access NSA phone records in San Bernardino terror case: Under a court order, five years’ of telephone records for the married couple blamed in the deadly shootings… are now off-limits to agents running the FBI terrorism investigation—even with a warrant. However, under the new USA Freedom Act, authorities did obtain roughly two years’ of calling records directly from phone companies. Ted Bridis, AP [More]

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson-tougher approaches: The government should continue to augment airline security in overseas departure airports, toughen standards for the visa waiver program that allows visitors from certain friendly nations easy entry, and reach out more to Muslim communities to help identify threats. Peter Baker and Eric Schmitt, NYT [More]

A sharp surge of jihadist activities in US: according to researchers at George Washington University studying Islamist extremism in the U.S., as compared with the years after the 9/11 attacks. Philip Shishkin and Jon Kamp, WSJ [More]

Leaving “No Child” behind: President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, stripping away many of the high stakes that had been attached to student scores by the unpopular No Child Left Behind Act. The job of evaluating schools and deciding how to fix them will shift largely back to states and the Obama requirement that states use student scores to evaluate teachers is gone too.  Cory Turner, NPR [More]


Since his comments about banning Muslims to enter the US, #1 Donald Trump solidified his national lead: 35%, up 13% since October. #2 Ted Cruz, with 16%,  #3 Ben Carson with 13% dropped to third; #4 Marco Rubio 9%. #5 Jeb Bush at 3%, #6 Carly Fiorina’s support has dropped to 1%. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton leads with 52%, Bernie Sanders has 32%, and Martin O’Malley has 2% support. CBS News [More]

Chris Christie surges in New Hampshire:  Donald Trump’s call for a temporary ban on Muslims coming to the US does not appear to have affected his chances in the first-in-the-nation primary state. Nick Gass, Politico [More]

2016 Campaign

Trump’s language on minorities invigorates white supremacist groups: “Analysts from two leading organizations that track violence against minority groups say Trump is energizing hate groups and creating an atmosphere likely to lead to more violence against American Muslims.”  Ben Schreckinger, Politico [More]

GOP preparing for contested convention: GOP leaders including RNC Chair Reince Priebus and Senator Mitch McConnell met to discuss how the mainstream wing of the GOP would attempt to coalesce around an alternative to frontrunner Donald Trump.” Robert Costa and Tom Hamburger, Washington Post [More]

“95,000 Words, Many of Them Ominous, From Donald Trump’s Tongue”: in NYTimes analysis of every public utterance by Trump over the past week… the most striking hallmark was Trump’s constant repetition of divisive phrases, harsh words and violent imagery that American presidents rarely use…” Patrick Healy and Maggie Haberman, NYT [More]

Trump’s rhetoric raises the stakes dramatically: “One must scroll back decades for echoes … from the populist and racially based appeals of then-Alabama Gov. George Wallace in 1968 and 1972 to the anti-Semitic diatribes of the radio preacher Charles Coughlin during the 1930s. Trump ‘is further out there than almost anyone in the annals of [U.S.] history.’” Dan Balz (Past TCG Speaker), The Washington Post [More]  

Clinton forces see 3 possible GOP opponents: Trump, Rubio and Cruz. Annie Karni, Politico [More]

Citadel founder, Kenneth Griffin, richest man in Illinois, endorses Marco Rubio. Maggie Haberman and Jeremy W. Peters, NYT [More]

Trump’s Muslim ban shouldn’t surprise anybody: The hard question is: “What does it say about all of us, as Americans, that he has made it so far?” Evan Osnos (Past TCG Speaker), The New Yorker [More]

Obama’s terror speech…highlights reasons for Trump’s rise: “What we’re seeing right now in American politics is class warfare. … It’s not the working class versus the 1%. It’s the working class versus the educated elite… [Trump’s] support for the Republican nomination is not defined by ideology or age or gender. It’s defined by education. Among GOP voters with a college degree in the latest CNN poll, Trump comes in fourth with just 18%. But he has a huge lead among non-college voters – 46%. No other candidate comes close. Today, in the United States, the richer you are, the more likely you are to vote Republican. The better educated you are, the more likely you are to vote Democratic.” Bill Schneider, Reuters [More]

Notable Film

The Big Short: Michael Lewis’ best-selling book about the 2008 financial crisis hits the screen.

The Diplomat: Film portrait of Richard Holbrooke, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN.

IN MEMORIAM - Sandy Berger – US National Security Advisor. 1945 -2015. RIP.