Thursday, May 5, 2016

American Politics discussion topics for Monday, May 9 at the North Shore Senior Center

In a Trump vs. Clinton race who has the edge, and why? Is Trump's appeal limited to those who voted for him during primaries--including many "new" voters?  Or will many angry Democrats and Independents support the "Outsider" more than they will Hillary?

Speaker Paul Ryan says he can't support Trump at this time. How will establishment Republicans support Trump? Some big name Republicans already say they will "sit this out". How will Trump unify the Party?  They can at least attack Hillary, which is one "common denominator" shared by all Republicans?

Trump is now head of the Republican Party. Yet he has many non-Conservative views, and doesn't even feel he needs full support of Republicans to win. During most primaries, more Republicans voted against Trump than for him. Does Trump need to "walk back" his more dramatic positions, i.e. deport all illegal aliens, ban all Muslims from coming to America, build a wall paid by Mexico, don't pay for our Military presence in foreign countries, on trade...and more.

What are the chances that we'll see development of a  "Conservative" Third Party?

Trump and Clinton each used two words to describe their opponent: Trump says "Hillary = poor judgement".  Clinton says "Trump = loose cannon".  Your thoughts.

Trump is not concerned with political correctness. Can he switch tactics to be “more Presidential”?  Even in winning big on Tuesday, he made a wild attack accusing Cruz father of involvement in Kennedy's assassination…and doesn't back away from his  Obama “birther” claims. Will he use similar wild attacks—often based on rumor—against Hillary?  Untruths didn't hurt Trump with Republican primary voters.  Will it work with the general public as well?

How likely is it that Republicans will now support Obama's Supreme Court pick vs. chancing the possibility of a much younger, more liberal Clinton Justice approved by a Democrat Senate?

What role is Bernie now serving for Democrats?  Is he pushing Hillary too far Left, and forcing her to expend resources? Doe Bernie help or hurt his Progressive causes by remaining in the race?

Will Trump run more to Hillary’s Left on Foreign Policy—i.e., be for less intervention?  Is his position closer to where most Americans are today?  Republicans have supported our Military more than Democrats--yet Trump wants allies to pay for U.S. troops in their countries.

California is raising tobacco/nicotine purchase age to 21.  Good idea for the country?

How can Trump win more women’s votes? In what ways is Hillary “playing the women’s card”? 

Who would be the likely Democratic nominee if Hillary can’t run for whatever reason?   Who would be the Republican pick if, for whatever reason, Trump isn't the GOP nominee?

Who do you see as likely VP Candidates?  Trump says he needs a “political” running mate, not another outsider.  What about Gingrich as Trump's running mate? Would Sen. Warren be a smart pick for Hillary?  

Between forces of globalization, technological advance and immigration fears on one hand and the stagnation of wages and worker productivity on the other, many are saying we are in a once-in-a-century transformation that will ultimately provide new and better opportunities but in the short run cause large-scale dislocation and pain. If this is the case, what can any president do about it? What Presidential powers can be used?  Who can best deal with this: Trump? Hillary?

Trump and Cruz say climate change "is a hoax".  How serious an issue is “climate change”?

Should the George Lucas Museum be built on lakefront property, or should we “pass”?

In Iraq the Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites all have separate militias – and multiple versions within each group – which are more or less cooperating to fight the common enemy, ISIS. As that struggle succeeds and then dies down, will that cooperation vanish and turn to brutal rivalry. Can Iraq really survive as one country? What should or can we do to influence the process? What is Iran doing?

What is Russia after in the Middle East? Is Russia a military threat to Europe? To us? Why are we obsessed with what Putin does?

As ISIS real estate footprint in Syria/Iraq is shrunk, what will it do? What will come next? Possibilities: (1) just another gang of jehadists fighting with other gangs and governments, (2) they fade away, and/or (3) they move the fight to other countries such as Libia, Nigeria, Europe or (gasp) the USA.

Bernie appears to be a stronger supporter of Palestinians than Hillary.  Who would be a better friend of Israel—Clinton, or Trump?

Is the prospect of a negotiated deal for a 2-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians dead for the foreseeable future?

The EU is facing multiple crises: floods of immigrants, unemployment, something of a recession, government deficits (especially in southern Europe) and an increase in nationalism. The fear is that these combined pressures will at least render the EU dysfunctional and perhaps break it apart. How do you see it? What is our interest in the matter?

We are at least talking as if increased isolationism can make our problems better. Some talk of raising tariffs to that we can resume making stuff in this country that won’t be undercut by imports. Is this possible? What would be the result?

Should America provide free college to those who qualify as proposed by Sanders? What about vocational schools? Sen. Warren has proposed interest on student loans to be at the same rate as banks pay when they borrow from the Fed. Also there have been proposals to allow students who receive loans and cannot pay for them to schedule the loan as a bankruptcy procedure. (Currently these loans are non- dischargeable in a bankruptcy proceeding). Are these viable ideas?

Do Liberals reject the idea of America's exceptionalism?  What is meant by this term?

All Republican candidates have expressed their views on Obamacare and that they would seek repeal of this law. The Democratic candidates have said they will “strengthen” that law, in opposition of the Republican idea of repeal. The conservatives say that the law is a “job buster,” while the Democrats say that the job growth has increased each month sine Obama was sworn in as president. Which is the correct position?

Obama's approvals are now 53%, likely benefiting from a GOP race that increasingly looks like a train wreck.  What opportunities does this give Obama? Might 2016 be a better year for the GOP to negotiate big issues with Obama than with Hillary—and maybe with a Democrat Senate?

China has been extending its influence into the ocean to the south, adjoining Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia among others. Why is it doing this? What is our interest? How far should we go in active (i.e. semi-belligerent) opposition?

North Korea is at it again, conducting all sorts of missile and atomic device tests. What do we care and what can we do?

It is clear that climate change, resource exhaustion, the collapse in commodity prices and wars can trigger massive movements of local populations to find safety and relief. National borders become virtually meaningless in this context. What should be international policy in this regard? US policy? What would Trump do? Help!

Special "Great Ideas" Event 10 am Thursday, May 12

“Above and Beyond”


Special “Great Ideas” Film

Thursday, May 12 to Celebrate Israeli Independence

10-11:30am - Northbrook Library Pollak Room
Award-winning Documentary. Would you risk everything - your future, your citizenship, even your life - to help a brother in need?
In 1948, just three years after the liberation of Nazi death camps, a group of Jewish American pilots answered a call for help. In secret and at great personal risk, they smuggled planes out of the U.S., trained behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia and flew for   Israel in its War of Independence. As members of Machal – “volunteers from abroad” – this ragtag band of brothers not only turned the tide of the war; they also embarked on personal journeys of discovery and renewed Jewish pride. Winner of the audience award at more than 20 film festivals, ABOVE AND BEYOND, brings together new interviews as well as stunning aerial footage to present a little known, fascinating tale filled with heart, heroism and high flying chutzpah.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

"Great Ideas: Israeli History" on Thursday, May 26 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 May 26, we will discuss the film "Above and Beyond" that we viewed together on May 12.

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

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.