Thursday, December 29, 2016

"Current Events" Discussions

Upcoming Discussion Sessions:

·        9:30am Wednesday March 20 at the JCC on Revere Drive
·        10am Thursday March 21 at the Northbrook Library
·        9am Monday March 25 at the North Shore Senior Center 
·        7:15pm Wednesday April 3 at The Lodge

Does Trump’s unflinching support of White Nationalists embolden racist sectors of America? Is his Wall more a symbol of “White Guys Fear of Others” than improving national security? Trump dismisses White Nationalism as “a small group”. Yet it’s growing: all fifty “racial murders” in 2018 came from the Far Right—double 2017. What motivates Trump to fan flames that divide our country along racial lines? Why is his emphasis more against Immigrants and Muslims as “bad guys” when the bigger problem is the dramatic increase in “home-grown White Guys” racial terrorism?

How significant is Social Media as a motivator and organizer of racial hatred? Consider the fact that reasonable folks generally will not take extreme actions all alone—but may readily “join in” when wrapped up as part of a “mob”. Can a “mob” be mobilized more easily on line than “on the street”?

How important to our nation are the words of our President? Is Trump saying there may not be a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the 2020 election? Aren’t these words we’d expect from an Authoritarian leader, like Mussolini: “If I lose in 2020, the election is rigged. I have the support of the police, the military, the Bikers for Trump. I have the tough people. But they don’t play it tough—until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.” What if 1% of Trump’s most strident supporters see his words as a call to take up arms to retain a President who doesn’t really “lose” an election but is “forced out illegally”?  How long can Republicans remain silent? 

The head of the RNC: “I look for moral leadership from my church. I look for policies from my President”. What moral leadership should Americans expect from the office of President? 

Is Beto the second coming of Kennedy, or a Democratic fool’s errand that Trump can easily beat? What is his substance—what does he really stand for? Is “personality” enough to win?

Would an Ultra-Liberal Democratic nominee allow Trump to ride “fear of Socialism” toward easy reelection?  Regardless of nominee, how many Dem’s will sit out 2020 as they did in 2016?

The House voted unanimously to release Mueller’s report when done. Should Dem’s forget about any report driving Trump out of office…and focus instead on beating him in 2020?  Pelosi: “Impeachment is so divisive that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.”  Will the new, Liberal rookie class of House members still demand Impeachment? Is Trump hoping he is Impeached, believing that would shore up his base before the election?

A dozen GOP Senators joined all Democrats in rejecting Trump’s “Emergency Action” that negates Congress’ “purse-strings” authority. Will his action to build his Wall be Constitutional? Trump’s budget asks for $8.6B to fund a Wall most of America doesn’t want. Another shut-down?

Trump’s 2020 budget looks to implement tougher welfare requirements. He wants Americans 18-65 to work at least 20 hours a week in a job, a job training program, or a community service program to secure a range of benefits federal programs like food stamps, Medicaid, and federal housing…and would come with a hardship exemption. What are the pro’s and con’s?

Are there valid reasons for America to see Trump’s tax records? Or is seeking his tax records a form of harassment, done more for pure political purposes? What if tax records trigger a primary challenge to the President? Should it be done now so Republicans can decide?

Democrats won’t let FOX host a Democratic Primary Debate claiming “extreme bias”. Is it smart to believe all FOX viewers will vote only for Trump? Could FOX conduct it fairly?

California has ended the death penalty. Should we discontinue executions nationally?

Pelosi would like to lower the voting age to 16 and register kids in high school. Are kids old enough to vote if they’re old enough to drive?  What Party would be helped the most? Why? 

What action should the Administration take if North Korea suspends nuclear talks?

How Conservative is the Supreme Court? Should Roberts be considered a “swing” vote? 

Democrats selected Milwaukee for their 2020 Convention.  Your thoughts.

Trump, about Rep. Omar: “Democrats hate Jews…and are the anti-Jewish Party”. Does this statement help Netanyahu? Does it move more Jewish Americans to vote Republican?

Why such a double standard with sentences for white-collar crimes? Is it the “white” part?

Rockets fired at Tel Aviv from Gaza. Israel responds bombing 100 Gaza sites. What now?

40% of Iowa Republicans would like to see someone challenge Trump for the nomination. What would it take for anyone significant to step forward?

What should we make of chaos in Venezuela? What or who created this mess?

Brit’s Brexit chaos—STILL zero consensus, and PM May is under siege. What now?

Hollywood stars (and 50 others) are charged in a $25M college entrance exam cheating scheme. Scam focused on getting students admitted to elite universities as recruited athletes, regardless of athletic abilities, and helped them cheat on exams. What lessons are learned?

Trump says he likes making daylight saving time permanent.  What are pro’s and con’s?

Jerad and Ivanka received highest security clearance at the orders Trump—but against the objections of the Intelligence Community. Trump lied and denied this on TV. The White House refuses to provide documents. What in their background denied clearance? Why do we care?

Where is America’s leadership role in the world under an “America First” foreign policy? How has killing the Iran deal worked out for the U.S.? How is abdicating a leadership role in the world helping the United States? Does a “go it alone” policy embolden Russia and China?

The Administration wants to add this question to the 2020 Census: “How many in your household are not U.S. Citizens?”.  How might this question affect the count?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Great Ideas: " Zionism & Israeli History"

Upcoming Discussion Sessions: 

10am Thursday March 28 at the Northbrook Library
Reviewing events after the Camp David Accords

9:30am Wednesday March 27 at the JCC on Revere Drive
We will be discussing events starting in the 1950's.

Links below allow you to review slides we show and discuss at each session.

Zionism/Israeli History through 1967  

Below is a list of books mentioned during our sessions:

· "The Arab-Israeli Wars" by Chaim Herzog
· "Kissinger and the Yom Kippur War" by David Morse
· "The Making of Modern Israel 1948-1967" by Leslie Stein
· "Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict" by Charles D. Smith
· “The Iron Wall: Israel & The Arab World” by Avi Shlaim
· “Transformative Justice: Israeli Identity on Trial” by Leora Bilsky
· "Six Days of War : June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East" by Michael Oren
· “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
· “In the Garden of the Beasts” by Erik Larson
· “My Promised Land - The Triumph & Tragedy of Israel” by Ari Shavit
· "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
· "Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices" by Mosab Hassan Yousef
· “Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of A Mass Murder” by Bettina Stangneth
· "Jaffa Beach" by Fedora Horowitz
· "Operation Thunderbolt:  Flight 139 and the Raid on Entebbe Airport, the most Audacious Hostage Rescue in History", by Saul David
· "Abba Eban", A Biography by Asaf Siniver
· "Jerusalem: The Biography" by Simon Sebag Montefiore
· "The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine" by Ben Ehrenreich
· "Jabotinsky" by Hillel Halkin
· "Doomed to Succeed: The U.S. Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama" by Dennis Ross 
· "The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel" by Uri-Bar Joseph
· "FDR and the Jews" by Richard Breitman
· "No Ordinary Time" by Doris Kearns Goodwin
· "Remember the Liberty!:Almost Sunk by Treason on the High Seas" by Phillip F Nelson, Ronald G. Kukal, Ernest A. Gallo 
· "Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn" by Daniel Gordis
· "Every Spy a Prince" The Complete History of Israel's Intelligence Community by Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman
· "FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith" by Rafael Medoff
· "Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations" by Ronen Bergman
· "Then They Came for Me - Martin Niemoller, the Pastor Who Defied the Nazis" - Matthew Hockenos

Thursday, March 6, 2014


¨  Please silence your cell phone during our discussion

¨  Respect person speaking—please no side conversations

¨  If you’re not called upon by name, tell us your first name
¨  “Current Events” meets 1st and 3rd and 5th  Thursday  

¨  “Israeli History” meets 2nd and 4th Thursday 

¨   Pick up a Handout with our web address

¨  Visit our website for more information about discussions:¡   Current Events topics updated regularly

¡   suggested readings for Israeli History 

¡   current Israeli History discussion topic

¡   copies of the Israeli History slides – pdf format 

¡   Other locations and times Ron and Mark lead discussions
"Current Events" and "Great Ideas" meet at the Northbrook Library

We meet in Pollak Rooms A & B--with a capacity of 90-100 people.  You can bring in covered cups, mugs, etc. with coffee. Food is not allowed. There are vending machines in the lobby area right outside the Pollak Room if you wish to purchase a beverage. The library will not be providing coffee.

“Current Events” Code of Conduct

We respect each other and conduct our discussions with civility.

This includes:

      Never using loud, abusive, threatening or insulting language.
      Never offending, threatening, or insulting groups or individuals based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or any disability.
      Never being under the influence of anything but our best behavior.
      Never harming anyone, including fighting or challenging anyone to fight.
      Understanding every aspect of Sexual Harassment - This includes: • making inappropriate personal comments or sexual advances • using obscene or lewd language or gestures • staring at, or following anyone in a manner that reasonably can be expected to disturb him or her • exposing others to sexual Internet content.
      Handouts cannot be distributed. All material must be reviewed by the Library and when approved will be placed on our table for you to pick up after our discussion.

A comprehensive Northbrook Library Code of Conduct is posted on their website.