Thursday, October 20, 2016

"American Politics" discussion topics for Monday, October 24 at the North Shore Senior Center

Allan Kaufman will be leading our discussion on October 24.  

Here are Allan's topics:

Whom do you think won the 3rd debate, and will it make a difference?  Is there any one thing said that you think may affect the elections?

Scientists believe that, “Chicago currently has up to 30 90-degree-or-hotter days a year. By 2099, the city is predicted to have between 60-90 of those days, based on current emissions released into the air and how those emissions will continue into the future.”  This could dramatically affect your children and grandchildren.  Do you believe in global warming? If so why, or why not?  What can or should we do and why? (

Looking back at all 3 debates, whom do you think did the best job; Lester Holt, Martha Radatz/Anderson Cooper or Chris Wallace?  Who did you think I was going say??

Chris Jones in the Chicago Tribune says that we should have young people watch the musical Hamilton or watch PBS’s Hamilton’s America than give them the remote control to watch the debate.  After seeing Wednesday’s debate was he right?  Was it a source of history for our young scholars?

Both candidates have the highest disapproval rating in modern history.  If you could choose any other qualified candidate to replace either or both of the candidates, whom would you choose and why?

According to Russian ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, ally of President Vladimir Putin, who likes to compare himself to the U.S. Republican candidate, Americans should vote for Donald Trump as president next month or risk being dragged into a nuclear war.  Zhirinovsky, a flamboyant veteran lawmaker known for his fiery rhetoric, told Reuters in an interview that Trump was the only person able to de-escalate dangerous tensions between Moscow and Washington.  Your thoughts? (Reuters Report)

Has anything said in any of the debates CHANGED your thoughts on who you will vote for?  What was said?

These past few weeks shelling and airstrikes have killed many people in Aleppo. What, if anything, should the US be doing to halt this action?

What are your feelings about the Chicago Tribune endorsing Gary Johnson and William Weld for President/VP?  Both served as Republican governors of New Mexico (Johnson) and Massachusetts (Weld). What would you think if the ticket was reversed?  

    Weld was a US District Attorney, a 2-term governor of MA that was re-elected by the highest margin   in Massachusetts history and ran against John Kerry for US Senate.  He was nominated by Bill Clinton as US Ambassador to Mexico.  That nomination was later withdrawn.  

Johnson ran for president in 2012 initially as a Republican on a libertarian platform and later withdrew to run as the Libertarian candidate.  He received about 1% of the vote.  

The Chicago Tribune endorsed Tammy Duckworth over current Senator Mark Kirk saying, “His health is a fundamental component of this race... We've become concerned about Kirk's ability to fulfill the multifaceted role. That includes traveling extensively, frequently addressing citizens, building alliances with opposition lawmakers and forcefully lobbying Senate colleagues for their support of legislation.  What are your thoughts on this endorsement and the candidates?

Have you watched the show Designated Survivor?  What are your thoughts about this program and our Presidential line of succession?

Should America support the action in Mosul?

Recently, the US destroyer USS Mason was fired on in international waters off the coast of Yemen by Houthi rebels (supported by Iran).  According to the NY Times the Houthi rebels are an indigenous Shiite group involved in a civil war with the Yemen government.  The Yemen government is backed by Saudi Arabia and other Sunni groups.  Should the US get more involved or let the Saudis handle the situation?  What do you think the US should do when rebels or any other country fires on our ships?

Cook County is moving to pass an additional tax on sugary beverages at the rate $.01 per ounce.  According to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the tax will raise over $75 million dollars for the county budget.  Preckwinkle explains this is for the health of the county residents?   Interestingly, the tax would also apply to sugar free beverages.  Do you feel this tax is reasonable for the people of Cook County and the businesses that have to charge the tax? 

The Illinois Transportation Taxes and Fees Lockbox Amendment is on the 
November 8, 2016, ballot in Illinois as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment.  The proposed amendment adds a new Section to the Revenue Article of the Illinois Constitution that provides revenue generated from transportation related taxes and fees (referred to as “transportation funds”) shall be used exclusively for transportation related purposes.  Is this a good amendment for Illinois?  Why do people oppose this amendment?

Your thoughts about Gov. Rauner’s push for term limits.  Good idea?

If turnout is low given high negatives for both candidates, who might that favor?

Is the latest jobs report good and bad news? Yes, it looks like we are virtually at full employment.  But that means that our sluggish economy can't be blamed on lack of jobs and is more systemic.

Should early voting be continued in the Presidential elections?  Does this give any candidate and advantage?

 Is there any specific topic you want to discuss?

"Great Ideas: Israeli History" on Thursday, October 27 in the Northbrook Library Pollak Room

Here are two links that will allow you to review, download and print the slides we show and discuss at each session:

Israeli History: Zionism through 1967:

Israeli History: Post 1967:

On October 27 we will discuss the aftermath of the Munich massacre of the Israeli Olympic team in 1972

After October 27 there will be no Israeli History sessions until December 8.  No sessions in November.

FOR FUTURE DISCUSSION….May 14, 1948 Israel set a course into the future, based in part upon the following words etched into the country’s Declaration of Independence:

THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Which of these objectives is Israel well on its way to realizing? Which of them have proved most elusive?
  • What elements are part and parcel of a country that has been “developed for the benefit of all its inhabitants?”
  • How would you define “freedom of conscience?”
  • If you were to have the chance to revise this paragraph in 2016, would you make any additions? Would you take anything out?

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

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Important Information About Our 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.


At times, during discussions, participants mention an internet article of interest. This page will list such links. Contact Ron Mantegna if you want to suggest a link appropriate to a specific discussion topic.