Friday, July 25, 2014

"American Politics" discussion topics for Monday, July 28, 2014

Two recent polls show that America: (1) trusts Republicans more than Democrats on foreign affairs; and (2) wants us to engage less in the world. Yet most Republican leaders urge greater engagement, seeing “America as the glue that holds the world together”. What do you make of this clear contradiction?  Obama appears to be more supportive of America's current disdain of greater engagement.  But is "detachment" the best path for us? Or are the Charles Krauthammer's more correct in saying this course clearly weakens America?

Two Federal courts gave conflicting opinions on Obamacare guaranteeing that this AHC battle will continue on in another Court...if not, ultimately, the Supreme Court. If the White House loses this battle, 5 million Americans could lose their health care insurance due to loss of government subsidy...but only in states where Republican governors refused to set up exchanges. How might this issue affect the November elections?

Is Russia losing international respect—especially in Europe—with how it is handling the Ukraine crash? Will any European leaders step forward and more directly take on Putin? What more can America do, unilaterally? How might this incident affect future relationships between our two countries?

What is Israel’s “off ramp” in Gaza? How might public opinion shape Israeli actions here, where plight of the citizens in Gaza greatly exceeds attention given to Hamas policies?

By restricting flights to Israel, was America indirectly supporting Hamas' objective?

President Obama refuses to change his schedule in reaction to world events, and continues to hold fund-raising events, saying that making changes to his calendar would send the wrong message to America and the world. Your thoughts.

Why should we care if the execution of a heinous convicted killer is "botched"?

Would Hillary Clinton be a strong enough candidate in 2016 to positively affect the Dem’s down ticket?

If Hillary doesn’t run, would John Kerry be the Democrat’s strongest alternative?

Why do Conservatives feel that Liberals don't believe in America's exceptionalism?

Pat Buchanan: "Will America remain one nation, or are we are on the road to Balkanization and the breakup of America into ethnic enclaves?" Is Diversity America's strength...or is it our weakness? Who, ethnically, is a "typical American"?

Why do many Americans consider Islam itself, and not just radical terrorists, dangerous to America? Are Islamic extremists a greater risk to America than other radicals, domestic or foreign.

There are futurists who believe that by the year 2045, technologically, we will achieve a "singularity" event where artificial intelligence reaches a tipping point and begins to exceed human intelligence--to a point of replication and self-expansion without human assistance. If this is possible, should we embrace the opportunity...or be fearful of the risks?

Germany's Merkel said spying on allies is a waste of time as she promptly kicked out America's top spy. What's the point of spying on Germany? Are our relations with Germany more important than any secrets gleaned by spying?

The Supreme Court says police must obtain a warrant to search your cell phone. What do you feel was the greater risk--to your personal freedom, or to your personal security?
The First Lady is taking on Republicans who want to walk back school lunch guides. Michelle Obama lobbied for the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which requires more fruit, vegetables and whole grains in school meals, along with less sodium, sugar and fat. It was designed to make school meals more nutritious. The School Nutrition Association originally supported the standards, has now turned against them. The association says it fully supports getting kids to eat healthier but says many districts are losing money because students aren't buying the healthier lunches. Your thoughts.

President Obama is developing a rating system for colleges. It would compare schools on factors like how many of their students graduate, how much debt their students accumulate and how much money their students earn after graduating. Obama wants Congress to agree to use the ratings to allocate the billions in federal student loans and grants. Schools that earn a high rating on the government’s list would be able to offer more student aid than schools at the bottom. Good idea?

What are the ramifications of America's birthrate having dropped from just under 4 in 1957 to just over 2 today? (2.1 birth rate is considered the right number to replace both parents over their life).

Monday, July 21, 2014

"Great Ideas" is discussing "Zionism--Implementation in Israel" on Thursday, July 31, 2014. We meet at the Northbrook Village Hall.

Here is a link that will allow you to review, download and print the slides we will show and discuss at each session: IsraeliHistory

On July 31 we will conclude the discussion of the Eichmann Trial beginning at Slide #250....and Hannah Arendt’s controversial analysis in her book "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil". We will also be referring to Deborah Lipstadt’s book, “The Eichmann Trial” and the chapters on the Eichmann trial in Leora Bilsky’s book “Transformative Justice Israeli Identity on Trial”. To gain a good understanding of the events of the trial read the first 150 pages of Lipstadt’s book first, then Arendt’s book, then the last 50 pages of Lipstadt’s book and finally chapters 4-6 of Bilsky’s book.

NOTE: July is a month with five Thursdays. So "Great Ideas" meets again on July 31 and "Current Events" meets next on August 7.

Below is a list of books mentioned during our sessions:

  • “The Secret War Against The Jews: How Western Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People” by John Loftus and Mark Aarons
  • “A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel” by Allis Radosh and Ronald Rados
  • "Truman" by David McCullough
  • “Louis D. Brandeis: A Life” by Melvin Urofsky
  • “The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership” by Yehuda Avner
  • “George C. Marshall” by Forest Pogue (a 4 volume work- the most definitive biography)
  • “1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War” by Benny Morris
  • “Woodrow Wilson: A Biography” by John Milton Cooper, Jr
  • “A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East” by David Fromkin
  • "Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews": A History by James Carroll
  • "The Making of Modern Israel 1948-1967" by Leslie Stein
  • "Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict" by Charles D. Smith
  • “Transformative Justice: Israeli Identity on Trial” by Leora Bilsky
  • “In the Garden of the Beasts” by Erik Larson
  • “My Promised Land - The Triumph & Tragedy of Israel” by Ari Shavit
  • “The Iron Wall: Israel & The Arab World” by Avi Shlaim
  • "A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide" by Samantha Power
  • "The Physician" by Noah Gordon
  • "Start-up Nation: the Story of Israel's Economic Miracle" by Dan Senor and Saul Singer
  • "Eichmann in Jerusalem: a Report on the Banality of Evil" by Hannah Arendt
  • "The Eichmann Trial" by Deborah Lipstadt
  • "The House on Garibaldi Street" by Isser Harrel

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Northbrook Library Discussion Groups have moved to Northbrook Village Hall during Library Renovation.

  • Renovation of Northbrook library meeting rooms began in March 2013 and will continue for approximately one year. The Library will remain open during this renovation.
  • Click this link to visit the Northbrook Library website, take a short "virtual tour" and see details about the renovation:
  • During this time, "Current Events" and "Great Ideas" will be held next door at the Northbrook Village Hall at the usual 10-11:30am time.
  • We meet in the Village Hall Board Room on the first floor
  • Please do NOT park in front of Village Hall. Park at the Library or across the street If you have a handicap sticker you can park in the south lot in back of Village hall for better access to the board room.
  • Coffee will NOT be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own in a covered cup

  • Here are future Thursday dates when we will NOT conduct discussions:

    October 23 - No "Great Ideas" - Early Voting taking place in Village Hall

    October 30- No "Great Ideas" - Early Voting taking place in Village Hall

    December 25 - Christmas Day - No "Great Ideas" - Library Closed

    January 1 - New Year's Day - No "Current Events" - Library Closed