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Reading Liberally – Discussing Liberally




What Are We?


Founded in the Fall of 2005, Reading/Discussing Liberally is a monthly politically-oriented Discussion Group that focuses in depth on a particular issue selected by group members attending the previous month’s meeting. 


There is usually a book as a suggested reading, but we do not limit ourselves to worthwhile subjects for which there does not appear to be a worthwhile book available.


We currently have 150 members who receive our weekly e-mail and our monthly attendance averages 10-11 with a typical high of 15-16 (our policy is to cancel if we have fewer than 6 prospective attendees, which has happened only once since the Fall of 2005).


Regular attendees come from all walks of life but, as might be expected, scientists and attorneys seem to be represented in abundance.  Regular scientist attendees include two retired U/Utah Biology Professors and a current U/Utah Biophysics expert (our recent discussion of the Japanese nuclear disaster attracted a season skier from California who spent his career in nuclear physics (PhD = U/Tenn + Oak Ridge).  Regular attorney attendees include the retired head of the Parisian Office of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and two Assistant Utah Attorneys General (one heads the Environmental-Law Department and the other heads the Civil-Appeals Department).


When/Where Do We Meet?


We meet the second Wednesday evening of each month at the Salt Lake Public Library (210 East 400 South) from 6:30 pm > closing (formal discussion 7:00 pm > 8:45 pm).


How to Sign Up for Our Weekly E-Mail


We send out a weekly e-mail with information up-dates and one of our most popular features – a monthly quiz related to the topic we are examining followed, a week later, by suggested answers.


To sign up for our weekly e-mail, simply e-mail with the subject “Email List Addition” and the mail box you used will be added to our list.


How to Post/Reply/Edit/Delete Your Comments on Our Bulletin Board


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However, if you do not log in, there will be a set of statements at the lower right-hand corner of each "topic" screen saying that you cannot post/reply/edit/delete. Unfortunately, it does not mention that you CAN DO SO by registering and logging in.


However, due to saboteurs and porn attacks, registration is limited to the attendees of our meetings.


If you have attended our meetings and wish to register for the bulletin board, simply send an e-mail to with the subject “Registration Requested” and a message containing suggested User ID (your initial password will be your e-mail address which you can then change).


Our Bulletin Board


Our Bulletin Board was inaugurated in August 2007.  Following an introductory section and a section containing suggestions for possible topics for future meetings, it comprises 4-5 sections for each month stretching backward to inception.  The 4-5 monthly sections =


(1) Reference Materials – any published articles or other materials that our members encounter and deem worthy of attention; if there is a suggested book for the month, we include in this section the book’s reviews from the NY Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.


(2) Participant Comments – anything our members want to say for others to ponder before the monthly meeting; this section also contains the Short Quiz featured in the second e-mail of each monthly cycle and the Suggested Answers featured in the third e-mail.


(3) Original Proposal – whatever was posted in the section “Possible Topics For Future Meetings” before the proposal’s selection for the current month.


(4) Suggested Discussion Outline.


(5) On occasion, a Six-Degrees-Of-Separation E-Mail Campaign (please see the next section).


Six-Degrees-Of-Separation E-Mail Campaigns


We take pride in the fact that there are NO MORE THAN SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION between us and 100% of the American electorate.  And that, on important occasions, our 150 members can send with a dozen computer key strokes an already-prepared e-mail urging a particular position (1) to the President and/or other key decision makers and (2) to all of their friends and acquaintances in an unending chain to contact the President and/or other decision makers. 


However, we only do so if we have reached unanimity or consensus (at most one dissent, in which case we disclose that we only reached a consensus).  Examples including the date of the meeting =


1.      5/13/2011 – Calling on President Obama to honor his campaign promises and announce that he will veto any legislation incorporating the recommendation of his Deficit-Reduction Commission to exempt the profits from out-sourcing American jobs (NB: most readers would not notice that the Commission’s Official Report recommends taxing corporations on a “territorial basis”).


2.      3/10/2010 – Ameliorating the Supreme Court’s decision permitting unlimited corporate campaign contributions by promulgating new IRS regulations employing the traditional corporate-income-tax rules regarding whether an expense is “ordinary and necessary” – the new IRS regulations to provide that unless a campaign contribution is related to a specific and narrow issue directly affecting the corporation’s business, then the deduction will be disallowed and the contribution will be treated as a non-cash taxable dividend to the shareholders.


3.      1/13/2010 – 5/13/2009 – 1/14/2009 – Transforming the SINGLE-DIGIT inner-city high school graduation rates to 90% with the only method that works = “I Have A Dream”® or IHAD-style programs that feature tutors and mentors that become de facto parents (studies routinely show that nothing else works on a broad scale, e.g., early intervention, teacher incentive pay, etc. – and vouchers/charter schools only remove from the Holocaust those few inner-city children who are lucky enough to have a motivated parent).


4.      12/9/2009 – Eliminating unemployment with an FDR-style “national security work force” that puts insofar as possible all of the unemployed to work building solar panels for what would have been the amount of unemployment compensation which will now never expire – with unlimited time off for job interviews to rejoin the regular work force.


5.      11/18/2009 – Eliminating EPA and Chevrolet Volt fraudulent claims regarding gasoline mileage designed to mislead the American public into ignoring the environmental disaster posed by 100%-electric cars so long as there remain any coal-fired electrical-generation plants on the nation’s grid – NB: (1) this comment does not relate to hybrid cars which generate their own electricity from the waste heat of their gasoline engines, and (2) until the last coal-fired electrical-generation plant is retired from the grid, the overall impact of a 100%-electric vehicle = carbon emissions (think global warming) ARE INCREASED although other pollution (think “acid rain”), though also increased, can be exported to electrical-generation plants downwind.


6.      10/14/2009 – American Policy Toward Palestinians (the key to Middle Eastern Peace) should be reformulated by providing $3 billion/year (the level of aid to Israel and Egypt) for education/training of Palestinians in order to provide them with a real future.


7.      4/8/2009 – Instead of surging U.S. troops in Afghanistan from 47,000 to 70,000 in his first month in office, President Obama should rely on human intelligence.  (President Obama later decided on a SECOND surge from 70,000 to 101,000.)


8.      11/12/2008 – The nation should embrace Al Gore’s 10-year challenge to America to re-power the nation’s electrical grid.


Do-It-Yourself Six-Degrees-Of-Separation E-Mail Campaigns


There have been occasions when there were two dissents but the feelings of the majority were very strong.  In such situations, we have occasionally reported to our membership what happened together with the observations that in a land of “free speech” every one of our members is still free to launch their own do-it-yourself six-degrees-of-separation e-mail campaigns.


However, in such circumstances, we do not provide a pre-packaged e-mail that, with only a dozen key strokes, can be sent to key decision makers and to the initiator’s friends/acquaintances to do the same in an unending chain.  “Do It Yourself” means that, in order to exercise their “free speech,” they literally have to do it themselves.


Examples =


  1. 5/13/2011 – We just missed consensus on recommending that the U.S. government form a licensing office that (1) obtains on behalf of the American people patents on all commercially-useful ideas that are generated by basic research financed by the U.S. government (e.g., through the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health, Department of Defense, etc.), and (2) licenses such patents (and reciprocal patents for improvements) so that any manufacturing must occur in the United States.  [Indeed, the U.S. government should insist that GATT be amended to ban imports into any GATT country of goods manufactured outside the U.S. that infringe on the U.S. Government patents just described.]


  1. 4/13/2011 – We just missed consensus on recommending that in the wake of the Japanese nuclear-plant disaster which demonstrated how easily water can be shaken from what are essentially home swimming pools used to house spent fuel rods (though we recognized that radiation also contaminated the environment due to venting from the containment chambers and coolant leaks outside the containment chambers), especially since many American nuclear plants are in earthquake zones and most are near aviation corridors
    America begin reprocessing its spent fuel rods to eliminate the problem.  We noted that (A) most the world avoids the spent-fuel-rod problem by reprocessing, (B) the 66-page Feb 1999 report prepared for President Clinton by the Government’s Oak Ridge National Nuclear Laboratory concluded that reprocessing was attractive, and (C) the 12/23/1977 decision of President Carter not to reprocess for fear that weapons-grade fuel would be produced that might be stolen by terrorists shouldn’t be a problem in view of the fact that the U.S. military has nuclear weapons at many more locations around the world than the 65 sites of the nation’s 104 nuclear plants and the U.S. military has no problems in providing adequate security on a routine basis.


  1. 2/9/2011 and 4/14/2010 – We just missed consensus both times on recommending a European-style motor-fuel tax that completely funds social security and universal health care “killing 4 birds with one stone” = (1) reducing the international balance-of-payments deficits, (2) increasing national security by reducing the reliance of the U.S. and its allies on foreign oil-exporting states, (3) reducing pollution with more fuel-efficient vehicles, and (4) fully funding social security and universal health care.  Typical gasoline prices in Europe are the equivalent of $15-18/gallon.


  1. 11/10/2010 – We just missed recommending that until our 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan, our military “foot print” in Afghanistan feature primarily Navy Seabee battalions whose primary mission would be building schools, hospitals, etc.