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History and Government

American Politics: Big Issues, the 2018 Election, and Judicial Confirmations


with Brooks/ Regnery

Calendar Oct 19, 2018 at 10 am, runs for 4 weeks

Two politically knowlegable gentlemen, the liberal Stephen Brooks and the conservative Al Regnery, will have an intelligent, rational--and friendly--discussion of the major American political issues of the fall: the midterm elections and the Supreme Court nomination. 

Note: In addition to the four Friday classes (October 19, 26, November 2 and 9), a fifth class will be scheduled in mid to late September to discuss the Kavanaugh nomination.

Stephen Brooks is a retired attorney who lives full-time in Rappahannock County with his wife. He practiced law in New York from 1971 to 2011, at different times, in public interest, private and governmental settings. He served as staff director for the Minority (Democrats) in the New York State Senate and was president of a Reform Democratic Club on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Currently, he is a member of the executive committee of the New York State Bar Association’s Task Force on Family Court and a board member of Rappahannock’s Foothills Forum. Stephen is a graduate of Georgetown University Law School and George Washington University.

Al Regnery has been in the Republican political fray for more than 40 years.  He is a lawyer, was counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee during the late 1970s, served in the Reagan Justice Department, was president and publisher of a book publishing company that published many political books, later publisher of a political magazine.  He has written one book on U.S. politics and hundreds of op-eds and articles, given many lectures and interviews, and still believes the system works.

Will run

Rappahannock County and the Civil War


with John Tole

Calendar Oct 17, 2018 at 6 pm, runs for 5 weeks

This class covers Rappahannock County and it residents before, during, and after the Civil War   Where possible, the local history is discussed in the context of national events.  Among the topics covered:

* The many economic, social, and political factors from early colonization through the 1800s that eventually led to the Civil War

* Slavery and other aspects of the County economy prior to the war

* The County’s role in secession

*The experiences of the over 1100 county men who served in the Southern Armies and the several dozen who fought for the North.

* The occupation of the County by the Union Army of Virginia in the summer of 1862 including detailed discussion of the many varied personalities that formed this short-lived army

* The Confederate advance and retreat to the Battle of Gettysburg much of which passed through Rappahannock County

* Local African-Americans and Mosby Rangers

* Effect of Reconstruction on the County

At appropriate points, musical samples illustrating abolition, politics, patriotism, homesickness, post-war, and other sentiments will be presented.     

Field trips to some local sites may be arranged, depending on interest.     

Dr. John Tole is an engineer, historian, musician, and tree farmer who has resided in Rappahannock County for 34 years.   He is a native of Washington, D.C. with Civil War roots in both New York and the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia:  one great-great-grandfather was a Union naval officer; another was a member of the Stonewall Brigade in Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.   He taught and conducted research in engineering at M.I.T. (where he received his doctorate) and elsewhere and has spent many years in technical endeavors.

John is president of the Rappahannock Historical Society (where his wife, Judy, is the Executive Director).  He has co-authored several books on local history, lectured on various Civil War topics, and is the program manager for the County’s Civil War Trails project that erected 33 local roadside markers about Rappahannock’s role in the War. He is also the managing partner of the musical duo Evergreen Shade whose repertoire includes American period music from colonial days to the present including a large repertoire of Civil War era tunes.

Taxing Tales


with James Halpern

Calendar Oct 19, 2018 at 7 pm, runs for 1 week

Judge Halpern sits on the United States Tax Court.  He travels the country listening to reasons why people don’t think they owe what the I.R.S. says they owe.  Some of the time the taxpayer prevails; some of the time the I.R.S. prevails.  Often the stories are fascinating.  For instance, when was convicted Soviet spy Aldrich Ames taxable on income from spying that he failed to report on his U.S. income tax returns: when the Soviets set the money aside for him or when he actually received it?

Judge James S. Halpern has been a judge on the United States Tax Court for over 28 years.  He teaches Federal income taxation at G.W. University Law School.  He is also a certified Memphis in May barbecue judge.

Will run

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