Thursday, March 19, 2015

"American Politics" discussion topics for Monday, March 30 at the North Shore Senior Center

Tee Watson will be leading our 3/30 discussion.  Here are his topics:

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl who was freed by Afghan insurgents last May after five years in captivity was charged Wednesday with having deserted his remote base before his capture in 2009. He was exchanged for five Taliban prisoners being held at Guantanamo. This swap unleashed a torrent of criticism at the time. How would you predict the outcome of his trial and the political implication that might follow?

The Middle East continues to deteriorate and get more complex by the day. This week U.S. air strikes began in support of Iraq/ Iran Revolutionary Guard attempt to take back the Iraq city of Tikrit; at the same time, Saudi Arabia began bombing the rebels in Yemen who are supported by Iran and also started to mobilize the Sunni nations of the Middle East—Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, and Kuwait- against the regional aggressions of Iran. All these countries are allies of the U.S. Can the Administration support Iran in Iraq, fight against its influence in Yemen and still negotiate an acceptable nuclear agreement with Iran?

President Obama continues to criticize Netanyahu’s remarks on Palestinian state as does the Administration’s reaction to the WSJ article that contends Israel was leaking secret information on the nuclear negotiations to Congress.  Maybe the problem would not have surfaced if the President had been briefing Congress on the talks.  Comments?

What is the Administration’s position on what is needed for an agreement on a two state solution to the Israel/ Palestinian peace agreement?  What is it that the Palestinians will bring to the table?
Iranian leaders are lining up public support in Iran for a nuclear deal.  However, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamini, still uses inflammatory language in referring to the United States.  He is also demanding an immediate end to the six power sanctions.  Are we close to a deal?

The GOP has been in control of the Congress since January and the country has been waiting for evidence that it can govern.  Before the Easter recess will we see a successful vote in the House and Senate on the 2016 budget, the confirmation of the new Attorney General, the passage of the debt ceiling extension, the Doc-fix, the passage of the Human Sex Trafficking Act, for example?  What do you think are the obstacles for the GOP Congress?  Is it the division in the party or the Dems in the Senate?
How important will foreign affairs be in the 2016 election?  Will we, as a government, continue to move toward a more isolationist view towards world affairs?

How important to the general public are environmental issues?  Why are the supporters of these issues so extreme that they are willing to deny the use of fossil fuels entirely so that the planet might be saved in future centuries?  Isn’t this unrealistic and elitist to be so extreme?  Would it not be more prudent to depend on future technologies to solve the threats to our environment?
The Supreme Court just heard arguments on a Texas case involving the state’s vanity license plates that are purchased at an additional rate by auto owners. The issue is one free speech and involves a dispute over a proposed Confederate battle flag plate.  Texas refused to issue the plate and was sued by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  Who is right?
Also, the Supreme Court just refused to hear a case challenging a Wisconsin 2011 law requiring voter identification.  This is a victory for Gov, Walker who signed the legislature into law.  Will this affect his chances in 2016?

Did Starbucks go too far in their social activism to ask its employees to get evolved with such a contentious issue as race relations?  The announcement caused immediate reaction and now the company has back off its demand of the employees.  What do you think about this type of activism by American business?
Monica Lewinsky is making news again with a recent article in Vanity Affairs and a speech last week.  She is finding a way to make a comeback by taking up the cause of cyberbullying.  Monica has imminent knowledge of being bullied in news stories, political, and entertainment media.  She has gotten very favorable reviews of these appearances and apologizes from the likes of Bill Mahr and David Letterman.  What do you think of cybertrolls who spout these insults or the internet?  Is this a free speech issue or just one more illustration of our coursing language and manners?

Speaking of changing opinions and forgiveness, Pete Rose, one of the greatest modern baseball players was barred from baseball for life by Commissioner Kenesaw Landis for gambling.  He has petitioned the league to be reinstated.  The ban seems cruel and outdated in the current area for steroids and commercial gambling.  Isn’t it time we forgave Pete Rose?
News tid-bits you might have missed.
Police found no evidence to support gang rape against a student at Un. of Virginia reported in an article in Rolling Stone magazine.
More college men are fighting allegations of sexual assault.  One student was found not guilty of charges of assault in acting out scenes from the movie, 50 Shades of a Gray.
Senator Durbin played the race card by saying that the Republicans by holding up confirmation of Loretta Lynch were making her ”sit in the back of the bus”.  This was even too much for Attorney General Holder.
The Chicago Public Schools has a budget deficit of $1.1billion and might not be able to open classes this fall.
The Illinois legislature and the new Governor have compromised on a budget deficit.  We all hope this will signal a new period of cooperation in state governing.

"Great Ideas" is discussing "Zionism Implementation in Israel" on Thursday, April 9, 2015. We meet at the Northbrook Village Hall.

Note: there will be NO "Great Ideas" on March 26 and NO "Current Events" on April 2 because of "Early Voting" in 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 Thursday, April 9, we continue looking at Day 2 of the 1967 Six Day War on Slide 366.

Below is a list of books mentioned during our sessions:

  • "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

Monday, March 16, 2015

"Current Events" discussion for Thursday, April 16, 2015. We meet in the Northbrook Village Hall.

Note: there will be NO "Great Ideas" on March 26 and NO "Current Events" on April 2 because of "Early Voting" in Village Hall. 

Discussion topics for April 16 will be posted several days before we meet.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Important Information About Our Discussions


  • Renovation of Northbrook library meeting rooms began in March 2014 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


    March 26 - No "Great Ideas" - Early Voting in Village Hall

    April 2 - No "Current Events" - Early Voting in Village Hall


    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.

    3/19/15 "Current Events"  During discussion of Race , Mike Hamblet suggested this very informative piece from The Economist on Hispanic population increases in America:

    11/20/14 "Current Events" - When we were discussing Immigration, Bill Domm said the following link gives a good, balanced description of what "undocumented person" means.