Friday, December 19, 2014

"American Politics" discussion for Monday, January 5, 2015 at the North Shore Senior Center

There will be NO "American Politics" discussions on December 22 and December 29 due to NSSC Holiday Schedules.

Updated discussion topics for 1/5 will be posted several days before we meet.

New and Recent discussion issues:

President Obama says Sony made a mistake in pulling the movie "The Interview", and that it sets a bad precedent.  Sony says it didn't bail, but rather movie houses elected not to show the movie. Sony says it wants America to see the film.  What's the greater risk--show the film and risk possible terror attacks...or not show it and risk losing our precious freedom of speech?

Who is more at fault regarding "The Interview" movie issue--North Korea for doing the hacking...or Sony for developing a movie with such a provacative story line that was assured to inflame North Korea this way? 

What more can be done to address the longer term problem of North Korea? How should Obama respond?  What if China helped North Korea?

President Obama is normalizing relations with Cuba. Is it right to "reward" a nation with such a horrible human rights record this way? How might it affect our relationship with other Latin America countries?

Republicans are critical of Obama for "leading from behind", strongly feeling America must be tougher with our "enemies", like Cuba, Russia, Iran, ISIS. Which direction may be more productive for America--political engagement, or confrontation? How successful have we been in "forcing" our will via strength?

Will the horrific Taliban attack on children move Pakistan to strengthen ties with America in the fight against Islamic terrorism?

In what ways will Gov. Jeb Bush running for President affect the 2016 race?

An Australian “lone wolf”terrorized 17 hostages before being killed. During his siege, news media gave hours of full coverage to this one man’s action.Does this kind of media attention inspire ISIS and other terror groups to solicit more “lone wolves”—at virtually no expense—and watch the media have a feeding frenzy? Is America better served by accepting occasional “lone wolf” attacks as we do a host of other senseless acts of violence--mostly unavoidable, as we move on with our normal daily routine?

An explosive report detailing "torture" of CIA prisoners committed immediately after 9/11 was released by the Democrat-led Senate Intelligence Committee:

Pro: America must be transparent, confirm that we no longer take these measures, torture methods were not effective, report must eventually be released, it's important for America to have this debate.

Con: Enhanced interrogation techniques were not torture--it was approved by the White House and Justice Dept...and it was effective in obtaining valuable information that helped save American lives. Release of the report may generate violence putting American lives at risk.

Was it in America’s best interests to have used these techniques, regardless of morality or legality?

Was it in America's best interests to have released this report?

President Bush cancelled plan to speak in Europe, presumably concerned that the "EIT" report puts him at risk. If the Intelligence report substantiates torture as defined by international courts, is there a risk that President Bush, VP Cheney and others might be charged with war crimes?

Is Obama's Drone program similar to Bush's "EIT" - i.e., dirty, immoral, may kill or harm innocents...but totally necessary and in America's best interest?

Is President Obama trying to get rid of Netanyahu? Some see White House interference in helping to agitate the coalition drama provoking Netanyahu's hesitant decision to dissolve parliament and schedule early elections that could potentially see the prime minister unseated.

Is Health Care a right or a privilege?

The spending bill narrowly passed the House with Democrat support--and after a full court press by the White House. Sen. Warren had urged Democrats not to support the funding bill that included a clause that weakens Dodd-Frank. Who "won" this show-down?

As we approach the new 2015 Congress, which Party appears to be more divided--Republicans or Democrats?

A ton of "hacked" Sony emails were given to Media--similar to Wikee

Some high-profile Black celebs, like Derrick Rose, have called attention to recent "no indictment" grand jury cases by holding their arms up in an "I surrender" fashion and/or wearing "I can't breathe" sweatshirts. Your thoughts.

A poll shows that Americans feel Race Relations is at a 16 year low. In what ways has President Obama affected race relations, both pro and con?

The Russian ruble is sinking fast, with inflation creating panic buying. Is Putin still the risk many Conservatives fear--or was Obama right to wait him out, "lead from behind", and not be as agressive as Republicans wanted?

Sen. Warren is the darling of many Liberals? If Hillary doesn’t run, how viable a candidate might she be?

Rep. Darrell Issa is term-limited and leaving his post as head of the House's investigative committee. Who has he helped more--Republicans or Dem's?

What are your thoughts about the passing of Judy Baar Topinka?

Time Magazine "Person of the Year": Ebola Caregivers. Do you agree with this choice? Other candidates: Ferguson protesters, Vladimir Putin, Taylor Swift, Jack Ma of Alibaba, Tim Cook Apple CEO, Masoud Barzani acting President of Iraqi Kurdish Region, Roger Goodell NFL commissioner.

Boehner says when the new congress is sworn in he will have the authority to set up a new house investigation committee to investigate Benghazi. What value is there with still another investigation after the last committee reported no administration fault for the murders of Americans?

A Rolling Stone story detailing a college rape incident has been discredited. How might bad reporting affect future cases where women have too often remained silent?

Many Western European nations have very Liberal (socialistic?) welfare policies. Does America facilitate this by essentially being the Defense "safety net" for these nations? Can they plow more resources into welfare while counting on America to "cover their back"?

How right is it for Hollywood to make--and movie theaters to show--a movie, however satirical, based on assassinating North Korea’s leader?

Dare we believe the Cubs will actually be IMPROVED in 2015? The odds makers have improved their chances of winning it all to 1 in 10 from 1 in 50. What about the White Sox?

Will Ashton Carter be confirmed as Defense Secretary, or will the Republican-led Senate hold up the confirmation as a response to Obama’s executive order on Immigration?

Regarding the environment and climate change: who is more “unreasonable”—those who deny that climate change is “real”…or those who want us to spend a zillion dollars that we don’t have to make what might be just a minimal different difference? What about the environmental agreement Obama made with China?

How can we put more income in the hands of Middle/Low-income workers--who are likely to spend it and help drive the economy? Higher minimum wage can't be the only answer.

What are your thoughts regarding Sen. Warren being given a Senate Democrat leadership role as strategic policy advisor?

How likely is it that Illinois will pass a minimum wage bill?
What is the significance of the pro-Democracy Hong Kong protests?

What are the ramifications of Drones—“boots in the air”—increasingly doing more of our fighting?

"Great Ideas" is discussing "Zionism--Implementation in Israel" on Thursday, January 8, 2015. We meet at the Northbrook 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, January 8 we will continue to fully explore the lead up to the 6-day war of 1967 and the war itself beginning with slide 325. Also added to the bibliography is Michael Oren’s book "Six Days of War : June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East", which is highly recommended.

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

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


    December 25 - Christmas Day - No "Great Ideas" - Library Closed

    January 1 - New Year's Day - No "Current Events" - Library Closed


    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.

    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.