Thursday, December 29, 2016

"Current Events" Discussions

Upcoming Discussion Sessions:  
·         9am Monday November 18 at the North Shore Senior Center
·         9:30am Wednesday November 20 at the Northbrook JCC
·        10am Thursday November 21 at the Northbrook Library
·        7:15pm Wednesday December 4 at The Lodge 

Has Trump acted more often in ways that serve him versus serving the United States?  Over-arching so much of Trump’s Presidency, including many issues related to Impeachment, is his dealings with Russia.  There is a perception that Trump’s actions and words have overtly or indirectly furthered Russia’s interests, not the United States, and have hurt our allies. What has the United States received in return?

Should we believe witnesses that didn’t hear directly from Trump himself? Is it hearsay?  How often do even top level diplomats hear directly from the President vs. getting their directions from White House staff and spokespersons? Don’t most key people in government and the private sector act on decisions communicated by their superiors who received them from the “top”?

Why has the President prohibited his key people from testifying? Couldn’t they clear him by saying—from first-hand knowledge—he never directed them to seek dirt on the Biden’s?

Has America seen sufficient facts to believe Trump “bribed” the President of Turkey as charged by Pelosi? Or do most people feel this is a witch hunt by Democrats?

Your thoughts about the Republicans three main points: (1) who is the whistle-blower, and how much did this person coordinate with the Democrats; (2) Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 election against Trump; (3) Hunter Biden affected decisions made by Obama.

Your thoughts about the transcript of Trump’s first phone call. Does it help or hurt Trump’s arguments? Clearly, the Ukraine President showed how anxious and excited he was to have Trump come to his inauguration, and how important it was to him to have a White House visit. 

Would Trump likely avoid Impeachment by simply saying he misspoke and is sorry his words came out wrong?

How important is Ukraine to America’s security? How comfortable are you with Trump’s foreign policy decisions regarding Ukraine?

Is Stephen Miller a White Nationalist? Why would an individual with a clear racist background be leading Trump’s immigration policies?

What are the ramifications if DACA is declared to be illegal by the Supreme Court?

Necessary Political Correctness? Disney has this disclaimer for its classic movies: “This program is presented as originally created,” the warning at the end of each description reads. “It may contain outdated cultural depictions.” “Dumbo” has been criticized in the past for depicting two wise-cracking crows that speak in stereotypical African-American voices, played by a white actor. “The Jungle Book” suffers from the same issue with some of its characters, particularly a group of monkeys, being portrayed with negative, dated African and African-American characteristics. Meanwhile, “Lady and the Tramp” features the infamous “We Are Siamese” song performed by two cats speaking in stereotypical Asian accents, drawn with large buck teeth. Your thoughts.

Will Bloomberg jump in the Democratic race? He is motivated by Warren/Sanders leaning too far Left.  How might his entry shake up the race? Would the biggest risk be to Biden, also a Moderate? Or would attacking Warren/Sanders as “too Liberal” ultimately help Biden? How might this older, richer, White, Jewish, Moderate, Independent/Republican/Democrat fare?

Why is Anti-Semitism spiking?

What do you make of Democratic Congresswoman Katie Hill’s resignation? She and her husband had a “3-way” affair with a staffer. Now the two are divorcing…and her husband put nude pix of her on line.  So, she’s quitting. Yet Republican California Congressman paid to have sex using campaign funds, and he’s still serving. Why the double standard?  Male vs. Female? Dem vs. GOP?

Is Trump the Republican’s best candidate to beat any Democrat candidate?

How important is the “youth vote”? Will they come out in greater numbers? For who?
42% of voters actually did vote in 2016. If more voters come out in 2020, who might be helped the most? Do polls accurately reflect Trump’s level of support? In 2016 many voters wouldn’t admit their support in polls. Will the same dynamic work today—in essence, a “hidden plus” for Trump? On the other hand, how many 2016 Trump voters will publicly admit they won’t vote for him again?

The election is likely to be decided in 4-5 states—WI, MI, PN, FL. OH. Your thoughts.

Twitter is stopping political ads. Amazon is not. Your thoughts.

Is it OK to have U.S troops as Mercenaries and “Guards”? What are the pro’s and con’s of having American troops paid for by the Saudi’s? What about using U.S. troops to “guard” Iraqi oil?

Vote-getting idea? For who? Bernie proposes forcing all publicly traded companies, plus all private companies with more than $100M in revenue, to give their workers at least 45% of the seats on their boards, plus issue a portion of their stock to a fund controlled by workers.

NBA apologizes to China for a Rockets GM tweet supporting Hong Kong. China blocks TV viewership of preseason games.  More Chinese watch NBA than the total U.S. population.

At Trump rallies, armed militia “Oath Keepers” say they are doing “what police won’t do to protect you from ANTIFA”.  Your thoughts.

Enhancements to Trump’s Border Wall? Trump explored shooting migrants in the legs…adding a moat with alligators, snakes, electrified flesh-piercing stakes to stop them.  Is that who we are?

Is Trump overtly helping his business interests? Consider: new tax laws, lowering the fed rate, plus all the government business being directed to his properties.

Sanders wants the government to wipe clean student debt held by 45 million Americans - including all private and graduate school debt - as part of a package that makes public universities, community colleges and trade schools tuition-free. He pays with a tax on Wall Street his campaign says will raise more than $2 trillion over 10 years, though some tax experts give lower revenue estimates. Good idea? 

Elizabeth Warren calls for repealing the decades-old law criminalizing unauthorized border crossing ― the law the administration used to systematically split up families. Good idea?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Israeli History/Israeli Current Events

Upcoming Discussion Sessions: 

10am Thursday December 12 at the Northbrook Library
Reviewing events after the Camp David Accords

9:30am Wednesday November 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
· "We Stand Divided - The Rift Between American Jews and Israel" - Daniel Gordis

Thursday, March 6, 2014


¨  Please silence your cell phone during our discussion

¨  Respect the person speaking—please no side conversations

¨  If you’re not called upon by name, tell us your first name

¨  “Current Events” meets the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month  

¨  “Israeli History/Israeli Current Events” 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.

Ron's Rules:

1. Civility means treating each other with respect. Hate the comment. Love the commenter. When you make it personal, I will stop you. Look at me and talk to the issue. Respond like this: “I disagree. Strawberry is not better than butter pecan. Here’s why. ….”  Responses like this are out of line: “You’re an F-ing idiot if you think strawberry is better than butter pecan!”   Our goal is to shed light more than heat.

2. If someone else makes your point, you don’t need to make it again.

3. I try to seek different views. In doing so, I will call on some folks more than others so there’s a chance to hear different sides. But I won’t get to everyone for most topics.

4. If you’re seeking a “support group” to vent heart-felt rants, go elsewhere. Come with an open mind. You don’t need to agree with what you hear—just do try to see the other side. I’m preaching to myself here as well.

5. About our Diversity: be cautious. Ron does not speak for all Italian Americans.  I represent only Ron. Boris speaks only for Boris, not all Eastern Europeans. Charles just for Charles—not all Blacks. Richard speaks for Richard--not all Conservatives. (However, Mark probably does speak for most Jews. Just one man's opinion.)

6. Finally, It’s perfectly OK to push back against my questions you feel are too slanted or flat out incorrect. That’s going to happen.  Just don’t be picky in the interest of time.