Thursday, December 29, 2016

"Current Events" Discussions

Upcoming "Current Events" Discussions:

9:30am Wednesday, March 1 at the JCC

7pm Wednesday, March 1 at "The Lodge"

10am Thursday, March 2 at the Northbrook Library

9am Monday, March 6 at the North Shore Senior Center

"Current Events" Topics

What are your thoughts regarding President Trump's joint meeting with Congress?

Given the many "social" actions taken since his inauguration, what "bread and butter" pocketbook benefits should Middle Class America see coming from Trump?

Trump wants to increase defense spending by $54B, cutting funds for EPA and other Federal agencies--while not touching Medicare and Social Security. Why give Defense such a high priority?  What does he mean by: "We don't fight to win". How will a more robust Military combat wars that are more ideological than enemies on a battlefield?

Regarding nuclear weapons, Trump wants "America to be at the top of the pack". What are the pro's and con's of increasing our nuclear arsenal?

The Stock Market has reacted very positively to Trump's Presidency. What does the Market anticipate Trump doing that will be positive for investors?

What do you see Republicans doing with Obamacare? Former Speaker Boehner says "They aren't going to repeal and replace it--they will need to fix it."  Is he right?

Why is Trump focusing exclusively on  his base and not on the greater number of Americans who don't approve of him--around 56%?  Bannon: "We are going to deconstruct the administrative state...promote economic nationalism...and attack the Media as The Opposition Party. Does it matter that even most Republicans don't support Far Right views?

Why are establishment Republicans changing their core values to support Trump's non-Republican views on trade, the Wall, infrastructure, immigration, the budget, Obamacare?   

Liberals are at their lowest point in decades, having lost most governorships, state houses, both Houses of Congress, the White House and most likely the Supreme Court. Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez was elected Democratic National Committee Chair, and named Rep. Keith Ellison as Deputy Chair. How does this help the Party? What more needs to be done?

68% of Americans view the Press negatively. President Trump says the Press is the enemy of the people and America's greatest threat to democracy. President Bush spoke out strongly against Trump's views. Is positioning the Media as enemy a tactical move, no longer having Obama and Hillary?  What can be said in defense of such action? 

There is a significant increase in anti-Semitism with dozens of bomb threats at JCC's, and desecration of tombstones now in two states. Anti-Muslim hate crimes are also spiking. Why the sudden increase? What more should the administration be doing?

Trump is deeply concerned about "leaks" and "unnamed sources" driving the news. He considers leaks a bigger problem than the substance of the leaks.  Your thoughts.

Rep. Issa said the investigation into Russia’s ties to Trump's presidential campaign and U.S. election hacking needs a Special Prosecutor ― not AG Sessions. The White House--and key GOP Intel Committee members--oppose a Special Prosecutor. Your thoughts.

What are the pro's and con's of Trump's much stronger enforcement and deportation of illegal immigrants--especially for businesses?

The Department of Homeland Security found that citizenship is "likely an unreliable indicator" of terrorist activity in the US, a conclusion that appears to undercut Trump's travel ban from 7 Muslim countries.  McMaster, Trump's new National Security Advisor, used the term "un-Islamic Terrorism" saying that using "Radical Islamic Terrorism" isn't helpful. Where are we headed on this issue?

New Trier is conducting a day long Civil Rights Seminar. Topics include "Black Lives Matter, or All Lives Matter?"... "White Privilege in College Admissions?"... "Take a Knee, Kaepernick?"  Conservatives feel this seminar only politicizes racial issues. Your thoughts.

Your thoughts about the Academy Awards?  What about the anti-Trump statements?

What are the consequences of Trump discontinuing Obama's guidance on transgender use of bathrooms? What about the high school wrestler--a "she" becoming a "he", forced to badly beat another girl to win the championship...vs. wrestling as a boy, as she wished? The rules said that body parts, and not an individual perception of sex, was the determinate.

Who speaks for Trump, given how his positions on significant issues are often conflicting? Can constant, confusing double talk--presenting conflicting responses to important issues--be an effective communication and governing tactic for a President?

Trump repeated imposing a 35% tariff on American companies manufacturing overseas and wanting to sell their products in America.  Will Republicans support this?

Do more Americans support Trump more positively than how its reported by the Media?  
How are Congressional Republicans reacting to Trump's Presidency? How are other nations--friends and foes--reacting to President Trump?

Your thoughts about President Trump asking the Black reporter if she wanted to set up the meeting with the Black Congressional Caucus?

What should we make of the fact that there has been no reaction to Russia's recent provocations--spy ship, buzzing, violation of missile treaty?

Might we consider limiting the proliferation of Robots so more humans can go back to doing more jobs in manufacturing, stores, etc.?  (Idea brought forward by a FOX Scientist commentator).

Republicans--but not President Trump--are backing away from his claim that 3-5 million illegal voters is why he lost the Popular Vote.   Can an issue foundational to our Democracy be ignored without investigation? 

The Pentagon considers sending combat troops into Syria to help fight ISIS.  Your thoughts.

Are we coddling our college kids by strictly controlling who speaks on Campus? Milo, a radical Gay Conservative, was stopped from speaking at Berkley. And Corey Lewandowski is being protested by University of Chicago students. How democratic is this?

What will it take to make Climate Change a priority for Americans?

What should America's role be with respect to the United Nations?

Trump wants to kill Dodd-Frank. Would doing so help Middle Class Americans?

Trump will "send in the Feds" if Chicago doesn't reduce its horrific homicide rate. Rahm says "ok, bring them in".  To do what? 

President Trump has made extensive use of "executive actions" since his inauguration. How do such actions work? How does his use compare with Obama's and previous POTUS?

What kind of problems/benefits will Republicans defunding Planned Parenthood generate?

What might be the advantages/disadvantages of moving some of America's key agencies out of D.C. and to the states? Example: putting Housing Development in Detroit, etc?

How plausible is it for us to see Hillary Clinton as Democrat Presidential Nominee in 2020, given that she is one year younger than President Trump? Who looks  more promising?

What do you see Michele Obama doing in the future?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Great Ideas: " Zionism & Israeli History"

Upcoming Discussion Sessions:

·         9:30am Wednesday, March 8 at the JCC on Revere Drive
·         10am Thursday March 9 at the Northbrook Library

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

Slides for Northbrook Library - Israeli History: Post 1967 

March 9 at the Northbrook Library
On 2/24, we had a substantial discussion about the new Eichmann Exhibit at the Illinois Holocaust Museum.  Many of our attendees wanted Mark to present the even more comprehensive PowerPoint slides that Mark reviewed with Docents for their training. Mark will present this during our March 9th session.  We will then continue with the Yom Kippur War discussion. 

Slides for JCC - Israeli History: Zionism through 1967  

March 8 at the JCC on Revere Drive - 9:30am
·         Mark Gelfeld is leading this same discussion series on Zionism and Israel   history from the beginning at the JCC, which started in February 2017.

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 something appropriate to a specific discussion topic.

Ralph Bernstein shares this interesting piece of information new in 2017

New Illinois laws that took effect on January 1, 2017


New Adoption Registry Disclosures

New bills adding to list of adoption disclosures, including reasons stated by birth parents for placing a child for adoption and making it easier for birth and adoptive parents to exchange medical and background information if beneficial to the adoptee.


Grandparents and great-grandparents will be allowed to visit grandchildren in the custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.


Employers that provide sick leave benefits are required to allow employees to use their leave to care for immediately family members due to illness, injury or medical appointment of the employee’s child, stepchild, spouse, sibling, parent, parent-in-laws, grandchild, grandparent or stepparent.


Railroad Crossings

Drivers who drive around lowered gates at grade crossings will face stiffer fines for violating railroad crossings laws. Fines will increase to $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent violation.


Employers will no longer be able to ask employees or prospective employees for their user-names and passwords to personal online accounts, including social media accounts.


Mandates Illinois insurance companies to provide coverage for almost all FDA-approved contraceptive drugs without additional costs, including contraceptive drugs, devices, supplies and voluntary sterilization. Insurance companies are required to cover up to 12 months of contraceptives.


Ensures patients receive information about treatment options, regardless of the medical provider’s religious beliefs, including abortion referrals.


Sales tax will be eliminated on feminine hygiene products, such as tampons and menstrual pads.