Thursday, August 25, 2016

"American Politics" discussion topics for Monday, August 29 at the North Shore Senior Center

The Alt-Right—shorthand for "alternative right”—is the blanket term for a loose gathering of conservatives primarily based online that can include everyone from critics of so-called "political correctness" on college campuses to hardcore white supremacists and neo-Nazis. What unites these disparate groups together in the broadest sense is a shared belief that mainstream politics, culture, and media are suppressing their views on topics like race, gender, immigration, foreign policy, and religion. Some are "men's rights activists" who blame feminism for weakening the country, others are conservative foreign policy dissidents who reject America's alliance with Israel or favor more isolationist policies. They tend to be younger and more online-savvy than mainstream conservatives. Trump appears to be courting this group, not by name.  Your thoughts.

Hillary used her Secretary of State office to aid The Clinton Foundation, giving donors access to her.  Is it “pay for play”?  What does it matter that the Foundation does great good, taking from the rich and giving it to the poor?  What does it say about her judgment? How harmful is this issue to Hillary?

Trump flipped his "deportation" stance on immigration, no longer looking to deport all illegal immigrants. His new position is basically that of Jeb Bush and Rubio.  But his rigid stance won him the nomination. How does flipping his position help him reach more voters vs. losing some of his base?  What's the impact of this change?  Which Trump should voters believe?

Trump surrogates and Conservative media have ramped up talk about Hillary’s health. Trump likes to use “People are saying….”.  How does this approach resonate with the American Public?  Should her health be a legitimate concern?  What about Trump’s doctor saying, curiously, that “he’d be the healthiest President in American history”? 

Trump is talking about Black communities to all-White audiences: “Hillary is a bigot who sees people of color only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better future. Right now, you walk down the street…you get shot”. How does this approach help him with Minorities…and with White audiences?

Is Trump’s core message essentially one of anti-Globalizem and pro White Nationalism? Can Trump shock the world as Brexit did? He is teaming up with Nigel Farage, former head of the nationalist UK Independence Party who was accused of racism during his successful campaign encouraging UK to withdraw from the European Union. Farage is telling the "story of Brexit."  Can America shock the world as UK did in rejecting the European Union? Trump: “They will soon be calling me Mr. Brexit.” 

What is the significance that Hillary’s top aide, Huma Abedin, worked for a radical Muslim journal for a dozen years?

Thousands more Hillary emails have surfaced.  Does America care?

What should we make of Russia’s cyber attack on Democrats?

What should we do about North Korea?

What should America do about China building "islands" likely to be used militarily in the South China seas?

Should Senate Republicans continue to block Obama's pick to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, Garland, and risk the possibility that a President Hillary Clinton could nominate someone more liberal (and younger)? 

21 states still authorize corporal punishment in schools, affecting 100,000 children annually. Your thoughts.

The “Good Old Boy´ mentality, still exist in many corporations today.  Hillary Clinton is “Breaking the Glass Ceiling” as the 1st woman nominee of a major political party.  Do you feel this will have an impact on this Good Old Boy network on the corporate level?

Your thoughts on the petition for redistricting in Illinois.  Good for Illinois or bad for Illinois?

TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) is a trade agreement ratified by 12 countries.  Parts of the agreement promote economic growth, new jobs and more.  It also lowers tariffs.  Economists differ on their views on this agreement.  Do you think it will have a positive or negative effect on our economy and why?

Your thoughts about Trump's initial TV ad. “In Hillary Clinton’s America, the system stays rigged against Americans. Syrian refugees flood in. Illegal immigrants convicted of committing crimes get to stay, collecting Social Security benefits, skipping the line. Our border open. It’s more of the same, but worse. Donald Trump’s America is secure, terrorists and dangerous criminals kept out. The border secure. Our families safe. Change that makes America safe again.”

Is Mainstream Media ganging up against Trump? Or is he playing the Media to capture the news cycle—at no cost, as he won the GOP nomination? Will capturing the news cycle with outrageous comments ultimately allow Trump and his surrogates to reach voters outside his base via interviews where answers to harmful questions are “spun” to Trump’s advantage? Is Trump right that "there's no such thing as bad publicity"?

Manafort resigns. Does Trump's "Russian Problem" diminish with his exit?

The 4th Circuit Court overturned the NC decision on voter registration law. Republicans are appealing to a higher court.  What affect will voter registration laws have in November--does it reduce Minority voting...or provide an incentive that could increase votes?

Trump's foreign policy speech blamed Bush and Obama for the birth and rise of ISIS. He decried "nation building" and called for "extreme vetting" of immigrants. What would a Trump do significantly differently from what is already being done now by Obama?    

How responsible is Obama/Hillary for the rise of ISIS. Clinton supported greater intervention that essentially led to where we are. Is Hillary more "hawkish" than Obama? Or Trump?  Does America want a more hawkish President? 

How legitimate a risk is Hillary to 2nd Amendment rights? Who will gain more votes with this issue--the NRA or the majority of Americans who support additional regulations on assault weapons?

How important an issue tax filings in evaluating who should be President?

Trump suggested that America should have taken Iraqi oil, used our military to protect oil fields, and use dollars to increase benefits to American VETS.  "To the victor go the spoils". Your thoughts.

"Current Events" discussion topics for Thursday, September 1 at the Northbrook Library

Topics for September 1 will be posted several days before we meet.

Monday, August 22, 2016

"Great Ideas: Israeli History" on Thursday, September 8 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 September 8 we will continue our discussion of Israeli history  in 1973 with the prelude to the Yom Kippur War.

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.