TCG Weekly Digest – December 4th, 2015


Week ending December 4, 2015

Weekly roundup about our democracy and The Common Good community

  • Homegrown terrorists with ISIS sympathies kill 14, wound 17 in San Bernardino, CA

  • Gunman attacks Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado

  • EU’s Mario Draghi announces extension of quantitative easing

  • Job growth report, consumer spending and other indices up in 3rd quarter

  • Highway bill passed, FED funds to be used to pay for it in controversial move

  • Women will serve in all combat roles

Domestic Affairs

First possible ISIS-inspired attack on US soil: The F.B.I. is now investigating the San Bernardino shooting by a husband and wife that killed 14 and wounded 21 as an act of terrorism, intensifying fears that terrorists are preparing to wage a Paris-style attack on American soil. Damian Paletta, Devlin Barrett and Tamara Audi, Wall Street Journal [More]  

Shooter’s family attorney denies shooter was linked to terrorism. His co-workers made fun of the shooter’s beard. CNN [More]

Interactive map shows that there have been at least 1,042 mass shootings since Sandy Hook in December 2012. German Lopez and Soo Oh, Vox [More]

The motive behind the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting:  News reports cite unnamed law-enforcement sources as saying Robert Lewis Dear, the gunman who attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado and killed 3 people, strongly opposed abortion and Planned Parenthood’s activities. Krishnadev Calamur, The Atlantic [More]

Women now allowed to serve in all US combat positions: This decision overrules Marine Corps objections and ends decades of exclusion from front-line jobs. “The change will open almost 220,000 reconnaissance, infantry, and special-operations positions that were not previously available to women.” Justin Sink, Bloomberg [More]

Congress divided on Puerto Rico debt crisis, unlikely to take action: Obama administration and Puerto Rico want Congress to provide a pathway to alleviate an economy in recession since 2006 and $72 billion in debt.  However, Republicans think it would set a dangerous precedent for states. WIthout an “acute humanitarian emergency”Puerto Rico, there is no urgency for Congress to intervene. Nick Timiraos and Aaron Kuriloff, Wall Street Journal [More]

Senate votes to repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood, and against tougher restrictions on firearms: “But the decision by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to allow a vote on such charged issues is likely to come back to bite moderate Republicans in states that tend to vote Democratic in presidential years.” Kelsey Snell, The Washington Post [More]

Report reveals that the Secret Service now ‘in crisis’: The report points to a decline in staff and its failure to fix problems exposed last year amid several well-publicized security incidents “including the agency’s halting response to a 2011 shooting at the White House and an incident last year in which an armed man with an arrest record was able to board an elevator with Obama.” Carol D. Leonnig, The Washington Post [More]

Foreign Affairs/National Security

Defense Department to deploy more special forces to Iraq in the fight against ISIS: Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the US, with the Iraqi government’s permission, will send special-operations troops to assist Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces in their fight against Islamic State. Carter said that this team will be able at some point to “conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence, and capture ISIL leaders,” as well as “conduct unilateral operations” in Syria. Marina Koren, The Atlantic  [More]

Friedman: Putin’s Syrian misadventure: “In sum, Putin’s “crafty” Syrian chess move has left him with a lot more dead Russians; newly at odds with Turkey and Iran; weakened in Ukraine; acting as the defense lawyer for Assad — a mass murderer of Sunni Muslims, the same Sunni Muslims as Putin has in Russia; and with no real advances against ISIS.” Thomas L. Friedman, Op-Ed, The New York Times [More]

UK launches first airstrikes in Syria, Cameron calls opponents to airstrike in Syria “terrorist sympathizers”: “You should not be walking through the lobbies with Jeremy Corbyn and a bunch of terrorist sympathizers,” said Cameron with reference to the leader of the opposition Labour party whilst urging members of his Conservative Party to support his push for airstrikes in Syria. The debate, described as “a brawl over a peculiarly post-9/11 schoolyard taunt,” saw many calls for an apology for the accusation, but Mr Cameron would not. Griff Witte, The Washington Post [More]

Segment of Iraqi population believes US is in cahoots with ISIS:  Iraqi fighters and citizens claim to have seen videos or know people who have witnessed US helicopters airdropping weapons to ISIS militants. While military officials find this far-fetched, this perception is among Iraqis is “widespread across the country’s Sunni-Shiite sectarian divide, and it speaks to more than just the troubling legacy of mistrust that has clouded the United States’ relationship with Iraq since the 2003 invasion.” Liz Sly, Washington Post [More]

US to lift sanctions on Iran after IAEA finds no “credible evidence of recent atomic weapons activity:”  After a 5 month probe of Iran’s past activities, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) found “there were no credible indications of nuclear-weapons-related activities in Iran after 2009.” Despite the IAEA report finding that Iran provided little or misleading information, the Obama administration remains confident that it is aware of Iran’s past weaponization activity. Laurence Norman and Jay Solomon, Wall Street Journal [More]

US gives $24 million to UN refugee agency to help refugees arriving in Europe. Bradley Klapper, U.S.News [More]

Leaders from around the world meet in Paris for climate talks: Almost 200 countries are represented at the two-week long COP21 meeting, which aims to reach a new deal on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Such a deal could allow each country to set its own target and richer countries to pay poorer ones to incentivize limiting their emissions. Krishnadev Calamur, The Atlantic [More]

Slaughter: Create new refugee homelands: “Individuals seeking refuge from a toxic and deadly environment could be welcomed not into camps, but rather proto-cities where the “global community” …can encourage hope of a different, more secure life by nurturing positive seeds of knowledge, capital, and liberal self-government.” Anna-Marie Slaughter, Op-Ed, Project Syndicate [More]

The Economy

Growth in US economy in 3rd quarter: The US added 211,000 jobs and consumer spending grew 3%. Because the economy is improving, people have a higher purchasing power than usual and could mean more room for consumers to spend money on interest rates. Fed’s Yellen indicated that even job growth slightly below 100,000 would probably be sufficient to justify a rate hike. Lucia Mutikani, Reuters [More]

Europe announces more QE, while the US awaits its end here: To take care of too-low inflation the ECB will extend quantitative easing until at least March 2017 … and broaden the assets purchased to include local and regional debt, ECB President Mario Draghi said on Thursday. The Governing Council earlier reduced its deposit rate by 10 basis points to minus 0.3 percent.” Jeff Black and Maria Tadeo, Bloomberg [More]

Fall of oil prices create pressure on the Energy industry: The US oil market is vulnerable to rise of oil output by Saudi Arabia and is receiving support by banks so their market does not collapse. Companies had to make budget cuts and 250,000 have lost their jobs world-wide but, a counter argument shows that costs of oil should stay low because there is not a large scale “flush-out”. Cuts have been made to the point where prices are below break-even levels.  Nicole Friedman, Wall Street Journal [More]


Cruz rises & Trump is even higher at the top again, while Carson declines: Donald Trump has 36% support (up 9 points), followed by Ted Cruz 16% (up 12 points), Ben Carson 14% (down 8 points since October), and Marco Rubio 12%  (up 4 points). Jeb Bush at 3% -a campaign in freefall. Other candidates have less than 5% each.

Carson, Bush and Paul have lost the most ground since the last CNN/ORC poll, conducted in mid-October. Cruz and Trump are the greatest beneficiaries of those declines. CNN/ORC [More]

Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders, 60% to 30%. Martin O’Malley trails both at 2%. Quinnipiac [More]

2016 Campaign

Private memo details how GOP would deal with Trump as the nominee: Written in September by National Republican Senatorial Committee Executive Director Ward Baker and leaked this week, the memo envisions a 2016 with Trump as the nominee, and urges candidates in next year’s races to embrace many of Trump’s tactics and issues, while avoiding and condemning his more controversial statements. Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, Washington Post [More]

Putting Republican polls in perspective: Lakshmi Ketineni and Randy Yeip of the Wall Street Journal compare polling averages for current GOP presidential candidates with those of the past two elections, showing that pre-voting frontrunners aren’t necessarily poised to win the nomination. [More]

Christie is trying to seize the “national security” moment: Chris Christie has begun to rise again, buoyed by the rise of “terror and security” to the “top of American’s list of concerns.” Although his poll numbers are still low, he is now gaining traction in New Hampshire, and is able to play to his strengths as a former federal prosecutor in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Gerald Seib, Wall Street Journal [More]

Former Defense Secretary Bob Gates: The kind President we need: “[B]uilding coalitions and making compromises are the only ways anything lasting can get done. Primal screaming may be good therapy, but it is a poor substitute for practical politics. Arch-conservatives may want little government and arch-liberals may want a lot, but many functions of government are critical to our well-being, and they can be carried out effectively only if Congress and the president work together…” Secretary Robert Gates, Op-Ed, The Washington Post [More]

Books & Film

Paul Krugman (TCG Speaker) reviews Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few by Robert B. Reich. “Reich makes a very good case that widening inequality largely reflects political decisions that could have gone in very different directions.” Paul Krugman, The New York Review of Books [More]

Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of ­Israel by Dan Ephron. In an electrifying narrative, Rabin’s attempt to ­negotiate peace is juxtaposed with his ­assassin’s plan to thwart it by killing him. [More]

Congratulations to Ari Berman (TCG Speaker) whose book, Give Us the Ballot, was listed as one of the best books of 2015 according to the New York Times. [More]