Page 1


Nora Ephron: ALONG THE WAY pg 18

Tom Campbell: ECONOMIC FORECAST pg 52

Dr. Gloria Duffy on PREP FOR CRISES pg 58

Commonwealth The


april/MAY 2011


Brooks America Under Obama

$2.50; free for members


April 14

Starbucks Founder

FCC Chairman

Howard Schultz



Founder and CEO, Starbucks; Author, Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul

Chairman, Federal Communications Commission See page 37 for details

In conversation with Wired Editorin-Chief Chris Anderson See page 33 for details

May 18

May 26

Anna Lappe:

Willie Brown:

Diet for a Hot Planet

Annual Lecture on Political Trends

Founding Principal, Small Planet Institute; Author, Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It See page 47 for details

Former Mayor, San Francisco; Chairman and CEO, Willie Brown Institute on Politics and Public Service See page 48 for details

For details on these and other events, see the program listings or go to


Inside Commonwealth Vo lu m e 1 0 5 , N O . 0 3

A p r i l / m ay 2011

page 52

Econ 101 “The [private sector] problem isn’t lack of cash, nor is there a lack of corporate ability to borrow from the Fed. To the extent that there’s a shortage of funds, there’s a shortage of funds going to small businesses, not large businesses that can offer bonds or equity.” –Tom Campbell

Photo by Beth Byrne






29 Program Information 30 Eight Weeks Calendar

10 When the U.S. Met Japan Uldis Kruze remembers the impact of these two unlikely countries engaging with each other

14 The True Cost of Public Pensions

A panel of academics, labor and taxpayer advocates looks at the conflicts between public employee pension costs and thin government wallets

18 Along the Way Celebrated writer and director Nora Ephron tells tales of Hollywood and family

Editor’s Note The political diversity deficit


Events from April 1 to June 15, 2011

The Commons On the scene in Egypt

32 32 33 50

13 15 Years of Achievement Gloria Duffy’s time well spent

51 Letters Defense of Oklahoma

58 InSight

Programs by Region Language Classes Program Listings Late-breaking Events

About Our Cover: David Brooks addressed a sold-out Commonwealth Club audience about America in the age of President Obama. Photo by Kris Davidson.

Dr. Gloria C. Duffy Preventing Disaster


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Photo courtesy of Nora Ephron

Conservative columnist David Brooks examines the psychologies that make America tick today

Photo by Matthew Brady / National Archive

In the Age of Obama

Commonwealth The

Business offices

Editor’s Note

The Commonwealth 595 Market St., 2nd Floor San Francisco, CA 94131

The Political Diversity Deficit


John Zipperer


Vice President, Media & Editorial

Sonya Abrams



Editorial Interns Ella Arnold

James Dohnert


Beth Byrne

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The Commonwealth (ISSN 0010-3349) is published bimonthly (6 times a year) by The Commonwealth Club of California, 595 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105-2805. PERIODICALS POSTAGE PAID at San Francisco, CA. Subscription rate $34 per year included in annual membership dues. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Commonwealth, The Commonwealth Club of California, 595 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105-2805. Printed on recycled paper using soy-based ink. Copyright © 2010 The Commonwealth Club of California. Tel: (415) 597-6700 Fax: (415) 597-6729 E-mail: EDITORIAL POLICY FOR PROGRAM TRANSCRIPTS: The Commonwealth magazine seeks to cover a range of programs in each issue. Program transcripts and question and answer sessions are routinely condensed due to space limitations. Hear full-length recordings of events online at or contact Club offices to order a compact disc.

ADVERtising information Mary Beth Cerjan Development Manager (415) 869-5919



hen David Brooks appeared on NPR’s “Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me!” quiz show in 2004, he joked that he is “every liberal’s favorite conservative; I understand my role in society.” I know there were plenty of liberals at his January appearance at the Club, and as you’ll see in his speech printed in this issue, he is able to use his broad popularity to build bridges across political boundaries while still being true to his conservative ideas. Maybe we need more bridge builders. When outgoing Mayor Gavin Newsom and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors wrangled over the selection of an interim mayor, many national reporters felt compelled to point out that the political chasm between Newsom and the supervisors was not conservative-vs.-liberal but rather Photo by Kris Davidson liberal-vs.-leftist. Politically speaking, there arguably isn’t much of a conservative political force in San Francisco, despite some wellknown conservative business people and philanthropists who have made their mark here. Examples of this political imbalance are legion. But a couple will suffice. A few years ago, I knew a small company in downtown San Francisco with about 15 full-time employees. All of them were liberals; the closest they came to having a Republican in the office was the FedEx delivery man, who engaged in friendly political debates with the receptionist. Or consider the neighborhood I walk through every day heading to and from the BART station. In 2004, I remember seeing exactly one Bush-Cheney campaign sign, but numerous Kerry-Lieberman signs. In 2008, there wasn’t even a lone McCain-Palin sign. You might see the complete opposite of that in parts of Orange County. What has happened? Worse, what will happen? Critics of California’s political districting systems of past years complained that so many legislators came from safe districts that they didn’t have to do any negotiating and compromising. They were going to get re-elected anyway, as long as they stuck to the ideology of their districts. How can you make policy if you don’t have contact with people affected by your decisions and allow yourself to be open to being affected by their arguments? That’s what makes The Commonwealth Club unique and vital. When we survey our members and ask their political affiliation, the results show that they are spread across the spectrum. I think that should be a source of pride, because it is very rare these days to have an organization that brings together people of differing views – that expects people to come together, that knows people with different views can still talk about important topics civilly and find agreement, that thinks a political disagreement is something to be discussed with facts and experiences and is not something to be shouted at an opponent. I suspect there were many bridge builders in David Brooks’ audience.

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Talk of the Club

Photo by Alissa Elegant

Our Man on the Ground in Egypt Illustration by Steven Fromtling

The rise of the fed-up citizen and the fall of Mubarak

Good Catch Bochy, Sabean play ball


Photo by Sonya Abrams

he Commonwealth Club’s main auditorium in San Francisco was standing-room only for the February 3 appearance by San Francisco Giants Manager Bruce Bochy and General Manager Brian Sabean. The two spoke about the team’s surprising season that culminated in its first World Series championship as a San Francisco team, and they discussed plans for repeating their performance in 2011. They had one more way to please the fans, however. Bochy and Sabean also signed a baseball, which was awarded to one lucky person in a drawing in early February. The winner was Joe Najpaver (see photo above), a member of the Club for more than a decade. Oakland fans weren’t left out of the fun, however. The Bochy-Sabean discussion was moderated by the Athletics’ former president, Roy Eisenhardt. You can watch video of the BochySabean program on the Club’s Yout u b e C h a n n e l : w w watch?v=yf15zMA4bIE


In a later report, he notes that police offihen Egypt erupted in mass protests that eventually brought down cers were appearing in plain clothes to harass long-ruling Hosni Mubarak this protestors. “The only positive outcome from winter, Essam Elmahgoop provided a look all of this was that people discovered they at the events in Egypt in a series of written could organize and protect their homes and reports. Elmahgoop, who works at the Ameri- neighborhoods without help from police,” Elcan University in Cairo (AUC) and who before mahgoop reported. “Young men got together that had been active in The Commonwealth and started building road blocks to inspect every car driving through the Club’s International Relations streets; they checked IDs and “The more the Member-Led Forum in San Francisco, agreed to share government lies, searched car trunks. Last term I taught some of my students some of his thoughts on the the more people at the AUC an article about events in Cairo. ‘community policing’ and “I have to admit that I participate.” asked them to translate it into never thought that Egyptians were capable of doing what they have done Arabic. The whole concept was very foreign to so far, especially after being here for over a them, which required me to give them some year now and interacting with all sectors of historical background about it and how it is the Egyptian society, among them Egyptian implemented in the USA. Now they have a youth,” Elmahgood wrote early in the life of chance to see it firsthand.” In the end, the fate of Mubarak’s regime the uprisings. “[On] January 25, all of a sudden, was decided by his country’s citizens learnand without a doubt inspired by what had ing to work around the police state: “Many happened in Tunisia, Egyptian youth used modern technology to organize a massive people who were staying at home became demonstration that has mushroomed into upset after seeing images of police brutality what will be remembered as one of the most and decided to go to the square to show their unusual revolutions of modern times. It was a support for the ones there. The number of very peaceful demonstration with very simple participants [kept] increasing by the minute. and basic demands: free elections, no more ... The more the government lies, the more people participate.” corruption, putting an end to martial law.”

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OFFICERS of The Commonwealth Club of California Board Chair Dr. Mary G. F. Bitterman Vice Chair Maryles Casto Secretary William F. Adams Treasurer Anna W. M. Mok President and CEO Dr. Gloria C. Duffy BOARD OF GOVERNORS Massey J. Bambara Ralph Baxter Hon. Shirley Temple Black* John L. Boland J. Dennis Bonney* Helen A. Burt John Busterud* Michael Carr Hon. Ming Chin* Jack Cortis Mary B. Cranston** Dr. Kerry P. Curtis Dr. Jaleh Daie Evelyn S. Dilsaver Lee J. Dutra Joseph I. Epstein* Rolando Esteverena Jeffrey A. Farber Dr. Joseph R. Fink* Dr. Carol A. Fleming, Ph.D. Lisa Frazier William German* Dr. Charles Geschke Rose Guilbault** Jacquelyn Hadley Edie G. Heilman Eugene Herson* Hon. James C. Hormel Mary Huss Claude B. Hutchison Jr.* Dr. Julius Krevans* Lata Krishnan Don J. McGrath ADVISORY BOARD Karin Helene Bauer Hon. William Bradley Dennise M. Carter Steven Falk Amy Gershoni


Jill Nash Richard Otter* Joseph Perrelli* Hon. Barbara Pivnicka Hon. Richard Pivnicka Fr. Stephen A. Privett, S.J. Dr. Mohammad Qayoumi Dan C. Quigley Toni Rembe* Victor A. Revenko* Skip Rhodes* Dr. Condoleezza Rice Fred A. Rodriguez Renée Rubin* Robert Saldich** Joseph W. Saunders Connie Shapiro* Charlotte Mailliard Shultz Valari D. Staab James Strother Hon. Tad Taube Charles Travers Thomas Vertin Robert Walker Nelson Weller* Judith Wilbur* Dr. Colleen B. Wilcox Dennis Wu* Russell M. Yarrow * Past President ** Past Chair

Heather M. Kitchen Amy McCombs Hon. William J. Perry Ray Taliaferro Nancy Thompson


In Memorium Remembering L. Jay Tenenbaum Dedicated, enthusiastic supporter of the Club & California


he Commonwealth Club of California lost a treasured member of its Board of Governors January 16 when L. Jay Tenenbaum passed away in Woodside, California. He was 87. A retired investment banker, Tenenbaum contributed greatly to the Club, chairing and serving on its development (fundraising) committee and its annual dinner committee. He was generous with his time and effort and, in the words of one Club executive, was a “gung-ho fundraiser” ready to call potential supporters of the Club and bring new people into the fold. Tenenbaum joined the trading and arbitrage division of investment firm Goldman Sachs & Co. in 1953, and was made a partner in 1958. He remained head of trading & arbitrage until 1976 and became a limited partner in San Francisco. Writing on, Robert Lenzner noted the loss of Tenenbaum, his former boss at Goldman Sachs in the 1960s. “Tenenbaum was an assiduous master to his apprentice, and I honor his crucial role in my development here in this writing,” wrote Lenzner. “He chose to retire early and to become a pillar of San Francisco activities like the San Francisco ballet and his beloved Commonwealth Club, where he played a key role.” He made his presence known throughout San Francisco. A former vice chairman of the San Francisco Ballet, Tenenbaum served on its board for 28 years. He also served on the boards of KQED, the Stern Grove Festival Board, and was San Francisco’s deputy chief of protocol from 1992 to 1996. And for the past 12 years, he served on The Commonwealth Club’s Board of Governors. Tenenbaum majored in mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt University. He was a 1st lieutenant in the 10th Mountain Division during World War II and held the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts. Serving in Italy, he earned one of his purple hearts when he was shot in the same engagement that saw the wounding of future Senator Bob Dole, who served in a neighboring regiment. An avid tennis player, he had a clay court at his house where he liked to invite friends to play. His love for the game extended to his support for Youth Tennis Advantage, a group that taught inner-city children to increase their skills and self-confidence through playing tennis. The Club is sad for the loss of this local treasure, but we’re heartened by the knowledge of all of the things he did for The Commonwealth Club and the people of the Bay Area. Ω

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Photo by Amanda Leung

Club Leadership

Golden Gavelers

Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.

Recognizing decades of involvement in the Club


he Commonwealth Club of California celebrates our Golden Gavel members – those who have been members for 30 or more years. Welcome to the Class of 1981!

In 1961 the Club hosted speakers for programs such as: “The Underdeveloped World Today,” with Braj Nehru “Private vs. Public Spending,” with Dr. Henry Wallich “International Oil and the Free World,” with George Ballou “Power and Propaganda,” with Stuart L. Hannn “Peace through Civil Defense,” with Dr. Edward Teller All of these topics are still being discussed today around the world. Can you think of another organization that has been addressing these important topics for more than 50 years? The Club has continued to have dozens of programs and speakers each year exploring differing philosophies of government and differing solutions offered by experts. We can do that because of the commitment of our members. You may know that membership dues and event program fees only cover about 45 percent of the expenses of the Club. In this time of rapid change, your support is more important than ever – your gift will help us to continue to host timely, non-biased and provocative debates here in Northern California and heard by the world. To make a contribution to the Spring Appeal, you may use the envelope in this magazine, or go online to support.commonwealthclub. org. Every gift, no matter what amount, helps the Club to shine the light on the truth. Thank you for your continuing generosity. We can’t continue without you.

Kenneth Baron William Benison Jacques Bialek Stephen De Maria Dr. David P. Discher Richard Dishnica Richard B. Donker John Featherstone Edith J. Freuler Dr. Gerold M. Grodsky Robert E. Harpster J. Patrick Hunt Richard K. Ives Carol Jean King Andrea Klein Gerald Latasa John J. Lavorgna, M.D. Andrew L. Leeds John MacMorris Robert McCaskill Allen P. McKee Gregory McKinney John U. Metzger James L. Milner Douglas B. Nichols Sherwood R. Peters Gina G. Prichard Victor Revenko Deborah G. Seymour Norman Williams Walter S. Young We value all of our members and want to make sure that our records are accurate. If you note any errors or if your name has been omitted from this list, please contact Penny Eardley via e-mail ( or phone: (415) 597-6709. Ω

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A lea di co m m n g c o n s e r va en psycho tator gives t i v e t h i n k er lo a United gies and pe n over view a n d rs o S Brook s tates today onalities dri f the v :P . E xce rpt fro ing the Obam olitics and m a,” Janu C ary 11, ulture in th “David 2011. e Ag e DAVID of B R o OK Ti

mes; C S Col “News ommentator, umnist, The New Y Hour” PBS ork 8


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Illustration by Steven Fromtling

In th e Age o f Obam a


did start out as somewhat of a lefty. I grew up near Greenwich Village in New York. My parents were professors in the ’60s, and when I was five years old they took me to a “be-in,” where hippies would go just to “be.” It was in Central Park in New York City. As part of the be-in, they set a garbage can on fire and threw their wallets into it to demonstrate their liberation from money and material things. I was five years old and I saw a $5 bill on fire in the garbage can; I reached into it and grabbed the money and ran away. That was sort of my first step over to the Right. But you never know where life will take you. I was a Jewish kid, but I went to Grace Church School. I was part of the boys choir at Grace Church, and I thought I was going to live a nice assimilated life until I married a woman who was a Protestant who then converted to Judaism about three years after we were married. Now we keep a kosher home, our kids go to Jewish day school, and she announced she wanted to become a rabbi. My line is this: How do we know God exists? Because only he would go so out of his way to screw me this badly. So life has its surprises, but we’re still happily married. I’m going to try not to talk too long. I’ve been with San Francisco audiences before, and I know you didn’t come here to hear me speak; you came here to hear yourselves speak. [audience laughter] I am going to talk about psychology, oddly enough, and political events, but through a psychological lens. I’m going to do it in three different sections, but all of which get back to this concept of psychology. I felt I really had no choice but to start with the events in Tucson of the last week. I started my career as a police reporter in Chicago covering crimes. The thing you learn – and the institution of journalism, practiced correctly – is always that seeing is more important than thinking. The most important thing is to look at the evidence first. There has been a lot of punditry and commentary around what happened in Tucson. But I think if we start with the evidence, and we start with what little we know about Jared Loughner, the kid who allegedly committed this thing, we know that he has had – from his online writings – an obsession with mind control. You see in the writings [the] struggle of a man trying to control his mind. We know he created

these videos, and the last video he created was called “My Final Thoughts.” If you go online and watch those videos, what you see is a man who’s trying to create what he calls a currency, which is a language for controlling thoughts. You see him vaguely understanding that he’s having trouble controlling his own thoughts, and then making accusations about the government controlling our grammar. They’re all about the struggle to control thoughts. We know from testimony from his friends that [they] more or less cut him

“I’m all for civil

discourse. But there’s no

evidence that that was germane to [Tucson shooter Jared Loughner].” off for the last several months, because they found his behavior too disturbing. We know he went to this town hall with [Representative] Giffords and asked her an extremely bizarre question having to do with how can government function when words have no meaning? He was dissatisfied with her answer. So we see all the evidence that we have in front of us suggesting that what was involved with this is a young man possibly suffering from mental illness and possibly from schizophrenia and not practicing politics as it’s normally understood. That’s sort of where the evidence, to the extent that we have it, leads us. Yet I think so much of the commentary in the last few days has not been following that evidence but has been going off in a different direction, talking about civil discourse and our politics. I’m all for civil discourse; I’m all for sensible politics. But there’s no evidence that that was germane to this kid. I think journalism has been guilty of a great wrong and not following the evidence over the last four days. To the people who talked about civil discourse in regards to this, we’re simply talking about a thing that was not germane to this particular tragedy. Those who accused political players of contributing without any

evidence I think made extremely grave accusations without any sense of responsibility. I’m not sure there’s a larger political meaning to this horrible thing, but if there is, I think it is a function that we in the media have to pay much greater attention to psychology and psychological issues and less to politics. Not everything is explicable by the normal political logic. The second thing is: We as a society have to pay greater attention to the treatment of the mentally ill. We have a system – and really, part of the system was created here in California during the Reagan governorship and has spread outward – of giving people suffering from some severe mental illnesses the choice to control their own destinies. Often that means that they end up on the streets, [and] a large number of them end up in jails. Ninety-nine percent of them are not violent in any way, but 1 percent or so are violent. We have to ask some fundamental questions. The most important question is: How do we allow a kid who is widely perceived as mentally troubled to get access to guns? The second is: How do we think about involuntary commitments and involuntary treatment? Have we erred too much on the side of giving those people individual choice, or do we need to shift more to protect community safety? I think that we probably do, not that I’m an expert. But that to me is the fundamental issue before us, and the treatment and the overpoliticization of this event, frankly, has made me angry over the last few days, because I think it’s not journalism at its best.

Stranger in a Strange Land


o that’s my first little psychological theme tonight. The second is broader, and it comes back to my normal life in Washington. That is the importance, when you look at politics, of thinking of psychology. I was given a piece of advice by a guy named Robert Novak when I took my current job. He said, “Interview three politicians every day, because it’ll teach you to get to know them.” I spend a lot of time around politicians, and from that experience I can tell you they’re all emotional freaks of one sort or another. They have what I call logorrhea dementia: they talk so much they drive themselves insane. (Continued on page 22)

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the U.S. met Japan



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Relations between these two countries began with both of them eyeing the growing power of European empires in Asia. The U.S. desire to keep pace with the UK and France met the Japanese desire to avoid the fate of China and Indochina. Excerpt from “When East Met West: The Beginnings of U.S.-Japan Relations in the 19th Century,” October 28, 2010. uldis kruze Associate Professor of Asian Studies, University of San Francisco

Illustration by Steven Fromtling


his was the talk title here: “When East Met West.” It’s like When Harry Met Sally. I didn’t mean to make this into a romantic comedy. But there is this interest, which I think really was very palpable when the Japanese first came to the United States and when Americans first went to Japan. Some of it is lurid. Some of it has to do with power relationships. Some of it just has to do with pure friendship. But it’s a very wide scope of all of these things. Why is this happening this year? This is the 150th anniversary of the very first diplomatic visit of the Japanese embassy to the United States aboard the Kanrin Maru and the Powhatan. [These] two ships came to the United States, stopped here in San Francisco, and then proceeded via the Panama Canal on to Washington, D.C. So part of the reason for San Francisco honoring this is that we were a very important stepping stone for that very first delegation. What we’re celebrating and commemorating is the origins of the U.S.-Japan relationship, which has become very important for Americans, certainly beginning in the 1920s and through the ’40s, and even more so in the ’50s, ’60s and today. The U.S.-Japan relationship has become very close since 1951, since the U.S.-Japan Peace Treaty was signed, and then the mutual security treaty. We’re committed to the security of Japan. It’s a very solemn kind of commitment, and Ambassador Mike Mansfield in the early ’80s called the U.S.-Japan relationship the most important bilateral relationship in the world. That’s been somewhat modified a little bit under the Obama system here, where China is coming into this picture. So there’s been some wording here that the U.S.-China relationship also is a very important one, but not more important than anyone else. So there’s been some equality that’s been kind of garnered in this. A very important point here is that this 150-year history is mostly friendly and co-

operative. The part that I think many people tend to remember, of course, is Pearl Harbor in World War II, and Okinawa and Iwo Jima and the incarceration of the JapaneseAmericans during World War II. There is that phase in the U.S.-Japan relationship, roughly between 1905 – the Russo-Japanese War, when the Japanese obviously were now a major force in the Pacific and in northeast Asia – and through 1945, when Japan was defeated by this coalition. But if you look at the earlier period from 1868 to1905 and even beyond, the Japanese really saw a great deal to admire in the

“The culmination of this is regime


where the modernizers push aside the old feudal

shogunate system.” United States. Through liberalism, through art, through philosophy. Then after 1945, especially after ’51, the U.S. and Japanese economic systems became very closely integrated, and America became a crucial export market for the Japanese.

East Asian Politics


n 2010 we have a chance to kind of step back and see where it all began. For the Japanese, the effort on the part of sending the Kanrin Maru and other expeditions, like the Iwakura mission in 1871, was a way to find out more about the world. Japan at that time had largely been cut off from Europe, the United States and so on. They did have very strong contacts with China, Korea, the Dutch, so it wasn’t that Japan was completely closed off to outside influences.

But the visit of the Kanrin Maru represented an effort on the part of the Japanese elite to find out more about the world. It was reconnaissance. It was an effort to find out as much as they could. Eventually about a third of Japan’s elite, the Meiji elite, went abroad, either aboard the Kanrin Maru or the Iwakura mission. Basically, they wanted to get firsthand knowledge, and [learn] how to cope with foreign powers. Not only in terms of power – and there was a very real power relationship here; the Japanese were very much aware of it, and the Americans were very much aware of it – but it was also an effort made to find out the source of European and American wealth and power. What is it that has brought about these civilizations, the European and American? What has enabled their people to be in some ways wealthier [and] more advanced? The ultimate culmination of all of this is regime change in Japan, where the modernizers in effect push aside the old feudal shogunate system in 1868 in an event called the Meiji Restoration. Another factor that I think tends to get overlooked is that this is also the origins of the Japanese-American community in the United States. Beginning in the 1860s, a number of sailors from the Kanrin Maru did not survive the trip; they are buried here in Colma. It’s not a living community, but this is the start. Most Japanese, when they came to the United States, actually went to Hawaii, which at that time was an independent kingdom. It’s only after 1893 that the Hawaiian kingdom is extinguished, and the Americans get involved with a bit of regime change there and Hawaii becomes an American territory. So it’s only in the 1890s after Hawaii becomes an American territory that large numbers of Japanese start to come to California. But the Kanrin Maru symbolizes the start of this Japanese-American community. The Japanese-American community, like

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Photo by Matthew Brady / National Archive

The 1860 Japanese embassy to the United States, posing with Americans in Washington, D.C.

the U.S.-Japan relationship, has also gone through all sorts of vicissitudes. Being very modest at first, suffering under discrimination, being imprisoned, but then miraculously turning into the model minority in the ’60s and ’70s. One thing I’d like to stress here is that whenever you talk about U.S.-China relations or U.S.-Japan relations or U.S.-Mexico relations, it’s assumed that there’s an equality there. Formally and technically there is an equality, but one of the things that you look at when you see the U.S.-Japan relationship over the last 150 years is the relative power differential between the U.S. and Japan. The U.S. has always, in this situation, been

“The U.S. has always...

been the more powerful power; Japan in some ways has always been proactive and retroactive.” the more powerful power, and Japan in some ways has always been proactive and retroactive. Where it steps out of that is the 1920s and ’30s and ’40s, where [Japan] tries to forge its own kind of future, often in opposition to the established empires of England and France and the United States. It’s the U.S. that usually takes the initiative in many cases, whether it’s Commodore Perry or so on. So the Kanrin Maru has to



be seen in that context, as a response to what was American influence. You can tell I’m a professor here, because I’m trying to give you all of the nuances. You’re talking about U.S.-Japan relations; you can’t overlook all these other factors. Russia’s a factor, China’s a factor. Commodore Perry and the Americans, were they really interested in Japan? Well, they were interested. There are certainly some folks who were interested; they sent letters of petitions to President Fillmore and so on. But largely speaking, at that time, America was in rivalry with the leading empire: England. And they wanted a slice of the China market, so Japan was, in a way, a very convenient stopover point to “The Big Apple.” You have to kind of see U.S.-Japan relations in a larger context of East Asian relations, U.S.-East Asian relations. Russia is not too far out of the picture. Even today, when we start talking about U.S.-Japan relations, China is always that big elephant in the room. You can’t overlook it; it can’t simply be defined as a U.S.-Japan bilateral situation. That’s the big picture; let’s talk about the little picture. The United States begins to take the initiative in the 1850s, when President Fillmore sends Commodore Perry with a fleet of eight vessels to Japan, which eventuates in this Treaty of Konagawa in 1854, which compelled the Japanese to open two treaty ports to the Americans. Now, the [agreement] that was probably more important than even the opening was the Treaty of Amity and Commerce of 1858. This in a way laid the basis for what was eventually going to become probably

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the most important part of this U.S.-Japan relationship. It’s about money, it’s about trade, it’s about commerce, it’s about people exchanging goods and services over time. The U.S. consul [to Japan], Townsend Harris, was able to negotiate a very advantageous type of agreement. He had no military force, and this is another reason why we have to look at the larger context. How was Townsend Harris able to do this? He pointed to what the British and the French were doing. What were the French doing in Indochina? They were creating an empire. What were the British doing in China? They were fighting the so-called Arrow War [aka the Opium War]. So Townsend Harris simply said, “I’ll be the good cop. You make a deal with me and we won’t impose these terrible things that the French and the British are doing to the Chinese and the Vietnamese.” So the Japanese said, “Yes, let’s do that. Let’s do it the nice way. Let’s not do it the hard way.” One of the results of this was the development of the port of Yokohama of 1860. Mostly, the shogunate didn’t really want to deal with the Americans, but the Americans were very forceful. The shogunate was the samurai government established by the Tokugawa family in 1600. It’s at this crossroads in 1859 that they were going to send their very first delegation abroad. Part of it was to secure ratification of this treaty that had, in some ways, been foisted on them and kind of strong-armed by Townsend Harris. ... [As for who made the decision to accept the treaty,] it’s a highly debated issue. It was debated at the highest ranks. I think the man in charge of Japan at that time was Hotta Masayoshi [a powerful figure in the Tokugawa shogunate], and he was probably the person who actually gave the “yes” to [the Harris treaty]. He was more willing. He thought that it would be better to negotiate a bad agreement than not to negotiate anything and face a war. So this is kind of the lesser of the two evils. Do you vote for Barbara Boxer, or do you pick Carly? You know? Hotta had to make that decision for Japan. He was a realist. I think he served Japan well. Ω This program was made possible by the generous support of Levi Strauss & Co.

15 Years: Reaching for the Top Photos by Sonya Abrams & John Zipperer

The Club celebrates a decade and a half of Dr. Gloria Duffy’s leadership


hen Dr. Gloria Duffy came to The Commonwealth Club of California in 1996, she already had behind her a considerable list of accomplishments. She had written and edited books and journals, founded a think tank, negotiated nuclear disarmament treaties with former Soviet republics, and led several other organizations dedicated to international affairs. In early March 2011, The Commonwealth Club commemorated Dr. Duffy’s decade and a half of leadership (see photos above). In her time at the Club, the organization has established a permanent office in San José; expanded programming into Marin County, the East Bay, and even Los Angeles; produced a documentary film; created new partnerships with local and national foundations and

other supporters; set new records for membership; added staff and special programs; created Inforum and Climate One; and launched ambitious and growing video and online services. Anyone who knows her knows that Gloria Duffy won’t slow down any time soon. She continues to lead by example – when a challenge is brought up, she is usually the first one to offer to roll up her sleeves and start tackling the workload. At her tenth anniversary five years ago, she noted that “the need for what we do and the demand for what we do is increasing.” That remains true, and serving that need is at the core of everything Dr. Duffy does, and it is the reason The Commonwealth Club continues to be the largest and best-known public forum in the country. Ω

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Illustration by Steven Fromtling


PUBLIC PENSION PROBLEM From Wisconsin to California, budget hawks fear out-of-control unfunded pension promises. Employees fear they are being forced to pay for profligate legislators’ mistakes. What should policy be for employees looking to devote their careers to public service? Excerpt from “The True Cost of Public Pensions: Reform or Bust?,” January 25, 2011. Jon Coupal President, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association joe nation Lecturer, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research roxanne sanchez President, Service Employees International Union Local 1021 daniel borenstein Columnist and Editorial Writer, Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune – Moderator 14


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BORENSTEIN: Were going to be talking about pensions given to employees of state and local government in California. Under these pensions programs, when a worker retires, she receives a set amount each year for the rest of her life; the amount is usually adjusted annually for inflation. The amount the worker originally receives is based on her final salary, the number of years she worked and her age at retirement. Starting back in 1999, the formulas were changed to increase the benefits. The increased costs of those benefits are a contributing factor to the current strain on the pension system. Let’s look at the other side: To pay for the those benefits, public employers – the government, or more accurately, the taxpayers – make payments to the pension system. In many cases, the employees also make a contribution; in other cases, however, they do not. The idea is that the contributions each year from the employer, in some cases the employee as well, will earn enough interest through investments so there will be enough money in the system to pay the pensions when those workers retire. This, of course, assumes that those investments make money rather than lose money, as they did in a big way in 2008. That market downturn is another big contributing factor to the strain on the current pension system. How bad is our problem today? Cal PERS [The California Public Employees’ Retirement System], the state’s largest pension system, had about $227 billion in assets as of yesterday. The problem is that only about 65 to 70 percent of the amount they should have is covered with that money. Put another way, the system is about $115 billion short. CalPERS is but one of many public employee pension systems across the state, most of which face similar huge deficits. What does all this mean? In the future, state and local taxpayers and probably public employees will have to pay more and more into the pension system to make up for that shortfall. That will mean less money to hire public employees, and that will mean less money available for public services. From social services to road maintenance to public libraries to, well, just about any public service you can think of. The question is how we get out of this mess. Roxanne, can you tell us how workers see this problem? SANCHEZ: So first of all, though I hold a

title in my union, I would like the audience to know I’ve been a worker all my life and I’m now on full release for the next 9 to 10 months as a representative of the union. So I’m right from the ranks. In 2009 my co-workers in the City and County of San Francisco reduced their earning and wages through concessions by $150 million, that’s several hundred dollars per month, to deal with the economic meltdown of 2008. In the spring of 2010, workers again agreed to lower their earnings by $24 million over two years. So San Francisco city and county workers have lost earnings of close to half a billion dollars over the next three years. On top of that, we’ve had severe job cuts. The job cuts now put the city of San Francisco at the lowest level ever, at 49.7 percent of the total expenditures going to labor. So you can see the burden on the working class during this economic downturn has been severe, and remember this came off of another downturn in 2001. So workers are anxious; we’re concerned. The pensions that he spoke about from workers that have already retired are modest, about $2,100 a month. Children are moving back into our houses, we’re taking care of our parents, our costs are going up, everything is more expensive. That’s sort of the backdrop; on top of that, millions have lost their retirement because of the meltdown of the economy, their life savings and 401(k)s. Workers are panicked. What I’m looking for and what will hopefully happen in this discussion is that we all come together and rebuild our country from where it has been taken. BORENSTEIN: Anxious, concerned, panicked workers. Tell us a little about how taxpayers are seeing this picture. COUPAL: Those adjectives apply to taxpayers as well. I think the difference is that there is a perception that the public sector – people can agree with it or not – is more protected from the economic vagaries than are taxpayers. Just one example: State employment actually has gone up in the last couple of years. At the same time, California’s unemployment [rate] is 12.5 percent. There is a perception on the part of the taxpaying community that the public sector has not borne its fair share of the pain. We can argue whether or not that’s a fair assessment. I will say right off the bat that my organization, which got its start with Proposition 13, that many of our members are either retired

or active government employees, and they want to keep their homes. So there is this tension, and I think everybody wants the same thing. We want good public services and we want fair compensation. But there is a perception right now that in California the compensation levels are way out of whack both in respect to other public sector groups across the country and certainly in the private sector here in California. That is the problem we are facing; that is the perception that we believe is grounded in large part in reality, that there is a disparity in how much of a haircut the public has taken relative to the private sector. Another problem we see is some of the abuses in the pension system; the pension spiking, we all know about the city of Bell situation and certainly the city of Bell was a bit of an outlier. But some of those same problems are endemic across California and they need to be addressed in a major way. BORENSTEIN: Joe, you’re the academic here, a former politian. Which side has the right reality? NATION: As a politian I’ll say they’re both right. The question both sides have to ask and answer is: Is the system healthy? Is the system sustainable? Is the pension system something we can count on 5, 10, 20 years down the road? There is a growing recognition on both sides of the discussion that the system is in trouble. Then I think you have to get to that second layer of questions where you start talking about benefits, you talk about portfolios, investments, governance and so forth. But the first question has to be: Will the system survive? The work that we’ve done at Stanford suggests that the shortfall at the state level and municipal level combined could be as much as about $700 billion statewide. To put that into perspecttive, the general fund budget request from Governor Brown is $84 billion. So, $84 billion, a potential shortfall of $700 billion, Houston, we have a problem. BORENSTEIN: What happens when you go back to your members? Do they understand this? How do they see it, and how do you see it? SANCHEZ: One of the reasons that we ran a group of working people to these positions in our union is to get involved in the discussion and debate from our experi-

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ence. Because the perceptions just aren’t our reality. But I want to look at historically what impact pensions and pension funds have had on the economy. If we look at the period between 1990 and 2002, pension funds supplied about 44 percent of the new venture capital, endowments and foundations were the second largest with about 17 percent, and then insurance companies and financial companies at about 16 percent. So if you look at that investment in venture capital, you have to look at the fact that pension funds fueled the growth and development of small companies and new products and technologies for over a decade. That’s the contribution that these pension funds have done for our economy. Now the economy is a mess. Pension funds are part of the economy, and obviously they are affected. But that doesn’t mean that the pension funds are the problem. The reform [we need] is broader than pensions; it has to be a broader financial reform. BORENSTEIN: Jon, how do you see that? COUPAL: As it relates to the pension funds, you know the major pension funds have invested a lot – PERS [Public Employees’ Retirement System], STRS [State Teachers Retirement System] and the counties – but the question is: Have they invested wisely? Have they made the decisions based on the interests of their members? Oftentimes some of these investments are made with political motivations, and some of the investments of STRS have been horrible. Part of the problem that taxpayers see is that when bad decisions are made, the pension system knows that the taxpayers are there to make up the shortfall. You always have the taxpayers in a defined benefit program, constitutionally mandated to make up the difference if PERS and STRS goes belly-up. And that’s what were seeing right now. By the way, we’re all for public employees getting a really good pension, but we believe that the ultimate answer is to have those pension benefits granted in the form of defined contribution like 401(k)s and not in these defined benefits. Now, people say 401(k)s are risky. If each individual employee owns their own 401(k), they could accept whatever investments and accept whatever risk tolerance they wanted. For example, you could have a 401(k) that invested in nothing but Treasury bills, that



would be absolutely guaranteed not to lose money. Would you get the 12 percent return? No, but perhaps you shouldn’t. Here’s the question: Why have taxpayers assumed the risk of not only the losses of their own retirement funds but also the potential losses of the public employees that are guaranteed a rate of return? That is the disparity, and we believe that the ultimate answer is the shift to very generous defined-contribution plans that would take away some of the political master machinations of these public employee pension funds that oftentimes have not acted in the best interest of either their members or the taxpaying public. BORENSTEIN: What are some of the options to fix this system in California? NATION: The first thing that is really critical is the pension fund managers and actuaries need to change the assumptions they employ. Currently, according to [Governmental Accounting Standards Board] rules, pension fund managers say, “If we’re going to earn 7.75 percent, then we’re going to discount our liability at 7.75 percent.” The math works out really nicely if they do that. But the problem is that, because these are guaranteed payments, you really have to value these liabilities at something other than 7.75 percent. You have to value them at something probably much higher. It’s a somewhat esoteric argument among economists and actuaries, but if you were to do that and change the way they account for this – truly value those liabilities at what you should value them – then pension funds would be horribly underfunded. The work that we’ve done suggested that they are not 70 or 80 percent funded but closer to 40 or 50 percent funded. They’ve got a dollar for every two dollars they owe. BORENSTEIN: People should know that the work that Joe has done on this is somewhat controversial. There is a debate as to what the proper rate of return is. NATION: Not among economists; among economists and actuaries there is. So that’s one thing. BORENSTEIN: Let’s take that option before we confuse people with other things. If you reduce the assumed rate of returns, that would mean that both the employee and employer would have to kick in more going into this system. Roxanne, how are your members going to react if they’re asked to kick in more if the assumed rate of returns

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is reduced? SANCHEZ: Like all working people that are strapped for money. Let’s look at the San Leandro school workers who get between $11.55 and $29 an hour and contribute about 7 percent of their total wages to their pension. Let’s look at the jurisdictions where they’re already paying $800 a month for their pensions. Look at how we’re talking about significant problems and significant issues, but the most significant problem is the drop in investment return, which means our most significant problem is that our economy, our economic system, is in shambles. It’s in total disarray. The real reform has to be much broader. You can tweak reform and take more out of our pockets and we’ll buy less and will suffer more, but that’s not fixing our economy. Millions of Americans have already lost their retirements, but has that fixed our economy and society? This is not the way to look at fixing a problem that’s facing all Americans. We need to look at a retirement system, whether our system or Social Security, that gives us what we require and have worked for all our lives, which is financial protection. BORENSTEIN: I want to let Jon respond to that and address the rate of return issue. COUPAL: I’ll just talk about the rate of return issue; it’s a huge problem. There are a number of bright economists and investors that think we’ll experience a huge doubledip recession and plunge right back into another depression. They’re looking at all the debt load. We’ve got other economists that think we’re on the verge of another recovery. They’re all brilliant people, but the thing is, we just don’t know. That is why, when you try to determine rate of returns, it’s so difficult. The problem is when we’re in a boom cycle, you have a horrible situation, that is, a public employee fund that is a ton of cash within arm’s reach of politians. What happens is the public employee labor unions figure out a way to say, “It’s so overfunded right now, we can bump up benefits.” There were people back when Senate Bill 400 came up that said we couldn’t do this; it’s one-time money. But a lot of them voted [for it], including Republicans, and they shouldn’t have. Everyone thought it was a free lunch. That’s the problem with trying to determine rates of return.

NATION: Should funds assume that they’d get a 7.75 rate of return? They do that because they say from 1982 to up until recently that’s what we got. Well, 1982 until 1999 was the biggest market run-up in the history of the planet. If you look at the time between 1900 to 1999, the beginning and the end of the century, the return is about 6.15 percent. So if a fund [expects] a return of 6.15 percent from the capital market, that’s probably a reasonable number to use. Another issue has to do with the type of investments. There is probably tension growing between pension fund managers to reach a little more, to be a little riskier. People need to understand that if you chase a rate of return of 10 or 12 percent, you may get a return that may get you 10 or 12 percent one year but may also get you a negative 20 percent the next year. SANCHEZ: Yeah, I think there is truth in what all three of us are saying. BORNSTEIN: OK, but I want to stay with the specifics here. Jon, should the rate of returns be more conservative? COUPAL: I agree with Joe they need to lower their sights. That also cuts to the issue of governance, who’s on the board of directors of PERS and STRS? Again, no slam on labor, but if it’s labor dominated they have a certain agenda in respect to their investment choices and it may not be in the best interests of their members if the taxpayers weren’t backing it up. But because taxpayers are always backing it up, these pension board members can pursue a political agenda without fear of retribution from their members, because taxpayers are always able to back them up. BORENSTEIN: Joe, what’s the next possible solution? NATION: The next issue is governance and transparency. If you are on a board of supervisors in California and you come up with a pension benefits program for your rank and file workers, you get the same plan. So you get a member on the board of supervisors who thinks, “Wow, this plan is kind of generous,” but then says, “That’s ok, because I get the same plan.” It’s outrageous that we have a system that has that sort of conflict of interest. I think that there are some issues with these boards of pension funds. I think there needs to be minimum requirements for financial

investment experience and so forth, which just doesn’t exist today. The other issue is transparency. Pension fund managers ... ought to just say, “This is what we invested, this is what we owe; if you need some information I’ll provide it to you.” I think there is a lack of transparency because there have been some allegations – in fact, there have been some indictments in some parts of the country about kickbacks to board members and so forth. So I think they are trying to hide some of those transactions. BORENSTEIN: Joe, talk about increased contributions. NATION: I don’t think there is any doubt that there will need to be increased contributions from both workers and employers. Some jurisdictions are asking workers to contribute more, but the contributions are so slight. In Marin, where I live, workers are contributing not 1 percent but 2 percent to their pension, the city is contributing about 20-25 percent. So clearly there will have to be some sort of increase in contributions from employers and employees. SANCHEZ: That’s something employees are doing. You have to understand that the shift of cost is always on the workers, so we’ve taken concessions consistently over the last decade. The concessions we’re taking are in pay, benefits, pension, furloughs; we’re working with far less people so our workload is far greater. So we are paying for it. BORENSTEIN: Joe, real quick explain another solution, the two-tier solution? NATION: The two-tier system is one were the employee continues to receive the same benefits, salary, pension, etcetera, and a new employee will receive a lower salary, pension, etc. BORENSTEIN: If we went to a two-tier system everywhere, would we solve the

problem? NATION: No, the numbers are so large and even if you hired someone today with a reduced benefit, they wouldn’t retire for another 30 years, so you really don’t get a decrease until that person retires. BORENSTEIN: Jon, two-tier? COUPAL: I think two-tier has to be a big part of it. Theoretically, if the fund performance just went bonkers coupled with substantial economic growth in California, we could get out of it. But it’s a real longshot, so second-tier is definitely needed. Ω This program was made possible by the generous support of Chevron.

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NORA EPHRON: Along the Way From being rejected by Newsweek because she’s a woman to a napkin-eating Hollywood agent, a celebrated writer discusses her journey to success in the worlds of print and cinema. Excerpt from “Nora Ephron,” November 21, 2010. Nora Ephron Film Director, Sleepless in Seattle;

Screenwriter; Author, I Feel Bad About My Neck and I Remember Nothing

In Conversation with Jane Ganahl Author;

GANAHL: It’s so strange to me that memory can make us remember the most minute details. EPHRON: The most horrible, trivial details, and all the important ones are gone and there is no retrieving them most of the time. I met Eleanor Roosevelt when I was a political intern in college. She certainly was the person who, if you asked me at that point who I most wanted to meet, I would have said her. But all I can remember was that there



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were drapes and that we got lost on the way. So the sense that my life has been wasted on me is very acute. I will tell you something that just happened the other day – and I do not tell you this to drop a name; I just want to give you an idea of what it’s like when you get to a certain age. I was reading Lady Antonia Fraser’s book about her marriage to Harold Pinter, and I get to about page 180 and discover, to my shock, that she has been to my house for dinner, and I have no memory about it at all. I called up my friend Richard, who was a friend from the days in Washington when she apparently came to my house, and said, “Do you have any memory of it?” He said, “Yes, I do. There was a fight between Harold Pinter and somebody who was there, who was really good at getting into fights with people, and he got up and stormed out of the party. It was all we talked about for months.” I had this, kind of, “Yeah, I kind of remember that.” GANAHL: Are you sure she wasn’t just dropping your name? EPHRON: She didn’t drop my name.

Photo courtesy of Nora Ephron

Co-founder, Litquake

She dropped the name of my ex-husband [former Washington Post journalist Carl Bernstein]. GANAHL: So really, as great a life as you’ve had, it may actually be greater than you know. EPHRON: It may be even more fabulous. GANAHL: Is this a memory thing, or is it that as you get older, you discover that you really don’t have to know everything? EPHRON: You might have to know more than we know. There are certain things that I’m just refusing to know certain things about in the hopes that they will go away. You know, where it’s like, “Where is this country? Do I have to learn who its leaders are?” I might just stop. That’s how I feel about the Kardashians and Glenn Beck. GANAHL: Why do you think young people care about popular culture more than we do at this age? Why is it more important to the young to be on top of all this? EPHRON: I think we were like that. I have friends who can sing the themes to every television show from the ’60s and the ’70s, when fortunately I was too old to watch any of them. But I can certainly do the entire repertoire of all the people who were singing when I was growing up in the ’50s. I know every standard. When I came to New York, there were things you had to do in order to be a citizen of the metropolis. You had to read Catch-22 and you had to have your copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, or you couldn’t be in the conversation. GANAHL: You also say something similar about staying technologically current. I love what you said about how Twitter was just invented to make us seem old. EPHRON: That’s how I really feel about it. I was on the cutting edge. When e–mail came, I was absolutely the seventh or eighth person to do it. I was on America Online so early that I got my own name on it without a four digit number after it. It was so divine in the beginning when you had seven or eight friends who were on e–mail, and when that voice said, “You’ve got mail,” your heart leapt. It was something that you were actually interested in reading. It wasn’t from the Democratic National Committee or the Williams-Sonoma people; it was mail. It wasn’t like, “You want lunch?” I wrote You’ve Got Mail and I directed it and I was a believer in e-mail and now I feel about it like how you feel about an ex-boyfriend,

like, what was the matter with me? GANAHL: It’s very rare in this day and age for writers to be famous. You’re a household name at this point. What would you say is the weirdest upshot of fame? Is it “Nora’s Meatloaf ” at the restaurant? EPHRON: That’s the nice part. GANAHL: Who would have thought they’d have a meatloaf named after them? EPHRON: I would have imagined that. We used to play a game called “What would you like named after you?” So I have given a lot of thought to it. I go to those delicatessens where they have sandwiches named after people, and I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a sandwich named after you. So when I opened the menu of the Monkey Bar in New York and saw the words “Nora’s Meatloaf,” I was not surprised; I was thrilled. Even though it was not my meatloaf. I’ve never made meatloaf that way, but I had told the owner that he should make meatloaf, and he very sweetly named it after me. It was a fabulous experience, because then people went to the restaurant and wrote me e-mails saying, “Had your meatloaf last night and it was great.” And I did not say to them: “I had nothing to do with it; it is not my recipe.” I said, “Thank you! It is good, isn’t it?” I did hardly any work that day, because I felt I already had this meatloaf out there. GANAHL: Talk about what you called the institutional sexism you encountered at Newsweek. EPHRON: I just saw Diane Sawyer interview Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor at Maria Shriver’s fabulous party in Long Beach. They both graduated from law school and didn’t get a job offer. It wasn’t that long ago. I came to New York in 1962 determined to be a journalist, and I went to an employment agency on 32nd Street and said, “I want to be a journalist.” The lady said, “Do you want to work at Newsweek?” I said, “OK.” So she sent me to Newsweek, and they said, “Why do you want to work at Newsweek?” I didn’t want to work at Newsweek; I just wanted to be in journalism in some way. So I said, “Because I want to be a writer,” and the man interviewing me said, “Well, women aren’t writers at Newsweek.” It would never have crossed my mind to say that was a sexist remark, because we had not invented that word yet. That was the way

the world worked; we all knew that. It’s what Ginsburg and O’Connor said, that the world works in a certain way. Then there’s me. It wasn’t in a general sort of way where you get a bunch of women together and just sue, which is what happened at Newsweek. I just said, “I’ll go somewhere where maybe that’s not true.” But the thing that’s weird about it is that there was a women writing at Newsweek. She was hired during World War II, when they had to hire women because they ran out of guys, and they were never making that mistake again. So he said there were no women [writers] at Newsweek and totally ignored the fact that there was one. Back then, you were in a track, and I was in the girl track. I was a mail girl, and then I was a clipper, which meant I clipped newspapers and used my brilliant bachelor of art degree to know that a story about a cure for cancer should probably get to the medicine department. Then I became a researcher, it was called. The men would write the pieces and the women would make sure every word in them was correct. It was so institutionalized and yet it was the way the world was. Years later, when the lawsuit was filed at Newsweek and I was long gone, the editor at Newsweek told the Times, “We don’t have a policy here; it’s just the way we’ve always done it.” I got angry and wrote a letter to Katharine Graham, the head of The Washington Post, which owned Newsweek, and said, “I don’t know you, but I want you to know that that is not true. There was a policy and it was articulated and they knew it perfectly well.” GANAHL: Did you ever get angry at the time? EPHRON: No, because I was moving on. I got out of there. Weirdly enough, it was a pretty good job to have. I was six months out of college and I was a researcher in the Nation department. I was a political science major, I loved politics. That wasn’t a bad job to have six months out of college. Then, at that very moment, the 100-day newspaper strike began in New York. All the New York papers closed, all seven of them at the time. My friend Victor Navasky, who was an editor of a humor magazine, got $10,000 from Arthur Frommer to do parodies of the New York newspapers. All kinds of great people worked on it; Calvin Trillin worked on it and a bunch of other names you might recognize. It was one of

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Images (l to r) © Castle Rock, Tristar, Warner Bros., Columbia

Nora Ephron’s screen writing and directoral efforts include some of the most iconic films of the past few decades.

those 48 hours of this is why I live in New York giddiness and then they came out. Nobody really knew what they were; The [National ] Lampoon and The Onion had not prepared anybody for what this thing was. Many people bought it thinking the strike was over and then complained immediately that it didn’t have the stock tables in it. So it didn’t sell a lot of copies, but the editors of the Post read it and they wanted to sue. But the publisher of the Post, Dorothy Schiff, said, “Don’t be ridiculous; if they can parody the Post then they can write for it. Hire them.” I was offered a tryout at the New York Post, which was then the least of the seven newspapers, but a great place to

“I feel very

lucky that I didn’t try almost anything until I was pretty much ready to do it.”

work. It was liberal; it had a solid circulation of 340,000 people that were going to buy it day in and day out. It was the smallest staff of any New York paper. They had about 50 reporters, but at least 15 or 20 of them were women. It was a sob sister tradition, an afternoon position, and they trained me, and I learned how to write a newspaper article. GANAHL: Given your love of journalism, has it been painful for you to see so many



newspapers fold and staff downsized? EPHRON: Yes, she said hesitantly. But when you watch papers like the tragedy of the LA Times and the Chicago Tribune, which are bought by someone whose only qualification for owning a newspaper is he’s rich – you know he’s an idiot, Sam Zell, he’s a complete idiot and he bought this paper full of vows that it was about excellence, and immediately they began cutting back. We all know that The New York Times is still a great newspaper, as good as it’s ever been. But these other papers get less and less good, and then there are a lot of papers that fold, and that is really sad. GANAHL: You’ve written that you didn’t think you found your voice until your thirties in terms of your writing. Why do you think they continue to give columns and platforms to twenty-somethings? I do think it takes a while in the journalism business to get your voice to what it requires to be. EPHRON: Yes, but then, there are some people who get there much sooner than I did. I always feel sorry for people who tell good stories, and then they sit down to write it and don’t have the craft to do it. I always think, then don’t write about yourself, write about other things, report on other things. Learn to acquire the craft. I feel very lucky that I didn’t try anything until I was almost pretty much ready to do it, because I could have no better written a screenplay at the age of 20. I see these kids from film school. Some kid the other night stood up and said, “I’m having trouble with my screenplay.” Twenty-two years old. I said, “Of course you’re having trouble with your screenplay. Why should you be able to

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write a screenplay at 22? Write a short, write a scene.” These schools that give these kids some hurdle to jump over, that is way too soon. What is he going to write a screenplay about? I’ll tell you what: summer camp. That’s why there are so many movies about summer camp, by the way. GANAHL: You made the jump from writer to screenplay writer, and non-writers may think if you write one thing you can write another, but it’s a very different craft. It’s like going from nonfiction to fiction. EPHRON: My first movie was my seventh screenplay. I wrote one script that became a horrible television movie, but because it got made I got assignments to write other scripts. But I couldn’t get another movie made until Silkwood, and Silkwood got made in large part because Meryl Streep wanted to make it. I mean, I wrote scripts that were also good, but they didn’t come together in the way that that did. GANAHL: Where are those now? Sitting in a vault someplace? EPHRON: In the very sad place called my closet. That’s the big difference between print and movies. All the time in print, people would call and say, “We’re doing something. Do you have anything in the closet? Do you have anything in the famous trunk that no one has anymore?” If I write something I can get it printed. GANAHL: What made you decide to become a director? EPHRON: Many, many things. One was, I was getting older for the movie business. I was in my late forties. Right before I was going to direct my first movie, my sister and I had written what we thought was a

hilarious script about the Archie comics. The executive at Warner Brothers said, “How would you feel about bringing in a younger, hipper writer?” By then I was astute enough to just cut him off at the knees at that moment, unlike the man that interviewed me at Newsweek. But he was saying what the truth is. If you direct a movie, if you direct your script, then you have a better chance of it getting made. Another reason was, I wanted to write about women. One of the hardest things when you write a script is getting a director to commit to your movie. The way I learned to do it is you try to invest whoever you’re working with to the point where you’ll use his most recent divorce in it, just anything to make him feel the movie’s about him. We put Mike Nichols’ break-up with one of his girlfriends in Silkwood, and in When Harry Met Sally I based that character completely on Rob [Reiner]. I thought, he’ll actually make the movie if I do this. The other reason, a movie like When Harry Met Sally, I knew when I wrote that script that it was a good movie for someone’s first movie; it wasn’t hard in terms of where the camera was supposed to be and things like that. But then Rob directed it, and it was so much better than what I could have done. But I wrote a couple of movies that weren’t better than the script, and I thought, “I could have screwed that up just as well as the person that did and made a lot of money.” So I thought that might be fun. I am really, as any of you know, a little bossy, which is a really good thing for a director. I was very lucky to get the script [for This Is My Life] made, though. I was asked to do it by a woman named Dawn Steel, who was running a studio. She was fired, and the script was left with the men who were left at the studio and took it over. One of whom was a very famous person named Jon Peters, who was a hairdresser who then went out with Barbra Streisand. I had a meeting with him; I think it was the low point of my life in the movie business, and there have been a lot of them. He said to me, “I’ve made 68 movies and I have never read a script. I don’t need to read a script. What’s yours about?” I looked at him and thought, “This is going to be really interesting to him: a movie about a woman balancing her career and children.” But fortunately he had a girlfriend named Vendela. He pulled her

into the room – because she was a woman and someday she might have children. It was really, really grim and sad. So it kind of sat at that studio for a while. I thought that it was sort of a dot on the horizon and I was never going to get there. I had a great agent named Sam Cohn, who was just one of the great legendary figures in the movie business, who would call me up every month and say, “I dreamed you directed your movie and it’s going to happen.” It was incredible sweet of him, because we had actually modeled a character in the movie after Sam. Sam was very famous for, among other things, when you ate lunch with him he would eat the napkin. It was so weird, I could not tell you. Anyway, we had a character that Dan Aykroyd eventually played, a person who eats paper. A man who ran Fox, Joe Roth, bought the script and let me make it. That’s how I got really lucky with being a director. GANAHL: How do you find the courage to write and reflect on the relationship with your mother? EPHRON: It took me a long time to write. I‘ve written about my mother in varying ways. There is a section in Heartburn that’s kind of my mother but not. There are pieces in the book about that thing where you have a very powerful parent who then becomes an alcoholic, in my mother’s case, or becomes anything else other than that person you adored. She was a screenwriter. She wanted all four of her daughters to be writers, and all four of us are writers. She really knew how to turn us into writers, and she did it. She had a 1948 Studebaker that 10 years later when she sold it had something like 6,000 miles on it. The only place she ever took it was to the secondhand bookstores on La Cienega in Los Angeles, where she would buy us the books she read as a kid or the books she thought we had to read. She was so powerful and so unlike other people’s mothers, because she worked and because of this thing she had that I always tell everyone about. If you came to her with a sad story, she had no interest in it whatsoever. She would say, “Everything’s copy, everything’s material. Someday you will think this is funny. I know you don’t believe me, but this is true.” It’s a very cold kind of mothering. It’s almost counterintuitive as a mother. I find it amazing because as a mother your instinct is to go, “Aw honey,

I feel bad that happened to you.” Not my mother. “Turn it into a story, turn it into a funny story.” It’s not a bad lesson to teach kids, that you can get over things and that at some point something else will happen. So there was that person, and then there was that person she became, a nightmare alcoholic. It

“He said to me, ‘I’ve made

68 movies and I have never read a script. I don’t need to read a script. What’s yours about?’” was utterly confusing, because nobody had a mother like this. I knew a lot of women who were in her age bracket who were out traveling around the country. My parents were home every single night for dinner. They went out maybe once a week. Dinner was our religion growing up: 6 o’clock in the den and then dinner. Three courses and conversation, and it better be good. GANAHL: How hard is it to get back up off the mat and keeping slugging after you’ve gotten bad reviews or didn’t get good business? EPHRON: It’s not easy, and they’re probably a little more willing to wash you out completely if you’re a woman. I’m not a victim-y sort of person, but I think that’s just a true thing. I felt lucky because I’m a writer, so I always felt I could write my way back if I could just get the next assignment. There’s a piece in the book about failure and about how much more of your brain that failure takes up – and by the way, this isn’t true just about movies. It’s true about relationships, friendships, jobs and all those things. Success is something you barely ever think about. You might pop a champagne cork and say, “This is great,” but with failure you brood. It has become easier for two reasons: One is that you realize that the only person that thinks about it is you, and the other reason is Ambien. Ω This program was made possible by the generous support of Wells Fargo.

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Photos by Kris Davidson

David Brooks (Continued from page 9)

They’re guaranteed to invade your personal space so you’ll talk to them. They’ll grab you by your lapels; they’ll stroke the back of your head. I had a Republican senator grab my inner thigh throughout an entire dinner and squeeze it, for emphasis. They have these intense social skills, if you want to put it that way. If they don’t have it, they work on it to make sure they get it. I recall covering Mitt Romney in New Hampshire during the last presidential race; he was campaigning with his five perfect sons: Bip, Chip, Rip, Sip and Dip. We go into a diner, and he goes around to each table in the diner. He introduces himself to the people at the table and says, “What village in New Hampshire are you from?” and they mention the name of a village, and he describes the home he owns in their village. He meets about 30 or 40 people. As he’s leaving the diner, he waves and he first-names everyone he just met. I was like, “Wow, this is not a profession I will be going into.” But that is the sort of psychological skills that many of them have and the psychological complexity many of them have. I asked a friend who was in government, “What’s the one thing you’ve learned being in government you didn’t know before?” I ask that question of almost everyone I interview. President Bush at the end of his term told me there’s a lot of passive-aggressive behavior in government. He was absolutely right about that. Often people say, “Our military is way more sophisticated than I thought.” “Our intelligence is much worse



than I thought.” But this particular person said, “I used to think politics was about 75 percent personality and relationships; now I realize it’s 99 percent personality and relationships.” People, especially people in public life, are just odder than you can possibly imagine. Maybe we’re all odder than we can possibly imagine. But the story I tell to illustrate that was told to me by Bob Kraft, who owns the New England Patriots. He was in a business delegation to Russia. He had a meeting with Putin with his other business leaders. Kraft’s team is a great team; they’ve won the Super Bowl. He had on his finger his first Super Bowl ring. Vladimir Putin saw this ring and said in the middle of the meeting, “Can I see that ring?” Kraft handed it to him, and Putin put it on his finger. During the meeting, Putin was gesturing with the ring on his finger. At the end of the meeting, Kraft says, “You know, Mr. President, I’d be happy to make you a copy of that ring, but that particular ring has great sentimental value to me; it’s our first Super Bowl ring.” Putin pretends he doesn’t hear him, and he puts the ring in his pocket. Then Kraft goes back to the State Department and says, “I don’t want to make a big international incident, but I’d really like that ring back. I’ll make him a copy; I’d be happy to.” So the embassy sends their feelers out to the Kremlin, and they come back to him the next day and they say, “You know, we think we’re going to issue a press release that you’ve decided to donate that ring to the Russian people.” And that’s exactly what happened.

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It’s a sign that our entire world is run by four-year-olds. When you cover politics, you’ve always got to be aware of this psychology. Even among the people you admire. I’m to the right of Barack Obama, but I am a personal great admirer of his personal traits. But one of the things you’ve seen, when you put psychology at the center of view, [is that] psychology changes as context changes. There’s the great concept called the fundamental attribution error, which is the mistake of attributing to a permanent character trait things that are actually the product of context. For example, Obama has various traits, but they change as the context changes. One of the traits I admire in him is a genuine niceness. Usually when I criticize a candidate or a politician or a president, the aides call me the next morning and they scream at me, “David, you’re a complete and total idiot.” With the Obama people, they call you the next morning and they say “David, we really respect your work, we love you, you know how much we admire you; it’s so sad you’re a complete and total idiot.” That niceness made you feel good. It was one of the nice things about the administration. But I would say over the last three months as I’ve talked to people in the administration, they’ve begun to see a downside to that niceness. That downside is [that] there’s no fear of the president within the government. I recently was talking to somebody, and he said, “You’d be amazed how little the sentence ‘the president has already decided this’ matters in a meeting.” The president’s made the decision, but they’re going to go off on their own way anyway. Another member of the administration told me, “We know there’s this culture of no-drama Obama, of niceness. So we know, if there’s a really problematic issue, we’re going to try to not bring it to the inner circle, because they’ll reject it. They don’t want the violence and the conflict.” So you’ve begun to see the administration straight up to the president begin to acknowledge that this trait, this niceness, which was so good in many circumstances, is not so good when the government is going off on its own and ignoring the president, which happens a lot. So that’s a psychological trait and you [have seen] him begin to adjust and actually name a new chief-of-staff, Bill Daley, in part

to take care of this problem. The second trait he has – which has changed meaning, I think, over the last few months – is the trait of self-confidence. I’m convinced the unit “Obama” will be the unit of measure for self-confidence in about 80 years. We’ll say, “Oh, he has 80 Obamas.” “He has 120 Obamas.” People in this job have a high degree of self-confidence, but Obama is sort of off the charts. This, negatively, in the first couple years caused him to think he could just control the country. I thought it led him to misread the country. But in the past two months especially, and as I’ve covered and watched him adjust to the electoral disaster he suffered in a very cool and calm way, he shifted and adjusted, seeing his own situation without a sense of self-pity or defensiveness. Just analytic, because he knows he can change without fundamentally altering his faith in himself, which I believe is unshakeable. That has been a good side to the self-confidence, which earlier appeared hubris; now, to me, it appears more as security. The Republicans have changed too, over the last few months. The Republican Tea Party is something we all saw last year. My one-line explanation of it was people who use Abbie Hoffman means to achieve Norman Rockwell ends. There was this search for sort of an old-fashioned America, an order and a security, but using Abbie Hoffman frantic gestures and sometimes-overheated rhetoric to get there. To me, that part was a real problem. I’ve covered the new congressmen as they’ve come in to Washington, and I will tell you they are by and large a much more impressive group than I anticipated. Most of them were successful businessmen and women; many of them were really extremely successful legislators, [such as] Marco Rubio, as speaker of the Florida house. Out of government, they indulged in the luxury of believing what it was pleasant to believe. In government, they’ve had a series of meetings over the last couple weeks where they’ve now had to grapple with the things actually involved in government. Out of government they can say, “We’ll slash the federal budget by hundreds of billions of dollars.” Now they’ve sat in these orientation sessions, and they say “We’re going to cut the government in half.” Do you want to cut defense? “Nah.” Do you want

to cut Medicare? “Nah.” Social Security? “Nah.” Well, here’s what’s left – and now they grapple with that. Believe me, they still think they’re going to cut. They still say, “Oh, we’ll cut. It’s going to be tougher, but we’ll cut.” They’ve grappled with it like businesspeople. Then you say, We’re in the middle of a fiscal year. The government has already signed contracts. You really can’t cut this much in the middle of a contract. They say, “Okay, I acknowledge that, we’ll scale back a little.” So I’ve seen an evolution in things. I’ve also seen an evolution in their opinion of President Obama. Many of them came in believing that he was a socialist who wanted to make us Sweden. I think because of his gestures [they’ve changed their minds]. Believe me, I argued this case that he was not; that he was sort of a moderate, liberal pragmatist. But believe me, I made no headway with these people until, I’d say, the last couple of weeks. There’s beginning to be a glimmer of opening. So the psychology has shifted for the better. If you had asked me months ago, are we headed for gridlock? I would have said, “Absolutely, gridlock. Nothing going to get done. Fiscal disaster.” Now I’d say there’s probably a two-thirds chance that will happen. But when you see the psychology shift, you begin to think there’s more possibility for compromise, for flexibility, for reversing some of the disasters ahead of us. I say that because the psychology has shifted – this new optimism I’m manufacturing for myself. I [also] say that because various things simply have to happen. We have to raise the debt limit. We have to pass a budget. Circumstance will impose certain compromise. And I say that in part because of the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Commission, which has had a big cultural effect on Washington and maybe the country. While they didn’t get their [plan] enacted, they put everything on the table. When you go from congressional offices to the White House to the Treasury Department, every single policy is now up for discussion, whether it’s Social Security, taxes, defense budget, education budget or entitlement reform. It’s all there, and people are talking about it in much more radical ways than before. Finally – and this I know from conversations with the president and those around him – the president, especially in the State of

the Union speech, sees a need to reframe the whole debate. We’ve had the big government versus small government debate. But there’s another way to talk about it, which is not big government or small government but the quality of government. Does government enhance social mobility and achievement or does it not enhance social mobility and achievement? This breaks down the traditional frame we’ve had. There’s a tradition in this country that has been neglected over the past 30, 40 years. We all know the conservative movement that believes in limiting government to enhance freedom; we know the liberal movement that believes in using government to enhance equality. But there’s a third tradition in this country, which has gone neglected. It believes in limited but energetic government to enhance social mobility and industry. It begins with Hamilton, it goes to Lincoln, the Railroad Act, the homestead legislation, it goes to Teddy Roosevelt, it jumps to California in the middle of the 20th century, where you had the government using government funds to create the best school system in the country, the highways, the water projects, using government to enhance growth and productivity. When you start talking about those terms, using government to enhance capitalism’s productivity as opposed to big government versus small government, you break the intellectual logjam. When you go to

“We have to raise the

debt limit. We have to pass a budget. Circumstance will impose certain compromise.” the conservative Republicans or the liberal Democrats, you find them agreeing on what the government needs to do to enhance productivity. Things like infrastructure programs, human capital programs, energy reform. If you reframe the debate in that way, suddenly some of the old debates are there, but they can be fenced off. I think the president knows that. The

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other thing they’re trying to do is sequencing policies correctly, so you begin with some agreement and then you progress step-bystep. The president is greatly drawn to the idea of some big tax reform first, because we agree on what needs to be done. We need to simplify the tax code and lower the rates. Then there are so many moving parts, you can actually begin to get agreement. For all these reasons, some of the polar-

ization, some of the gridlock, which seemed inevitable, I think now, while likely, are not inevitable. The psychology is beginning to shift a little. So I’m oddly hopeful about Washington the way I wasn’t months ago.

It’s Hard to be Humble


he third theme I want to talk about is also psychology, but this again expands one step outward. This is the question of

the national psychology. I’m going to tell this story very quickly but starting decades ago, because when you’re talking about the national psychology, you’re on an entirely different frame. I’ve expressed my optimism about Washington, but is the country ready for the sort of shared sacrifices that are needed to get control of our problems? The essential problem was illuminated to me several months ago when I was driving

Richard Wolffe: How the President Survives An insider journalist describes Obama’s character and strategy, and how the president rebounds from the body blows of political combat. Excerpt from “Behind Closed Doors: Inside the Obama White House,” December 7, 2010. [Barack Obama] gets at his most competitive when he’s down, when he’s out for the count. When people really annoy him. When he gets the fat lip on the basketball court, and he’s got 12 stitches in there, so that’s got to hurt. Why was he more feisty today? Maybe he didn’t strike the right tone, but he likes to think of himself as a fourthquarter player. Now, because of my stature and physique, I have played basketball with the guy. Actually, it was because they were desperate, but I have played with him, and he is a really competitive guy. People who write this guy’s obituary, as they have done many times before – it’s quite nice to revisit – they do it prematurely. They misunderestimate him [and] his desire to win. Those people who say he should step down, or he should bring Clinton in – people: He’s been there before. He is in a desperate hole [following the November 2010 midterm elections], a desperate mess. At some point, if you hang on to the edge of the cliff by your nails and you don’t clamber up, you fall off. But I’m not sure, given the historical record or given his pattern, that we’re at that moment. ... What’s the lesson of the last election? By the way, the Democrats lost the last election, they lost it really badly. It’s an important point. Because what people are trying to figure out, and it’s critical to what happens in the next two years and the next election, is, What took place? Was it a case of one side’s base being bigger and more moti-



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vated than the other? That’s one school of thought. The other way of looking at it is to say, Who switched sides? What happened between 2008 and 2010? There’s one really striking trend, and that’s independent voters. Independent voters backed Obama by double digits. In 2010, they turned against Democrats by double-digit margins, pretty much the same margins. That’s a third of the country, in terms of voters. Now, we may debate about who these independents are; are they really independent? But you cannot lose a big bloc like that in the order of 20, 30 points and win an election. Not in this country, because there are not enough Democrats, not enough Republicans. What was the reaction to Republicans – especially their chief strategists, not Karl Rove, but actually Mitch McConnell – to 2008? You had a president who came in with the biggest majority of any Democrat in recent history. This is a Democrat who won in Indiana, the first Democrat to win [there] since LBJ. Virginia wasn’t even close. Virginia was called pretty much as soon as polls closed. North Carolina gone for Republicans. They were looking at a fundamental transformation of American politics with this guy. So what did McConnell say? This isn’t my interpretation; this is what he told The New York Times was his strategy. [It’s] pretty obvious, but nevertheless he spelled it out. He said, “We cannot allow this president to get one single Republican for any of his major initiatives.” Not one. Because if he gets one Republican, then he can claim it’s bipartisan. And if it’s bipartisan, then it sends a message to independent

fact, it was broadcast live, just hours after the Japanese announced their surrender. They had all the stars on it: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Marlene Dietrich. Bing Crosby was the host; he gets out there onstage and he says, “Hours ago we learned we won World War II. But I guess we don’t feel proud; we just feel humble.” This theme of humility was echoed throughout the whole program. In the

voters that it’s reasonable. One of the ways you do that is to take bipartisanship off the table. People are exercised by tax cuts – and we can talk about the morally right position, the politically right position, has he caved, the negotiating tactics. But one thing that the White House doesn’t make explicit about the concessions that the Republicans have made, it’s not about whether the tax cuts were permanent or not – that was a concession; unemployment benefits – that was a concession. Democrats couldn’t get two months or three months of unemployment benefits through the House just a couple weeks [earlier], and [Obama] just got 13 months. But leaving aside all that, just deal with the politics. What’s the biggest thing that Mitch McConnell just gave up? It’s about making him look reasonable. It’s about bipartisanship. He cannot go back now and say to independent voters and everyone else, “This guy’s crazy. You can’t be seen with him.” Because they just did a huge deal with him. Now, it’s at a big cost. It’s at a cost of all this turmoil and turbulence. People wondering who [Obama] is and what he represents. Democrats saying, “Is this the guy we voted for?” All of that’s true. But just remember, the Republicans have given up a strategy that has been supremely successful over the last two years. It’s worked a dream for them. If you want to play the strategy, that’s not a small thing for this president, this White House, to take out of it. [Obama] has got to rebuild support among independent voters. This was a guy who suggested strongly that he could unite red and blue America. Besides, what were the options he really faced? As a community organizer, this is a constraint he talks about all the time. There’s the world as it is and the world as it should be. [Community organizer] Saul Alinsky didn’t like community organizers to live in the world as it should be. That was for Martin Luther King, who [Alinsky] hated. He thought organizers should be real and tough. They should understand how power is exercised. The only problem is that Alinsky didn’t achieve very much. He was a radical; he was a flame-thrower. But the people who achieved stuff in American history, as Obama well knows, were the idealists. King had a bigger impact on American history. So that’s why [Obama] chose hope as his slogan – hope and change – and yet, he also had to have a foot in the world as it is. This whole debate – between the revivalists, the survivalists; the debate about tax cuts; the debate that goes on with him all the time, because he has a foot in both camps – is between the world as it is and

middle of the program, Burgess Meredith comes out and reads a passage from Ernie Pyle, the great war correspondent. Pyle had written and Burgess Meredith read, “We won this war because we have great allies. We won this war because we have brave soldiers. We won this war because we’ve been blessed by material abundance. We did not win this war because we are God’s chosen people or were destined to rule the

the world as it should be. The world as it should be is a world where you could say, “You know what? Screw ‘em. We’re going to let taxes rise for everyone. Then let’s see what happens.” That’s what, really, Democrats wanted, right? That’s why people are angry. They wanted taxes to go up for everyone and see what happened. The tax debate hasn’t worked out very well for Democrats for the past two, three decades, maybe more. You’re fighting on Republican turf, with a White House that has struggled to get a message on anything, never mind on taxes. Democrats have struggled to have a vote before the election. They wimped out on having a vote on this very subject before an election. So if you’re going to have an apocalyptic battle, which I’m sure is coming, choose it carefully. Choose it on turf that favors Democrats – if you are a Democrat. Choose it in a way that it’s going to be more likely to succeed. On this one, in a struggling economy, what are you going to do? I think this is a bigger debate. I understand the passions. I understand this is something the president didn’t really want to do. You just have to look at his body language, but don’t worry, because we’re going to have this debate for the next two years. Ω

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Photo by Ed Ritger

home. On my NPR station in D.C., we’ve got a program every Sunday night that airs old radio broadcasts. The particular Sunday night I was listening, they aired a show called “Command Performance.” “Command Performance” was a variety show that went out to the troops in World War II. The particular show they re-broadcast that night was the final episode; it was aired on V-J Day, the day World War II ended. In

“Previous Americans thought of America as a

republic and believed in republican virtue: Selfrestraint, that democracy needed institutions to

restrain the will of ourselves.”

earth or because we’re better than anybody else. We’re just glad we got through it. We should feel humble, not proud.” That was remarkable given the circumstances. Just hours after they’ve won the greatest victory in American history, this tone of humility. Then I drive home and turn on the TV and there’s a football game on. The quarterback throws a pass, somebody catches the pass and is tackled and the cornerback does what all professional athletes do after tackling this wide receiver; he does a victory dance celebrating his great achievement. It occurred to me watching that, that I’d seen more self-puffing, selfcelebration after a two-yard gain than I’d seen after winning World War II. This is a change in culture, from a culture of self-effacement – “I’m no better than anybody else but nobody’s better than me” – to a culture of self-esteem – “look at me, look how good I am.” This is not only my nostalgia for an era in which I was not alive. There’s actually some evidence to support this. My favorite bit of polling evidence to illustrate this was done by the Gallup Organization. They periodically ask high school kids, “Are you a very important person?” They asked this question in 1950, and 12 percent of high school students said, “I am a very important person.” They asked again in 2005; 82 percent said they were a very important person. This is a change in how you see yourself. This change, this rise in self-esteem, I think had a left-wing variant, maybe out here, especially in Marin County in the ’70s, where we had an era of self-exploration and self-expression, what Christopher Lasch called the culture of narcissism, and Tom



Wolfe called the me decade. I think there was a right-wing variant in the 1980s when self-promotion, self-branding, the economics of self-promotion took the fore. So our conceptions of ourselves changed. This changed expansion of self had material effects. If you look at consumption in the 20th century, it floats along very solidly until about the ’70s, and then it shoots up. So personal debt as a percentage of GDP was very stable for most of the 20th century at about 45 percent of GDP. Then, starting in the ’70s up until 2007, it shoots up to 143 percent. Total debt is stable at about 140 percent including household debt and finance debt, and then it shoots up to 350 percent. This is a complete change in culture. If you see yourself as a very important person, you’re going to want to outfit your life as befits your station, and you’re going to want to prove to your neighbors and friends your station with your material belongings. That is one effect of the changes in our view of ourselves.

Generation Debt


he second is the public debt. Every generation has an incentive to spend on themselves and push the cost to future generations. No generation until our own has really done it in a massive scale, and I think that’s in part because they saw themselves as part of a long, historic flow from which they were no more important than anybody else. That sense of the long historic flow, the debt owed to the past and owed to the future, has been lost. As a result, we are running these phenomenal deficits with really no end in sight. By 2019, interest payments on the debt alone will be about $900

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billion, which is completely unaffordable. Then there’s, finally, a deeper political shift. Previous Americans thought of America as a republic and believed in republican virtue. Republican virtue was a distrust of self: that we all have a tendency within ourselves to favor ourselves, to be biased toward ourselves. So republican virtue is the kind epitomized by George Washington, which was self-restraint, that democracy needed institutions to restrain the will of ourselves. That sense of republican virtue has been lost, and now we emphasize the democratic virtues. The democratic virtues hold that what the people want should be met by the government, that government should be responsive to people. It should be meeting the immediate demands of whatever the people want at that moment. This is a very different view of government, and I think it’s led to the partisanship. Partisanship is a version of narcissism. It’s a belief that your side has 100 percent of the truth, rather than being a balancing of the truth. And the country would be better off without all the tension between your side and the other side but simply if your side triumphed. All these problems grew out of a different sense of self, a different sense of expanded self, a growth of self-esteem. This is what helped contribute to the bubble, to the financial crisis and to the great sense of political disillusion. More than all the causes, it’s a deeper problem that we faced when we became a more proudof-ourselves nation. I would say, and this may be wishful thinking, that in the last few months, you begin to see a change in that; you begin to see a rise in the savings rate. You begin to see changes in consumption patterns. You begin to see a revolution against some of the polarized rhetoric that marks the politics. I do think there’s been a bit of a psychological shift, a desire for maybe less self-puffery, maybe a sense of increased modesty. It is certainly true in the younger generation. If you want to feel good about the country, look at people under 30. They are a tremendously community-oriented generation. A friend of mine who’s president of George Washington University says of the community service that his students do, “I don’t know where these students find lepers, but they find them and they read to them.” That is a sign of a different mentality they

have. All the social indicators that went up in the wrong direction for decade after decade are now beginning to come down. Domestic violence is down. Crime is down. Abortion rates are down by a third. Teenage pregnancy is down by a third. This is an incredibly wholesome and responsible generation. They’re all going to have the biggest mid-life crisis in human history in about 10 years. But up until that point, they’re really repairing the society. And finally my sense that America’s recovering from maybe an explosion of self-esteem comes as all optimistic beliefs come just by the act of walking around San Francisco. Walking around Des Moines. Walking around Albany. The act of observing American life is an incredibly, still heartening thing because you come to the belief that the culture that defined us 200, 300 years ago is still alive. You see the culture of self-improvement. You see the culture of pragmatism and adjustment. You go to a suburban elementary school, you see the kids coming out of the elementary school; they’ve got these 80-pound backpacks on their back. If the wind blows them over, they’re like beetles, stuck there on the ground. You’ve got the moms or the dads driving up to pick them up; in neighborhoods like this they’re driving Saabs, Audis and Volvos, because in areas like San Francisco it’s socially acceptable to have a luxury car, so long as it comes from a country hostile to U.S. foreign policy. Because they’re enlightened and progressive, they’re taking the kid out to Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, the ice cream company with its own foreign policy. Then they’re going out to the Whole Foods Market or the Trader Joe’s, one of the socially enlightened grocery stores where all the cashiers look like they’re on loan from Amnesty International. My favorite section of the Trader Joe’s is the snack foods section, because they couldn’t have pretzels and potato chips; that’d be vulgar. So they have these seaweed-based snacks, what we buy in my household, it’s called Veggie Booty with Kale. It’s for kids who come home and say “Mom, I want a snack that will help prevent colo-rectal cancer.” So you begin to see the dynamism in America. I always say that if you want to get a good sense of the country, go to Home Depot and watch an American man buy

a barbeque grill, because that’s when he’s most emotionally exposed. He’s going into the store and he’s doing the manly waddle men do in the presence of large amounts of lumber. He’s going up to the big grills, the Weber Genesis grill, because in America it makes sense to name a grill after a book in the Bible. He chooses the 942-inch grill surface, in case he gets the urge to roast a bison. He buys his grill, takes it out to the truck in the big-box mall. He’s in one of these giant parking lots with the PetSmart over here and a PETCO over there. Then maybe along the highway, there are all the suburban theme restaurants, which if they merged would be called Chili’s Olive Garden Hard Rock Outback Cantina. Then the Wal-Mart over here, and over here, my favorite, is the Costco, which is like Wal-Mart on acid. You can get your bags with 60 pounds of tater-tots, your packages with maybe 120 pounds of detergents, little packages with 6,000 Q-tips inside, which is 12,000 swabs cause there’s one at either end. I always go to these places thinking, “Who comes here shopping for condoms?” The quantities are so gigantic; then you realize there are a lot of optimistic people in America. Finally, they’re all having the same conversation about how much money they’re saving by buying in bulk. They’re saying, “We should get 10,000 popsicles, because we were thinking of having kids anyway.” Then you realize that we go through these cycles, but psychology is very fluid. People change, people learn, people improve, people adjust. And a country that can invent Veggie Booty with Kale will be fine in the long run.

Question and answer session with Dan Schnur, American cultural and political commentator SCHNUR: In his book What it Takes, Lawrence Cramer talks about how a man or a woman looks in the mirror and says, “I am the most qualified person on the planet to be the leader of the free world.” Talk a little bit ... about the dividing line between ego and confidence and hubris in our political leaders. BROOKS: You have to have a sense of hubris to run. Barack Obama, who is a man, as I said, I greatly admire, will say things in public and private which take your breath away. The one that got out in the public was something he had said to one of his domestic advisors and was reported by Ryan Lizza in The New Yorker. It was Obama talking to his aide, and he said, “I want you to know I’m a better speechwriter than any of my speechwriters. I know more about policy and any policy area than any of my policy advisors. And I’m a better political analyst than my political director.” If you can say that with a straight face, then you have a high degree of self-confidence. I don’t think you run if you don’t, and maybe you don’t achieve greatness if you don’t. But I would say the one thing he has also, and I think great leaders have maybe more than him even, is a phrase that goes back maybe to David Hume. The phrase is epistemological modesty. It’s the awareness that the world’s incredibly complicated and that we can never possibly really understand the world. Therefore, you act while being aware of how flawed your understanding is. You don’t design policies that are going

David Brooks’ fan base includes liberals and conservatives alike. ap r il/may 2011



to depend on you being a good knower of the world and a good designer of extremely complicated plans. If you look at the wise leader, one of the things we’ve learned is that there is a difference between IQ, which maybe helps you a little, and mental character. It’s the difference between processing speed and the ability to know your own mind, to weigh your conclusions to the strength of the evidence, to doubt your own biases, to look at your own thought processes honestly. These thoughts are completely unrelated to IQ. It’s what they call meta-cognition: to think about your own thinking. This is the real source of wisdom. The people that have that have modesty; they know they’re stupid. They’re people like Warren Buffett. [They] know they don’t understand and therefore are always on guard about themselves. Politics is a harsh taskmaster, and if people don’t come in with a sense of their own weakness, they’re reminded of that, because politics is so complicated like any field of endeavor. Peter Drucker once said that every time you make a decision, write down your reasoning for the decision, seal it in an envelope and open that envelope in nine months. You realize how wrong you were almost every time. But I do think the president has adjusted and has become aware of how little he can possibly know and control. SCHNUR: David, you talked in your remarks, semi-facetiously, I hope, that we are a [world] run by four-year-olds. BROOKS: I was being generous. SCHNUR: You talked about mental character, about modesty, about your admiration for President Obama. Who are the other six-year-olds in American politics? Who else do you admire on the current or recent political landscape and why? BROOKS: I spend all of this time around politicians – if you go to lunch and dinner as I do with them – I often come away thinking “impressive in private,” “reasonable in private.” Then I see them on C-SPAN when they’re back to being their idiotic selves. I think most of the people in private know that their own position has some weaknesses, know the opposition’s has some strengths. They’re reasonably well informed. But politics is a team game, and they have to hew to the party when they’re in public. The people in government are generally in it for the right reasons. The life just isn’t



that glamorous. You wouldn’t do it unless you thought you were serving the country. Politics probably doesn’t seem glamorous, but I used to think it was. I was on a shuttle to New York on a Thursday night. It was [supposed to leave at] 10 p.m. but it was late so we sat on the tarmac for two hours. We got in at like 1 a.m. There were about nine members of the House delegation from New York as well as Senator Chuck Schumer on that shuttle. They do that every week. The people who serve from out here, they fly back here every weekend and they fundraise.

“Most [politicians] know that their own position has some weaknesses, know the opposition’s has some strengths.” Their lives are just miserable. They wouldn’t do it unless they thought they were doing good. In general, they’re worth more than the cynical way we treat them. I think the press is more cynical than the politicians, and the voters are more cynical than the press. It’s not quite fair. I keep a list of 5 or 10 people in Washington at any given moment I really admire; in case I’m feeling depressed, I can think of those people. They’re people like Tiger Woods, Eliot Spitzer, “The Situation” – no, I’m just kidding. My all-time list includes people like San Francisco native George Shultz, who served continually the country, not himself, in whatever role. Jim Lehrer is on that list, though don’t tell him that; I’ll deny it. But of the current senators, I really admire Ron Wyden from up the coast here. Here’s a senator with strong Democratic convictions but who’s always willing to work with people [across the aisle] with very sophisticated policy ideas. I’m a big admirer of Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina. Again, somebody with strong conservative convictions but willing to take risks, even at his own political danger. I could go on, but there are many admirable people in politics. Individually they’re good. It’s the system

ap ril/may 2011

they’re enmeshed in that is problematic. SCHNUR: One of the questions from our audience [asks], Are voters angry, or are the subset of angry voters just the loudest? BROOKS: Voters are angry. We’ve seen a series of institutional failures in government, in business, the church. The underlying theme of this last election is a fear of national decline. If you ask Americans, “Are America’s best days behind it?” 65 percent say, “Yes.” We’ve gone through periods of pessimism, but never as sustained a period as we’re in now. People fear not only have we lost something, but our institutions are fundamentally not up to the task, and anger and disillusion flow out of that. Obama tapped into it; the Tea Party movement tapped into it. We’re not done with this. We are in a period of high social self-organization. We saw the Obama movement. We saw the Tea Party movement. I’m convinced that we’re going to see – or maybe it’s already starting – a movement of people who fundamentally want to take care of the fiscal situation. There’s no question about this; we are literally marching off a cliff fiscally. Countries fail because they lose wars or they get buried under their own debt. Serious nations don’t walk off a cliff. With the right leaders, with the right donors, there will be a mass movement in the next five years that will simply say, “We’re willing to take a sacrifice, if everybody’s willing to take a sacrifice, to avoid a fiscal catastrophe.” I go around Capitol Hill, to the White House, and I say, “Do you think there will be a national bankruptcy?” Almost universally, people say. “Yes.” I remember asking a White House economist, “Do you think we could take actions before we have a national bankruptcy?” He said, “No.” I said, “What kind of national bankruptcy will it be? Like Argentina? Greece? Decline and fall of the Roman Empire?” “It’ll be pretty bad, not as bad as the Roman Empire, but pretty bad.” Serious countries don’t do that. There’s such a degree of anger, there will be a mass movement based on patriotism that says that at a time when soldiers and marines are sacrificing their lives in Afghanistan, are you really not willing to sacrifice your cost of living adjustment? I think that’ll come. Ω This program was made possible by the generous support of the Taube Family Foundation.


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The Commonwealth Club organizes more than 450 events every year – on politics, the arts, media, literature, business and sports. Programs are held throughout the Bay Area.

Prepayment is required. Unless otherwise indicated, all Club programs – including “Members Free” events – require tickets. Programs often sell out, so we strongly encourage you to purchase tickets in advance. Tickets are available at will call. Due to heavy call volume, we urge you to purchase tickets online at; or call (415) 597-6705. Please note: All ticket sales are final. Please arrive at least 10 minutes prior to any program. If a program is sold out and your tickets are not claimed at our box office by the program start time, they will be released to our stand-by list. Select events include premium seating; premium refers to the first several rows of seating.

STANDARD PROGRAMS Typically one hour long, these speeches cover a variety of topics and are followed by a question and answer session. Most evening programs include a wine and cheese reception.

PROGRAM SERIES FOOD LIT showcases pre-eminent chefs and cookbook authors and often includes a mouth-watering meal or tasting. GOOD LIT features both established literary luminaries and upand-coming writers in conversation.

RADIO, Video and podcasts

INFORUM is for and by people in their 20s and 30s, although events are open to people of all ages.

Hear Club programs on about 200 public and commercial radio stations throughout the United States. For the latest schedule, visit In the San Francisco Bay Area, tune in to:

MEMBER–LED FORUMS (MLF) Volunteer-driven programs focus on particular fields. Most evening programs include a wine reception.

KQED (88.5 FM) Fridays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 a.m.

Member-Led Forums Chair

KALW (91.7 FM) Inforum programs on select Tuesdays at 7 p.m.

Dr. Carol Fleming carol.fleming@speechtraining com

KLIV (1590 AM) Thursdays at 7 p.m.

FORUM CHAIRS 2011 ARTS Anne W. Smith Lynn Curtis ASIA–PACIFIC AFFAIRS Cynthia Miyashita BAY GOURMET Cathy Curtis SF BOOK DISCUSSION Howard Crane BUSINESS & LEADERSHIP Kevin O’Malley ENVIRONMENT & NATURAL RESOURCES Kerry Curtis Marcia Sitcoske GROWNUPS John Milford

KOIT (96.5 FM and 1260 AM) Sundays at 6 a.m. KSAN (107.7 FM) Sundays at 5 a.m. Health & Medicine William B. Grant HUMANITIES George C. Hammond INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS Norma Walden LGBT Stephen Seewer Julian Chang MIDDLE EAST Celia Menczel PERSONAL GROWTH Dr. David K Olkkola PSYCHOLOGY Patrick O’Reilly science & technology Chisako Ress

KNBR (680 and 1050 AM) Sundays at 5 a.m. KFOG (104.5 and 97.7 FM) Sundays at 5 a.m.

Watch Club programs on KGO-DT Plus channel 7.2 or Comcast 194 from 4 – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Visit for the latest schedule. View streaming video of Club programs at and

Subscribe to our free podcasting service to automatically download a new program recording to your personal computer each week:

HARD OF HEARING? To request an assistive listening device, please e-mail Ricardo Esway at or call (415) 869-5911 seven working days before the event. A p r il/May 2011



Eight Weeks Calendar April 04 – May 28 M on



April 04



5:30 p.m. FE Kidnapped 6:00 p.m. FM Social Capital 6:30 p.m. Howard Schultz

10:00 a.m. The Future of Energy 6:00 p.m. Matt Bannick 6:00 p.m. Presenting to Executives 6:30 p.m. The Dark Side of Mobile Gadgets

5:30 p.m. FE The Bull of Minos Discussion




6:00 p.m. FM Is Capitalism a Condition of an Immature Social Psychology?

Noon Lessons from England: Holding Health-Care Providers Responsible 6:00 p.m. The Baha’i Faith 6:30 p.m. Capitalism in an Era of Climate Change

1:45 p.m. San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour 6:00 p.m. The New Leadership Mindset 7:00 p.m. L. Hunter Lovins




6:15 p.m. FE Science & Technology Planning Meeting 6:30 p.m. Inside Google

6:00 p.m. Michelle Rhee and Kevin Johnson: How to Transform American Education 6:00 p.m. The Health Needs of Children

6:00 p.m. FM Moms Making Change: Lessons in Family Activism




5:30 p.m. FE Middle East Discussion Group 6:00 p.m. FM Humor, Health and Well-Being: Medical Clowing as Art and Medicine

Noon Patricia Wells, A Culinary Legend

5:00 p.m. FE Humanities Organizational Meeting Noon George Szapary: Forging a Stronger Europe 6:00 p.m. Augustine Reassessed Again




6:00 p.m. FM America + Canada = A More Perfect Union 7:00 p.m. FM Ze Frank: Obsessive Lust and Longing on Facebook 7:00 p.m. Mark Kurlansky

6:00 p.m. Digestive Health

6:00 p.m. Sustainable Brands and the New Consumer Relationship 6:30 p.m. Tim Flannery




6:00 p.m. FM New Media vs. Social Media: Can Both Survive?

6:00 p.m. Saving Kids, One Play Ground at a Time

6:30 p.m. Golden Gate Park Under Siege 6:30 p.m. Richard North Patterson




Noon FM Foundations for Peace in the Middle East 6:00 p.m. FM Another Look at Particle Physics 6:00 p.m. FM Wal-Mart: Force of Nature, or Greenwashing?

6:30 p.m. The Carter Center: Partnering in the New Liberia 6:00 p.m. Googlization, and the Future of Books

6:00 p.m. Bruce Lipton: Biology of Belief 6:30 p.m. Larry Flynt and David Eisenbach: One Nation Under Sex 7:00 p.m. Anna Lappe




5:30 p.m. FE Middle East Discussion Group 6:00 p.m. FM Social Media for Social Good

6:00 p.m. James Stewart: How Fabled Statements Are Undermining America

1:45 p.m. San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour 6:00 p.m. How the Languages We Speak Shape the Way We Think



ap ril/may 2011

Legend Thu

San Francisco


Free program for members

East Bay


Free program for everyone

Silicon Valley


Members–only program


S at






6:00 p.m. Cosmic Wisdom 6:30 p.m. Uncorking the Urban Wine Scene

Noon FM Nuclear Power: More, Less or Status Quo?










May 01

5:30 p.m. FE Arts Forum Planning Meeting 6:00 p.m. Biopunk: DYI Scientists Hack the Software of Life 7:00 p.m. Julius Genachowski

21 6:00 p.m. Conversation on Winning and Leadership 6:00 p.m. Salmon in the Trees 6:30 p.m. The Science of Geniuses 7:00 p.m. Wendy Kopp


Noon FM Balenciaga and Spain




Noon FM Conversations with Terrorists

Tuolumne River Rafting Adventure 3:00 p.m. Balenciaga and Spain Museum Tour

Tuolumne River Rafting Adventure





10:00 a.m. Pole Position 6:30 p.m. The Cheeses of the Burgundy Region of France

Noon FM Never Fly Solo: How to Build Trusting Partnerships and Reach New Heights in Business









6:00 p.m. FE Environment & Natural Resources Planning Meeting

26 6:00 p.m. MO Willie Brown Jr.: 2011 Annual Lecture on Political Trends

ap r il/may 2011



Index By Region


April 01 – June 15

Free program for members Free program for everyone Members–only program

San Francisco fri 29 Noon

April fri 01 12:30 p.m. John Kerry mon 04 6:00 p.m. 6:30 p.m.


FM Social Capital Howard Schultz

Tue 05 10:00 a.m. The Future of Energy 6:00 p.m. Matt Bannick 6:00 p.m. Presenting to Executives THU 07 6:00 p.m. 6:30 p.m. fri 08 Noon mon 11 6:00 p.m.

FM Balenciaga and Spain

mon 02 6:00 p.m. 6:30 p.m.

FM America + Canada FM Lust and Longing on Facebook

tue 03 6:00 p.m. wed 04 6:00 p.m.

thu 26 6:00 p.m.

MO Willie Brown Jr.

tue 31 6:00 p.m.

Dancing on the River


Digestive Health

wed 01 6:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m.

The Pope of Wine Jorge Castenada

Sustainable Brands

thu 02 6:00 p.m.

The California Book Awards

FM Conversations with Terrorists

wed 08 6:00 p.m.

The World Is Dancing

Balenciaga and Spain Museum Tour

thu 09 6:00 p.m.

Environmental Success Stories

mon 13 6:00 p.m. 6:30 p.m.

FM The Art of Arthur Szyk FM Michel de Montaigne

wed 15 6:00 p.m.

Brain Plasticity

Cosmic Wisdom The Urban Wine Scene

fri 06 Noon

FM Nuclear Power

sat 07 3:00 p.m.

FM Capitalism

mon 09 6:00 p.m.

FM News Media vs. Social Media

tue 10 6:00 p.m.

Saving Kids

wed 11 6:30 p.m.

Golden Gate Park Under Siege

Tue 12 Noon 6:00 p.m. 6:30 p.m.

Lessons from England The Baha’i Faith Capitalism during Climate Change

wed 13 1:45 p.m. 6:00 p.m.

SF Architecture Walking Tour The New Leadership Mindset

thu 12 10:00 a.m. Pole Position 6:30 p.m. The Cheeses of Burgundy

THU 14 6:00 p.m.


fri 13 Noon

FM Never Fly Solo

mon 18 6:00 p.m.

L. Hunter Lovins

FM Moms Making Change

Tue 19 6:30 p.m.

FM Peace in the Middle East FM Another Look at Particle Physics FM Wal-Mart

thu 14 7:00 p.m.

Julius Genachowski

Inside Google

mon 16 Noon 6:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m.

wed 13 7:00 p.m.

wed 20 6:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m.

The Carter Center Googlization, Future of Books

Wendy Kopp

Michelle Rhee and Kevin Johnson The Health Needs of Children

tue 17 6:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m.

thu 21 6:30 p.m.

thu 21 6:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m.

A Conversation on Winning Salmon in the Trees

wed 18 6:00 p.m. 6:30 p.m.

Bruce Lipton: Biology of Belief Larry Flynt and David Eisenbach

FM Humor, Health and Well-Being

mon 23 6:00 p.m.

FM New Media for Social Good

Tue 26 Noon

Patricia Wells, a Culinary Legend

tue 24 6:00 p.m.

James Stewart

wed 27 Noon 6:00 p.m.

Forging a Stronger Europe Augustine Reassessed Again

wed 25 1:45 p.m. 6:00 p.m.

SF Architecture Walking Tour The Languages We Speak

mon 25 6:00 p.m.


May mon 02 7:00 p.m.

Mark Kurlansky

wed 04 7:00 p.m.

Tim Flannery

wed 18 7:00 p.m.

Anna Lappe

East Bay

Foreign Language Groups


Free for members. Location: San Francisco Club Office

tue 05 6:30 p.m.

Dark Side of Mobile Gadgets

FRENCH, Intermediate Class Thursdays, noon Pierrette Spetz, Graziella Danieli, FRENCH, Advanced Conversation Tuesdays, noon Gary Lawrence, (925) 932-2458

thu 21 6:30 p.m.

The Science of Geniuses

GERMAN, Int./Adv. Conversation Wednesdays, noon Annaliese Munetic, (415) 531-8428


ITALIAN, Intermediate Class Mondays, noon Ebe Fiori Sapone, (415) 564-6789

wed 11 6:30 p.m. Richard North Patterson

SPANISH, Intermediate Conversation Tuesdays, noon Isabel Heredia, SPANISH, Advanced (fluent only) Thursdays, noon Luis Salvago-Toledo (925) 376-7830


Silicon Valley


apr il/may 2011

tue 31 6:00 p.m.

Walter M. Bortz II

April 01–05 F r i 01 | San Francisco

M on 0 4 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

Senator John Kerry

Social Capital: The Intersection of Money and Meaning

U.S. Senator (D-MA); Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Hope Neighbor, Founder and CEO, Hope Consulting David Hodgson, Co-founder, the Idea Hive; Fellow, the International Futures Forum Kevin Jones, Founder, Good Capital; Convener, SOCAP Sean Stannard-Stockton, CEO, Tactical Philanthropy Advisors; Columnist, Chronicle of Philanthropy; Author, Tactical Philanthropy blog Kevin O’Malley, President, TechTalk / Studio – Moderator

Under Senator Kerry’s leadership, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee addresses the key foreign policy and national security issues facing the United States, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, nuclear nonproliferation and global climate change. As nations across the Middle East face historic political upheaval, Kerry will discuss current affairs in that region as well as a variety of domestic issues. Please note lunch will be completed prior to start of program. Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in and luncheon, 12:30 p.m. program Cost: $65 standard, $50 members

SOCAP is a multi-platform organization dedicated to the flow of capital toward social good. Three sold-out conferences have connected innovators worldwide – investors, foundations, institutions and social entrepreneurs – to build a market where everyone wins. This year SOCAP returns to San Francisco and in partnership with the U.S. State Department launches new events in Europe and Washington, D.C. Get a preview of these amazing events and learn how you can be a part of this global movement. MLF: Business & Leadership Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Kevin O’Malley

M on 0 4 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

M on 0 4 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

T u e 05 | San Francisco


Howard Schultz

Matt Bannick

We will revisit what for many people was among our earliest ventures into serious literature: Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson. Not only a true classic, it is also a stirring adventure yarn and a sparkling introduction to Scottish history.

Founder and CEO, Starbucks; Author, Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul In conversation with Wired Editor-inChief Chris Anderson

Managing Partner, Omidyar Network

MLF: SF Book Discussion Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. program Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Howard Crane

One of the world’s most influential corporate leaders shares how a small Seattle coffee shop spawned a global empire. Schultz discusses what he’s learned on his journey from small business owner to head of a company with more than 17,000 locations. Location: Intercontinental Mark Hopkins, Peacock Court Time: 5:45 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program, 7:30 p.m. book signing Cost: $30 standard, $15 members, $7 students (with valid ID). Premium (with copy of book and seat in front rows) $80 standard, $60 members. Also know: Attendees subject to search

The Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm that helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic, social and political change. It funds nonprofit and profitable ventures, as well as several hybrids. Omidyar Network says it “aims to create opportunity for entrepreneurs to succeed. When they do, so do their families and communities. People living in poverty are often ignored by mainstream businesses. We will prioritize our support for entrepreneurs providing services and products that can improve quality of life for those most in need.” Hear how Omidyar is changing the world. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students (with valid ID)

A p r il/May 2011



April 05–12 T u e 05 | San Francisco

T u e 05 | San Francisco

The Future of Energy

Speaking Up: Presenting to Executives

Duke of Energy Jim Rogers, Chairman/CEO, Duke Energy Will the U.S. adopt a nationwide plan for generating electricity with clean energy? How will that affect consumer prices? How will it affect the country’s greenhouse gas emissions? Are electric utilities ready for electric cars? One of America’s most prominent energy executives, Rogers played a leading role in the cap-and-trade debate. Join him for a conversation with Greg Dalton at a critical juncture in planning America’s energy future. Time: 10-11 a.m. program Networking Break: 11-11:30 a.m.

Energy Policy: What’s Next? T.J. Glauthier, Former Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy • Tony Knowles, Former Governor, Alaska

California will soon be implementing its new carbon trading system, but what impact will this have on climate change as a whole? What does the U.S. need to do to become the leader in energy efficiency? Will Obama’s energy policy be enough to cultivate a clean energy economy while creating enough jobs to stimulate the economy? Join us for a conversation on propelling energy policies and funding ahead of the game and into the future.

Rick Gilbert, Founder and Chairman, PowerSpeaking, Inc.; Author, PowerSpeaking: How Ordinary People Can Make Extraordinary Presentations

Top decision makers in business, the nonprofit world and government can be tough audiences. Yet the outcome of presentations can mean career and project success, or a new job search. Based on CEO interviews and in-depth client experience, Gilbert will look at three ways presenters often fail, as well as five strategies for toplevel meetings.

Location: SF Club Office Cost: $65 standard, $45 members. Includes all morning sessions.

MLF: Business & Leadership Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Kevin O’Malley

Tue 05 | East Bay

W ed 0 6 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

th u 0 7 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

The Dark Side of Mobile Gadgets

Humanities West Book Discussion: The Bull of Minos by Leonard Cottrell

Cosmic Wisdom: An Astronomer Looks at Human History... and Our Future Prospects

Time: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Robert Vamosi, Author, When Gadgets Betray Us; Contributing Editor, PCWorld

If you thought your privacy was only threatened on the Web, think again. In an age when personal technology devices reign supreme, consumers take gadgets for granted. Award-winning journalist and cybercrimes expert Vamosi contends that the dangers inherent in certain gadgets far surpass their convenience. As technologies continue to develop, people continue to trust them, blindly sacrificing their privacy and safety in ways they never imagined possible. Location: Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette Time: 5:45 p.m. networking, 6:30 p.m. program Cost: $22 standard, $12 members, $7 students (with valid ID)



Join us to discuss The Bull of Minos: The Great Discoveries of Ancient Greece, by Leonard Cottrell. He presents the story of two of the most heroic yet controversial figures in archaeology: Heinrich Schliemann, who discovered the remains of Troy, and Arthur Evans, who unearthed the great city of King Minos. These discoveries proved that what had been assumed to be myths were historically real. The Cretans did indeed worship the cult of the bull. Achilles and Agamemnon really did live. The discussion will be moderated by Lynn Harris. MLF: Humanities/International relations Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. discussion Cost: FREE Program Organizer: George Hammond

A p ril/May 2011

Sandra Faber, Ph.D., University Professor, UC Santa Cruz; Staff Member, UCO/ Lick Observatory

We now know more about the distant universe in many ways than we do about our own planet. Using breathtaking images and computer simulations, cosmologist Faber will tell the story of how human beings got here and where we are headed, cosmically speaking. MLF: Science & Technology Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members Program Organizer: Brandon Allgood

th u 0 7 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

fr i 0 8 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

Uncorking the Urban Wine Scene

Nuclear Power: More, Less or Status Quo?

Check web site for panelists

Move over, Napa and Sonoma. For the past five years, wine has been making its way downtown, ditching traditional wine production regions and taking root in the East Bay. Urban winemakers in Oakland and San Francisco source their fruit from the best vineyards in California and around the globe. Not being tied to the land gives these urban artisans the freedom to experiment. Drink up and indulge your inner oenophile and locavore as our panel of wine wizards explores this growing urban trend.

Jacques Besnainou, CEO, AREVA Inc. Lucas Davis, Professor, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley Jeff Byron, Former Commissioner, California Energy Commission

Should California relicense its two existing nuclear power plants? Should it build a new one? French engineering giant AREVA aims to participate in President Obama’s planned revival of nuclear energy in America. Is that for real? How can renewable electricity help meet California’s growing energy needs? How will the state’s reduction of greenhouse gases impact the way it powers its economy? How can the energy sector be a job driver? Join us for a conversation about nuke power and renewables in California and beyond. Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 check-in, noon program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students (with valid ID)

Location: SF Club Office Time: 6 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program, 7:30 p.m. wine tasting and networking Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students (with valid ID)

M on 1 1 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

T u e 12 | San Francisco

T u e 12 | San Francisco

Is Capitalism a Condition of an Immature Social Psychology?

Lessons from England: Holding Health-Care Providers Responsible for Quality and Costs

The Baha’i Faith

Matt Cantor, Columnist, Berkeley Daily Planet

Monday Night Philosophy will attempt to remove the obfuscating (and dismal) economic language from our discussion of capitalism versus socialism, communism and anarchy. What remains is how we share and get along in modern societies. Capitalism has been associated with freedom and well-being in the U.S. for generations. Is this a valid assumption? Does capitalism create freedom? Is fairness important, and what does that look like? Who benefits from capitalism? Do you? MLF: Humanities Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE Program Organizer: George Hammond

Chris Ham, CEO, The King’s Fund; Professor of Health Policy and Management, University of Birmingham

Much of the attention paid to health reform has focused on insurance coverage, but another important aspect of the new law will be to foster “accountable care organizations” that would take responsibility for improving outcomes and controlling costs. Ham reveals how the trusts work in England and lessons for improving health care in the U.S. MLF: International Relations Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Norma Walden

Farhad Sabetan, Ph.D. in Economics; Human Rights Defender Michael Pappas, Executive Director, SF Interfaith Council

Learn about the history, tenets and values of the Baha’i faith. It is the second largest minority religion in Iran, but its adherents have been discriminated against in Iran and elsewhere. Its holy shrines and offices are in Israel. Sabetan is the spokesperson for the International Baha’i community in the United States. MLF: Middle East Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 Club/Baha’i Center/ SFIC members, students free (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Celia Menczel Also know: In association with the SF Interfaith Council

A p r il/May 2011



April 12–19 T u e 12 | San Francisco

W ed 1 3 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

Capitalism in an Era of Climate Change

San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour

L. Hunter Lovins, President and Founder, Natural Capitalism Solutions; Author, Climate Capitalism: Capitalism in the Age of Climate Change Additional panelists TBA

The time when businesses could operate without regard for their environmental impact is long past. Many companies now calculate their carbon footprint, minimize their packaging, switch to efficient energy sources wherever possible, and some even purchase carbon offsets. Innovative companies are looking beyond the costs of climate change and toward business strategies that capitalize on new opportunities, innovate and spur economic growth. Time magazine Hero of the Planet Lovins argues that moving aggressively to solve global warming, peak oil and weaknesses in our energy infrastructure will give us a stronger economy and higher quality of life. Get the inside scoop on sustainable approaches and what corporations of the present and future will need to do to remain competitive.

This program is sold out. The Club will be offering an additional tour on Wednesday, May 25. Location: Meet at SF Club Office
 Time: 1:45-4 p.m. tour, no-host socializing to follow
 Cost: $30 standard, $20 members 
 Also know: Limited to 20. Advance registration required. Tour covers less than one mile of walking. Call (415) 597-6720 with questions.

Location: SF Club Office Time: 6 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program, 7:30 p.m. book signing/networking reception Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Also know: Lovins will speak in Saratoga on 4/13.

W ed 1 3 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

W ed 1 3 | S i l i c o n V a l l e y

T h u 14 | San Francisco

The New Leadership Mindset: Ten Misconceptions About Compromise at Work

L. Hunter Lovins

Arts Forum Planning Meeting

President/Founder, Natural Capitalism Solutions; Author, Climate Capitalism

Join fellow Club members in discussing ideas for arts programs and exhibitions at The Commonwealth Club. Be part of the process to help shape programs of fine art, drama, music and dance in the coming year.

Elizabeth Doty, Co-founder, WorkLore; Author, The Compromise Trap

As we recover from the economic crisis, many professionals are asking themselves: Can we avoid the widespread compromise and excess that marked the first decade of the 21st century? Based on conversations with more than 400 professionals in dozens of industries, Doty outlines 10 misconceptions that got us into trouble and the new leadership mindset necessary for organizations of true integrity. MLF: Business & Leadership Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Kevin O’Malley



Time magazine Hero of the Planet Lovins makes an economic case for moving aggressively to solve such challenges as global warming, peak oil and the vulnerability of our energy infrastructure. She argues that climate protection, energy efficiency, renewable energy and other sustainable approaches will give us a stronger economy and a higher quality of life. Location: Carriage House Theater, 15400 Montalvo Rd., Saratoga Time: 6:30 p.m. check-in, 7 p.m. program, 8 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $12 members Also know: In association with Montalvo Arts Center. Lovins will speak in SF 4/12.

A p ril/May 2011

MLF: The Arts Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. planning meeting Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Anne Smith

T h u 14 | San Francisco

T h u 1 4 | S i l i co n Va l l e y

Biopunk: DIY Scientists Hack the Software of Life

A Conversation with Julius Genachowski

Marcus Wohlsen, Science Writer, The AP

Chairman, Federal Communications Commission

The most revolutionary discoveries often emerge from out-of-the-way places, forged by brilliant outsiders with few resources besides boundless energy and great ideas. That language could apply to the “biohacking” movement. In the next few years, companies will start selling libraries of genetic LEGOs that amateur scientists will use to build new life from scratch. Wohlsen follows the biopunk underground toward a future that might leave us feeling blessed, doomed or both.

Chairman Genachowski leads the federal agency responsible for wired and wireless communications. He has focused the FCC on the opportunities of digital communications, expansion of broadband access, and pursuing policies to spur private investment and innovation, foster competition and empower consumers. In a landmark decision on December 21, 2010, the FCC passed the first enforceable net neutrality regulations, which will have widespread consequences for providers and consumers of all online content. Genachowski warns that the nation is running out of airwave spectrum, which could lead to dropped wireless calls, agonizingly slow downloads and budget-busting prices for mobile services if broadband capacity is not increased. He will discuss these challenges and others facing the FCC.

MLF: Science & Technology Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Chisako Ress

Location: Computer History Museum, 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View Time: 6:15 p.m. check-in, 7 p.m. program Cost: Regular: $25 standard, $15 members. Premium (seating in first few rows): $50 standard, $35 members Also know: Bags subject to search

M on 1 8 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

T u e 19 | San Francisco

Moms Making Change: Lessons in Family Activism

Science & Technology Planning Meeting

Vicki Abeles, Producer and Co-director, Race to Nowhere Dana Gorman, Founder, THRiiiVE Kimberly Danek Pinkson, Founder, EcoMom Alliance Judi Shils, Founder and Director, Teens Turning Green Christie Dames, Co-founder and CEO, TechTalk / Studio – Moderator

There’s a new movement afoot – and it’s not June Cleaver. Moms are going green, standing up for their kids, and paying it forward – starting locally and then mobilizing to help other families around the globe. Some got the call because their children were in desperate need, and some saw the future coming and took action immediately. Learn from these moms on the vanguard of social change. MLF: Business & Leadership Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Kevin O’Malley

Join fellow Club members with similar interests and brainstorm upcoming Science & Technology programs. All Commonwealth Club members are welcome. We explore visions for the future through science and technology. Discuss current issues and share your insights with fellow Club members to shape and plan programs for the months ahead. MLF: Science & Technology Location: SF Club Office Time: 6:15 p.m. program Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Chisako Ress

A p r il/May 2011



April 19–25 T u e 19 | San Francisco

W ed 2 0 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

Inside Google: The Myths, Culture and Secret Sauce

Michelle Rhee and Kevin Johnson: How to Transform American Education

Steven Levy, Sr. Writer, Wired; Former Senior Editor and Chief Technology Writer, Newsweek; Author, In the Plex

Are five-star chefs, free laundry and on-site masseuses the secret to Google’s success? Or its unique management style and innovative team? How has Google stayed on the cutting edge while making the transition to tech giant? What exactly happens inside its campus? Levy took a deep dive into Google management, its products and its company culture. Find out what he learned.

Michelle Rhee, Founder and CEO, Students First; Former Chancellor, District of Columbia Public School System Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento; Chair, U.S. Conference of Mayors Task Force on Public Education

Students First is an organization that Rhee calls a “national movement to transform education.” In her controversial three years as chancellor of the Washington, D.C., school system, she closed nearly two dozen schools, cut administrative positions and proposed that teacher salaries be based on merit rather than tenure. Today, her goal is to “put pressure on elected officials and press for changes in legislation to make things better for kids.” Sacramento Mayor Johnson says he’s “committed to identifying ways to strategically drive education reform.” Upon retiring from the NBA after 12 seasons with the Phoenix Suns, Johnson returned to his hometown of Sacramento to serve as the CEO of St. HOPE, a nonprofit community development organization he founded to revitalize inner-city communities. Hear from these two leaders about what can be done to save the American education system.

Location: SF Club Office Time: 6 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program, 7:30 p.m. book signing/networking Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students

Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students (with valid ID)

W ed 2 0 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

T h u 21 | San Francisco

The Health Needs of Children in Their Own Words

A Conversation on Winning and Leadership

Patty James, Founder, Shine the Light on Kids,

In 2010, nutritionist and chef James traveled to 41 states, covering 18,000 miles, interviewing kids about their health. Her video interviews and written surveys were sent to Sonoma State University, which analyzed the data, and tonight the results are being shared for the first time. Learn what kids said they need to live healthier lives. Based on what they said, programs are being developed and pilot programs begin this summer. MLF: Health & Medicine Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Bill Grant



Peter Guber, Chairman and CEO, Mandalay Entertainment Group; Owner, Golden State Warriors Stephen Denning, Former Program Director, World Bank; Author Phil Bronstein, Editor at Large, Hearst Newspapers – Moderator

Two powerhouse speakers say that winning in the 21st century involves persuading and motivating those around you to do what you need them to do. Guber is one of the most successful film producers in history (Rain Man, Batman, The Color Purple); his movies have earned more than $3 billion worldwide. He has been chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures, is currently CEO of Mandalay Entertainment Group, and recently acquired the Golden State Warriors. His new book, Tell to Win, provides techniques on how to move beyond basic storytelling and garner the power to tell purposeful, persuasive stories. Denning, the former program director of the World Bank, has written numerous award-winning books on leadership, success and more recently, with his new book, The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management, he has sought to re-invent management to create a more productive and challenging work environment. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Also know: In association with the Business & Leadership Member-Led Forum

A p ril/May 2011

th u 2 1 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

Thu 21 | East Bay

Salmon in the Trees

The Science of Geniuses: The 2010 MacArthur Genius Grant Winners

Amy Gulick, Conservation Photographer; Author

Most of us will never visit the vast wilderness of Alaska, so the phrase “Salmon in the Trees” may seem a bit whimsical. But in the Tongass rainforest, there really are salmon in the trees. Come to our Earth Day event to meet the award-winning conservation photographer Gulick, see her astounding photos, and hear what it’s like to live for months in the wilderness hoping to have a near-bear encounter.

Carlos Bustamante, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine Dawn Song, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, UC Berkeley Emmanuel Saez, Ph.D., E. Morris Cox Professor of Economics, UC Berkeley

“They are explorers and risk takers, contributing to their fields and to society in innovative, impactful ways. They provide us all with inspiration and hope for the future,” said MacArthur President Robert Gallucci. The celebrated MacArthur Fellows Program awards “genius” grants to exceptional inventors, innovators and creative talents. The winners are offered $500,000 with no strings attached over the next five years to pursue work in their field of interest. Come out and meet the local Bay Area winners and learn about the projects that won them this esteemed award.

MLF: Environment & Natural Resources Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Kerry Curtis Also know: In association with Earthjustice

Location: Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette Time: 5:45 p.m. networking reception, 6:30 p.m. program Cost: $22 standard, $12 members, $7 students (with valid ID)

T h u 2 1 | S i l i co n Va l l e y

M on 2 5 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

Wendy Kopp

Humor, Health and Well-Being: Medical Clowning as Art and Medicine

Founder and CEO, Teach for America; Author, A Chance to Make History

On Teach For America’s 20th anniversary, founder Kopp draws on the experiences of the organization’s 25,000 teachers and alumni. Through engaging stories from the front lines of the achievement gap, Kopp offers a provocative exploration of what’s driving the unprecedented success in a growing number of low-income communities’ classrooms, schools and districts. Location: Schultz Cultural Hall, Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto Time: 6 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program, 7:30 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students Also know: In assn. with Oshman Family JCC and the Silicon Valley Education Foundation

Jeff Raz, Medical Clown; Former Cirque du Soleil Artist Ben Johnson, Medical Clown; Former Cirque du Soleil Artist Phil Weglarz, MFT, REAT, California Pacific Medical Center

Join former Cirque du Soleil artists Raz and Johnson and activities therapist Weglarz as they share how a medical clowning program helps patients hold on to joy in the face of illness and improve the mood of nurses, doctors and other health-care staff. MLF: Health & Medicine Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. post-panel reception Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Anne W. Smith Also know: In association with The Medical Clown Project

A p r il/May 2011



April 25 – May 03 M on 2 5 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

T u e 26 | San Francisco

T u e 2 6 | S i l i co n Va l l e y

Middle East Discussion Group

Patricia Wells, A Culinary Legend

Paul Allen

Make your voice heard in an enriching, provocative and fun discussion with fellow Club members as you weigh in on events shaping the face of the Middle East. Each month, the Middle East Member-Led Forum hosts an informal roundtable discussion on a topic frequently suggested by recent headlines. After a brief introduction, the floor will be open for discussion. All interested members are encouraged to attend. There will also be a brief planning session.

Journalist; Author, Salad as a Meal

The renowned author of The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris and Patricia Wells at Home in Provence, Wells was honored with the Versailles World Cookbook Award in 1999 for the Best Promotion of French Cuisine. The culinary queen herself reveals bold and delicious new recipes that focus on tender greens and the meats, veggies and grains that accompany them.

Co-founder, Microsoft; Founder, Allen Institute for Brain Science; Author, Idea Man: A Memoir

In 2007 and 2008, Time named Microsoft co-founder Allen one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Since making his fortune with Bill Gates, Allen’s impact has been felt in science, technology, business, medicine, sports, music and philanthropy. Allen explains how he has solved problems, what he’s learned from his many endeavors (the triumphs and the failures) and his compelling vision for the future.

MLF: Middle East Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. program Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Celia Menczel

MLF: Bay Gourmet Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program, 1 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students Program Organizer: Cathy Curtis Also know: Underwritten by The Bernard Osher Foundation

W ed 2 7 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

wed 2 7 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

W ed 2 7 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

Humanities MLF Organizational Meeting

Augustine Reassessed Again

Forging a Stronger Europe: Challenges Ahead for the EU

Join us to plan the Humanities Member-Led Forum’s events for the second half of 2011 and beyond. All Club members are welcome and encouraged to attend. MLF: Humanities Location: SF Club Office Time: 5 p.m. program Cost: FREE Program Organizer: George Hammond

James J. O’Donnell, Georgetown Provost; Author, Augustine: A New Biography

The image of Augustine that comes down to us over the centuries is a paragon of virtue and holiness, after a famously misspent youth. But controversy remains. Did the adolescent pear thief really find the sanctity he sought? Or did the originator of the tell-all autobiography have even more to confess? An Augustinian scholar reflects on 40 years of reading and thinking about one of the Western tradition’s most powerful and influential intellectuals. MLF: Humanities Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: George Hammond



A p ril/May 2011

Location: TBA Time: 6:30 p.m. check-in, 7 p.m. program, 8 p.m. book signing Cost: TBA

George Szapary, Ambassador of Hungary to the United States

In a career that has taken him from the IMF in Washington all the way to the upper echelons of Hungarian banking and government, Szapary has helped shaped the course of nations. With his country recently having assumed the presidency of the Council of the European Union, Szapary will take an inside look at the EU and the myriad challenges it currently faces. Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, students free (with valid ID) Also know: In association with the International Relations Member-Led Forum

F r i 29 | San Francisco

M on 0 2 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

M on 0 2 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

Balenciaga and Spain: Austerity and Extravagance

America + Canada = A More Perfect Union: The Unnecessary Northern Border and the Promise of North America

Obsessive Lust and Longing on Facebook

Julia Geist, Chair of Docent Council, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

“The master of us all,” said Christian Dior about Cristobal Balenciaga, who created day dresses of deceiving simplicity and evening gowns of staggering extravagance, with Spain as his muse. This illustrated lecture will look at the life and success of the couturier who maintained tradition and continuity in Spain and Paris for more than 30 years.

Les Horswill, Canadian Writer and Political Commentator

Horswill argues that an expanded union between Canada and the U.S. would bring about huge benefits for both countries. He will outline our shared strategic circumstances and the policies that have failed to allow more effective integration of the two countries, and will explain his belief that the border is thickening.

Ze Frank, Digital Media Visionary In conversation with Martine Paris, Head of Video Monetization Platform, PlaySpan

When we look at the social habits of Facebook users, do we see the obsessive lust and longing of the adolescent narcissist, with its primal need for emotional proximity? Never before has there been so much data on what happens when humans group, but what is the data telling us? Digital media visionary Frank shares his personal observations and musings on the effect the network is having on the pop culture psyche.

MLF: Arts/International Relations Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Norma Walden

MLF: International Relations Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students Program Organizer: Karen Keefer

Location: SF Club Office Time: 6:30 p.m. check-in, 7 p.m. program, 8 p.m. networking reception Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students

M on 0 2 | S i l i c o n V a l l e y

M on 0 2 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

T u e 03 | San Francisco

Mark Kurlansky

God Is Not Great

Digestive Health

Author, Cod, Salt and The World Without Fish

Join us for a spirited discussion of noted essayist and contrarian Christopher Hitchens’ controversial book. He takes no prisoners in this provocative and witty but scholarly atheist manifesto. As a reminder, this is a book discussion group; the author will NOT be present.

Liz Lipski, Ph.D., C.C.N. Richard Auld, M.D. Len Saputo, M.D.

Kurlansky examines the devastating effects of industrialized fishing and shares simple rules that families can use to help support sustainable fishing. In his new children’s book, he depicts what’s happening to the fish we commonly eat – tuna, salmon, cod and swordfish – and the domino effect it would have if it all disappeared in the next 50 years. Location: Carriage House Theater, 15400 Montalvo Rd., Saratoga Time: 6:15 p.m. check-in, 7 p.m. program, 8 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students (18 & under) Also know: In association with Montalvo Arts Center and the Youth Science Institute

MLF: SF Book Discussion Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. program Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Howard Crane

Three experts will discuss the most common maladies of the digestive tract, such as belching, bloating and flatulence, heartburn, inflammatory bowel disease, constipation and dietary fiber intake, absorption of nutrients, and the effects of aging and medication on the digestive tract. MLF: Health & Medicine Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Patty James

A p r il/May 2011



May 04–12 W ed 0 4 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

W ed 0 4 | S i l i c o n V a l l e y

Sustainable Brands and the New Consumer Relationship

Tim Flannery

Josh Dorfman, Author; Radio / TV Personality, “The Lazy Environmentalist”; CMO, Seth Farber, Chief Marketing Officer, The GAP Bill Morrissey, VP Sustainability, The Clorox Company Judi Shils, Founder and Executive Director, Teens Turning Green KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz, Founder and CEO, Sustainable Life Media – Moderator

Professor of Science, Maquarie University; Chair, Copenhagen Climate Council; Author, Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet

The winning brands of the future increasingly will be sustainable. Building them takes a new kind of thinking, a new set of tools and commitments, and a new contract between brands and consumers. Get a preview of what 800 industry leaders in June will explore in driving the shift to better brands, how innovators are thinking about the opportunities this shift represents, and how brands are working to encourage consumers to play along. MLF: Business & Leadership Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Kevin O’Malley

Internationally acclaimed scientist, explorer and conservationist Flannery explores the transformation of Earth and unlocks the deepest mysteries of our planet. Beginning with the Big Bang, he traces back early signs of life, the development of the ocean, and the evolution of our own species. Location: Historic Hoover Theatre, 1635 Park Ave, San Jose Time: 6 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program, 7:30 p.m. book signing Cost: $15 standard, $10 members Also know: In assn. with Youth Science Institute

F r i 06 | San Francisco

M ay 0 7 – 0 8 | Tu o l u m n e

Sat 0 7 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

Conversations with Terrorists: Their Views on Politics, Violence and Empire

Tuolumne River Rafting Adventure

Balenciaga and Spain Museum Tour

Designated in 1984 in its entirety as “Wild & Scenic,” the Tuolumne is California’s premier whitewater river. Join Inforum for a weekend river adventure, lively debates about California’s water issues, and socializing by campfire. Experience heart-pounding Class IV rapids. Run Rock Garden and Nemesis before reaching Clavey Falls, the biggest rapid on our 18-mile trip. Study leader Sarah Null is an expert on water use and will lead discussions about California’s critical water issues. You’ll be treated to sumptuous wilderness picnics, relaxing by the river, and star gazing at night.

Our private docent-guided tour will look at the retrospective exhibition featuring creations of haute couture master Cristobal Balenciaga, inspired by Spain. His balloon dresses, lavish evening gowns, suits with cinched-in waists of brown and gray, tunics and peasant blouses combined elegance and comfort in perfectly harmonious proportions and impeccable craftsmanship.

Reese Erlich, Foreign Correspondent; Author, Conversations with Terrorists

A veteran journalist takes us inside the U.S.-led war on terror. Drawing on firsthand reporting in Northern Ireland, Columbia, Spain and the Middle East, Erlich challenges the definition of “terrorist” and argues that yesterday’s terrorist may be today’s national leader, and today’s freedom fighter might be tomorrow’s terrorist. MLF: International Relations Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program, 1 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: John O. Sutter



Location: Meet 8 miles east of Groveland, CA Cost: $479 members/$499 non-members. No online sales. Contact (415) 597-6720 or for full info.

A p ril/May 2011

MLF: The Arts/International Relations Location: De Young Museum, Golden Gate Park Time: 2:45 p.m. check-in, 3 p.m. tour Cost: $30 standard, $18 Club/Fine Arts Museum of SF members Program Organizer: Norma Walden Also know: Must purchase by May 3. NonClub members must provide FAMSF member number for discount. Limited to 25 attendees.

mon 0 9 | S i l i c o n V a l l e y

M on 0 9 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

T u e 10 | San Francisco

“I do. Who can’t?” Silicon Valley Leaders Speak up About Equal Marriage Rights

News Media vs. Social Media: Can Both Survive?

Saving Kids, One Play Ground at a Time

Speakers TBA

Diane Dwyer, NBC Bay Area News Anchor

Marriage intersects politics, religion, government and personal identity, and unequal treatment of same-sex couples impacts leaders personally and professionally. Silicon Valley advocates discuss how to protect same-sex couples’ civil rights. A documentary film clip with interviews from business, government and business leaders will also be shown. Location: Historic Hoover Theatre – 1635 Park Ave – San Jose Time: 5:45 p.m. check-in/refreshments, 6:30 p.m. film clip; 6:45 p.m. program Price: FREE Also know: In association with Senior Fellows from the American Leadership Forum-Silicon Valley

Darrell Hammond, CEO & Co-founder, KaBOOM!; Author, KaBOOM!

Monday Night Philosophy explores the disruptive force of the Internet throughout the established news media. The future of newspapers is in doubt, broadcast news is being splintered into niche markets, and no one knows who will pay for relatively objective but labor-intensive international reporting. Into the breach steps Facebook and other social media, with blogs and personal reporting. But where is the editorial control? Join Dwyer for a candid talk. 

A “play deficit” has crept into the lives of America’s children, and the impact is contributing to issues of childhood obesity, anxiety and fragmented communities. KABOOM! helps communities build playgrounds where there are none. Hammond tells the story of how he inspires celebrities, corporate leaders and citizens to join forces to save play for America’s children – and how you can take this innovative model, too.

MLF: Humanities Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE Program Organizer: George Hammond

MLF: Business & Leadership Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Kevin O’Malley

W ed 1 1 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

W ed 1 1 | E a s t B a y

T h u 12 | San Francisco

Golden Gate Park Under Siege

Richard North Patterson

The Cheeses of the Burgundy Region of France

Mike Lynes, Conservation Director and General Counsel for Environmental Matters, Golden Gate Audubon Society Kathy Howard, ASLA, Landscape Architect; Member Steering Committee, Golden Gate Park Preservation Alliance

Loved and enjoyed by millions of San Franciscans and Bay Area families, Golden Gate Park may see dramatic, potentially devastating, changes as plans for privatization and industrial development come together. Join supporters, neighbors and members of local organizations to protect the park’s heritage. MLF: Environment & Natural Resources Location: SF Club Office Time: 6 p.m. networking, 6:30 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Ann Clark

Former Ohio Assistant Attorney General; Former Trial Lawyer; Author, Eclipse and Exile

Patterson’s best-selling novels deal with issues such as religion, the gun lobby, capital punishment and the IsraeliPalestinian conflict. His newest work tackles international terrorism and the real possibility of a mass destruction that would dwarf 9/11. Devil’s Light is centered around the global lust for oil. Join us for a rare discussion. Location: Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette Time: 5:45 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program Cost: $22 standard, $12 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Also know: Bookseller: Lafayette Book Store

The Cheese School of San Francisco is the only independent institution of its kind devoted entirely to helping people maximize their enjoyment and appreciation of cheese. Inspired by the Club’s October 17-23 travel program to the Burgundy region of France, the school’s expert instructors will lead us through a tasting of cheeses and wines primarily from that region. MLF: Bay Gourmet Location: Cheese School of San Francisco, 2155 Powell St. Time: 6 p.m. check-in, 6:30-8:30 p.m. program Cost: $98 standard, $88 members Program Organizer: Cathy Curtis

A p r il/May 2011



May 12–16 T h u 12 | San Francisco

M ar 0 4 – M ay 1 3

Pole Position Bill Reinert, National Manager, Toyota • Britta Gross, Director, Global Energy Systems, General Motors • Additional panelists TBA

Ground Level: A Soldier’s 15-Month Journey in Afghanistan

Will plug-in hybrids or pure electric vehicles get more traction with car buyers looking for cool and clean wheels? What are the tradeoffs of the competing technologies? What are the manufacturing and infrastructure implications? What policies and price signals would help advance all these technologies? Join us for a conversation as EVs start to hit the streets.

Photographs by Jeremiah Ridgeway

Time: 10-11 a.m. Networking break: 11-11:30 a.m.

Charge It?

While serving in the Afghan war, 21-year-old Jeremiah (Jeb) Ridgeway documented the daily lives of his combat unit with a camera brought from home. MLF: The Arts

Pasquale Romano, CEO, Coulumb Technologies • Jonathan Reed, CEO, ECOtality

What is the business model for supplying electrons to electric vehicles? Where should chargers be placed? Who should decide - policymakers or companies? Are charging companies dependent on subsidies? What do automakers think should happen? Are utilities ready for the load? A conversation with entrepreneurs in the juice business.

Location: SF Club Office Time: Regular Club business hours Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Lynn Curtis

Time: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Location: SF Club Office Cost: $65 standard, $45 members. This price includes all morning sessions.

M ay 1 3 – J u l 1 5

F r i 13 | San Francisco

New Nation Under God Particle: An Exhibition by Marianne Ryan, with photos by Richard Breedon

Never Fly Solo: How to Build Trusting Partnerships and Reach New Heights in Business

Ryan’s suite of work, which explodes with light, color and energy, was inspired by particle physics and the ongoing experiments at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland, that seek to understand the fundamental structure of matter upon which life is based. Ryan returns to the earliest of times to explore mankind’s first thoughts and actions. Come view her exhibit at the Club office this summer. MLF: The Arts Location: SF Club Office Time: Regular Club business hours Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Lynn Curtis



Lt. Col. Rob “Waldo” Waldman, MBA, CSP; Author, Never Fly Solo: Lead with Courage, Build Trusting Partnerships, and Reach New Heights in Business

Flying solo? Perhaps not! You have support staff, colleagues and significant others. These are your wingmen – those you trust to help you reach new heights in business and life. In this high-energy presentation, Waldman, a decorated fighter pilot, leadership consultant and author of the New York Times best-seller Never Fly Solo, shares tools to overcome obstacles. MLF: Business & Leadership Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students Program Organizer: Kevin O’Malley

A p ril/May 2011

VOLUNTEER ORIENTATION Wednesday, April 6 Club Volunteer Orientation

The Club can’t function without the dedication of its volunteers. Help us keep public discussion alive. Event volunteers assist with greeting, ticketing, receptions, ushering, question cards and timing programs for radio broadcast. To reserve a space at the next volunteer orientation, please e-mail The privilege of volunteering is reserved for Club members. Please include your name, phone number and membership ID number in the e-mail. Location: SF Club Office Time: 6 p.m. orientation Cost: FREE  

M on 1 6 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

M on 1 6 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

Another Look at Particle Physics

Foundations for Peace in the Middle East

Marianne Ryan, Artist Richard Breedon, Physicist

Our understanding of the universe is about to change. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest particle accelerator, is being used by physicists at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland, to discover the Higgs boson, which some have referred to as the God particle, since it is required for particles to have mass. Breedon, a physicist on the CMS experiment at CERN, will speak about what discoveries might be expected from experiments at the LHC. Ryan, an artist, privileged to have twice toured one of the LHC experiments both before and after it was lowered underground, speaks of these life-changing visits, and her response as an artist. MLF: The Arts Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Lynn Curtis

Akiva Tor, Consul General for Israel for the Pacific Northwest

The last half year has seen tectonic political shifts inside major state actors in North Africa and the Middle East. Consul General Tor will discuss the conditions required for advancing peace in an uncertain environment. MLF: Middle East Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, students free (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Celia Menczel Also know: In association with the Jewish Community Relations Council

M on 1 6 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

Write Us

Wal-Mart: Force of Nature or Greenwashing?

Pleased at what you see in these pages? Outraged? Send a letter to the editor! We welcome your thoughts and suggestions.

Edward Humes, Author, Force of Nature

What’s driving Wal-Mart’s green push? After teaming up with Blu Skye Sustainability consultant and renowned river guide Jib Ellison, former Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott retooled the world’s largest retailer into the world’s largest proponent of sustainable business practices. For profits? For public relations? For Mother Earth? The company is pursuing cleaner trucks, healthier food, slimmer product packaging and a host of other initiatives. It wants to squeeze carbon and costs from every product on its shelves and is encouraging its 2.1 million employees to walk the walk with their own personal sustainability plans. This is having a profound impact on Wal-Mart’s 100,000 suppliers and has prodded other industries, from apparel to dairy, to approach sustainability as a potential boon to their bottom lines instead of a cost. Has the unlikely partnership between a river guide and a CEO sparked a business sustainability revolution? Join us for an insider’s account of the new corporate quest to put profit and planet on the same page.

Letters The Commonwealth Club 595 Market Street, 2nd Floor San Francisco, CA 94105

Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students (with valid ID)

A p r il/May 2011



May 17–24 T u e 17 | San Francisco

T u e 17 | San Francisco

The Carter Center: Partnering in the New Liberia

Googlization, and the Future of Books

After enduring 14 years of civil war and economic collapse, Liberia is on the upswing. Led by the continent’s first female president and supported by the international community, Liberia is held up as an example of development-work success. Learn how the Carter Center is waging peace and building hope through partnerships with local government officials, tribal leaders and civil society organizations. Hear from a group of Bay Area women philanthropists who recently traveled to this unique nation in Africa. Location: SF Club Office Time: 6 p.m. networking, 6:30 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $12 Club/Carter Center/ Peace Corps members, $7 students (with valid ID) Also know: In association with the Northern California Peace Corps Association

Siva Vaidhyanathan, Professor of Media Studies and Law, University of Virginia; Author, The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry) Brewster Kahle, Digital Librarian and Founder, Internet Archive and the Open Content Alliance

Learn about the legal, cultural and economic implications of Google moving into the center of the publishing ecosystem. Will Google’s presence cheapen the value of “book culture,” or will the power of the service to connect people to information generate a boost to the hopes of those who wish to preserve “long-form” writing and reading? The panel will answer these questions and raise new concerns about our heavy dependence on Google to navigate the world. MLF: Business & Leadership Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Kevin O’Malley

W ed 1 8 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

W ed 1 8 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

Bruce Lipton: Biology of Belief

Larry Flynt and David Eisenbach: One Nation Under Sex

Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., Author; Motivational Speaker

Lipton unveils a vision of life science that is shattering old myths. New discoveries in cell biology, epigenetics and physics suggest that we are not victims of our genes but instead have unlimited capacity to live a life overflowing with peace, happiness and love. Infusing his pioneering stem cell research with insights from frontier cell biology, quantum physics and fractal mathematics, Lipton argues that our thoughts, attitudes and beliefs create the conditions of our body and our place in the world. MLF: Health & Medicine Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members Program Organizers: Andrea Brier/Bill Grant



Larry Flynt, Publisher; Activist; Co-author, One Nation Under Sex David Eisenbach, Ph.D., Professor of American History, Columbia University; Co-author, One Nation Under Sex

Legendary Hustler publisher Flynt is seen as a pro-sexuality trailblazer to some folks, but for others he’s the source for sex scandal and smut. Yet for three decades, Flynt has been a symbol of sexual freedom, crusading for First Amendment rights and against political hypocrisy. His landmark Supreme Court case, Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, is taught in law schools. Now, Flynt and Columbia historian Eisenbach have teamed up to tackle America’s sexual mores past and present, as well as the evolving role of the press as truth-seeking opinion-shapers. Join us as the fearless Flynt takes a look at freedom of expression, sexual politics and privacy. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:45 p.m. networking reception, 6:30 p.m. program, 7:30 p.m. book signing Cost: $25 standard, $15 members, $7 students (with valid ID). Premium (seating in first few rows) $45 standard, $30 members

A p ril/May 2011

W ed 1 8 | S i l i c o n V a l l e y

T h u 19 | San Francisco

M on 2 3 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

Anna Lappe

Environment & Natural Resources Planning Meeting

Middle East Discussion Group

Founding Principal, Small Plant Institute; Author, Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It

With as much as one-third of total greenhouse emissions related to food production, the cost of our eating habits on the environment has never been more apparent. Lappe highlights the hidden cost of America’s culinary culture and outlines seven principles for a climatefriendly diet.

Do you have a passion for environmental issues? Would you like to volunteer with others on hosting events? If so, please join us for our next quarterly planning meeting. MLF: Environment & Natural Resources Location: SF Club Office Time: 6 p.m. program Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Marcia Sitcoske

Make your voice heard in an enriching, provocative and fun discussion with fellow Club members as you weigh in on events shaping the face of the Middle East. Each month, the Middle East Member-Led Forum hosts an informal roundtable discussion on a topic frequently suggested by recent headlines. After a brief introduction, the floor will be open for discussion. All interested members are encouraged to attend. There will also be a brief planning session. MLF: Middle East Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. program Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Celia Menczel

Location: Carriage House Theater, 15400 Montalvo Rd., Saratoga Time: 6:30 pm check-in, 7 p.m. program, 8 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $12 members Also know: In association with Montalvo Arts Center

M O N 23 | San Francisco

T u e 24 | San Francisco

Social Media for Social Good

James Stewart: Tangled Webs: How False Statements Are Undermining America

Beth Kanter, CEO, Zoetica; Author, Beth’s Blog; Co-author, The Networked Nonprofit May Boeve, Director for Partnerships and Policy and Co-founder, Ben Rattray, Founder and CEO, Darian Rodriguez Heyman, Editor, Nonprofit Management 101; Former Executive Director, Craigslist Foundation – Moderator

What are the tools, tricks and triumphs of social media as an essential component of any organization’s mission in the 21st century? A panel of social media experts will examine the consequences, opportunities and workable lessons this landscape presents for nonprofits and causes. MLF: Business & leadership Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Kevin O’Malley

Staff Writer, The New Yorker; Author, Den of Thieves

Business journalist Stewart says that a “perjury outbreak” is symptomatic of a broader breakdown of ethics in American life. It isn’t just the judicial system that relies on an honor code: Academia, business, medicine and government all do. He explores the age-old tensions between greed and justice, self-interest and public interest. Stewart seeks to reaffirm the importance of truth. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students Also know: Part of the Charles and Louise Travers Series on Ethics and Accountability

A p r il/May 2011



May 25 – June 09 W ed 2 5 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

W ed 2 5 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

T h u 26 | San Francisco

San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour

How the Languages We Speak Shape the Way We Think

Willie Brown Jr.: 2011 Annual Lecture on Political Trends

Back by demand! Explore the Financial District with historian Rick Evans and discover the stories behind some of the city’s remarkable structures, streets and squares. Hear about the famous architects that influenced the city’s rebuilding after the 1906 earthquake. Discover hard-to-find rooftop gardens, Art Deco lobbies, unique open spaces and historic landmarks. This is a tour for locals, with hidden gems you can only find on foot! For those interested in socializing afterward, we will conclude the tour at a local watering hole.

Lera Boroditsky, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Stanford University

Do people who speak different languages think differently? Does learning new languages change how you think? Are some thoughts unthinkable without language? Boroditsky reviews data from experiments around the world that reveal the powerful and often surprising ways that the languages we speak shape the ways we think.

Former Mayor, San Francisco; Chairman and CEO, Willie Brown Institute on Politics and Public Service

With a new governor and an unprecedented fiscal crisis in California, 2011 is shaping up to be a big year for politics. Two-term mayor of San Francisco, legendary speaker of the California State Assembly, and regarded by many as one of the most influential AfricanAmerican politicians of the late 20th century, Brown gives us the inside scoop on what’s ahead for California and beyond.

Location: Meet at SF Club Office
 Time: 1:45-4 p.m. tour, no-host socializing to follow
 Cost: $40 standard, $30 members 
 Also know: Limited to 20. Advance registration required. Tour covers less than one mile of walking. Call (415) 597-6720 with questions.

MLF: International Relations/Science & technology Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students Program Organizer: Karen Keefer Also know: In association with NorCal Peace Corps Association

T u e 31 | San Francisco

Tue 31 | East Bay

W ed 0 1 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

Dancing on the River: The Eight Principles of Navigating Change

Wealth Before Health: Is American Health Care Threatening the Stability of the Nation?

The Pope of Wine: Alexis Lichine

Mark Susnow, Author, Dancing on the River

Walter M. Bortz II, M.D.

Many professionals, parents, business owners and managers find themselves struggling through these uncertain times and trying to maintain and expand their sense of success while balancing work and life. Former trial attorney Susnow offers the overwhelmed a blueprint for creating the life they want to lead and a method for embracing life’s changes, rather than avoiding or just merely reacting to them. MLF: Humanities Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: George Hammond



One of America’s most distinguished scientific experts on aging and longevity, Bortz believes the defects of the healthcare system threaten national stability. He argues that the financial interests of biotech and drug companies have eroded the values of the medical profession and placed profit before human well-being. Bortz makes a powerful case for health care based on rigorous science and a fearless acknowledgement of human potential. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 student (with valid ID)

A p ril/May 2011

MEMBERS-ONLY +1 paying guest Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:15 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $25 standard, $15 members. Premium (seating in first few rows) $45 standard, $30 members

Leslie A. Hennessy Jr., Author, The Pope of Wine: The Biography of Alexis Lichine

Salesman, self-promoter, journalist, author, ladies man, connoisseur, war veteran, chateau-owner and – above all – French wine enthusiastic, Alexis Lichine led a fascinating life and is credited with creating the American market for French wine. In honor of the 60th anniversary of Lichine’s publication The Wines of France, Lichine biographer Hennessy will discuss the wine enthusiast’s intriguing existence and his impact on wine. MLF: Bay Gourmet Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students Program Organizer: Cathy Curtis

W ed 0 1 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

T h u 02 | San Francisco

Jorge G. Castañeda

The 80th Annual California Book Awards

Former Foreign Minister, Mexico; Prof. of Politics and Latin American and Caribbean Studies, NYU; Author, Manana Forever?

Since 1931, the California Book Awards have been honoring literary excellence among authors in the Golden State. At our special awards ceremony, we will bestow gold and silver medals in several categories, including fiction, nonfiction, first fiction, poetry, young adult, juvenile, Californiana and contribution to publishing. Winners will be announced in mid-April. Hear from some literary giants and amazing writers. See you at the ceremony!

A renowned scholar of Mexico and former foreign minister sheds light on the paradoxes of his native country, the fate of which is inextricably intertwined with our own. Though its people traditionally avoid conflict, Mexico is plagued by violence. It has a conflicted relationship with the United States and yet is home to more American expatriates than any other country in the world. Casaneda explores the way Mexicans helped forge their nation, and the ways in which they may dramatically hinder its progress.

Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:15 p.m. pre-program reception, 6 p.m. awards ceremony, 7:30 p.m. book signing and dessert reception Cost: $20 standard, $15 members Also know: Underwritten by The Bernard Osher Foundation. Special thanks to Dr. Martha Cox and Ambassador Bill Lane for their generous endowment, allowing the California Book Awards to take place. Sponsored by Bank of the West

Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students

J u ne 03 – 05 | Sonoma County

W ed 0 8 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

T H U 09 | San Francisco

The Valleys of Sonoma: Healdsburg, Dry Creek & Alexander Valleys

The World Is Dancing

Environmental Success Stories: Art, Architecture, Activism

An Exclusive Bay Gourmet Get Away

Julie Mushet, Ethnic Dance Festival Director Ethnic Dance Festival Artists TBA

Paul Kephart, President, Rana Creek Living Architecture Lisa Zimmerman, CEO, 7Story Consulting and Design

Join Cathy Curtis, Bay Gourmet Forum chair, as we learn about contemporary landscape design at Cornerstone Gardens; experience literary history at Jack London’s Beauty Ranch; meet George MacLeod, patron of MacLeod Family Vineyard; tour Dry Creek Peach Farm; and enjoy a private tasting given by J Vineyards’ wine maker. Spend two nights in Healdsburg. Have you always wanted to know the difference between the wines of these viticultural areas? Our guest speakers will tell you. You will have a great time and learn things about the area you never knew before! Details: Full info at www.commonwealthclub. org/travel. Contact (415) 597-6720 or travel@ to sign up.

San Francisco’s June 2011 Ethnic Dance Festival continues a tradition representing the incredible diversity of ethnic cultures in Northern California. Performers past and present and a documentary video will examine the special ingredients that have created the largest, most diverse gathering of ethnic dance in the United States. MLF: The Arts Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members Program Organizer: Anne W. Smith Also know: In association with World Arts West, Producer of Ethnic Dance Festival,

Imagine living architecture rooted in art, science and technology. Come explore urban spaces that inspire and engage, such as the beauty of the California Academy of Science roof ecology by Kephart. And newly created, Kephart’s Yerba Buena Living Wall and Zimmerman’s consultation showcase the Yerba Buena area as a nexus of public art and sophisticated urban design. MLF: Environment & Natural Resources Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students Program Organizer: Ann Clark

A p r il/May 2011



June 13–15 M on 1 3 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

M on 1 3 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

W E D 15 | San Francisco

The Exquisite Art of Arthur Szyk

Michel de Montaigne: The Philosopher of Improvisation

Brain Plasticity Across the Lifespan

Irwin Ungar, Founder/CEO, Historicana

Timothy Hampton, Professor of French; Bernie H. Williams Professor of Comparative Literature, UC Berkeley

Adam Gazzaley, Professor, UCSF

Arthur Szyk Society curator Ungar will give a PowerPoint presentation based on the recent exhibit, “Arthur Szyk: Miniature Paintings and Modern Illuminations” at the Legion of Honor. Szyk, a self-described soldier-in-art, created profound, intricate works of art. He advocated for many causes, including religious tolerance, racial equality and for the state of Israel. Books, including Szyk’s unique Passover Hagaddah, will be available after the presentation. MLF: The Arts/Middle East Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, students free (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Celia Menczel

The first great “modern” philosopher, Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) explored the changeable nature of human experience. Montaigne worked out a strikingly modern ethical response to the violence of his day. His essays embrace the limits of human knowledge and virtue. In this Monday Night Philosophy meeting, Hampton explains how the act of writing and the practice of philosophy became inseparable for Montaigne.

It is now known that our brain changes structurally and functionally in response to our interactions with our environment throughout our lives, not just during critical times like childhood. This modern perspective is called neuroplasticity and scientists are actively exploring the intricacies of this phenomenon. Gazzaley discusses new theories on the topic, such as cognitive reserve, use-it-or-lose-it, and neural efficiency. He will also tackle the hotly debated topic of the impact of brain training and cognitive exercises.

MLF: Humanities Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE Program Organizer: George Hammond

MLF: Health & Medicine Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members Program Organizer: Patty James


see Club web site for full details on these programs Monday May 09 | San Francisco

Tavis Smiley TV Host, PBS; Radio Host, PRI; Author, Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program

Wednesday June 01 | East Bay

It’s Complicated: Muslims and Jews in America Reza Aslan, Aaron Hahn Tapper, and additional panelists TBA Location: Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette Time: 6:15 p.m. check-in, 7 p.m. program

Thursday May 19 | Silicon Valley Friday June 03 | San Francisco

Eli Pariser Board President and Former Executive Director, MoveOn. org; Author, The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You Location: TBA Time: 6:30 check-in, 7 p.m. program, 8 p.m. book signing



A p ril/May 2011

Why Are Democrats Embattled – and How Can They Win Again? Joan Williams, Distinguished Professor of Law, Founder/ Director, Center for WorkLife Law, UC Hastings In conversation with Mary Cranston, Firm Senior Partner and Immediate Past Chair, Pillsbury Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program

Letters Judging Oklahoma

Today I was listening to your broadcast on my Tulsa NPR station about Muslim stereotypes. I was thoroughly enjoying the panel discussion and agreed with many of the points they made. It is sad that our media portrays Muslims in a stereotypical manner or as caricatures. However, I was shocked when one of the panelists was discussing that Muslims should not be going door-todoor to introduce themselves in this country, especially in Oklahoma. I was dismayed, because what these panelists were railing against they were doing themselves. I am sure they are making reference to the recent Oklahoma State Question 755 concerning Oklahoma courts not considering Sharia Law when making decisions. What many people fail to point out is that this question also barred the use of international law as well. I will be the first to agree that this law is remarkably small-minded with very little foresight into its consequences, and that my state appears to be becoming regressive in its social, political and economic positions, which I find deeply troubling. However, you cannot ascertain from a question that has multiple parts the intent of the voters. Were they being anti-Muslim, anti-international law or both? The media has seized on the anti-Sharia law, but it is possible that not all voting for the proposal were necessarily supporting that part of the law. Sometimes people make compromises on their choices to get what they desire. I consider myself a well-informed person and I never heard mention of this question prior to being in the voting booth. I never heard it discussed on television or the radio, in either the local or national broadcasts. I have and continue to work with many Muslim persons and have rarely heard of any violence directed toward them. We are not attacking their mosques or burning crosses in their yards;

we are not attacking them as they walk down the street. I think they are amazing people with a wonderful dedication to Allah, family and work. I get the sense that most people in Oklahoma don’t really care about a person’s religious life, just as long as they don’t intrude upon their own. It also bothers me that a state with 3.7 million people living and working here are all classified as anti-Muslim when only 695,000 people voted for it, a little under 19 percent of our population. However, your panelists arguing against stereotypes have Photo by Ed Ritger done the same to the people living in my state. This state is more anti-government than anti-Muslim, yet your panelists painted us all with the same brush. Truly disappointed. John R. Hendrix, M.D. Tulsa, OK






A Giant Step

I just wanted to take a couple of minutes to thank you for a very enjoyable talk yesterday [February 3, 2011] with Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy. It was a great experience to be so close to these gentlemen, when I only get to see them from the stands at AT&T Park or on TV. This was my first visit to The Commonwealth Club. I received my first membership for Christmas. I was amazed how convenient it was to take BART into the city and find myself standing in front of your building when I left the station! Now that I am experienced, I look forward to attending many of the talks and activities the Club has to offer! Thanks again. Mike Schlimmer Bay Area The Commonwealth magazine welcomes letters to the editor. Include your name and address. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

The Commonwealth Club is making it very easy to buy books written by many of our great speakers. Just go to our online bookstore at thecommonwealthclubbookstore Each book you purchase also helps support The Commonwealth Club, the nation’s oldest and largest – and best – public forum.

putting you face-to-face with today’s thought leaders

E-mail: ap r il/may 2011




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ap ril/may 2011

Can the recovery continue, or are we still in psychological recession? What’s the outlook for hiring in the private sector? And where is inflation? Campbell reports. Excerpt from “Bank of America/Walter E. Hoadley Annual Economic Forecast,” January 21, 2011. Tom Campbell Visiting Professor of Economics and Law, Chapman U.; Former Bank of America Dean, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley; Former Member of Congress

Campbell photo by Sonya Abrams, money pile by Nick Ares / Flickr


y first point: We are in the midst of a recession, not the midst of a recovery, even though the National Bureau of Economic Research has told us that the recession ended in June of 2009. I am so glad they told that to me. They made it clear: the recession is over. I don’t think so, I don’t feel so and, sadly, my friends – several of whom are not employed, very able [and] qualified people who are still looking for jobs – don’t think so. But according to the NBER, it is over. The reason why it doesn’t feel over is that the unemployment is such a dominant statistic, a controlling lens through which we look at economics. We won’t really have economic recovery until that number begins to improve. The economics of [an increase in employment] are solid, as well, because that leads to consumption and optimism about the economic recovery. Economics is in large part psychology. We will improve when we think we are improving. A lot of what I have to say today is dealing with that. The Federal Reserve minutes, the most recent minutes available, are a study in trying to find optimism; it’s almost couplets in a Shakespearian sonnet, except the prose is a tad inferior. The economic recovery is continuing, though at a rate that has been insufficient to bring down unemployment. Household spending is increasing at a moderate pace, but remains constrained by high unemployment. Modest income growth, lower housing wealth and tight credit. Business spending on equipment and software is rising, though less rapidly than earlier this year. The report continues: Employers remain reluctant to add to payrolls; the housing sector continues to be depressed. That aspect is fundamental: Employers are hesitant to add to payrolls. There was good news yesterday on manufacturing, that the United States added net manufacturing jobs for the first

time in 10 years; we added 136,000 jobs last year. But bear in mind, we’ve lost six million manufacturing jobs since 1997. So as you begin to see positive news, do not let that induce you to move away from the dismal science. An economist can always find the negative and the downer, and I will try my best to do so today. In this particular area, manufacturing is back, but look at the base from which we have been reduced. Now, the stock market is coming back, and inflation is low, but unemployment is 9.4 percent. In January of 2000, the beginning of this millennium, unemployment was 4 percent; at the start of the recession it was 5 percent, It has now been above 9 percent for 20 consecutive months, and this is particularly painful unemployment. It’s different from unemployment that we perceived in other downturns; 14.5 million people are unemployed in our country; 6.5 million more of these, I should say, have been unemployed for more than half a year. So it’s not just the normal turnover of going from one job to another. It’s a different kind of unemployment. And the reports, most recently in a very interesting article of The Wall Street Journal on January 11, point out the number of people that are going back [to work] are going back to jobs at a lower salary and in many ways less fulfilling than their previous employment.

Are we there yet?


nderlying this is the psychology, which I mentioned at the start. We were supposed to be out of this by now. We’re used to seeing government respond and then seeing results. My remarks are not partisan, and I hope they’re not taken as partisan. But I will simply observe that no amount of stimulus money was enough to undo the effect of the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression. The reason is straightforward: No employer will hire somebody based on a spurt

in demand caused by a government transfer payment. It is, by definition, temporary. So whether it’s “cash for clunkers” or the firsttime buyers credit or the purchase of GM stock, or in the lame-duck session Congress’s reduction of two points in the employee contribution to FICA [Federal Insurance Contributions Act] tax, none of those are proof of a psychologically valid nature to an employer to take the risk to hire somebody. Because it’s not real economic recovery; it is the result of a transfer payment. There are reasons for the transfer payments, particularly helping out the states with their greater welfare load and the cost of those who are on unemployment insurance. Those are good, compassionate and important factors, but they are not economically related to instilling confidence that we have a recovery. When we have the economic recovery, growth must come from the private sector, not the public. There are some, including some Nobel Prize-winning economists, who have commented that it’s time for the government to expand government-work programs. Well, there are 14.825 million people unemployed. If we were to find them all government jobs, government employment would have to grow by two-thirds. It is simply not going to happen by the government. Or put the same problem in monetary terms: If you were to pay $40,000 a job [to each] unemployed person, the cost to give everyone a job in the federal government would be $600 billion, or a whole new stimulus package each [year]. Now let me note that, of course, there’s benefits, too. Hopefully, if they’re employed, they would be creating things, perhaps building infrastructure. But my main point is, unemployment is phenomenally high, consistently high, and the psychology of unemployment being high is due to employers not convinced that we have a steady reason to hire. And these government programs are not steady; they are transient. What can the federal and the state gov-

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Photo by Sonya Abrams

Left to right: Dr. Jed Kolko, Brian Riley, Dr. Gloria Duffy, George Scalise and Tom Campbell at The Bank of America • Walter E. Hoadley Annual Economic Forecast in San Francisco.

ernment do to help with private economic hiring? From the Federal Reserve minutes, the same source as before, a number of the members of the Open Market Committee noted that their business contacts had become optimistic about the outlook for sales and production; nonetheless, many contacts remained cautious about hiring and investment, with some concerned about the potential effects of government policies. This is absolutely right. One is hesitant to hire when one does not know the environment of a regulatory nature that will be imposed by government upon those new hires. For the last two years, there was a prospect of card check as a way of increasing union membership. So you might hire a worker and end up with a unionized labor force that wasn’t unionized when you began. With the new health-care law, the cost of employers to comply has obviously led to a substantial number of employers announcing that they will drop health insurance, because it’s cheaper to pay the fine. Well, how much longer will that be? If the fine goes up, that obviously will cause employers to re-think dropping people and the cost of hiring somebody goes up as well. In the financial sector, [there was] the unparalleled degree of delegation to the Department of Treasury to write regulations in that area after the Congress passed a huge [financial industry] deregulation bill with very few details. The overall effect has been documented by the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration – part



of the federal government – that, whereas the effect of federal corporate income tax is 21 percent, there is in effect a federal regulatory tax of 14 percent. My point is, it’s high and it’s potentially rising, or at least it’s uncertain, which is why employers are hesitant to hire. You need certainty to know what your costs will be. Good news: On Tuesday, [January 18, 2011], President Obama announced that he is giving orders to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to try to reduce the regulatory burden. I’m glad he’s done that, and I certainly wish them success in doing so. Other friends suggest that the answer is to just lower taxes on corporations, investors and high-income individuals, and that will fuel the recovery. Well, first of all, it’s always a good idea to lower the cost of doing business, and the tax that the government derives is the cost of doing business. But I don’t see that as the fundamental engine of getting us out of the recession. Rather, I think that we are in a crisis of confidence, and we need to restore confidence. Here’s why I say that: We happen to have in our economy now a ton of investment money; it’s a very technical economic term: a whole lot. Cash on hand in U.S. companies is now $1.8 trillion, the highest as a percentage of total assets since 1963, according to The Wall Street Journal of September 13. After-tax corporate profits have increased 7 percent since the recession began. The personal savings rate has doubled, and recent

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merger activity shows there’s no shortage of cash. [For example, the purchase of data storage and information management company] 3Par by HP for $1.5 billion. Potash [Corporation] tried to acquire BHP Billiton, and they’re willing to put $39 billion in cash on the table. NewAlliance Bank shares by First Niagara Financial for $15 billion. McAfee by Intel for $7.7 billion. No, [the problem in the private sector] isn’t a lack of cash, nor is there a lack of corporate ability to borrow from the Fed. Net debt financing by U.S. non-financial corporations continues to be robust. Gross issuance of corporate bonds was very heavy, particularly for speculative-grade firms. To the extent that there’s a shortage of funds, there’s a shortage of funds going to small businesses, not large businesses that can offer bonds or equity.

Lighten the burden


here you see an issue that I’m going to return to in my remarks today, of the regulatory burden. The burden here being that the banks, particularly the small banks, are worried about how much they can put on their balance sheet. So a regulatory burden on the banks is causing them to become very, very hesitant to lend to small business. Now back to this point of, What can the government do? It can limit the degree of regulatory burden and increase the degree of regulatory certainty. There’s a quote from The Wall Street Journal of last August from the executive director of economic research at the Milken Institute, Ross DeVol: “Small businesses need access to more bank credit to create jobs. Banks feel conflicted by calls from the Obama administration to increase lending while regulators are instructing them to add to their reserves. Regulators need to be reminded that some risk is necessary in a market economy.” Yes, while regulators need to be reminded, that seems to me as important as incentivising funds by the tax laws. Other areas of potential growth: Can we expect Europe to help us out? Uh, no. I think you’re probably going to see a split in the euro zone. The patience of the German taxpayers for bailing out Spain and Greece and Ireland I think has reached a point that will tolerate little else, little more, if that comes to that. No, it has to be U.S. domestic demand,

and it has to be fueled by consumers, because they are getting jobs again. A permanent perceived demand as opposed to temporary. Regulatory burden is the first suggestion I have that the government can help. What about QE2? Will Ben Bernanke save us with the quantitative easing? Bear in mind what the numbers are. In QE1, the first quantitative easing, the Federal Reserve printed $1.7 trillion. If we have QE2, it’s going to be $600 billion more. Since the start of the recession, that would constitute a 25 percent increase in the money supply, measured by M2. The point is, it’s a whole lot. A whole lot of increase in the money supply. What will the Fed do? Well, they will buy securities off the balance sheets of the United States Treasury and possibly off the balance sheets of member banks as well. Their thought in doing so is that by being in the market, buying long-term U.S. debt, they will drive down long-term interest rates. If there is a huge demand for a product, the price rises. Interest rates are inverse to price for bonds. So if the federal government is hugely in the market buying long-term bonds, their price will go up, the interest rate will go down, and a long-term bond interest going down is good for recovery. That’s the theory of the Federal Reserve Board, and that’s the spin they put on it in their Open Market Committee report. There is, however, a dissenting voice on the Federal Reserve, Thomas Hoenig, the governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Mr. Hoenig – I’m quoting now from the Open Market report – “dissented from the proposal for QE2, because he judged that economic conditions were improving, that the current highly accommodative stance of monetary policy was inconsistent with the committee’s longrun mandate. Mr. Hoenig noted that the economic recovery was shifting, and, in his assessment, maintaining highly accommodative monetary policy in the current economic environment would increase the risk of longer term inflationary expectations.” Long-term interest rates have not dropped because of quantitative easing 1 [QE1]. They will not drop because of [QE2]. The reason is that, yes, the federal government is a large buyer, and a buyer will drive up prices and drop interest rates; but

there is another equally important – and, in our present circumstance, even more important – component of long-term interest rates. That’s inflationary expectations. The long-term interest rate cannot be below the expected rate of inflation. Obviously, who would lend and get back less money than they lent? So if the increase in money – the 25 percent increase in M2 since the beginning of the recession – has the predicted effect, it will be inflation in the middle to long term. If you could print money without having an economic effect of increasing inflation, boy, politicians would have done this a long time ago. Well, of course, the truth is that there will be inflationary expectations. The only question is when. The recovery will continue to be slow. What’s missing is not available money for investment. What’s missing is not an available workforce, though we’ve read a lot about the necessity for re-training; I think we can overstate that too. What’s lacking right now is demand for employees in areas that will come back when employers are confident that there is demand.

Restore Confidence


here’s one other area though, and this is where I wish to spend the rest of my remarks. That’s confidence that the federal government actually has a plan. Remember what I said about most of economics being psychology? I remember when Ronald Reagan and Paul Volcker said [that] we’re going to squeeze inflation out of the system. Stay the course. Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill from two different parties sat down and agreed on a set of recommendations to keep Social Security from turning insolvent, a recommendation list that was then given to the Congress on a single up-or-down vote. No amendments. You might recall that it included both cuts in Social Security benefits, by postponing when they would vest, and an increase in the contribution to the Social Security trust fund. We also remember President Bill Clinton, when in his first two years in office he proposed increased federal spending; he also proposed increases in taxes. It’s a bit iconoclastic, to say, putting the two out together – whatever your view on the appropriate level of taxes and federal spending is concerned – he was

signaling that he would not simply run up expenditure, that he knew you had to pay for it. That led to confidence, which I think was significant in turning the economy around in the end of his first term. What we now have are potential dealmakers and deal-breakers in confidence in the United States’ ability to solve this problem. The first will be the debt ceiling, and the second will be the end of the continuing budget resolution, or the appropriation process on the debt ceiling. The numbers are, well, they are scary. Let me refer to the total amount of U.S. debt, now in excess of $14 trillion. The current debt ceiling limit of $14.3 trillion, which was set last February (2010). We will hit the necessity for increasing the debt ceiling probably by April. I’d like to give this to you in real dollars, adjusted for population and adjusted for inflation. At the end of the administration of President Jimmy Carter [and the] beginning of President Reagan’s administration, the federal debt in 2010 dollars per capita was $9,600. Today it is $45,187 per capita. Federal expenditures at the end of President Jimmy Carter’s administration were $6,890 per capita; they are today $12,000 per capita. Over the last 30 years, Democratic and Republican president alike, Democratic and Republican Congress alike, the federal government has spent a total of $69 trillion, $12 trillion of which was borrowed. Over the last two years, the federal

“If the increase in money has the predicted

effect, it will be inflation in the middleto long-term.” government has spent $7.2 trillion, $2.75 trillion of which is borrowed. These are staggering numbers. For the increase of this amount, a proportion of the federal budget that depends on borrowing has gone from 17 percent at the beginning of the Reagan administration to 38 percent today. Even a more fundamental point: We

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totaled federal government expenditures, the absolute number of dollars, [is] $69 trillion, of which $12 trillion was borrowed. Why did we borrow? We had $57 trillion of revenue coming in. Why did we borrow? We more than doubled the increase in percapita [spending]. The answer is a political

“Going forward, here’s what these states need

to do: We need to stop promising what we cannot pay.” system that does not inspire confidence in anyone – employer, most important, from my discussion today. So what will happen when the debt ceiling is up for consideration at the end of April? It is strong medicine: Today, [saying] no to increasing the debt ceiling means that we would do a hard freeze in this year’s budget, and the $1.3 trillion that is projected to be this year’s deficit suddenly would have to be made up in cuts in spending or increase in taxes. There will be no increase in taxes, so there will be a $1.35 trillion cut on a budget of $3.7 trillion. That is pretty drastic medicine. That will happen if the debt ceiling is not increased. You hear people speak about the cataclysm, but I have to put it in perspective: The last 30 years of cataclysm just came in drips. And now we have borrowed so much, far more than was prudent, far more than was fair to our children, it’s perfectly understandable for somebody to say, “I will not vote to increase the debt ceiling.” Indeed, Senator Barack Obama said so on the floor of the Senate in 2006, when he voted against increasing the debt ceiling. But it is too-tough medicine all at once. There is reason to worry that the natural instinct of Washington is to ignore the long-term budget deficit. When the Erskine Bowles-Alan Simpson Commission came in with their budget recommendations, the prescription was that we need a restriction on entitlement spending, a restriction on the growth of defense spending, and a reform of the tax code. The Congress was in a lame-



duck section and said, “Thank you for your hard work; we will now propose increasing spending and continuing reducing taxes.” It was not such as to inspire confidence that the Congress had grasped the heart of the long-term deficit problem. Will the Tea Party influence on the new members of Congress change that result? I think it will. The issue will then be: How does the president respond? The president could, it seems to me, respond the way President Bill Clinton did: veto, and see who wins. That particular battle, President Clinton won, and Speaker Gingrich never again had the authority. Or [Obama] could respond the way that he did in the lameduck session, where he was able to reach an agreement with the Republicans, particularly in the Senate, giving them what they most wanted – continuation of the tax reductions – and getting what he most wanted, which was the extension of the unemployment benefits. Or it’s conceivable he runs for reelection as Harry Truman, running against the good-for-nothing, do-nothing Congress and simply [saying], “They’re bad, I’m not,” and letting the controversy go on for two years. The consequence of that route is going to be devastating. Remember: The confidence of the employer, or the psychological effect that the government actually knows what it’s doing and has a plan, is essential to the recovery.

Restrain Yourselves


o what should we do? Expenditure restraint. The Supreme Court will tell us which parts of President Obama’s healthcare plan are constitutional. But putting that to one side, there is an obvious need to restrain the rate of growth of medical spending. The war is winding down in Iraq, god willing. Predictably, it will be wound down in Afghanistan, as well. And I think the American people have no appetite for more foreign wars. Revenue: It’s been proposed that we have a value-added tax. Bad idea, particularly in a recession. Value-added tax is a tax on elastic demand, the consumption of goods and services as to which somebody can choose to postpone a purchase. What we need right now is to incentivize consumer purchases, not depress them. Tax on inelastic demand, like gasoline,

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is a better idea if you have to tax. It should then be offset with a consideration for those who rely on transportation to get to work, particularly with a substantial investment in public transportation. But really important: Whichever revenue source alternative is considered, don’t increase the tax on the act of hiring. Don’t increase the FICA. Don’t make it more costly, or regulatorily any more costly, to hire somebody. Whatever it is, it’s essential that any revenue component of the solution – much as Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill put together, and for the state of California, much as Ronald Reagan, George Deukmajian, Pete Wilson and Jerry Brown put together – be linked so no one believes that any increase in revenue is simply going to new spending. The spending cap has to be real and credible if there is to be any revenue component. The simplest and clearest way to give confidence that we are coming to grips with the fundamental need of our economic recovery, that we are not continuing to spend with no consideration of where the money comes from, is for the Congress to agree with the president for a method of addressing the deficit, much along the lines of President Reagan and Speaker O’Neill. President Obama requested this when he put together the Bowles-Simpson Commission. I now call upon the Republican leadership to agree to the following: Let us have a body of recommendations from an expert panel that will go to the House and Seante for an up-or-down vote, no amendments. Only in that way can you prevent the I’m-for-this-but-not-that and nothing gets done result, which has characterized every other effort to deal with this problem. By signalling that the Republicans would be willing to accept this, and by the president agreeing to a lower level of appropriations than he otherwise might, to avoid the shutdown of government, not for its economic as much as its psychological effect, both parties in our federal government would be demonstrating that we do have the ability to achieve a long-term solution.

Question and answer session with Evelyn Dilsaver, retired vice president of Charles Schwab DILSAVER: Is the continued unemployment due to the increased productivity

that we have here in the United States, and what does that mean for the new normal for unemployment? CAMPBELL: Unemployment will be solved when the economy comes back. The concept that we have now – a structural change that people are no longer trained for the kinds of jobs that will be available – is certainly true at the edges. It is a small factor. The fundamental overarching effect is low demand for product. Employers will not hire until demand for product grows. When it does, they will be hired. What better proof than construction? It’s not as though there have been huge technological advances in construction. As soon as home construction and business construction comes back, that very sick sector will recuperate. DILSAVER: What do you think President Obama will say regarding this topic in his State of the Union Address? CAMPBELL: What I fear is that the president will say that what we need is stimulus two. I fear that, because it will convey that he’s not responding to the economic reality that I described, which is lack of confidence and the regulatory burden. On Monday, he spoke in favor of regulatory reform; I am hopeful that his speech will include that, at least as much. I have nostalgia for President Bill Clinton’s first State of the Union speech after the Republicans took over the House and Senate, when he said the era of big government is over. I think when those words pass President Obama’s lips, we know that we have seen a change that might be perceived as a psychological one. I think President Obama is less malleable in that regard than

President Clinton was, and I’m not going to say that’s to his fault; I will simply observe that that’s the case. But if he says “Simulus Two,” “More government jobs,” everyone in the room, everyone in the country knows that that means deficit rises and we’re simply going to postpone our deficit concerns. And we also know it didn’t work. No fault for trying; I’m not putting the man down for trying; there are people out of work, let’s try to help them. But help them with a job that’s permanent. DILSAVER: Will the federal government bail out the states? CAMPBELL: First of all, the United States Constitution prohibits a state from impairing the obligation of contract. If a state has promised to pay you $1 plus seven cents in a year’s time, it would impair the obligation of contract to fail to do so. Not so for a municipality; not so for a special district. The City of Vallejo; the County of Orange. There have been similar scares. But not the sovereign debt of the state. In addition, federal bankruptcy law prohibits states to take advantage of it. There’s nowhere for a state to declare bankruptcy. It’s essential that I make that clear, and it’s essential that every responsible person make that clear. It would be devastating to our recovery, to the financial sector, for the theory to get currency that the states might default. They cannot. Going forward, here’s what these states need to do, our state among them: We need to stop promising what we cannot pay. If the promise is in a pension, it’s politically possible to promise it this year and not have the debt come due until next year, or 10 years from now. That is what many elected

officials have done. That’s what we need to stop doing. DILSAVER: We got a lot of questions about the unfunded promises. We can stop the unfunded promised going forward, but what would you do about the unfunded promises of today? CAMPBELL: The Constitution cannot be ignored. Going forward, the state of California needs to go to defined contributions the way the private sector has. It is a dinosaur to have a defined benefit plan. As a vested member of the UC Berkeley retirement fund, I’m now speaking against [self-] interest, but I know I’m protected against the U.S. Constitution. I get a percentage of my highest salary, and that percentage has increased every extra year I’m at UC and every extra year I live, topping off at 40 years of service, which I think will bring me to about the age 100 and give me 100 percent of my salary. In other words, the state bears the risk of making proper investments to pay that off. By contrast, with a 401(k), all of us bear the risk, and that’s a defined contribution. Now, it’s a different matter for municipal. If you have your pension from the City and County of San Francisco, you might indeed be subject to an adjustment, and it could apply to those who are presently vested. DILSAVER: What will it take for you to run for Senate in 2012? CAMPBELL: I will not be running in 2012. And I will in all likelihood not be running ever again. Ω This program was made possible by the generous support of Bank of America.

For more than a century, Commonwealth Club members have shared their love for the Club by giving memberships to loved ones. Keep the tradition going. Give the gift of ideas. ap r il/may 2011



InSight Preventing Disaster Dr. Gloria C. Duffy Photo courtesy of Gloria Duffy

President and C.E.O.


n March 15th, The that cities, regions and countries can take to minimize the effects C o m m o n w e a l t h of earthquakes and tsunamis. They have identified the areas of the Club held its 108th world most at risk, including Indonesia, Turkey, India, the Pacific annual dinner, a fundraiser Coast of North and South America, and, sadly, Japan. They hold honoring the Bay Area’s most workshops in these regions to educate leaders – media, local governdistinguished citizens. This ment officials, teachers, businesses – about the risk and potential year, in addition to recogniz- damage from seismic events. They work with local communities ing business and philanthropic leaders, the Club hosted a wider to produce an action plan for their area and to establish regional group of 50 of the Bay Area’s most interesting people, seating one disaster management agencies. They have linked earthquake manof them at each of the tables at our dinner. We titled the event “A agement experts in various countries together through an online Room with Views,” a play on the title of the E. M. Forster novel, network. They work with schools and hospitals to design their new referencing the Club’s role in ensuring that many views are expressed buildings to withstand quakes, and to upgrade current structures. and debated on important issues. Instead of a program on stage, Perhaps most significantly, Dr. Tucker and his colleagues ofdinner patrons discussed with each of their table guests their area of fer simple solutions that could save many lives in case of disaster. expertise, ranging from former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown For example, in Sumatra, where earthquake and tsunami risks are to San Jose Ballet Director Dennis Nahat. particularly high and more than a million In light of the recent tragic earthquake in Most of the loss of life and residents are at risk, they are promotJapan, I want to highlight one of the Club’s “vertical evacuation structures,” destruction that typically ing interesting dinner guests. Dr. Brian Tucker reinforced concrete structures or earth results from these natural mounds elevated above the level tsunamis was principal state geologist for the California Geological Survey when a light bulb went on disasters could be avoided. would reach, close to coastal population for him. As he monitored earthquakes around centers, where people could flee to safety the world, it struck him that with relatively minor advance planning before a tsunami hit. Some people were able to survive the 2004 and expenditure of funds, most of the loss of life and destruction Indian Ocean tsunami by fleeing to such structures. that typically results from these natural disasters could be avoided. In so many areas of life, anticipating problems and taking steps So in 1991, Dr. Tucker founded an independent nonprofit to address them before they become crises is much more effective organization, GeoHazards International (GHI), to educate about, than trying to deal with the damage after disaster strikes. Tucker promote and implement preventive measures to avoid damage from and his colleagues observe that damage from quakes and tsunamis earthquakes and tsunamis around the world. With their mission “to is very predictable, with the areas and nature of the damage well reduce loss of life and suffering around the world in communities known. They say that millions of people and billions of dollars most vulnerable to geologic hazards,” he and his colleagues work in in assets could be saved simply through the proper planning and countries from Ecuador to India, where earthquake risks are high preparation in the regions most at risk. and preparation to deal with them is poor. While perhaps a simple problem scientifically, improving seismic I met Dr. Tucker a few years ago, when the Civilian R&D Foun- preparedness is a complex social problem. Multiple institutions and dation, whose board I chaired, gave him the George Brown Award, groups need to cooperate in a particular region to put safety measures named for the late California congressman who chaired the House into effect. So GHI doesn’t stop at bringing their scientific expertise Science and Technology Committee. Dr. Tucker was recognized for to bear on this problem. They actively coordinate the institutions his role in creating a much greater level of international scientific and people who need to collaborate to make preventive action work. collaboration in his field. Later I visited GHI, which operates out The terrible quake and tsunami in Japan underline the imporof a small office in the Town & Country Shopping Center in Palo tance of GHI’s work. When you have a chance, visit their web site, Alto, across El Camino Real from Stanford University. Or even better, stop by the shopping center in Palo Alto Operating on the basis of the old but wise saying that an ounce to learn about what these dedicated scientists are doing to prevent of prevention is worth a pint of cure, GHI has developed steps tragedies like that in Japan. Ω



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Savor the World with Bay Gourmet

Food allows us to explore the culture, people, and land that produce it. Join MLF Chair Cathy Curtis and the Bay Gourmet community for these culinary adventures!


June 3-5: The Valleys of Sonoma:

Dry Creek, Alexander, and Russian River Valleys • Sonoma Valley: Cornerstone Gardens; Jack London’s Beauty Ranch; Meet George MacLeod, patron of MacLeod Family Vineyard

• Alexander and Russian River Valleys: Picnic lunch at Sausal & private tasting by George Bursick, the winemaker at J Vineyards

• Dry Creek Valley: Private tours and tastings at Michel-Schlumberger and Truett Hurst; California history; meet the far mers at Dry Creek Peach Farm

• Two nights in Healdsburg; meals with wine by El Dorado Kitchen, Barndiva and Dry Creek Kitchen; all-inclusive with round-trip transportation from San Francisco for 3 action-packed days

Photos (L to R) © John Snelgrove /, Jim Bahn / Flickr, Amanda Leung


October 17-23: Burgundy’s Food & Wine: A Bay Gourmet Adventure in France

• Beautiful French countryside: Magnificent châteaux, glorious cathedrals, and strong free-spirited towns. Hôtel Le Cep in Beaune is our home base.

de Bresse. Learn the secrets of Dijon mustard, taste chocolate at a Master Chocolatier’s atelier, and savor local cheeses such as Epoisse.

• Wines: Puligny-Montrachet, Meursault, Pommard, and Vosne-Romanée.

• Art, Culture and People: Fine Arts Museum of Dijon, the Tombs of the Dukes of Burgundy, and Beaune’s extraordinary market day. Meet wine makers, chefs, cheese makers and other local experts.

• Food: Gourmet dishes of Coq au Vin, Boeuf Bourguignon, and Poulet Photos (L to R) © MaxWestby / Flickr, Megan Mallen / Flickr, max xx / Flickr

SPEAKER EVENTS April 26: Patricia Wells:

A Culinary Legend

CLASSES & DAY TRIPS June 1: Alexis Lichine: The Pope of Wine

May 12: The Cheeses of the Burgundy Region of France (@ SF Cheese School)

For complete itineraries and trip details for weekend and inter national trips visit call (415) 597-6720 e-mail For tickets to speaker events and day trips visit or call (415) 597-6705

Purchase event tickets at

The Commonwealth Club of California 595 Market Street, 2nd Floor San Francisco, CA 94105


or call (415) 597-6705

Informed Travel for the Discerning Mind

or (800) 847-7730

Commonwealth Club Travel

To request full travel itineraries, pricing, and terms and conditions, call (415) 597-6720 or e-mail

Commonwealth Club Travel Informed Travel for the Discerning Mind

Galápagos Expedition

Commonwealth Club Travel

Aboard the National Geographic Islander The moment you set foot on your first island in Galápagos you’ll see that curiosity and fearlessness are a way of life. Whether you’re strolling the islands’ pristine beaches, searching for the spectacular waved albatross, or snorkeling with Galápagos penguins, a feeling of freedom surrounds you.

September 17-26, 2011

Join the Commonwealth Club for an exploration of the enchanted islands of Galápagos, a region teeming with unusual and remarkable wildlife.

CST# 2096889-40 Photos by Stewart Cohen & Cindy Manning

• Swim and snorkel with playful sea lions, walk among giant tortoises, and watch as bluefooted boobies perform courtship dances. • From aboard our comfortable expedition ship, we navigate the volcanic archipelago, and our nimble Zodiacs and a fleet of kayaks take us farther for up-close encounters with wildlife. • A team of expert naturalists (including an undersea specialist) and expedition leader share their specialized knowledge to deepen our experience. • An optional post-trip extension to Peru and Machu Picchu is available. Cost: From $5,230, per person, double occupancy

For Information & Reservations: visit call (415) 597-6720 e-mail

The Commonwealth April/May 2011  

Conservative columnist and commentator David Brooks discusses President Obama, the national mood, and psychology in this month's cover story...

The Commonwealth April/May 2011  

Conservative columnist and commentator David Brooks discusses President Obama, the national mood, and psychology in this month's cover story...