Thursday, April 10, 2014

"Current Events" discussion topics for Thursday, April 17, 2014. We meet in Northbrook's Village Hall during Library renovation.

A White Supremacist attacked Jewish institutions “to save White America from the rule of Jews.”   Michael Siegal, chair of the Jewish Federations of North America: "No community should have to face a moment such as this one. We are left to contemplate how we must continue our work building a world in which all people are free to live their lives without the threat of terror.”  Are we any closer to NOT needing police and/or private security around temples and synagogues? 

On the anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombing, what has that event taught us?

How does Sebelius’ resignation, and Obama’s choice of Burwell, affect Obamacare as a 2014 election issue?

Has President Obama weakened Cabinet positions to a point where they are just figureheads, lacking authority, with greater power vested in the White House?

Liberals say Republicans are “anti-women”.  What substance is behind this…or is it just media bias? Obama issued an exec order requiring companies wanting to do business with the Gov. to substantiate equal pay for women. Republicans say this is just "politics".  If so, is it a winning issue for Democrats? 

Is voter registration legislation by many states an honest attempt to reduce vote fraud or curtail minority votes? Will such efforts actually reduce minority turnout...or will it motivate more minorities to vote?

How should Obama address Putin’s manipulation of Eastern Ukraine?  Are our European allies willing to get tougher with Putin?  Sen. McCain says that unlike President Teddy Roosevelt's famous quote, it looks to him like President Obama would rather "speak loudly and carry a small twig".  WSJ: "Putin acts. Obama assesses."

Is AG Holder right—or just playing the Race Card—in believing he and President Obama are being held to a double standard--and disrespected?  On FOX News, Brit Hume said that Holder "is using Race as a sword and a shield...and that both Holder and Obama use Race to defend themselves and attack others". 

Nevada rancher, Cliven Bundy, has grazed his cattle on federal land for years but refuses to pay $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees or remove his animals.  Conservatives say this is one more example of government overreach and support Bundy, who plans to continue to not recognize federal authority on the land Bundy insists belongs to Nevada.  How do you feel about this?

The Pulitzer Prize Board awarded The Guardian US and The Washington Post its coveted Public Service award for reporting on the NSA’s domestic surveillance practices.  Does this move, in effect, vindicate Snowden’s actions?

A new book, The Confidence Gap, puts the focus on major differences in confidence between men and women.  Women are less self-assured than men, and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence.  Your thoughts. 

Jeb Bush: “Those who cross the border do so as an act of love to help their families…yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony.” Immigration has greatly hurt Sen. Rubio’s chances. How do you see Jeb’s message playing with the Republican Party?

What key issues do you see as most productive for Republicans for the 2014 elections? What do you feel will be the Democrats focus of attention?

Rep. Issa’s Oversight Committee voted (along Party lines) to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress. Why doesn’t Issa offer immunity to Lerner to explore ties to the White House?

Some political pundits believe that Sec. Kerry will make a run for the 2016 Presidency. If he does run, how would this affect the race? 

Would Hillary Clinton be more electable after winning a serious primary challenge…or is she better served to be “anointed” as the Democrats’ 2016 Presidential nominee?

Has Kerry been a more effective Secretary of State than Hillary Clinton? What was Clinton’s major accomplishments as Secretary of State?

Where do the "peace talks" stand between Israel and the Palestinians?  Should Israel be considered a "colonial power" because of its West Bank settlements?

What do you think of Rauner’s TV commercials where his wife claims she is a Democrat?

The Illinois Senate passed State Sen. Dan Biss’ Secure Choice Savings Program Act, allowing more than 2.5 million Illinois workers access to retirement savings plans through their employers.  It would allow 3% of paychecks to be invested in something similar to IRA’s.  Your thoughts.

How do you feel about Northbrook's Park District Board voting to purchase Five Seasons Sports Club pending voter referendum approval in November?

Are Seniors being "greedy" by continuing to expect entitlement benefits that, by most accounts, won't be there for our children and grandkids?

Do we punish our kids less while praising them more…so they grow up to be spineless, soft and ill-prepared for the stresses of adult life?

Looking at the ways Seniors need to sustain their lives in retirement with various financial holdings...In general, how have those of us living on the North Shore fared under President Obama?

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just published the second part of a four-part report on climate change. Already an opposing view of the effect of CO2 on the climate has also been published. Will this be criticized as being an attack on “settled science”? What evidence exists that supports the view that there is such a thing as settled science? Why are Conservatives accused of being anti-science? There has to be more than the religious theories that the earth is 5000 years old. What are other examples of Conservative anti-science?

What are the ramifications of America's birthrate having dropped from just under 4 in 1957 to just over 2 today? (2.1 birth rate is considered the right number to replace both parents over their life).

Dems pulled a GOP type blunder in Iowa where a US Rep is challenging Senator Charles Grassley calling him “just a farmer who has never gone to law school”. All Iowa farmers are up in arms.

The National Enquirer says the Obamas will file divorce papers in 2016, precipitated by Michelle’s lavish China trip.  Even a broken clock is correct twice a day—so might there be something to this?  (Folks. Complaints about this topic must be directed to Bill Domm, who says I post too many Left leaning topics.  Bill is Right about my leanings…but….)

Indiana is the latest state to pull out of federal Common Core program. Critics resent the control of local school board decisions shifting to Washington and the lack of higher requirements for Stem curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

Environmental movement is losing some of its steam. Critical articles are appearing in NYT, WP, WSJ, The Nation, Mother Jones on the positions taken on Keystone Pipe line, fracking revolution and recent Pew study on “millenniums” regard for the movement. Maybe the results of the cause being defined by the extreme elements just like happened to the Civil Rights movement

President Obama is asking for quick Congressional approval of NSA surveillance reform, allowing phone companies to keep data from Americans’calls, but requiring authorities to seek judicial approval before accessing it. Your thoughts.

Should the government provide free birth control so that no company needs to make that decision?

What do you think of Scott Brown running for Senate in New Hampshire?


"American Politics" discussion topics for Thursday, April 21, 2014.

Topics for April 21 will be posted several days before we meet.

Monday, April 7, 2014

"Great Ideas" is discussing ZIONISM--"Implementation in Israel" on Thursday, April 24, 2014. We are meeting in Northbrook's 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: History


If you are interested in the plans for the library renovation click the following link for a video.

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.
There was an interesting March article in the New York Times that touches on many of the issues we have been discussing. Click the link below.

On April 24 we will continue to focus on 1957-1963. We’ll discuss politics, relations with Arab neighbors, relations with the U.S., other foreign policy issues and the bomb. After that discussion we will get into the Eichmann Trial and Hannah Arendt’s controversial analysis in her book "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil".

There was a new PBS series called the Story of the Jews that aired recently. Those who have "On Demand" can view this series any time. You can also view episodes and review some interesting information using the following links:

This PBS show was based on the new book of the same title by Simon Schama who also happens to be the narrator of the show.

Below is a list of books mentioned during our sessions:

  • “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
  • "The Making of Modern Israel 1948-1967" by Leslie Stein
  • "Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict" by Charles D. Smith
  • “Transformative Justice: Israeli Identity on Trial” by Leora Bilsky
  • “In the Garden of the Beasts” by Erik Larson
  • “My Promised Land - The Triumph & Tragedy of Israel” by Ari Shavit
  • “The Iron Wall: Israel & The Arab World” by Avi Shlaim
  • "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

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Northbrook Library Discussion Groups have moved to Northbrook Village Hall during Library Renovation.

  • Renovation of Northbrook library meeting rooms began in March 2013 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
  • Coffee will NOT be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own in a covered cup

  • Here are future Thursday dates when we will NOT conduct discussions:

    October 23 - No "Great Ideas" - Early Voting taking place in Village Hall

    October 30- No "Great Ideas" - Early Voting taking place in Village Hall

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

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