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Commonwealth The








JUDGE GINGER LERNER-WREN $5.00; free for members |



OCTOBER 9-20, 2018

• Explore Addis Ababa, where we will admire the world’s largest stained glass window and see a replica of “Lucy.” • Take in the beauty of Lake Tana, including the colorful frescoes of the Ura Kidane Mehret Church and the Tis Isat (Blue Nile) Falls. • Visit Gondar, once the home of Ethiopian emperors, with stunning 17th-century castles. • Experience the dramatic scenery and endemic wildlife of the Simien Mountains. • Discover Axum, with an early morning religious ceremony at the Church of St. Mary of Zion, said to be the last resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. • Explore the remarkable 800–year–old rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, set among craggy mountains that remain active Christian shrines. • Visit community projects and meet artists and professionals. • Optional 7-day/6-night extension to Southern Ethiopia. Cost: $5,845 per person, double occupancy, not including airfare to Ethiopia.

Detailed brochure available at | 415.597.6720 | CST# 2096889-40





A Wonderful Surprise

The People vs. Democracy: Is the democratic spirit endangered in the United States?

Editor’s Desk


The Commons

Going gold, chairing the jury, saving newspapers, and more.

Yascha Mounk

First Word: Dolores Huerta The civil-rights worker shares her insight into organizing


Betty Reid Soskin

A Life in Service: The nation’s oldest serving park ranger talks history and race

On the Cover: Betty Reid Soskin Photo by Ed Ritger


Program Information


Two-month Calendar


Adam Schiff

American Insecurity




Program Listings


Beach Blanket Babylon

Under the Big Hat: Anniversary for a long-running hit show


Last Word: Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren Mental health courts


Late Breaking Events


Insight By Gloria Duffy

On this Page: Betty Reid Soskin and Lauren Schiller. Photo by Ed Ritger

[I] was a file clerk. Actually, being a file clerk in 1942 was a step up. My folks were really proud of me; I wasn’t making beds in a hotel, I wasn’t taking care of white people’s children or cleaning white people’s houses, wasn’t emptying bedpans in some hospital or rest home. I was a clerk, which in 1942 would have been the equivalent of today’s young women of color being the first in her family to enter college, because that’s who we were. BETTY REID SOSKIN

June/July 2018 - Volume 112, No. 4







The Commonwealth, 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105


John Zipperer


James Meinerth


Megan Turner


Photo by Ed Ritger

Ed Ritger Sarah Gonzalez James Meinerth

A Wonderful Surprise


will admit it: I was not sure how much of a draw a program featuring a park ranger would be. Don’t get me wrong; I love national parks and have nothing but respect for the people who manage them. But when I heard we were booking a program featuring park ranger Betty Reid Soskin, I thought that that sounded like a nice, small program. Boy was I wrong. First of all, it sold out— quickly. Then our photographer sent us the photos he took that night, and Soskin’s charm showed through immediately. When I saw the photos of the audience members—mixed in age and race and gender—with their faces lit up with fascination, respect and occasional laughter, I realized I had missed an important program. So I listened to the podcast of the program, and I immediately knew I wanted to include it in this issue of The Commonwealth. As you will see beginning on page 10, she is a font of knowledge about important moments in this country’s history, some of it little known, and she has stories that still put a smile on my face when I remember them (such as her condemnation of a school principal’s decision to put on a minstrel show). We needed to change our original plans

John Zipperer, Vice President of Media & Editorial, (415) 597-6715 The Commonwealth (ISSN 0010-3349) is published bimonthly (6 times a year) by The Commonwealth Club of California, 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105. 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, 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105 Tel: (415) 597-6700 E-mail: EDITORIAL TRANSCRIPT POLICY

The Commonwealth magazine covers 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 online at commonwealthclub. org/watch-listen, podcasts on Google Play and Apple iTunes, or contact Club offices to buy a compact disc. Printed on recycled paper using soy-based ink. Copyright © 2018 The Commonwealth Club of California.




for this issue’s cover when U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis had to change his schedule and postpone his speech to the Club. (Don’t worry, we’ll reschedule that as soon as we can.) But I knew what I wanted to feature on the cover in his place—a certain park ranger who continues her life of service at the age of 96. Though she is now a ranger and historian with the U.S. National Park Service, she has also been a legislative field representative, activist and songwriter during the Civil Rights Movement, and even spent time running a record store. Her current work is arguably her most important, because it ressurects and shares the work of so many others who have worked to make this a better, more just and free country for all. She played a key role in shaping the Park Service’s Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California, and I suspect many visitors there will be seeking her out to listen to and thank her. I will admit it: I was wrong about this program. Consider this one of those times that I am very happy to have been proven wrong. JOHN Z I P P E R E R VP, ME DIA & ED I T O RI AL



he next time you visit The Commonwealth Club’s headquarters in San Francisco, take note of the digital screen displaying information about the ways the new building saves energy. From recycled materials to insulation made from Levi’s jeans to passive cooling with fresh breezes from the bay, 110 The Embarcadero was designed to be as green as possible. All of the planning and execution that went into reaching that goal was recognized this spring when the building was awarded LEED Gold certification. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification is awarded by the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council. Remember that the next time you are in the building—or on it, enjoying the rooftop view of the beautiful blue bay.

Above: Author Mary Ellen Hannibal recently ended her 10-year role chairing the California Book Awards jury. Below: Artist Linda Fong, whose work is currently on display in the Club’s Farmer Gallery. Hannibal photo: Ed Ritger; Fong photo: courtesy Linda Fong

Changing of the Guard at the Book Awards Jury

After a decade at the helm, Mary Ellen Hannibal is turning over the chair’s duties of the Club’s annual California Book Awards. Peter Fisch, a longtime jury member, is our new jury chair. Hannibal is a writer focused on science and the environment. Her books include The Spine of the Continent and Citizen Scientist— the latter was the inspiration behind a summer series of Club programming a few years ago organized by our all-volunteer Member-Led Forums and focused on the citizen science movement. Hannibal remains a member of the jury. New jury chair Peter Fish is a freelance writer and editor who for many years was deputy editor of Sunset magazine. His anthology California’s Best: Two Centuries of Great Writing from the Golden State, was published in 2009. His essay “Star Struck” is included in the anthology West of 98: Living and Writing the New American West. We also want to take this opportunity to thank three members who are retiring from the jury this year. Karla Kozak has worked for more than 30 years at the San Francisco Public Library, focusing on children’s and

youth books. Kathryn Ma is the author of The Year She Left Us and All That Work and Still No Boys. Michelle Richmond has written two short story collections and five novels, including her newest novel, the best-selling The Marriage Pact.

This Month in the Farmer Gallery

“ O rd i n a r y o b j e c t s a n d r a n d o m observations capture my attention and trigger jumbled reveries about life and its confusing characteristics,” says Bay Area artist Linda Fong. “My paintings are populated with imaginary forms obliquely connected

to real-life counterparts.” Armed with a design degree from Carnegie Mellon University, Fong embarked on a career as a designer and illustrator working across the country—from New York to Philadelphia to Hawaii and, since 2002, the Bay Area. She works out of her studio in the Hunters Point Shipyard in San Francisco. Some of Fong’s most eye-catching paintings are available for viewing in the Club’s Farmer Gallery at 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco. The exhibit began May 1 and runs until the end of June. Learn more about Fong’s work at The Farmer Gallery is open 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Monday– Thursday and 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Friday. JUNE/JULY 2018


LEADERSHIP OF THE COMMONWEALTH CLUB CLUB OFFICERS Board Chair Richard A. Rubin Vice Chair Evelyn S. Dilsaver Secretary Dr. Jaleh Daie Treasurer John R. Farmer President & CEO Dr. Gloria C. Duffy

BOARD OF GOVERNORS John F. Allen Carlo Almendral Courtland Alves Dan Ashley Massey J. Bambara Dr. Mary G. F. Bitterman** Harry E. Blount John L. Boland Michael R. Bracco

Maryles Casto** Mary B. Cranston** Susie Cranston Dr. Kerry P. Curtis Dorian Daley Alecia DeCoudreaux Lee Dutra Joseph I. Epstein* Jeffrey A. Farber Rev. Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J. Dr. Carol A. Fleming Kirsten Garen Leslie Saul Garvin John Geschke Paul M. Ginsburg Hon. James C. Hormel Mary Huss Julie Kane John Leckrone Dr. Mary Marcy Frank C. Meerkamp Lenny Mendonca

Anna W.M. Mok Bruce Raabe Skip Rhodes (Past Board President) Bill Ring Martha Ryan George M. Scalise Lata Krishnan Shah Dr. Ruth A. Shapiro Charlotte Mailliard Shultz George D. Smith, Jr. James Strother Hon. Tad Taube Ellen O’Kane Tauscher Charles Travers Don Wen Dr. Colleen B. Wilcox Jed York Mark Zitter

ADVISORY BOARD Karin Helene Bauer

Hon. William Bradley Dennise M. Carter Steven Falk Amy Gershoni Jacquelyn Hadley Heather Kitchen Amy McCombs Don J. McGrath Hon. William J. Perry Hon. Barbara Pivnicka Hon. Richard Pivnicka Ray Taliaferro Nancy Thompson

PAST BOARD CHAIRS AND PRESIDENTS Dr. Mary G. F. Bitterman ** Hon. Shirley Temple Black*† J. Dennis Bonney* John Busterud* Maryles Casto** Hon. Ming Chin* Mary B. Cranston**

Joseph I. Epstein * Dr. Joseph R. Fink * William German * Rose Guilbault** Claude B. Hutchison Jr. * Dr. Julius Krevans* Anna W.M. Mok** Richard Otter* Joseph Perrelli* Toni Rembe* Victor J. Revenko* Skip Rhodes* Renée Rubin * Robert Saldich** Connie Shapiro * Nelson Weller * Judith Wilbur * Dennis Wu* * Past President ** Past Chair † Deceased


The New Paper Chase

Many viewers of the recent Steven Spielberg movie The Post were left with

a feeling of sadness and loss for a oncethriving newspaper culture. That film told the story of The Washington Post’s role in publishing the Pentagon Papers. The past

Master of Liberal Arts

Pursue a Life of Ideas with a Part-Time, Evening Graduate Degree

Anthropology Art History Environmental Science History

Information Session August 16, 7pm



Literature Philosophy Political Science

couple decades have been tough for print newspapers, with many of them shutting down or shrinking. But a couple Club leaders are doing something about it. When Club Advisory Board member Steve Falk and other investors purchased The Santa Rosa Press Democrat in 2012, there was talk of bringing new life to the publication. Mission accomplished: This year, the 150-year-old Press Democrat won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news for its online and print coverage of the devastating Wine Country fires. Falk, a former member of the Club’s Board of Governors, has also served as the chief executive of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle. But he’s not the only one reviving a newspaper. Board of Governors member Lenny Mendonca and the Coastside News Group—investors who are local civic leaders—recently completed the purchase of Half Moon Bay Review. The paper, founded in 1898, is also an award-winner, having garnered first place in the general excellence category in 2016 from the California Newspaper Publishers Association. Besides being a governor of the Club, Mendonca is a senior partner emeritus of McKinsey & Company and a lecturer at the Stanford Business School.

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2018 Thank you to the 30th Annual Distinguished Citizen Award Sponsors and Supporters Grand Sponsors

Dr. Mary G.F. Bitterman Capital Group Jaleh Daie Ph.D. Dorian Daley & Michael Krautkramer Deloitte & Touche LLP Dominican University Dinner Sponsors Dr. Gloria Duffy & Hon. Rod Diridon, Sr. San Francisco 49ers Ernst & Young LLP Bank of Hawaii Kaiser Permanente Chevron Knight-Hennessy Scholars Stanford Steve & Roberta Denning University Dignity Health KPMG LLP William H. Draper III KQED John & Marcia Goldman Oracle Phil Knight Mauree Jane & Mark Perry Koret Foundation Hon. James C. Hormel & Michael P. Nguyen Nancy Pfund & Phillip Polakoff Pacific Gas & Electric Company Leadership Sponsors PwC Bailard ailard Recology Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Relevant Wealth Advisors Blue Shield of California Bill & Connie Ring DBL Partners Martha & Greg Ryan Evelyn & John Dilsaver Hon. Tad Taube & Dianne Taube John & Tawnie Farmer Hon. Ellen O’Kane Tauscher Lata Krishnan & Ajay Shah University of San Francisco Skip & Frankie Rhodes Diane B. Wilsey Mark & Jessica Zitter Richard Rubin & Marcia Smolens Chuck & Nan Geschke Pitch & Cathie Johnson Eric & Wendy Schmidt

Benefactor Sponsors Anonymous Applied Materials AT&T Bank of the West

Additional Donors Rob Adams Courtland Alves Fred Berens John Boland

Tom & Larel Bondi Kathleen Brown-Dorato Maryles Casto Tom Christian Nicole Chiu-Wan Dr. Ann Clark Mary Cranston Kerry & Lynne Curtis Fran Dependahl Joe & Hon. Judi Epstein Dr. Carol Fleming Cynthia Foster Leslie Saul Garvin William B. Grant Austin Heap Mark S. Hennigh Leslie & George Hume Howard & Shela Klaiman Dr. Willard Lewallen Matt Lynde Fred Martin Amy McCombs Frank Meerkamp & Jacqueline Anderson Lenny Mendonca Anjali Menon John & Helen Meyer Tom M. Nguyen Leon & Sylvia Panetta Savannah Peterson Hon. Richard & Hon. Barbara Pivnicka Lisa Pritzker Mike and Paula Rantz Viveka Reidel

Vic Revenko Dr. Pamela & Richard Rigg J. Dennis Bonney & Nancy Russell Virginia Smith Dr. Marc Spencer Kimberly Stoddard Jim Strother & Denise Mollen Roselyne Swig Santa Clara Law School Nancy Thompson & Andy Kerr Kimberly Twombly-Wu Villanova University Colleen Wilcox Dr. Carol Wong Yale University

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Thank you to everyone who joined us for our Member Party on May 30 at our new home. Special thanks to all of our partners who helped make the event a huge success.

Save the date for our next Member Party, Fall Into Winter: Insider’s Japan on Friday, September 28 from 5:30–7:30 p.m. You will get the inside scoop on all the upcoming travel programs under a backdrop of Japanese cuisine and fun entertainment.

Look out in December for our Week to Week Holiday Member Party. Call 415-597-6705 for more information.

For more information, visit




here are so many layers of oppression for poor people and people of color, when we think about it. And that’s what Reverend Jim Lawson says. Reverend Lawson worked with Dr. Martin Luther King in the South, and he says “We have to dismantle the systems of oppression.” And that’s what we have to do. So layer by layer we have to dismantle them. And of course the way we do that is who we elect to office, right? Because they are the ones who make the decisions, and they’re the ones who make the policies and the laws, and they’re the ones who decide how our tax dollars are going to be spent. I think that’s so important that we just hammer that home, especially to young people. It’s wonderful to march, it’s wonderful to protest, it’s great to be on Facebook and Instagram and all that. But if you don’t go to the ballot box, nothing changes. Nothing, nothing changes. . . . One of the times when I was arrested, I was met by a group of students when I got out of jail. This was down by Visalia, California. One of them handed me a note; it was from my 13-year-old daughter, Angela. The note said “Mom, I’m sorry I can’t be there to greet you, but I’m out knocking on doors to get out the vote.” So I’m just going to say to the [teenagers of today], you can come out there, you can also knock on doors, you have a lot of


Photos by James Meinerth

energy, you can also do phone banking, you can help pass out the flyers, you can talk to the people in your school to make sure that they register to vote. And that they vote, not only register. I think a lot of times we register people to vote, but then we don’t check back to make sure that they voted or that they’re ready to vote. And now in this next election, they have made it so easy. We can register on our cell phone. We can register on our computers. Not only that, but we can pick up the ballots; people get their absentee ballot and they forget to mail it in. Well, now we can go there and remind them, say “Can I take your ballot and drop it into the mailbox for you?” So it’s going to be really, really easy. Especially [for] our young people; because 75 percent of young people don’t vote. They’ve got to realize that this is their future; this is their country, are we going to be able to save our planet? It’s for them that this fight is all about. Tell them to come on out, volunteer for a campaign. There’s going to be a lot of good things on the ballot. —Dolores Huerta “Dolores Huerta on The Michelle Meow Show” February 7, 2018 JUNE/JULY 2018


Betty Reid Soskin A LIFE IN SERVICE


Park Ranger, Rosie the Riveter/ World War II Home Front National Historical Park, National Park Service In conversation with LAUREN SCHILLER Host, “Inflection Point”

S osk in is t he ul t ima te storyteller, and she shares tales from her life in politics, her work as a historian and her current role as the oldest serving career park ranger with the National Park Ser vice. From the March 8, 2018 Inforum program in San Francisco, “Betty Reid Soskin: A Legacy of Service.” LAUREN SCHILLER: I’m so honored to be here with all of you and with Betty to celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, which is today, March 8. A few words about Betty before we jump into our conversation. Betty’s the oldest serving career park ranger in the country. The park that she works at . . . is the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California, where Betty gives talks three days a week. Being a park ranger is maybe her fifth,



sixth, seventh career. She’s done quite a bit, including being a clerk in the segregated Boilermakers Union during World War II. She’s been an activist, a singer/songwriter and a field representative for California state assemblywomen Dion Aroner and Loni Hancock. Betty’s got an honorary degree from Mills College and the California College of the Arts and even introduced President Barack Obama at the national tree-lighting ceremony a couple of years ago, which puts all of us one degree of separation from Barack Obama. And that’s just a small slice of her life, of your life. At 96 years of age, it’s an understatement to say that you have seen and done a lot. BETTY REID SOSKIN: I’m sure I had. SCHILLER: I went to see you at the Rosie museum this week, and one of the things that you said when you gave your talk is we have to go back and see the past for what it was so we can see how far we’ve come. SOSKIN: Absolutely. We have to recognize, in truth, where we have been because other than that, we have no way to know how we got to where we are because we have been many nations over the years. And some of them I’ve lived through; some of them were not very comfortable. SCHILLER: Your great-grandmother was a slave? SOSKIN: Yes. My great-grandmother, Leontyne Breaux Allen, born into slavery in 1846 in St. James Parish, Louisiana. She was enslaved until her 19th birthday, at which

time she married George Allen, who was a corporal in the Louisiana state colored troops fighting on the side of the North in the Civil War. She lived to be 102, not dying until 1948 when I was 27 years old and a mother, married, and I knew my slave ancestor as a matriarch of my family. SCHILLER: Did she ever tell you what life was really like? SOSKIN: She didn’t so much tell me because she only spoke a patois French, which was a language that was reserved for the adults in my family. They used it to gossip in. SCHILLER: They never taught you anything? SOSKIN: No. They would drift in and out of French and English when I was a child. The stories that I have of my great-grandmother mostly come to me through my mother’s younger sister, who knew and loved my great-grandmother very much. The stories that I have come through my grandfather, her eldest son, and my mother’s younger sister. SCHILLER: I read in one of your blog posts that you were doing an interview with someone who didn’t want you to say anything too difficult or challenging about slavery; they wanted you to just keep it nice and tidy. And your response was, “What, is that possible?” SOSKIN: My response was, “How do you clean that up?” SCHILLER: Noncontroversial, that was what they asked you for. SOSKIN: Yeah. It was a family show coming

out of the Universal Studios in Southern California, where I was invited to participate. It seemed to me that there was a dislocation of history that I was being asked to participate in. I couldn’t do that. It’s true that they wanted to mention my great-grandmother, but they didn’t want to mention slavery. SCHILLER: That makes no sense. SOSKIN: How do you do that? SCHILLER: Yeah. Is there anything that has just stuck with you about what was passed on about your great-grandmother with time? SOSKIN: Oh, she was amazing. She was the midwife, the intern to the doctor who came through about every three months on horseback in the St. James Parish. My great-grandmother was the one who delivered the village babies and took care of people. Her job was to go out on horseback and drop a white towel over the gate post every place he was to be needed when he came through. After he would come through, he would confer with her on the aftercare of the patients. She was sort of the caretaker for her village. It sort of set the patterns for me when I was very young; I thought that was an incredible thing for her to be. SCHILLER: What do you mean it set the patterns for you? SOSKIN: Because when I was in Washington, the first award that I received was from the National Women’s History Project. I knew that I was going to get this award at a hotel ceremony that evening. I went down to Anacostia, to the museum there in Washington, D.C., and there was an exhibit of midwives of the Civil War period—won-

derful pictures. I found myself bursting into tears at the site, because she only had that role in my fantasies. I had never seen her in that role. But that evening during the ceremonies, I found myself able to receive an award that I felt unworthy of because you never feel worthy of those kinds of awards. But I felt I could accept it for her, because I realized that I had been wooed many times to run for public office, but this had never been a role that I wanted; that I had been dropping imaginary white towels over imaginary gate posts my whole life. It was in that spirit that I was able to accept that first honor and have been accepting them ever since in her name. SCHILLER: You mentioned your grandfather; I understand he was an inventor. SOSKIN: He was Louis Charbonnet, an eminent builder, millwright, engineer. His degree was out of Tuskegee University on correspondence courses. I have his books in my apartment, books that took him through Tuskegee. He left edifices all through New Orleans. There’s a high school, Corpus Christi Church, which he built; the convent for the first order of black nuns in this country, the Holy Family sisters—he built their convent. But because he was a Creole, African-American, he couldn’t get patents on anything that he built; he had to work under the licenses of a white contractor, always. All of his buildings are under the names of others. That has been something that has been a cross that I’ve had to bear for my whole lifetime. But I don’t believe that he ever resented it; it was the world as he lived in it; it was the

nation that he was born into. He accepted it. I’m not so easily accepting; that part of the tradition I didn’t carry with me. SCHILLER: Was he able to see at any point in his life his name on one of his buildings? SOSKIN: No. But I have maybe two dozen old photographs, vintage photographs of his projects that have come down to me. I’ll be going back to Washington, D.C. in April, and I’m going to donate them to the African-American museum. SCHILLER: That’s wonderful. He will finally get the recognition that he deserves. You were born in 1921? As a little girl, what did you dream you wanted to be when you grew up? SOSKIN: I think I’ve lived my entire life in a constant state of surprise. I’m not a planner, I’m a list maker. SCHILLER: A dreamer? SOSKIN: A dreamer maybe, but I don’t remember. I guess before I was 20, my life was framed by the country that I was living in. At that time, I could not aspire to even [go to] college. As a graduate from high school, [there] were two opportunities for employment open to me: I could have worked in agriculture, or I could have been a domestic servant. My elder sister, Marjorie, spent the first five years of her marriage as half of a domestic team. Her young husband was a chauffeur, and Marjorie was a housekeeper for a family in Piedmont. They could save every penny they earned for the down payment on their first home. This was the traditional pathway into the middle class for African-Americans. This is the country that



Photos by Ed Ritger

I grew up in. I escaped that because of the third choice. I married Mel Reid, whose family came out across the country from Griffin, Georgia at the first sound of cannon fire, the Civil War. And in 1942, when I married, Mel was in his senior year at the University of San Francisco playing left halfback for the San Francisco Dons. Mel, his father and his grandmother were all born in Berkeley General Hospital on Dwight Way. My life took a turn at that point. But up till then, I had no ambitions that I can think of, because I was limited by what was possible. Now, that meant that for about 20 years, I lived out in the Diablo Valley, in an architectural design home with my four kids that I raised to adulthood, outlived two husbands. [I] spent a lot of time with friends, some who were quite powerful in my church, in my neighborhood. Fifteen years ago, after 20 years in the suburbs, I returned to Berkeley as a field representative [for] the California State Assembly. That arc of my life from 20 to 15 years ago is not a sign of personal achievement but a solid indication of how much social change occurred in this country over those intervening years, something we all did, all of us—black and brown and yellow and red, straight and gay and trans. Some of us did it kicking and screaming, and some of us are still kicking and screaming. But enough of us, because of what happened here in the city of Richmond, in the Bay Area, generally between those years of 1942 and 1945 during the Second World War, home front period—because of that, enough of us completed that full trajectory so that to this

day social change continues to radiate out of the Bay Area into the rest of the country. And that was enough to build a park around, [so] that’s what we did. SCHILLER: Did you build your home in the Diablo Valley after the war or before the war? SOSKIN: No—1953, well after the war, and [we] went through about five years of death threats because those people had built the suburbs with their GI Bill to get away from people like me. The year that we moved into our house, I had a third grader who was the only young African-American child in his school. That year, the PTA fundraiser was a minstrel show. All of his teachers and the administrators were in blackface because that’s who we were in 1953; that’s who we were. SCHILLER: Did you discover that upon arriving at what you thought was going to be a fun school evening, or how did you discover that? SOSKIN: No. I learned about the minstrel show from a neighbor who came to me the day before the show was to be staged, and she told me about it. I knew that that was wrong, but it was something I’d never been into before. I had no idea of why it was wrong. But I got into my car, and I went down to

the school. I was led into the principal’s office, sat there, and he was not in. But he came in five minutes later, his costume was hanging on the doorway, big lousy polka dots, red and white black pants. He walked in and saw my face and turned around to go out. And then he turned back, and I said, “You’re having a minstrel show.” And the poor man, miserable, embarrassed, said, “Yes.” And I said, “You know that’s wrong.” And he said, “I didn’t know that until I saw you there.” He said, “Don’t misunderstand; we’re really showing how happy-go-lucky the colored people are.” I said, “Do I look happy?” He said, “No.” I said, “You know that minstrel shows were created to ridicule black people.” And he said, “No.” I said, “I know that your show is tomorrow evening, and I can’t possibly ask you to cancel it because it’s too late now, but I want you when you have your dress rehearsal tonight to explain my visit to you to your staff.” And I said, “Tomorrow evening, I will be here sitting in the front row,” and I did go with my neighbor Bessie Gilbert, and we sat in the front row and cried all the way through it. But we made them do their minstrel show in our presence. But the next week, there was an Aunt Jemima pancake feed in the middle of Civic Center Park, so we didn’t do that much. But as I say, that’s who we were in 1953. SCHILLER: How did you get up the courage to go and have that conversation? SOSKIN: I had no idea what I was going to say when I walked in that place. I had no idea except that I had three children at home who were being wronged. That’s all I knew; that’s all I knew. I think that I’ve always been led by intuition. I figured I’ll know when I get there, and I did. I don’t know that we did any good, but I do know now that we all had to bear the pain of our growth, all

of us, but we did that here in the Bay Area. SCHILLER: Even in building your home as the second black family in the neighborhood and the experience that you went through with that—you then saw that happen to yet another family? SOSKIN: Yes. There was a young couple that was moving into Gregory Gardens, which was a low-income community that was being constructed at the time. I read about them because there was an improvement association meeting to find an answer to the intrusion of these people into their community. SCHILLER: Improvement? SOSKIN: Yes. Improvement association. I read it in the local paper and decided that where I had felt impotent against what was happening to our little family, that as a defender, I could have strength. So I wrote a letter to the editor in the newspaper complaining about this and someone, an attorney who lived in the area, a liberal attorney named David Burton—he’s now deceased—read my letter, found how to get a hold of me, called. He wanted to offer help because I had said that I was going to attend that meeting. He said, “You can’t do that, Betty, because they’ll hurt you.” And I said, “No, they won’t do that because people don’t say those mean things in my presence; they only say them behind my back so that if I go there, I will be able to tell them what I want to say and then I will go.” But I knew by that time that our community had gotten past this pretty much and that I could tell them that it could be better; they could all get through this. I drove out to the school, packed my car, and walked into the auditorium and sat about in the middle on the aisle seat. And I was not protected by my color because I’m so racially ambiguous that nobody picked it up. I just blended into the crowd. They went on with their meeting saying all those awful things that I had never heard them say.

And at one point, a woman stood up and said, “If we can’t get them out”—the undesirables—“if we can’t get them out any other way, we can use the health department on the basis of the filthy diseases they bring in.” At which point I couldn’t any longer stand it because I didn’t want to be eavesdropping. I got up and I walked to the front of the auditorium and I talked for about 10 minutes and then ran out because I panicked. I got into my car, and David Burton was there. It had been daylight when I parked my car, and it was dark when I came out of the meeting. I heard footsteps behind me, I thought I was being chased. But apparently there was a reporter who came and tapped me on the shoulder just before I was struggling with my key in the lock. He identified himself as being a reporter, said, “I need to know your name and give me your telephone number. I will call you because I need to get back in to see what happens now.” Then David Burton introduced himself. He was one of those that was running out of the building, and he comforted me. That was the beginning of my being able to take on [this issue]. That improvement association never met again. I

wasn’t sure that was ever successful. Over time, I think that I was, because that same community that was so disturbed by our being there sent me 20 years later to represent them as a McGovern delegate to Miami Beach. That’s how fast social change was occurring. SCHILLER: We should talk about Rosie the Riveter. She’s become something of a feminist icon, but there’s something missing from that narrative for you. She’s not your icon. SOSKIN: No, she’s not. Where do we begin? Fifteen years ago, when we came back into the city from the valley as a field representative, the park was created in my assembly district; it simply rose up. The Rosie Memorial, which had caught national attention, was less than a mile from my office in Richmond. I was in a satellite office, one-person office. And even though it was only a mile away, I had never seen fit to visit it because that was a white woman story. The women in my family had been working outside their homes since slavery because back in 1942, it took $47.25 a week to support a family of five if you were white. But our fathers and our uncles were all members of the service workers’ generation, earning $25–35 a week. Pullman porters earned $18 week plus tips. It had always taken two wages to support black families. It wasn’t that I was boycotting the Rosie story; it simply had nothing to say to me. But when the Department of Interior planners were gathered in my Assembly district and held their first meetings to begin to design this park, that was when I discovered

the national parks, because it was coming into my area and being defined by scattered sites that lay throughout the city, which I instantly recognized as sites of racial segregation. It was also true that nobody in that room knew that but me, because what gets remembered is determined by who’s in the room doing the remembering. There wasn’t any grand conspiracy to leave my history out; there simply wasn’t anybody in that room that had any reason to know that but me. I became involved in the planning of the stories because the Maritime Child Development Center did not service black families at all. Atchison Village was built by the Maritime Commission; it was part of the parks, but it was built to house temporarily Kaiser management. But there wouldn’t have been any black managers at the time. Nystrom Village, which was to be restored to show how workers lived, was built by HUD [Housing and Urban Development], but you couldn’t live in Nystrom Village unless you were white. But there wasn’t anybody else in that room that knew that but me. And while the story of Rosie the Riveter is extremely important as a feminist story and as a feminist icon, there were many, many stories on the home front. There was a story of the internment of 120,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans, 70,000 of whom were American citizens. There was a great story of the explosion at Port Chicago, in which there were 320 lives lost, 202 of them being black dock workers. The mutiny trials, because 50



of those men refused to go back and load those ships, because nobody could explain what had happened. SCHILLER: This was the ammunition that they were loading— SOSKIN: At Port Chicago. SCHILLER: —that had exploded, and they didn’t want to go back because— SOSKIN: If you didn’t live in the Bay Area, you had no idea that Port Chicago even happened. There were so many stories at the home front; there were 37,600 lives lost in industrial accidents in the home front alone, lives that were never memorialized. That story is so complex and has so many moving parts that being reminded of that became something that I was obsessed with, because the story was so important and had been so lost to history. That’s when I [began] a four-year contract as a consultant to the National Park Service, because you guys had forgotten all that good stuff. [Laughter.] SCHILLER: Rosie the Riveter is getting her day in the sun. Would you have been a Rosie if you could have been? SOSKIN: No. That was simply beyond my imagination. Since I worked in a Jim Crow segregated union hall that was nowhere near the shoreline, I never saw a ship under construction, nor did I ever see a ship being launched. All that history completely escaped me; I wasn’t even always sure who the enemy was during that period. I would not have ever aspired to Rosie, because that was simply beyond my imagination. I learned more about

that history since I’ve been a ranger than I ever knew before. SCHILLER: Even the job you did hold was not a typical job for a woman. SOSKIN: It was a file clerk. Actually being a file clerk in 1942 was a step up. My folks were really proud of me; I wasn’t making beds in a hotel, I wasn’t taking care of white people’s children or cleaning white people’s houses, wasn’t emptying bedpans in some hospital or rest home. I was a clerk, which in 1942 would have been the equivalent of today’s young women of color being the first in her family to enter college, because that’s who we were. Those would be the equivalents. SCHILLER: You said something just a few minutes ago about what gets remembered as a function of who’s in the room doing the remembering. How do you get in the room? SOSKIN: How can I answer that? No, it’s related to another question that I can’t answer. There’s been a drive in the National Park Service for a number of years now to encourage more people of color into the park system. I keep running into that constantly. There are professional programs; there are kids gathered up in inner cities and delivered to national parks so that we can have representations in the parks. And there’s been an honest-to-goodness effort to get people into the parks. And I find myself feeling like the national parks are really created and used by the middle class. You have to have the leisure time and the financial resources in order to take advantage of the parks.

And if the national park as a federal agency concentrates on bringing more people of color into the middle class with a jobs program, we’ll find our way into the park. And I think that that’s the answer that I would give. SCHILLER: I’ve heard that if any group is comprised of at least 30 percent of—pick anything, 30 percent women, 30 percent people of color, 30 percent you name it—that that’s the tipping point, that’s the point at which more people who fit into that category will join in. SOSKIN: I don’t know. I’m sure that there’s a critical mass to be operating and that that might be true. I am surprised sometimes and not at other times that my audiences at the national parks don’t have nearly as many people of color as I would expect to have. But then when I realized that those were years of rejection, that there’s very little to be nostalgic about if you’re not white of the periods of 1942 to 1945. My young husband, who was, as I said, left halfback for the San Francisco Dons, went down immediately when the war was declared to enlist, fight for his country and found himself in the [kitchen] core because the only thing a young black man could do was cook in the Navy. He lasted only three days and refused because he’d grown up as a Californian, not as an African-American. He had never faced that level of discrimination; he lasted three days. The commanding officer who was on the committee that examined him decided that he was clearly honest and his intent was

not to get out of serving, but [he] wanted to define how he was going to serve. [The officer] decided to give him mustering-out pay, an honorable discharge. Told him just to forget that ever happened, but they could not put a man who was a natural leader of men onto a ship where men might be easily led, because it might smell mutiny. They sent him home, and he went to his grave believing that he’d failed this country when his country had failed him. That was kind of who we were; thank God we’re not there anymore. SCHILLER: Do you feel like we’ve made enough progress? SOSKIN: I think that it’s a fallacy to believe that democracy will ever be fixed. It’s a process, and it has to be regenerated by every single generation. It has to be recreated. We’re always reforming that more perfect union and promoting the general welfare. I don’t know that we’ll ever get there. We have a Constitution-protected right to be wrong, or Constitution-protected right to be bigoted, if that’s who we want to be; that’s part of freedom. But we’ve also created this incredible system of national parks; it’s now possible for us to visit almost any era in our history, the heroic places, the contemplative places, the scenic wonders, the shameful places and the painful places in order to own that history, own it that we may process it in order to begin to forgive ourselves, in order to move toward a more compassionate future. Because I don’t believe that we have yet processed

the Civil War as a nation. And though they weren’t designed for that purpose, that’s how I see the national parks at this point in my life. That’s the national park that I’m involved in. SCHILLER: It’s so easy to think of history as just this dry, boring thing we have to learn in school, but it’s so not. SOSKIN: No. It’s an amazing trip. SCHILLER: You said democracy is constantly reinventing itself, and I feel like we’re in another one of those moments of reinvention. Women’s voices are being elevated more than ever, the #MeToo movement, the Black Lives Matter. What would you like to say to the leaders of those movements that will help them keep making progress? SOSKIN: I think that at 96 I have lost my sense of future; there are no models for me anymore. I’ve outlived my peer group. In compensation I now am more aware of the past. I am aware that these periods of chaos are cyclical and that they’ve been happening since 1776. In those periods, I sense that we’re on an upward spiral. We kept touching the same places at higher and higher levels. I’m not enslaved like my great-grandmother was. And each time we hit one of these places—and we’re in one of them now—that’s when democracy is being redefined, and that’s when we have access to the reset buttons. When that happens on this upward spiral, we’re setting the stage for the next generation. That gives me great hope. In that process, the national park is one of our greatest tools.




The People Vs. Democracy

Yascha Mounk (left) and Francis Fukuyama. Photos by Sarah Gonzalez

YASCHA MOUNK Lecturer on Government, Harvard University; Senior Fellow in the Political Reform Program, New America; Author, The People vs. Democracy In conversation with FRANCIS FUKUYAMA Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies; Professor by Courtesy, Department of Political Science, Stanford University; Author, Political Order and Political Decay

Why is support for democracy declining among younger voters? From the March 13, 2018 program in San Francisco, “The People Vs. Democracy.” 16


FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: Yascha Mounk first came to my attention for an article he published in the Journal of Democracy a couple of years ago, based on data that was showing that support for democracy among young people in the United States was actually on the decline, with a corresponding trend toward favoring authoritarian government. He’s since then done a lot of very acute observations about the nature of democracy. We have something in common: We both started out as political theorists. We started with Plato and Aristotle and Rousseau and Machiavelli. I think that that perspective gives his analysis of the current democratic situation a great deal more depth. We will begin by the question that comes obviously to mind when just looking at the title of your book, The People vs. Democracy. Democracy is supposed to be about the people, so how can you have a conflict between the people and democracy—and what do you mean by democracy? For that matter, what do you mean by the people? YASCHA MOUNK: Some of the best book titles don’t make sense when you look too closely. Perhaps this is the case of mine.

There is something I think that explains that paradox. Part of it is the research that you reference, but actually what you’re seeing is people starting to fall out of love with a democratic system. In the United States, over two-thirds of older Americans, born in the 1930s, 1940s, say it is essential to them to live in a democracy. Among younger Americans born since 1980, less than one-third do. Twenty years ago, 1 in 16 Americans said that they thought army rule was a good system of government. According to more recent polls, it is 1 in 6. You see similar data in other countries as well. In data from last summer, we saw that the number of Germans or French people or Brits who think that a strong ruler who doesn’t have to bother with parliament and elections is a good thing has roughly doubled over the course of the last 20 years. It’s now 50 percent in France and the United Kingdom. So there is one sense of people versus democracy, which is that people actually are getting more and more critical of democracy. But after years of disappointments with this government and that government, we know that they all hate Congress and think that

lice and used car salesmen are better than Congress, and all those kinds of things. That’s actually started to translate into a distrust of institutions themselves. There’s also a deeper sense here that we’ve always assumed that the two basic elements of our political system, liberal democracy, go together quite naturally. When I say liberal here, it has nothing to do with Barack Obama versus George W. Bush. It means a commitment to individual rights, to the rule of law, to the separation of powers. The things that allow us as individuals to lead our lives in a self-determined manner. And obviously the other element, democracy, then means some form of self-rule. That we actually, collectively, decided on our own fate, that our political system manages to translate popular views into public policies to some extent. These two things are starting to slide apart in important ways. For a long time, we’ve started to have a system of rights without that much democracy. By which I mean that our system hasn’t been very good at translating popular views into public policies. Because of an immense role that money plays in politics; because of the revolving door between lobbyists and legislators; because of political leaders becoming in many [ways] a class upon itself; and because more and more important decisions have been taken out of public contestation, because of a rise of independent bureaucratic agencies, supreme courts, central banks, trade treaties, international organizations and so on and so forth. That is one part of this equation. The other part is that part that I would call democracy without rights or illiberal democracy. So what is illiberal democracy? It is populists who say, “I can fix all of your problems. All you need to do is to trust me to take care of everything. I alone can fix it.” But that requires you, first of all, to treat roughly the people who are not really like you and me, who are not really part of the people—the immigrants, the religious minorities, the sexual minorities, and so on and so forth. Second, it requires you to recognize that I alone truly represent the people, so if a court’s trying to stop me from doing what I want, if Congress tries to stop me, if the media criticize me, then that’s illegitimate. They are traitors. They are enemies of the people. They are un-American. What you get then is a system that is democratically legitimate at first, because the majority of the people voted for it. But

because by and by the strongman takes more power, it becomes very difficult to dislodge them, democratically. So the second meaning of The People Vs. Democracy is that the people vote for a bunch of rulers, like say, Recep Erdoğan in Turkey, or Viktor Orbán in Hungary, who take on so much power that though they were elected democratically, it becomes impossible to get them out of power by democratic means. FUKUYAMA: Maybe you could talk about the fate of illiberal democracy around the world, because this isn’t just an American phenomenon. A lot of your allusions seem to be fairly close to home, but this is a global phenomenon, right? MOUNK: You know, Donald Trump, to call him by his name, is taking up so much of all of our collective mind-space that it gets very difficult to put him in perspective of the other things that are going on in the world. My fear is that we might manage to beat Donald Trump, but it’s going to be much harder to beat the wider populist movement discontent, which he represents. Because this thing has been rising for 20, 30 years. When you look at the average vote share of populist parties in Europe, it was 8 percent in year 2000, and it is about 25 percent now. This started to rise two and a half decades ago, and it’s kept on rising. It is not just in the United States; it is in all of these other countries as well. So absolutely we need to look beyond Donald Trump, and what you see there is the slow coming of age of a real ideological competitor to liberal democracy, which is sometimes called illiberal democracy, sometimes called hierarchical democracy. It’s proving to be surprisingly popular, in part because illiberal democratic rulers dominate state TV in countries where that’s quite important. [They] force the sale of private TV stations into the hands of their allies and so on. So it’s not on an even playing field that they do so well. But when you look at the polls we do have in Poland and Hungary, the incumbent governments are incredibly effective, and that’s because they’ve developed a playbook. That playbook resembles that of Donald Trump in certain ways, which is to say outrageous things that prove that you’re not part of a political elite, to really stoke social tensions as much as possible. But it’s also much more strategic than our president has acted in freaky ways.

One of them is that they, in all of the rhetoric, try to portray their country as embattled from within by enemies of the people, and from outside by dangerous rivals and adversaries who are out to undermine. For example, the Hungarian nation, by [the European Union] sending refugees in who are going to take away the Christian character of Hungary, by having the European Union trying to undermine Hungarian sovereignty, and by having evil Jewish billionaires like George Soros secretly plotting to undermine the Hungarian nation. All of these are claims that Orbán has actually made. Once they have set up this sense of real threat, they take a second step: make some big concessions to their supporters. Give them stuff that actually improves the livelihood in a concrete way. We see that with the Polish populist government that sends 500 zloty— that’s a lot of money in Poland—to families of two children every month. The third step is that they attack the independence of their political institutions in a really systematic way. They say the judiciary has been inefficient and unfair for many decades, so we have to reform it. Of course the point is to staff it with your own supporters. The electoral system hasn’t been working very well, so I’m going to gerrymander the system in my favor. The electoral commission needs to be reformed; we need to retire all the people who are on it at the moment, and lo-and-behold all of my political allies are on it. As in the Hungarian case, they end up fining all of the opposition parties so much money that they can’t campaign anymore, while miraculously declining to investigate the ruling party Fidesz. Now what’s striking to me about Donald Trump is two things. First of all, even though he actually he has been quite bad at following this playbook, he has already done some real institutional damage. He already has consolidated control over the Republican Party; and formerly independent institutions such as the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee are clearly now stooges of the president in a way that’s quite serious. And we’re seeing his ongoing attacks on the independence of the Department of Justice and the FBI, which are very worrying. But secondly, that Trump really has been quite bad at following this playbook. When he talks rhetorically about the threat, it is always a threat to him, not the threat to JUNE/JULY 2018


America. It’s not out of sense of strategic weakening of them, it is tactically whatever he needs to do right now to keep himself out of trouble—and that he has been spectacularly bad at actually delivering presents to his key supporters in the population, rather than to rich individuals and corporations. That’s reassuring, because I think that makes it less likely that Trump will be able to broaden his base in the way that Orbán and [Polish Law and Justice Party leader Jarosław] Kaczyński have done. But it’s also concerning, because it means that our institutions might prove a lot more brittle than they have been for the last year and a half if an actually talented populist became president of this country. FUKUYAMA: You said that this has actually been building over the last 20 years, but it seems like in the last couple of years, with the Brexit vote and obviously the Trump vote, and then votes in Germany and Italy most recently, things are really speeding up. Why now? MOUNK: We’ve noticed it now because populists have come within striking distance of winning. In most places, they’re not yet favored to win. The average vote share is about 25 percent. So a lot of things have to go wrong for them to actually win outright majorities. A lot did go wrong with the 2016 election campaign in the United States. But unlike five years ago, they’re at a level of strength where when everything does go wrong, they do win. So that’s

very concerning. FUKUYAMA: What are the bigger forces that are gelling right now, that drive this whole phenomenon? MOUNK: I would say those are things that would have been at play for a long time. FUKUYAMA: Yes. MOUNK: Why is it that democracy has been seemingly very stable for 50 or 60 years and is now coming to be pretty unstable? You have to look for the analogies. My best metaphor for this is from the work of British philosopher Bertrand Russell, who tells the story of a chicken on a farm—so bear with me. The chicken has the kind of life that we all want the chicken we eat for dinner to have, which is to say that it runs around the farm and is very happy, gets to chat with the other animals and all those kinds of things. Any local San Francisco restaurant would be happy to serve it. All of the other animals—for it is so happy—are warning it, saying, “The farmer only seems nice. One day he’s going to come and kill you.” The chicken says, “What on earth are you talking about? The farmer’s really nice to me. He feeds me every day. Why should he suddenly act so differently?” Well, as Russell says in his nice wit, one day the farmer

does come to wring the chicken’s neck, showing that more sophisticated views as to the uniformity of causation would have been to the chicken’s benefit. That means there are scope conditions that we have to think about in the world. Right? As long as the chicken was too thin for the market, the farmer has an incentive to keep feeding it. Once it was fat enough to fetch a good price, he had an incentive to slaughter it. So what are the scope conditions of liberal democratic stability? What was different in 1980 and 1960 from now? It seems there was three big things. The first is the stagnation of living standards for average people. From 1945 to 1960, the living standard of the average American roughly doubled. From 1960 to 1985, it roughly doubled again. Since 1985, it’s essentially been been stagnant. That really changes how people think about politics. They used to say, “I don’t love politicians; I don’t completely trust them; they’re kind of weird. But hey, you know what? I’m twice as rich as my parents were. My kids are going to be twice as rich as me. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.” Now they’re saying, “I’ve worked really hard all my life; I don’t have that much to show for it. My kids are probably going to do worse than me. Let’s try something new. How bad could things get?” The second thing is around cultural identity. When you look at continental Europe, democracy really took hold at a moment when these countries—both in fact and even moreso in their self-conception—were incredibly homogenous. In Germany, where I grew up, democracy took hold after World War II, which was not a coincidence. After the horrible genocide of the Holocaust, Germany was actually homogenous, and the self-conception was even more so. What made a true German in 1960 [and] 1970 was somebody who descended ethnically from

one group. It was certainly not someone who was brown or black, or certainly not a Muslim or Hindu or for that matter, as I am, a Jew. Now, through 50 years of immigration, that has started to change. That is a good thing. I think we’ve come a long way in adopting a more liberal understanding of citizenship. But there’s a lot of people who have something to lose from that. If you weren’t the richest, most educated, most successful person in the world, you got a lot of status from saying, “You know what? At least I’m better and I belong, unlike these immigrants over there.” Well, that immigrant might now be a politician, or he might be your boss. And that’s great. But it does mean real loss for some people, and it shouldn’t surprise us that there’s real resistance against this reinvention of who gets to count as an Italian, as a Swede, as a German and so on. In the United States, the situation is both similar and different. It is different in the obvious sense that America has always been a multiethnic society. But it is similar in that there’s been a very strict racial hierarchy. The good news here is that we’ve come an awfully long way in overcoming that hierarchy. Despite all of the deep injustices that persist, and that we must always be mindful of and struggle against, there’s virtually no question that it’s better to be just about any form of minority in this country today than 20 or 40 or 60 years ago. A lot of people welcome and celebrate that; I imagine that nearly everybody in this room does. But again, it also means that a lot of people have had to give up real status and material privileges. So it shouldn’t surprise that there’s some real backlash against that. Now if you take that economic frustration, and you take the fears about cultural change, and

change in conception of a nation, and the status loss, and you add to that the Internet, which makes it much easier for extreme voices to enter our politics, to bypass media gatekeepers, and so on and so forth, you get a pretty dangerous cocktail. FUKUYAMA: I think that everybody in the audience is convinced that we are in trouble around the world, in terms of our democratic institutions. And I think they’re on the edge of their seats wanting to know: So, great analysis—what the hell do we do about it? MOUNK: I think it has to be a response to the main problems that I’ve outlined. One of the things is that we need to give people a sense again that our political system is responsive. There’s a bit of that that’s easy and a bit of that that’s hard. The bit that’s hard is how to deal with technocratic institutions and international organizations and so on and so forth. Think of a wicked problem such as climate change. In order to deal with climate change, you need to coordinate the actions of 200 countries around the world. That is incredibly hard to do, and it’s very very difficult to think about h ow w e c a n ever do that in a way

where you or I can change course next year, or have a real sense that we’re in control of what’s happening there. So I think when there is a genuine technocratic dilemma or an antidemocratic dilemma, which posits our ability to feel that we control what’s happening, against the performance of the institutions, which is important for its legitimacy as well. I don’t think that’s an easy solution to that. The populists say there’s an easy solution, which is: abolish all of those things, give power back to the people. But if you follow the news, I think you’ve had a sense of what it looks like when you give power back to the people. In reality, it means giving power to your friends and relatives. There is a part of this which can genuinely be solved, and that is getting money out of our politics to a far greater extent than we have. It involves campaign finance reform. It involves actually strengthening the capacity of Congress. One of the more informal ways in which people have a ton of power, is that senators and congressmen can’t actually pay the staffers well enough to retain them. So why do they go to the lobbyists? Because the lobbyists have trusted staffers from a couple of years ago, right? So we can change some of that. We can have some electoral reform. I think California has made a good step with reform of primaries, but there’s a set of other reforms we can make at the state and local level to change some of our politics. That’s one thing. The second thing is to make sure that people’s living standards aren’t stagnating in the way they are. I’m in favor of capitalism; I’m in favor of free trade; I’m in favor of globalization. For some people on the Right, it’s easy to dismiss those things. If you only care about the living standards of the steel worker in Michigan, I still think you’re wrong, but I get where you’re coming

from. If you actually care about the poor in the world, if you actually care about economic distribution, look at the incredible advances we’ve made in the last 20, 25 years. Two billion people, who were in actual poverty, without electricity, with very limited education, not sure they would have food that night, who are now middle class. So you can’t reject some of those basic parts of our economic system, but we can fight much, much, much harder to make sure that we distribute the gains from that much more fairly. There is no reason why it should be so easy for rich individuals and for corporations to evade paying their fair share of taxes. It is much easier to punish people much more thoroughly, to investigate them much more if they try to find the money in tax havens. There are lots of reforms of nation-states, using their biggest asset, which is territory, can take to ensure that corporations actually pay taxes where they do business and not where they have a nominal headquarters. Going beyond that, there are ways in which we can boost productivity by investing in education, and by investing in life-long learning, not just for people who have lost their job, but for people who want to keep learning new skills. And we can make sure— this is something that I’m sure you will have no idea what I’m talking about in this wonderful city of San Francisco—that even when people have decent incomes, they don’t spend all of it on life’s necessities, from education to health care to housing. And that is a matter, in part, of building more housing, of overcoming some of the sclerotic regulation that does actually make it harder to offer more of the goods that people need. So I think there’s a whole set of things that we can do in order for more moderate political parties to reimagine their

economic polices, not by becoming ideologically more radical, but by actually having real imagination about what an economic policy, that harnesses the power of globalization and free trade for ordinary people, would look like. Meet the demand of the Brexiteers, of taking back control. Make people feel that the state can help them be in control of their fate and it itself can be in control of its fate in the age of globalization. The next thing is responding to the identity challenge. I think on the main message we’re probably aligned, which is what I would call inclusive patriotism. As somebody who grew up as a Jew in Germany, I was very tempted for a long time to leave nationalism behind in the 20th century, which it so cruelly shaped. But I’ve come to rethink that. You have an incredibly powerful exclusive nationalism on the Right, what I would call a white nationalism in the United States and in parts of the White House. You can either leave the incredibly resonant territory of nationalism to that end of a political spectrum, or you can try and repurpose it. You can try and fight against it. And you’re not going to do that by saying, “Let’s give up on collective identity altogether,” as I might have done a few years ago. And you’re not going to do that by saying, “Let’s celebrate every form of identity at the sub-national level”—religious, ethnic, sexual and so on—”but not the national one.” You’re going to do that by defending everybody against discrimination and against the attacks they are currently suffering, unreservedly, and at the same time emphasizing what we have in common, what unites us. [This is] why discrimination has historically been a force for actually drawing out more solidarity across racial and ethnic lines, across immediate family, across your village. So it can be a positive force. Nationalism, in my mind, is a half-domesticated animal. If we leave it on its own, the worst kinds of people—[ people—[clears throat] Steve Bannon [[laughter]—are throat laughter]—are going laughter to come in and stoke it and bait it until it runs wild. And instead we need to reclaim it for an inclusive nationalism. The last thing, very quickly, is that I don’t think the solution to the Internet and to social media is to regulate from the state. There’s certain forms of regulation we need, but I don’t think that the forms of censorship that are now taking over in Europe

are the right response. I think it is to push them to enforce [their] guidelines better, but also to actually fight for our political values. Francis mentioned Plato and Aristotle. From Plato to Aristotle and from Rousseau to the Founding Fathers, every theorist of some form of self-government or some form of republic knew that you need to transmit your values from one generation to the next. We haven’t been terribly good at actually doing that. We’ve decimated civics education in high school. At Harvard, where I teach, we’re great at telling students about the failures of our political system, which are real and which we have to always acknowledge. But we’re very bad at telling them why it’s better to live in a liberal democracy, why it’s better to live in the United States even today, than it is to live in Russia or China or Venezuela or Iran or Cuba. So I think that we actually need to get a new sense of mission about making a real push to get people to see, not just the bad in our system, but also the good. FUKUYAMA: I do want to ask you one question that has been bothering me a lot. Since the financial crisis in 2008, you would have thought there’d be a lot of populism, rightly so because this is a crisis created on Wall Street—these big banks and billionaires, the oligarchs that run the financial sector— took bad risks, they lost, and then ordinary people suffered, but they came through it just fine. And you would think that this would actually create a groundswell of traditional left-wing populism, for more redistribution; a lot of the things that you talk about—getting rid of the tax havens, and changing the tax code to make them pay their fair share. And yet, what we have is right-wing populism. And the Left has been in decline everywhere, at least the traditional Left, and so the German Social Democrats went from 40 percent 20 years ago to now close to 20 percent. The French Socialists have disappeared, and we’ll have to see what happens in November, but the Democrats have been losing elections. Why is it all coming out on the Right rather than on the Left, given what’s happened to our economy? MOUNK: You know, there’s some parts of the world obviously where Left populism has a problem. Not just Venezuela, but southern Europe, where the economic problems have been deeper and of longer standing. I think, in the end, the answer is relatively simple—that a flesh and blood enemy is

always easier than an abstract institutional enemy. And if you have left-wing populists inveighing against banks and so on, and you have right-wing populists inveighing against scary Muslims and immigrants and so on. Unfortunately, the ones who race-bait and the ones who victimize minorities are going to win. My fear about left-wing populism is not just that it too can be destructive. As we see in countries like Venezuela, it’s that often it is left-wing populists who fail to come to the rescue of liberal democratic institutions, in the hope of winning, but end up enabling the right-wing populist, who, in the end, I think, just have a more powerful emotional resource to play on. I also want to ask a question of you. FUKUYAMA: Okay. MOUNK: You’re thinking about identity at the moment. I’ve thought a lot about the fact that actually an equal multiethnic society is really a historically unique experiment. Perhaps Canada is a little better than us, but that has its own problems. There is no real example of it. What do we need to do to build that society, and what would it actually look like? What are some of the principles that we would live by in the kind of society? Small question. FUKUYAMA: It actually echoes some of the questions that have come from the audience. So I think that as you were saying, a kind of patriotic nationalism, of a certain sort of the right kind of liberal, open, tolerant sort, is very important. Because a democracy actually

needs to have common memory, common values, people have to share things. The question is, How do you get back to that? I think the American narrative over the past 250 years has been a very tortured one, because that identity, for the first hundred years or so was Protestant white male, extremely restrictive. In the sense we fought a civil war, that cost 600,000 lives, in order to get the 14th Amendment that said that basically anybody born on the territory of the United States is a U.S. citizen. But I do think that as a result of that political struggle, that it took another hundred years, unfortunately, for that to get realized after the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. The generic answer to all of these questions is one that you talked about in the book: It’s a matter of politics. You have to have people with a certain shared vision, and they have to get political power. That’s the way the world works, and therefore they’ve got to come up with the message that is appealing. They’ve got to build the coalitions; they’ve got to figure out how to deal with the people standing in their way. I don’t think there’s much of a shortcut around that answer. But the ideas have to be right. It cannot be an exclusive, ethnically based or religiously based identity anymore, because de facto our country is just not ready for that. By the way, I think that applies to every country in Europe as well. [On a different topic], my personal opinion is that the Democrats are a bit

underestimating the likelihood that Donald Trump will get reelected in 2020, because people vote with their pocketbooks, and right now the American economy is going gangbusters. If that’s the case, then I think an 8-year presidency of this sort is going do a lot more long-term institutional damage than one that’s only a 4-year presidency. MOUNK: In most countries when the populists were in power first and first up for reelection, the opposition retained some real chance of ousting them. Once they’ve been reelected once, and certainly twice, it became virtually impossible to get rid of them. That is a very worrying fact. And just on the economic situation, there’s this lovely study of Woodrow Wilson’s bid for reelection. They looked at a set of towns across the New Jersey shore, and some of them had recently suffered shark attacks, which led lots of tourists to stay away; others had been spared by the sharks. Now we can assume safely that Wilson wasn’t deciding which town would be attacked by sharks and which wouldn’t. But as it turns out, the town which had suffered shark attacks voted for him at much lower rates than the towns that didn’t. So people vote for pocketbook, and they’re quite bad at actually ascribing responsibility for whether the pocketbook is looking good or bad to the actions of actual politicians. And as you’re saying, that’s very worrying about 2020. FUKUYAMA: Yeah. Donald Trump is apparently terrified of sharks. [Laughter.] JUNE/JULY 2018


Photos by Sarah Gonzalez

Adam Schiff

American Insecurity ADAM SCHIFF

U.S. Representative for District 28 (D-CA) ELLEN TAUSCHER Former U.S. Representative, California’s 10th Congressional District; Former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security; Member, Commonwealth Club Board of Governors—Moderator

President Trump has called him “lit tle Adam Schif f ” and a “leaking monster”; now Schiff explains what is so important about the investigation into Russia and the election. From the February 20, 2018 program in San Francisco, “Rep. Adam Schiff: Investigating Russia and Defending Democracy”


know what you’re thinking: “He doesn’t look that little.” I never considered myself little, but I never considered myself a leaking monster of no control, either, which kind of conjures up images of an incontinent Frankenstein. Let me just start with the most recent development, and then I want to talk about why we should care about this. Let’s look at the week’s big development, this 37-page indictment by Bob Mueller. What was so striking to me when I read it was just the incredible level of detail that Bob Mueller was willing to share. This was the product undoubtedly not alone of a lot of hard work by Bob Mueller, by the intelligence community, but also a negotiation with the intelligence community, because whenever you reveal that kind of detail about



how you know what you know, you’re telling your adversaries a great deal. The Russians undoubtedly had the reaction when this was published, “How the hell do the Americans know all that?” They must have immediately begun the process of reverse-engineering to try to figure out, “How could they know all of this?” The intelligence community and Bob Mueller had to conclude that the value of the public knowing this, the value of the Russians knowing this, outweighed any concern over sources and methods. I think it’s the right decision, because this very detailed explanation of how the Russians engaged in research and development, and dispatched operatives to the United States to study our political system, to identify the fissures in our society, how they went about developing their budget, who had what roles at this [Russian] Internet Research Agency, even in communications between one of their staff and a family member, in which they say, “Okay. I had a really rotten day. I had to cover up all of what we’re doing.” This, I think, is a great education for all of us to see just what lengths the Russians were willing to go to try to intervene in our affairs, and just how cynical an effort it was, how they sought to exploit these divisions within our society. You know, there are a lot of different narratives about what the Russia investigation is about. Of course, the president’s narrative is, “It’s all a hoax.” This made it very difficult to maintain the hoax narrative, because there’s

37 pages that say, “This is deathly serious. This is all too real.” Now, the president claims that this somehow vindicates him. Of course, whenever anyone says “hello,” he feels vindicated. This is, after all, someone who went to his first meeting with Putin—this is our great negotiator, our president—and what does he do? He asks Putin, “Did you do it?” And lest we be cynical about whether we can expect the truth from this former KGB operative, he comes back home and he says, “Don’t worry. I not only asked Putin if he did it, I asked him twice.” Apparently, not even the most hardened KGB operative can lie more than once in a row. This is hardly a vindication of that claim that this is all a hoax. Is it vindication that there was no collusion? No, it’s not vindication of that, either. One thing that’s very important to recognize about this indictment is it only concerns one facet of the Russian active-measures campaign—their use of social media to organize, to advertise, to get people to conduct rallies against Hillary Clinton, to get people to dress up in a prison outfit and pretend they’re Hillary, and appear in a cage. The establishment of web pages such as Heart of Texas, that feigned a real kind of Texas motif, “Don’t mess with Texas,” with a very anti-immigrant kind of a message, that had more followers than the Texas Republican Party web page. It showed what they did on social media. There’s no discussion in this indictment of one of the other facets of the active-measures

campaign, and that is how the Russians hacked into our democratic institutions and began publishing, sometimes on a daily basis, these stolen emails designed to put Hillary Clinton on the defensive. Now, why isn’t that discussed in the indictment? Well, Bob Mueller had a reason. He’s a very good prosecutor. He’s got a very good team. He had a reason not to include that in the indictment. You could see, if you wanted to include all of it together, it would be a natural part of the same story. But it is in connection with the hacking and the dumping of documents where the allegations of collusion are most weighty. I think it’s telling that this is not a part of this indictment, and I think that’s for a reason. Now, I can’t tell you where Bob Mueller will end up on the issue of collusion, any more than I can tell you where we will end up on the issue of collusion, but I can tell you a few things that we already see in the public domain. We see beginning in April of the election year the Russians making outreach to one of only a handful of Trump foreign policy advisors, George Papadopoulos. What do they tell Papadopoulos in April of 2016? They tell him, “We are in possession of stolen DNC or Clinton emails.” Now, the timing of this is very significant. This is even before the Clinton campaign is aware the Russians possess her stolen emails; the Trump campaign is made aware of it. They want to have a relationship with the campaign, and the campaign is made aware they’re in possession of stolen Democratic Party emails. It’s only a matter of weeks later that the Russians make another approach to the Trump campaign, this time at the very highest levels. Through Aras Agalarov, an oligarch close to Putin, they communicate to the Trump campaign they would like a meeting. They’re going to send an attorney, a Russian government attorney, all the way out from Moscow, and they’re offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. Now, Papadopoulos knows they have dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of these emails, so here’s another approach to the highest levels of the campaign, offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. What’s the Trump campaign response to this? “We would love it. We would love to have your help, and by the way, the best timing is in late summer.” Now, that meeting takes place in June of the election year, a secret meeting in Trump Tower, with the president’s son, and his

son-in-law and the campaign manager. The message that goes back from that meeting to the Russians is, “We would love to have your help, but we’re deeply disappointed in what you gave us at this meeting. This stuff you gave us about the Ziff brothers and money, we want better than that.” It’s only days later that Julian Assange announces for the first time he has received stolen Democratic Party emails, which we now know came from the Russians. These are parts of the picture that we can already see. There is undoubtedly more that Bob Mueller can see. There was more that I can’t describe, but what’s in the public domain already is enough to earn the condemnation of the country for how that campaign behaved. One of the reasons I use the word “collusion” instead of the legal term of “conspiracy to violate the election laws”—and by the way, if you’re wondering how conspiracy would be charged, you can see it in this indictment: The indictment charge is a conspiracy to defraud the United States by impeding the functions of our agencies that protect us against foreign interference. But the reason I use the word “collusion” is, the bar shouldn’t be set so low as to only discuss what is a violation of the criminal law of the United States. It ought to be enough for all of us to condemn the fact that a presidential campaign was only too willing and too eager to accept the support and help of a hostile foreign power. That must never be allowed to happen again. What is this really about? Was this a oneoff design to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton, or was there more involved than what the Russians were doing? It’s certainly true that the Russians had a preference in candidates, and you can see that in the indictment. You can see that in the advertising that they took out. You can see that not only in the social media campaign, which was surreptitious but set out in this indictment; you can also see it in their overt media—RT (Russia Today) and Sputnik, their paid Kremlin propaganda arms, were pushing out content during the election. The tweets pushing out stories that RT wanted you to see during the election were, “Hillary Clinton’s Failing Health,” “The Four Times the Clintons Were Almost Indicted.” These were the stories they were pushing out overtly, even while they were pushing out covertly through social media. While they

were doing that overtly and covertly, they were also hacking democratic institutions and publishing emails, and maybe more. That is under investigation. Now, they had a preference for Donald Trump for a lot of obvious reasons. This was someone denigrating NATO, someone encouraging Brexit and the further weakening of Europe, someone who would do away with sanctions over Russia’s invasion of its neighbor. Who would have imagined in this century we would see a power remake the map of Europe by military force? They had every reason to prefer Trump. They had every reason not to want Hillary Clinton, someone who spoke out as secretary of state over the fraud in the Russian elections, someone Putin believed was one of the hidden hands behind the color revolutions, the revolution in Ukraine and elsewhere. But far more fundamentally, what the Russians were after, are after, will be after, is undermining our very democracy, sowing discord in the United States, turning Americans against other Americans, and not just attacking democracy here, but attacking it all over the world. What the Russians did here was unique for us, because it was so unprecedented in scale and scope. It’s not unprecedented in terms of what the Russians have been doing elsewhere. They are attacking the very idea of liberal democracy, and we need to be aware that autocracy is on the rise around the world. The example that Putin is setting has many imitators. You see it in the rise of au-

thoritarianism in Hungary and in Poland. You see it in the Philippines with Duterte. You see it with Erdoğan in Turkey; Turkey is now the leading jailer of journalists in the world. We have lived, all of us in this room, at a time when freedoms around the world were ever increasing, more people living with a free press, more people living in free society, more people able to speak as they will, associate with whom they would or love whom they would. I think we grew to think that this was somehow inexorable, that in Martin Luther King’s expression, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” only to find that at the moment, it is not bending toward justice, and there is nothing immutable about this. In fact, we may be at an inflection point where we can not say with confidence that more people will live in free societies next year, with even less confidence about how the world will look for our children or grandchildren. That calls upon all of us to be the champions of democracy. As long as we have someone in the Oval Office who is not, it is incumbent on all of us to step into the void, to speak out, to be the champions of democracy around the world, because people still look to us from every corner of the globe. There is nowhere else to turn. In our public life, in our private life, in our corporate life, in our civic life, there is a role for all of us to play right now. I made a statement a couple months ago I thought completely unremarkable, and I was surprised when it got any attention at all. I said that I think the threat to our democracy from without—that is, from Russia and others—is less now than the threat from within. In the denigration of our press, in the belittling of our judges, in the breaking down of the barrier of independence between the White House and the Justice Department, in innumerable ways, our system of checks and balances is being taken apart brick by brick, and it’s incumbent on all of us to fight back against this.

Question-and-answer session with The Honorable Ellen Tauscher ELLEN TAUSCHER: Let’s get right to it. The Nunes memo [and] the minority memo. What is the status of the minority memo, and once the redactions are done, does it have to go back to the White House? Can you release it? What do you think is the status of the memo? ADAM SCHIFF: Yeah. Well, first of all, the Nunes memo, our chairman said, was phase one. I think in reality, it’s phase two. Phase one took place in March of last year when the chairman held a press conference at the White House and claimed to have received evidence from a secret source of an unmasking conspiracy during the Obama administration targeting the Trump campaign. We would learn soon thereafter that the secret source was the White House. He was going to the White House to present to the White House information he’d gotten from the White House, and it didn’t show any kind of unmasking conspiracy. That was phase one. This memo was phase two, but it was of a very similar kind, in that it was an effort to attack the FBI, attack the intelligence community, and indirectly attack Bob Mueller. The rule that they used, an obscure House rule that allows the publication of classified information, has never been used before for good reason. It’s not intended to be a partisan vehicle to cherry pick information, but that’s how they used it. Now, the FBI and the Justice Department warned against it, said this was extraordinarily reckless— TAUSCHER: They said, “Don’t do it.” SCHIFF: “Don’t do it. It’s misleading, and inaccurate.” And the president says, “I’m releasing it, sight unseen, 100 percent,” he says. He did, without a single redaction, correction, or anything like it. We put together a memo that contained the very material facts that the Republican memo left out, but the president doesn’t want to release that. We are negotiating with the FBI. I think we’ve almost concluded, and they’ve been operating with us in good faith. What we want to do is identify any small subset of the memo that could reveal sources or methods, and we gave them our memo well before we even took it up in committee, because we wanted their input. I think we’ll resolve that very shortly, and we can put the memo out. It hopefully won’t be necessary to go back to the White House, but I do want to make sure that we

have visibility into any concern the FBI has, as opposed to a political redaction that the White House wants to make. [The House Intelligence Committee minority memo was released February 24, 2018, just days after this program—Editors.] TAUSCHER: There are a number of questions about Russia, but I know that you also have responsibility and oversight over the entire intelligence community, and that includes North Korea, Iran, many of the other things going on that are hot spots. Do you want to talk to us briefly about where you think we are with North Korea? SCHIFF: Sure. North Korea is a very difficult national security problem, or it would have been resolved by prior administrations. But there are things that we can do that could put us on a path to resolving this without military conflict. In my view, China is the key. China doesn’t have complete control over North Korea, but it has more influence than any other nation. The red line for China is not a concern, as you often hear expressed, about a collapse of the regime, and hundreds of thousands of refugees. China can deal with that. What China can’t deal with is a unified peninsula that effectively brings American troops to its border, a pro-western, unified Korea. The question is, what could China do short of that, if they’re given the right incentive? The answer is, a hell of a lot more than they’re doing now, to restrict the North, to constrain the North, to help change the incentives for the North. The way that we get China to do that is not by badgering China, . . . but rather discussing privately with China, “Look, you say you can’t do more to control your client. We hope that’s not the case, because these are the steps that we’re going to have to take to protect ourselves. We’re going to have to dramatically expand theater missile defense. We’re going to have to impose secondary sanctions on financial institutions, which are primarily Chinese banks. We’re going to have to dramatically expand our naval presence in the region.” These are all things, and there are others besides, that the Chinese do not want to see happen, that give them a reason to do a lot more. But we first of all need to all be on the same page internally. We can’t have the president saying one thing, the vice president another, the secretary of state a third, our U.N. ambassador a fourth. We can’t be on a different page than our allies, the Japanese,

the South Koreans, and others, if we’re to have any hope of a successful strategy. There is no good military option. We need to be doing everything possible to make sure that that’s not where we end up. Right now, I’m deeply concerned that is not what the administration is doing. It may not be what the administration is capable of. Even under the best of circumstances, it still may not be enough. But it may be enough, and we owe it to ourselves and our allies to do our best. TAUSCHER: Let’s talk a little bit about people in the White House without permanent security clearances. It’s shocking. It’s frightening. It’s unsustainable, and frankly treasonous, but what can we do? Apparently there was something from the White House Press Office today saying that regardless of whether he gets a permanent clearance or not, Jared Kushner’s going to stay in his job. As far as I know, he’s the only one in the White House that reads the presidential daily briefing, because we know the president doesn’t read it. Before that, it was [former White House staff secretary] Rob Porter, for god’s sakes. What can the Congress do to force the administration to hold the standards on the classification of documents and make sure that people without permanent clearances aren’t reading them? SCHIFF: Well, it’s very difficult, particularly in the minority. What we ought to be doing is we ought to be hauling them before committees in Congress and shedding a spotlight on it, and frankly there are so many other areas where we ought to be doing the same thing, but with the current majority, that just isn’t happening. I could tell you this. Jared Kushner would never be considered for a security clearance if his father-in-law wasn’t the president of the United States. This is someone who is alleged to have had a secret meeting with the Russian ambassador, where they discussed setting up a private back channel communication through a Russian diplomatic facility. If that’s true, he should never get a clearance. It’s one thing when you have the actual government engaging in a back channel discussion over a hostage release or whatnot, where there’s a need for confidentiality. It’s another when you have nongovernmental actors meeting secretly with an adversary and using the adversary’s facilities. There is no legitimate explanation for that, unless you’re hiding it from your own government.

TAUSCHER: Well, he asked [Russia’s] Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, “How do we do this so that nobody can hear us? How do you facilitate it so that nobody can hear us?” As opposed to, “We want to have a channel where we’re doing high-level conversations, but I’m coming back to talk to my boss, you’re talking to your boss.” It was really to protect whatever they were doing, just like they thought they had at Trump Tower. SCHIFF: Well, it certainly appears, if the allegations are accurate, that that’s exactly right, that this was not designed to further the interests of the country, but they had something they wanted to communicate without their own government, our own government, knowing about it. That’s not the stuff of a top security clearance. There’s one of two possibilities about what’s going on in the White House right now, and has been for quite some time, given that so many people have been operating under temporary clearances. That is, either these folks are getting access to material that they shouldn’t be seeing, or they’re not getting access to it and not able to do their jobs the way we need them to do. There’s a reason you get these briefings, and it’s because you’re advising the president, and you want to be able to give the president the advantage of the very best intelligence the world has to offer, which is frankly the intelligence produced by our agencies. It’s a problem either way, but if you have a chief of staff who’s protecting his own people, or defending the indefensible, then that’s not something that you can rely on, and unfortunately the Government Reform Committee, which really ought to be having hearings on this, is not. TAUSCHER: Bob Mueller has put together a sterling team of people from the FBI, from U.S. attorneys offices. Some of them allegedly are from the Southern District of New York, and many of them are white collar crime experts. In the end, it’s usually about the money. What do you think is going forward on the whole question of money laundering being the ultimate sin, and the instigation for many of the activities that obfuscate what’s going on in the White House? SCHIFF: Well, from my days as an assistant district attorney in Los Angeles, we follow the maxim of, “Follow the money.” In white collar cases, it was a pretty darn good rule. “Follow the money.” There are credible alle-

gations of money laundering. The president’s own sons talked about how disproportionate the amount of money they got from Russia was. The only bank that seemed willing to give the Trump Organization massive loans was Deutsche Bank, which recently paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines to the State of New York, for what? Money laundering, in connection with where? Russia. This is, I think, one of many credible allegations that should be investigated. When we started our investigation, the allegation of private meetings between the Trump campaign people and the Russians was merely an allegation. It proved all too true. What we ought to be most concerned about is any allegation that has the potential, if true, of being a lever over the president of the United States. When people think about what the Russians call “kompromat,” they tend to think about the salacious video mentioned in the dossier. Well, to a president who easily weathers the Stormy Daniels storm, and the Playboy model storm, a videotape, if it exists, just isn’t that compromising. TAUSCHER: Right. SCHIFF: What would be compromising, frankly far more compromising, is if the Trump Organization was knowingly laundering money for the Russians. That could be a very powerful lever. That could explain the rather inexplicable conduct of the president, his incapacity to criticize Putin, to acknowledge the plain truth that all of his cabinet and everyone else has acknowledged. That needs to be investigated. We are really hamstrung on our committee. We subpoenaed Fusion GPS’ bank records. That was the outfit that hired Christopher Steele, but we won’t subpoena Deutsche Bank’s records. I think it’s very important that Bob Mueller be allowed to investigate this, and it clearly arises from the Russia investigation.

Photos by Ed Ritger




CURT BRANOM Performer, Beach Blanket Babylon SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY Performer, Beach Blanket Babylon

Behind the scenes of the long-running North Beach revue. From the March 5, 2018 program in San Francisco, “ Celebrating Beach Blanket Babylon.” NORMA WALDEN [chair, International Relations member-led forum]: Beach Blanket Babylon, San Francisco’s hilarious pop culture musical review, is celebrating more than 16,000 performances. It has been seen by over 6 million people from around the world. This internationally acclaimed production continues to delight audiences at Club Fugazi in San Francisco’s North Beach



District, as many of you know. Among the fun attractions of the show are spectacular costumes and outrageously gigantic hats. The plot of Beach Blanket Babylon follows Snow White as she takes a fast-paced journey around the world in search of her Prince Charming. Along the way she encounters a star-studded, ever-changing lineup of hilarious political and pop culture characters—currently including Donald and Melania Trump, Kim Jong-un, Taylor Swift, Colin Kaepernick, Wonder Woman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Vladimir Putin, Ivanka Trump, Lady Gaga, Steve Bannon, Prince, Barack and Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Oprah, and the Golden State Warriors. Now, ladies and gentlemen, from the cast of Steve Silver’s Beach Blanket Babylon, please welcome Curt Branom and Shawna Ferris McNulty. SHAWNA FERRIS MCNULTY: Thanks so much. We were told to talk a little bit about how we started in the show. I started in 2004, and I came into the Pineapple Princess track, is what they call it. It was great when I was 21

and just out of college. It was Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and all that kind of stuff, so I got to play around with that for about a year and a half. Then we had a Snow White opening, and my friend was assistant music director, and they asked him at the time, “Can Shawna sing soprano?” ’Cause, you know, Snow White is one of the few characters in the show, you’re talking like this the entire time, and you have to sing really high. It’s a lot different than most of that Beach Blanket sound that you usually hear, which is loud, great, brassy singing. He told them that actually, I’ve been faking them out for the first year and a half with the brassy singing, and I’m much better in my soprano. So I ended up auditioning for Snow, and I did that for about 12 or 13 years. It was really fun, and then we had an understudy opening, and now I cover three roles. So I do Snow, Pineapple, and Banana, just based on whoever calls out sick or on vacation. So I get to play around a lot. It’s really, really fun, and it’s been an excellent journey at Beach Blanket in all facets, the whole time. CURT BRANOM: It’s so much fun working Continued on page 35


Ancient Sites to Modern Day Startups November 7-17, 2018

ITINERARY Wednesday, November 7

waters and experience the health benefits of its natural minerals. Return to Jerusalem for dinner on your own. Herbert Samuel Jerusalem (B,L)

U.S. / Tel Aviv, Israel

Depart on flights to Israel.

Sunday, November 11

Bethlehem / Ramallah / Jerusalem

Thursday, November 8 Tel Aviv / Jerusalem

Upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, transfer to Jerusalem and check into our centrally located hotel. As flights arrive in the evening, there are no group activities this day. Herbert Samuel Jerusalem

Friday, November 9 Jerusalem

This morning we explore the Old City of Jerusalem and sites important to the three major monotheistic religions. Visit the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. Walk portions of the Via Dolorosa and visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, said to be the site where Christ was crucified and buried. We stop for lunch at a local spot in the old city, followed by free time to browse the alleys and shops. Tonight gather for a welcome dinner. Herbert Samuel Jerusalem (B,L,D)

Saturday, November 10 Masada / Dead Sea / Jerusalem

This morning we drive to Masada, the location of the mountain top fortress where Jews sacrificed their lives rather than succumb to the Romans. The importance of Masada remains in the psychological and political mindset of many Israelis. Then travel to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the earth. Swim or float in the relaxing salt

Today we visit the West Bank, starting with Bethlehem to see the Christian holy sites, including the Church of the Nativity, said to mark the place of Jesus’ birth. We continue to Ramallah, the provisional capital of the Palestinian Authority, where we hear from Palestinians about the issues they face and their hopes for a settlement in this long, unresolved issue. Return to Jerusalem. Tonight explore Mahane Yehuda, once a popular fruit and produce market, it’s now a vibrant hub of gourmet food stalls, restaurants and cafes. Herbert Samuel Jerusalem (B,L)

Monday, November 12 Jerusalem / Nazareth / Galilee

Visit Yad Vashem, a powerful living memorial dedicated to the Holocaust. Continue northwest of Jerusalem to Neve Shalom Wahat al Salaam, to meet with people living in a unique community of families, equally divided between Jews and Arabs. Continue to Nazareth, the largest Arab town in Israel where we see the Church of the Annunciation, believed to be where archangel Gabriel visited Mary. Continue north to Lake Tiberias, and the more rural area of Upper Galilee. Learn about the important role of kibbutzim in the development of Israel in the 20th century. Meron Golan (B,L,D)

Tuesday, November 13 Galilee / Golan Heights

This morning we visit with people in a Druze village in the Golan Heights area. Druze are

an Arab speaking sect found primarily in the mountainous areas of northern Israel, Syria and Lebanon. Their religious practices and beliefs are known to few outsiders. We also meet with a retired General of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces). In the afternoon visit a winery, sample wines, and learn about Israel’s growing wine industry. Meron Golan (B,L,D)

Wednesday, November 14 Haifa / Tel Aviv

This morning we head to Akko, a mixed Arab-Jewish city with architecture from the Crusader period. We continue to the city of Haifa to see the incredible Bahai Gardens and visit an Arab owned tech firm. Then explore the archaeological site and Roman city of Caesarea. Arrive in Tel Aviv in the early evening for dinner on your own. The Carlton (B,L)

Thursday, November 15 Tel Aviv

Learn about Tel Aviv’s various neighborhoods and architectural styles. See Bauhaus architecture, Dizengoff Street, Neve Tzedek, and the Florentine district. In the Ramat Aviv neighborhood, meet with a guest speaker at the Rabin Center. We then visit with an innovative Israeli startup incubator. Tonight we enjoy a dinner in a private venue. The Carlton (B,L,D)

on your own, and a free afternoon. Visit art galleries, the beach, or rent bikes to travel the coastal path around Tel Aviv. Gather tonight for a special farewell dinner. The Carlton (B,D)

Saturday, November 17 Tel Aviv / U.S.

After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the airport for flights home. Or extend you time to experience more of this vibrant city. (B)

DETAILS DATES: November 7-17, 2018 GROUP SIZE: Minimum 10, Maximum 25 COST: $6,195 per person, double occupancy $1,485 single room supplement

INCLUDED: All activities as specified;

airport transfers on designated group dates and times; transportation throughout; accommodations as specified (or similar); meals (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner) per itinerary; bottled water on buses and during tours; special guest speakers; local guide; gratuities to local guide, driver, and for included group activities; predeparture materials; Commonwealth Club representative with 15 travelers.

NOT INCLUDED: International air; meals

Friday, November 16 Tel Aviv

Jaffa, also known as Yafo in Hebrew, is a mixed Jewish-Arab town, a few minutes south of Tel Aviv. We visit the Friday flea market with its wonderful mix of foodie opportunities, art and antiques. Enjoy lunch

not specified as included; optional outings and gratuities for those outings; alcoholic beverages beyond welcome and farewell dinners; travel insurance (recommended, information will be sent upon registration); items of a purely personal nature.

TOUR LEADER JERRY SORKIN has been involved with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for more than three decades, having quietly brought together people from both sides of the issue. Conversant in both Arabic and Hebrew, Jerry has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East and North Africa, returning to the U.S. in 2016, after being based more than six years in Tunisia. He has organized and led many trips to Israel, all using his unique contacts to provide an exclusive and enlightening educational experience.

WHAT TO EXPECT To enjoy this program travelers must be in overall good health and able to walk 1-2 miles a day (on average) and be able to stand for several hours during touring. Participants should be comfortable walking on uneven surfaces such as dirt paths and cobblestone streets, and getting on and off tour buses without assistance.

Phone: (415) 597-6720 Fax: (415) 597-6729


Name 2


City / State / Zip

Home Phone

Cell Phone

E-mail Address SINGLE TRAVELERS ONLY: If this is a reservation for one person, please indicate:

We require membership in the Commonwealth Club to travel with us. Please check one of the following options:

___ I plan to share accommodations with _____________________________

___ I am a current member of the Commonwealth Club.

OR ___ I wish to have single accommodations.

___ Please use the credit card information below to sign me up or renew my membership.

OR ___ I’d like to know about possible roommates.

___ I will visit to sign up for a membership.

I am a ___ smoker / ___ nonsmoker. PAYMENT: Here is my deposit of $__________ ($1,000 per person) for ____ place(s).

____ Enclosed is my check (make payable to Commonwealth Club). OR ____ Charge my deposit to my ____ Visa ____ MasterCard ____ American Express


Card Number Authorized Cardholder Signature

Security Code Date

Mail completed form to: Commonwealth Club Travel, 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105, or fax to (415) 597-6729. For questions or to reserve by phone call (415) 597-6720. ___ I / We have read the Terms and Conditions for this program and agree to them.


TERMS AND CONDITIONS The Commonwealth Club (CWC) has contracted with Iconic Journeys Worldwide (IJW) to organize this tour. Reservations: A $1,000 per person deposit, along with a completed and signed Reservation Form, will reserve a place for participants on this program. The balance of the trip is due 90 days prior to departure and must be paid by check. Cancellation and Refund Policy: Notification of cancellation must be received in writing. At the time we receive your written cancellation, the following penalties will apply: • 91 days or more prior to departure: $250 per person • 90-60 days to departure: $1,000 deposit • 59-1 days prior to departure: 100% fare Tour can also be cancelled due to low enrollment. Neither CWC nor IJW accepts liability for cancellation penalties related to domestic or international airline tickets purchased in conjunction with the tour. Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance: We strongly advise that all travelers purchase trip cancellation and interruption insurance as coverage against a covered un-

foreseen emergency that may force you to cancel or leave the trip while it is in progress. A brochure describing coverage will be sent to you upon receipt of your reservation. Medical Information: Participation in this program requires that you be in good health. It is essential that persons with any medical problems and related dietary restrictions make them known to us well before departure. Itinerary Changes & Trip Delay: Itinerary is based on information available at the time of printing and is subject to change. We reserve the right to change a program’s dates, staff, itineraries, or accommodations as conditions warrant. If a trip must be delayed, or the itinerary changed, due to bad weather, road conditions, transportation delays, airline schedules, government intervention, sickness or other contingency for which CWC or IJW or its agents cannot make provision, the cost of delays or changes is not included. Limitations of Liability: CWC and IJW its Owners, Agents, and Employees act only as the agent for any transportation carrier, hotel, ground operator, or other suppliers of services connected with this program (“other providers”), and the other providers are solely responsible and liable for providing their respective services. CWC and IJW shall not be held liable for (A) any damage to, or loss of, property or

injury to, or death of, persons occasioned directly or indirectly by an act or omission of any other provider, including but not limited to any defect in any aircraft, or vehicle operated or provided by such other provider, and (B) any loss or damage due to delay, cancellation, or disruption in any manner caused by the laws, regulations, acts or failures to act, demands, orders, or interpositions of any government or any subdivision or agent thereof, or by acts of God, strikes, fire, flood, war, rebellion, terrorism, insurrection, sickness, quarantine, epidemics, theft, or any other cause(s) beyond their control. The participant waives any claim against CWC/IJW for any such loss, damage, injury, or death. By registering for the trip, the participant certifies that he/she does not have any mental, physical, or other condition or disability that would create a hazard for him/herself or other participants. CWC/IJW shall not be liable for any air carrier’s cancellation penalty incurred by the purchase of a nonrefundable ticket to or from the departure city. Baggage and personal effects are at all times the sole responsibility of the traveler. Reasonable changes in the itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and well-being of the passengers. CST# 2096889-40

Views from 110

Dr. Mary G.F. Bitterman

Dr. John L. Hennessy

Hon. Leon Panetta

Sylvia M. Panetta

Nancy E. Pfund

1. Martha Ryan 2. Richard Rubin 3. Sylvia M. Panetta 4. Nancy E. Pfund 5. (Middle Left) Jaleh Daie Ph.D., (Middle Right) Roger Wyse, (Far Right) Richard Rubin 6. Dr. Gloria Duffy

7. Evelyn Dilsaver 8. Dr. John L. Hennessy 9. Dr. Mary G.F. Bitterman 10. (Left to Right) Fran Dependahl, Carolyn Lee, Sylvia M. Panetta, Hon. Leon Panetta 11. Hon. Leon Panetta 12. (Far Left) John Farmer, (Middle) Bill Ring 13. Don Wen

14. (Left) Dr. Mary G.F. Bitterman, (Right) Dr. John L. Hennessy 15. (Left) Dr. Mary G.F. Bitterman, (Right) Dr. Gloria Duffy 16. (Left) Dr. John L. Hennessy, (Right) Mary B. Cranston 17. (Left to Right) Daniel Ljunggren, Ryan Horvath, David Blazevich, Jeanie Hirokane, (Backs Turned Left to Right) Eric Gillespie, Diane Matsuda 18. (Left) Richard Rubin

Continued from page 26 with Shawna. We worked together for those entire 12 years. She’s just magnificent. She really is. MCNULTY: We had too much fun. BRANOM: She helps you out of every hole you dig yourself into when you’re on stage. I was lucky enough to audition for [Babylon creator] Steve Silver in 1992. I had just started back into musical theater. I was doing a show, and my friend, who was also in the show, said, “We got to go audition for this show.” And I said, “Oh, okay. I’ll go with you.” She got in. I didn’t, but Steve was lovely. It was a magnificent experience, and the thing about the show back then was that the role that I’m in now was played by a very different physical type. He was, I think, almost 6’2” or 6’3”. I was so not right for this role, at that moment in time. But they brought me back, and we did some things. Those were the good old days with Sonny and Cher, you know. Sonny was in the television set. And it was Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. So I started in ’94. That was my first time with the show, and those were just wonderful times with the show. It was magnificent. I started as King Louis, and a couple other [roles]; Oil of Olay, at that point. MCNULTY: Curt owns everything he does, like there’s stuff in the show where they just

have to give it to Curt, because he can just pull off anything. BRANOM: I love surprises. I love being surprised. She does not like surprises. MCNULTY: No, I don’t like surprises. BRANOM: I once told her, one night before we went on, I said, “You know, the secret to this show is knowing that you can leave any time you want during the evening.” And she went, “What?” MCNULTY: And then every time we did Louis and Snow, I was doing dialogue with him, looking at him like, “Please stay on the stage and don’t leave. Please don’t leave me.” And I feel like we would have this moment, like, “No, don’t go.” BRANOM: We would, but those eyes, when you get those eyes of hers going, “Are you okay? Is something happening here?” MCNULTY: I do have the are-you-okay eyes. BRANOM: And then I know I have her attention at that moment. MCNULTY: Get me out of my autopilot? BRANOM: Right, exactly, ’cause we can, you know, doing this show. I think this show has been done almost 17,000 times at this point. And we do it now seven times a week. We used to do it eight times a week. MCNULTY: Christmas, we do it nine times a week. BRANOM: Right. And we have a lot of extra

shows. We have a lot of extra events like this. Keeping it fresh is something that we pride ourselves in, and we really want every audience that comes to enjoy it that day. And we know you’re coming for the first time that day. It might be the second time we’ve done the show that day, but we want to make it special and interesting and fun and exciting and creative, and we want you to come back and see the changes that we’ve made. And now we’re making changes hourly. The poor actor that plays Trump is just, “Well, what do we choose today?” Right? MCNULTY: It’s true. They’re the hardest working men in show business, the guys playing Donald Trump right now at Beach Blanket. BRANOM: Through the years, I’ve been able to play a lot of really fun characters. I play all the Republicans, I think. I think that’s— MCNULTY: And the Republican women. BRANOM: And the Republican women, right? I played Michele Bachmann for a long time, and I loved playing Michele Bachmann. I mean, they made me look like I was an American Airlines stewardess back in the ’60s. But boy, when she turned on those eyes. . . . And I played Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, and Dick Cheney was my favorite. MCNULTY: Oh my God. BRANOM: That weekend when he shot his



friend out duck hunting, we were like, “Oh, this is gold.” So the next day, they had this Elmer Fudd outfit for me, with this— MCNULTY: Huge gun. BRANOM: Huge gun that was six feet long, and all I did was open the flats and the audience just lost it. MCNULTY: And the longer Curt does a bit, kind of the more special it gets. So by the end of Dick Cheney’s long run, one time he got so into it, he literally fell backwards onto his behind and just started scooting around the stage on his butt. BRANOM: You have to keep going, right? MCNULTY: Everybody lost it, it was like one of the epic moments at Beach Blanket. BRANOM: It is so much fun. The reason you can stay in the show for so long, is that we do change it, and we do get new characters constantly. I play Jeff Sessions now, and he’s just completely fun to play. MCNULTY: And he’s head to toe in a Keebler Elf outfit. It’s pretty good. When you’re Snow, you don’t really dabble. Luckily, when I was Snow, I also covered, like I said, Pineapple and Banana. So I got to do Nancy Pelosi, all leather on a motorcycle. We



had some ’50s outfits for DiFi and Barbara Boxer. Sarah Palin’s really fun, too. BRANOM: Oh, Sarah Palin. MCNULTY: Just like Jeff Sessions, with the gun, and like, “Oh . . . I’ll kick your ass.” You gotta do it in your Sarah Palin voice. I think, for me, doing those accents, like Kim Kardashian—“Hi, guys. I’m Kim”—it’s really fun to play from character to character, like what am I going to do with this voice? What am I going to do physically? And it makes it real. Then they give you these costumes, and you know, the Kim Kardashian costume, you can imagine, is very, very special. BRANOM: It is just curve, after curve, after curve, after curve, after curve. MCNULTY: The butt is . . . I hope I’m not divulging secrets here. The butt is actually made of playground balls, you know? That’s what’s in the butt. It’s pretty incredible, the stuff that these costumers come up with. BRANOM: Downstairs is where they create everything, and you should see, it’s like toyland down there. You’re thinking, “What are you going to do with . . . Oh.” And then all of a sudden, it’s on your head. You know. MCNULTY: Now we’ve learned that when

wigs start showing up in the basement, we don’t know what they’re for, like, what’s happening? Who’s gonna wear that? Sometimes we’ll try things, one night, and you know? It either works or it doesn’t. So we’ll put in all the work and sometimes it’s over. BRANOM: Yeah, we think things are golden, and then they just fall flat sometimes. You never know what people are going to like, and then we think, “Oh, we’ll just try this and see what happens.” And it’s fantastic. That’s what’s so scary. MCNULTY: I have a different perspective now that I’m understudying. The first time where I actually was out in the audience, when they first put in a new number, and I’m still nervous, like I’m not even involved, but I know how they’re feeling, and there’s nerves and you want to get it right, ’cause you don’t want the reason it didn’t land to be that you messed it up. BRANOM: Right. The problem is, too, when you’re putting in something new, that’s all you’re thinking about the whole show. You just want to get to that new place and get the old stuff over with and get into the new stuff, because you just never know if

it’s gonna work. Even if they change two or three words, it’s really tough. If you’ve been doing something for even a few weeks, and then they start to change words, which they do when they cut music, and they do it that day, you’re lucky if you get to run through it. And they usually would let you try to run through it, if there’s time, and if there isn’t time, you just wing it. MCNULTY: Sometimes we’ll revert back to old lines randomly, like I’ve said lines that were like five years old, and it’s like, “Where did that come from?” BRANOM: Right, and once you start that line, you have to commit, because if you try to fix it, you are lost. How many times have we gone out on stage and just gotten lost? MCNULTY: Oh, a lot. BRANOM: A lot. It does happen, but we’re human beings in front of the stage and behind the stage. We’re all trying to make this wonderful performance, this one event for 90 minutes really happen, and it doesn’t always happen exactly the way you want it to happen. To me, those are the moments that are spectacular, because those are the moments where people are really alive on stage.

MCNULTY: That’s the joy of live theater. Every audience gets a little bit of a different show. Curt’s right; some of the best things that happen come from a mistake. I mean, Tammy, who plays the lead—the San Francisco hat—one time I was on [as] Snow and she was in the country western [costume]. It’s this huge cowgirl thing, and she has a whip. She accidentally whipped the wig completely off of her head, the whole thing just went down. BRANOM: It’s hard to ignore that. MCNULTY: No. But she did not stop singing. I took her microphone and held it to her mouth while she took the wig and put it back on her head, and finished [singing]. And the audience went crazy. I think some people stood up; it was amazing. AUDIENCE MEMBER: If you feel it’s appropriate, can you share some personal stories of Steve Silver? BRANOM: Well, the most profound moment I have of Steve Silver is his last show when he was there. He had invited Carol Channing that evening. She was out there with us. And she goes, “How will I know when to sing?” We’re like, “We think you’ll know.” And so he brought her, and he gave

her the Top Hat award that evening, and she was in the audience, Steve and [his wife] Jo were up in the penalty boxes watching the show. By that point too, he could hardly see. And by that point, when I’d gone into the show, he didn’t rehearse me, so he’d never seen a short Louis before. So the director had to brace him—that this man is not going to be towards the ceiling. He’s going to be closer to the ground, and he just told me that I did it with panache, and he loved everything that we all did that night. So we didn’t know that, of course, that was going to be the last show that he’d see, but it was a beautiful moment to have him backstage embracing all of us for the last time. Very creative man. MCNULTY: Steve was really into the Beach Blanket Bingo movies, I believe, and so I think he just came up with the Babylon thing. He threw it in there, and initially, they dumped sand all in the theater, and all of the ushers were dressed as lifeguards. They had sunscreen on, so he really embraced that whole Beach Blanket Bingo kind of vibe, the Annette Funicello movies. It goes into his Annette Funicello thing.



L ast Word


Photos by Sarah Gonzalez



hen we started the [mental health] court over 20 years ago, we really did want to cast a very wide net. We knew there was an overrepresentation of people flowing into our local jail system as a result of a lack of access to care. We also in Florida have a pretty high prevalence of retirees and older adults, so we have individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s disorders, and just a whole range of mental health problems. . . . I was doing civil rights work for people with disabilities in the community. I was not a judge at the time my community really identified those problems in our criminal justice system, which is absolutely no different than any other locale and any other criminal justice system. It’s just that we had a sense of consciousness that arose and it really came with a number of problems that we were experiencing. One was jail overcrowding, the other was that there was a number of suicides in our local jail. The third problem that is really the core catalyst to the court involved a high-profile case by the name of Aaron Wynn. Aaron actually wasn’t mentally ill; he was a 19-year-old high school graduate getting ready for college that was involved in a very serious motorcycle accident, and he had suffered severe brain injury. As the plight of his family evolved, his family could not find any services or treatment for their son. He ultimately got into a negative encounter with a



police officer, got committed by a judge to a forensic hospital—when you’re found not competent to proceed to trial, that’s what happens in Florida and in other states. He ended up literally spending two and a half years in what is called four- and five-point restraint in solitary confinement in a northern Florida jail. He ultimately was released and his family still was unable to find him housing; at this point his mental illness got so much worse he developed schizophrenia, he developed post-traumatic stress disorder. He was in a grocery store one day, had a panic attack, ran out of the grocery store and collided with an 85-year-old woman, who fell to the pavement, ultimately died of head injuries. And now Aaron was charged with murder. I came to the bench at that time when all of this was coming to a head. I happened to be specially trained in all of these different skillsets that lawyers typically don’t learn in law school. A task force was organized to find solutions, and finally the recommendation was we want our own court and we have the judge to do it. —Ginger Lerner-Wren “Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren and Dan Ashley: Stories from America’s First Mental Health Court” March 6, 2018

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 in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Marin County, and the East Bay. Standard programs are typically one hour long and frequently include panel discussions or speeches followed by a question and answer session. Many evening programs include a networking reception with wine. PROGRAM DIVISIONS




Discussion among climate scientists, policymakers, activists, and citizens about energy, the economy, and the environment.

Inspiring talks with leaders in tech, culture, food, design, business and social issues targeted towards young adults.

Volunteer-driven programs that focus on particular fields. Most evening programs include a wine networking reception.




RADIO, VIDEO, & PODCASTS Watch Club programs on the California Channel every Saturday at 9 p.m., and on KRCB TV 22 on Comcast. Select Commonwealth Club programs air on Marin TV’s Education Channel (Comcast Channel 30, U-Verse Channel 99) and on CreaTV in San Jose (Channel 30). View hundreds of streaming videos of Club programs at and

Hear Club programs on more than 200 public and commercial radio stations throughout the United States. For the latest schedule, visit In the San Francisco Bay Area, tune in to: KQED (88.5 FM) Fridays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 a.m.

KSAN (107.7 FM) Sundays at 5 a.m.

KRCB Radio (91.1 FM in Rohnert Park) Thursdays at 7 p.m.

KNBR (680 and 1050 AM) Sundays at 5 a.m.

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

KFOG (104.5 and 97.7 FM) Sundays at 5 a.m.

KLIV (1590 AM) Thursdays at 7 p.m. Fridays at 4 p.m.

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TICKETS Prepayment is required. Unless otherwise indicated, all events—including “Members Free” events— require tickets. Programs often sell out, so we strongly encourage you to purchase tickets in advance. 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. Select events include premium seating, which refers to the first several rows of seating. Pricing is subject to change.

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6:30 pm 5:15 p.m.Walls Blinding and Flash of Policy Bridges: the Obvious and 6:30 p.m. Ben FrankRacism lin Circles 6:30 pm Week FM to 6:30 p.m. Week Politics ChangeRoundmakers: table andMovement Social Leaders on Civil Hour Rights in an Uncivil Time FM 7:45 p.m. The Future of America’s Political

2 pm Longevity Explorers Discurssion Group: Better Aging. You. Your Parents. 6 pm Montaigne and The Art of Conversation 6 pm 87th Annual California Book Awards

12 pm Tesla: Inventor of the Modern 6:30 pm Michael Eric Dyson: America’s Unfinshed Race Conversation 6:30 pm Socrates Café FM

5:30 pm Harpoon: Cobatting Terrorism FM 6:30 pm Max Brooks & ML Cavanaugh: How Star Wars Explains Modern Military Conflict


6:30 10 a.m. pmChinatown Gavin Walking Youth Grimm: Tour 6:30 p.m.and Activism Sallie LGBTQ Krawcheck: The PowRights er of Women, Work and Wallet 7 p.m. Gopi Kallayil: Brain, Body and Consciousness

9 am Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy in America 5:15 pm Avoiding Scams, Fraud and Financial Exploitation

12 pm 49ers Assistant Coach Katie Sowers 6 pm Health Care in America: What Happens Now? 6 pm The Hope of Our Future 7 pm Carl Zimmer: Understanding Heredity

6:30 pm Week to Week Politics Roundtable and Social Hour

San Francisco

East/North Bay

5:15 pm The Village Movement: Revolutionizing The Experience of Aging in California 6:30 pm Ben Franklin Circles

12 pm Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists’ CEO Rachel Bronson 2 pm Commonwealth Club Weekly Tour FE 6:30 pm Coming of Age Black and Free in America with Darnell Moore

2 pm Commonwealth Club Weekly Tour FE 6 pm Healthy Cancer Treatment: Address Your Mitochondria Yourself 6:30 pm Style Startup to IPO with Katrina Lake

2 pm Commonwealth Club Weekly Tour FE 6:30 pm California and Midterm Elections 2018 with The New York Times 6:30 pm Stacy Abrams 7 pm Dan Pfeiffer

Silicon Valley

12 pm Alicia Garza on The Michelle Meow Show FE 6 pm The Heartfulness Way: Heart Meditations for Spiritual Transformation 6:30 pm Theranos: Fraud and Deception in Silicon Valley

12 pm Tam O’Shaughnessy on The Michelle Meow Show FE 2 pm Russian Hill Walking Tour 6:30 pm Dr. Ruth Shapiro: Is Asia Philanthropic?

12 pm The Michelle Meow Show FE 6 pm Leftover in China: The Women Shaping The Worlds Next Superpower 6:30 pm The Carter Center’s Hrair Balian: Reducing Global Conflict

12 pm The Michelle Meow Show FE 2 pm Waterfront Walking Tour 6:30 pm Spencer Christian with Dan Ashley

FM Free for members

12 pm Alliance for Smiles FM

9 am Mineta Transportation Summit: Paving the Way to a Better Future—The Implementation of SB1 Funds FE 12 pm Ben Rhodes: National Security Under Obama

FE Free for everyone

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6 pm The Lives of the Constitution: Ten Exceptional Minds that Shaped America’s Supreme Law 6:30 pm Malcolm Nance: The Plot to Destroy Democracy

6 pm We Can’t Talk Anymore? 6:30 pm We’re Doomed. Now What?

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5:15 pm Medication Assisted Therapy: A Local Community Clinic Response to The Opiod Epidemic 6:30 pm Week to Week Politics Roundtable and Social Hour

6:30 pm A Bipartisan Approach to Health Care Reform

5:15 pm Transgender Health: Mental Health in The Age of Trump 6:30 pm Week to Week Politics Roundtable and Social Hour FM 5:30 pm Middle East Forum Discussion FM

6 pm Can American Democracy Be De-Polarized? Some Thoughts on Restoring Democratic Discourse and Accountability

7 pm Andy Weir: Best-Selling Author of “The Martian” and “Artemis”

1:30 pm Commonwealth Club Weekly Tour FE 5:15 pm Aging in The Zone

1:30 pm Commonwealth Club Weekly Tour FE

2 pm Commonwealth Club Weekly Tour FE

12 pm The Michelle Meow Show FE 2 pm San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour 6:30 pm We Players Book Discussion: The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, by Shakespeare

12 pm The Michelle Meow Show FE 6 pm Caesar Maximus

12 pm The Michelle Meow Show FE 10 am Chinatown Walking Tour 6:30 pm Michael Chertoff



For current prices, call 415.597.6705 or go to

The Michelle Meow Show 6/7 • Below: Gavin Grimm 6/5


Will this be the summer of political discontent? Join our panelists for informative and engaging commentary on political news, audience discussion of the week’s events, and our live news quiz. Come early before the program and discuss the news over snacks and wine at our members social (open to all attendees). SAN FRANCISCO • WEEK TO WEEK PROGRAM • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. wine-and-snacks social, 6:30 p.m. program


Gavin Grimm, Transgender Rights Activist Abdi Soltani, Executive Director, Northern California ACLU—Moderator

What is being done in California and beyond to safeguard the rights of transgender people, especially as the current administration rolls back Obama-era protections? And what is t h e role of

young people in advancing this issue? As a prominent face of the transgender rights movement, 18-year-old activist Gavin Grimm has unique insight to share on the matter. In 2014, Grimm and his family told his Virginia high school he was transgender, and then, amidst uproar from some parents, the school administration barred Grimm from using the boys’ bathroom. So Gavin sued his district, stating that the decision violated Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding. Grimm then quickly gained national attention and the respect of transgender activists, including Laverne Cox and Janet Mock. Today, his case in Virginia is still pending. SAN FRANCISCO • INFORUM PROGRAM • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program • Notes: In association with San Francisco Pride; photo by ACLU/ Scout Tufankjian


Lisa Brinkmann Brinkmann, Executive Director, Marin Villages Linda Burroughs Burroughs, Executive Director, Villages of San Mateo County Kate Hoepke Hoepke, Executive Director, San Francisco Village

When we unite as peers, we create a purposeful and powerful space for learning, laughter and courage as we take on the future. Villages are nonprofit membership organizations that connect older adults to the community, programming and expertise they need to continue living lives of purpose and meaning. They are led by members who share their skills, experience and support with each

other to navigate the challenges and opportunities of aging. Learn how three Bay Area villages are creating new possibilities for what's next as we age. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 4:45 p.m. check-in, 5:15 p.m. program • MLF: Grownups • Program organizer: Denise Michaud

BEN FRANKLIN CIRCLES Join us for a 21st-century version of Ben Franklin’s mutual improvement club. One evening a week the founding father discussed and debated with his friends the 13 virtues that he felt formed the basis for personal and civic improvement, a list he created when he was 20. The virtues included justice, resolution and humility. (But don’t misunderstand Ben on that one—his explanation of humility was “imitate Jesus and Socrates.”)

SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Max Thelen Boardroom, San Francisco • Time: 6 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program • MLF: Humanities • Program organizer: George Hammond


Alicia Garza, Special Projects Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance; Co-founder, Black Lives Matter Michelle Meow, Host, “The Michelle Meow Show”; President, SF Pride John Zipperer, Host, Week to Week

Join us for a fascinating conversation with Black Lives Matter co-founder and labor organizer Alicia Garza.

SAN FRANCISCO • MICHELLE MEOW PROGRAM • Location: Max Thelen Board Room, 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco • Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program

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Joshua Pollock 6/7 • Theranos: Fraud and Deception in Silicon Valley 6/7


Joshua Pollock, Author, The Heartfulness Way; Heartfulness Practitioner

Joshua Pollock presents a unique method of meditation he believes has the power to facilitate an immediate, tangible spiritual experience. Most of us move through our busy lives with our minds full of ideas, multitasking as we strive to navigate the responsibilities and expectations we must meet just to make it through the day in pursuit of material wealth. Using the prescribed method, detailed practices and tips offered, he says you’ll learn to live a life more deeply connected to the values of the Heartfulness Way—with acceptance, humility, compassion, empathy and love. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing • MLF: Health & Medicine • Program organizer: Bill Grant


John Carreyrou, Investigative Reporter, The Wall Street Journal; Author, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

Sometimes a commitment to an idea can drive the idea’s originator to do unthinkable things. According to journalist John Carreyrou, this is the phenomenon that drove Silicon Valley company Theranos and its founder Elizabeth Holmes down a road that led to charges of “massive fraud.” The story of Theranos began like many companies in Silicon Valley—as a bold vision. Theranos’ goal was to create a portable minilab that could capture accurate test results from a drop or two of blood pricked from a finger. To make this goal a reality, Holmes and

Theranos reportedly lied when the devices did not work. Carreyrou will explore what he calls “a narrative about heroes and villains, and an examination of failed oversight, lax regulation, corporate malfeasance and the lengths some companies are willing to go to in an effort to circumvent the law.” Join us for this can’t-miss discussion! SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program, 7:30 p.m. book signing • Notes: Photo by Michael Lionstar


Anita Stangl, Humanitarian, Founder, Alliance for Smiles Jonathan Curiel, Journalist—Moderator

Come hear a discussion of the work of The Alliance for Smiles, a nonprofit Anita Stangl helped create and guide. The Alliance provides unique services to children in underserved countries who are in need of cleft lip and palate repair and is expanding its work to Morocco and Egypt. Stangl has spoken worldwide about volunteer programs that emphasize cleft lip and palate reconstructive surgery. She has chaired many committees which focus on community, youth, international service, and promoting world peace. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program • MLF: Middle East • Program Organizer: Celia Menczel • Notes: Nonu Ibra Remane/Flickr


explores new and emerging solutions to the challenges of growing older. Not only will we be uncovering interesting new products at the intersection of aging and technology, we will also conduct a series of ongoing deep-dive discussions into topics such as brain health, apps for seniors, and hearing and wearables for seniors. The results of our discussions will be shared with a larger community of older adults interested in improving their quality of life through our partner in this initiative, Tech-enhanced Life, PBC. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 1:30 p.m. check-in, 2–3:30 p.m. program • MLF: Grownups • Program organizer: John Milford


Timothy Hampton, Aldo Scaglione and Marie M. Burns Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature and French; Director, Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities, UC Berkeley

Monday Night Philosophy returns to Michel de Montaigne, the inventor of the essay and the greatest philosopher of the Renaissance, who is often imagined to be a solitary figure, lost in his library, writing to himself. However, his understanding of the practice of philosophy and the cultivation of the self were deeply social and tied to the give and take of debate and disputation among friends. Hampton’s talk—his “conversation”—will focus on one of Montaigne’s greatest essays, “On the Art of Conversation.” It will place the essay in Montaigne’s thought and in the tradition of “philosophical conversation” that underpins the humanist tradition in the European West. Conversation with and about the essay will be welcome. JUNE/JULY 2018


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Timothy Hampton 6/11 • 87th Annual California Book Awards 6/11 • Below: Mary Twomey 6/12 SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6 p.m. program • MLF: Humanities • Program organizer: George Hammond • Notes: This program is part of the Crisis in Our Country Summer Series.


The California Book Awards have often been in the vanguard, honoring previously unknown authors who go on to garner national acclaim. Since 1931, the awards have honored the exceptional literary merit of California

writers and publishers. Each year, a select jury considers hundreds of books from around the state in search of the very best in literary achievement. This year The Commonwealth Club is proud to announce a significant increase in the monetary value of the award: Gold award winners will receive $5,000 and silver award winners $2,500. This is made possible by a bequest of Martha Cox, a long-time fiction jury member and stalwart advocate—especially for emerging talent. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6 p.m. program, 7:15 p.m. book signing


Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy is the seminal publication on charitable giving in the United States. At this event, conducted in collaboration with CCS Fundraising and Foundation Center West, local philanthropic and nonprofit leaders will review national data and exclusive data pertaining to Bay Area giving with a special focus on trends in tech philanthropy. Philanthropic giving— whether to hospitals, universities, the arts or local nonprofits—impacts the lives of all citizens and determines a range of services available in our communities now and into the future.

SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 8:30 a.m. check-in, 9–11 a.m. program


Mary Twomey, Aging Program Specialist, Administration for Community Living, Office of Elder Justice and Adult Protective Services; Former Co-director, National Center on Elder Abuse and the Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect, UC Irvine

One in 10 older Americans is impacted by scams, frauds or elder abuse each year. Every day brings another way that scam artists, abusers and fraudsters have invented to separate you from your retirement funds. Whether by email, social media, phone or other means, the creativity of these bad actors is matched only by their malicious intent. Learn how to spot the risk factors that make someone vulnerable to scams, and learn what you can do to avoid them. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 4:45 p.m. check-in, 5:15 p.m. program • MLF: Grownups • Program organizer: Denise Michaud


Rachel Bronson, Ph.D., President and CEO, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; Former Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations Philip Yun, Executive Director, Ploughshares Fund—Moderator

The Doomsday Clock debuted in 1947 on the cover of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ very first magazine to convey the urgent need to avoid nuclear war. Today, more than 70 years later, the iconic clock is globally recognized and has been called “the most

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Darnell Moore 6/13 • Commonwealth Club Weekly Tour 6/13

powerful piece of information design in the 20th century.” The clock is currently set at two minutes to midnight, the closest it has been to midnight since 1953. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 11:15 a.m. check-in, noon program

WEEKLY CLUB TOUR We’re giving behind-the-scenes tours of our vibrant new home at 110 The Embarcadero. At our spectacular, state-of-the-art gathering space, which features a rooftop terrace with unobstructed views of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco Bay, you can learn about our storied history and the many amenities of being a Club member. Reserve your space now to visit San Francisco’s newest—and oldest—cultural treasure at our new location.

SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Osher Lobby, San Francisco • Time: 1:30 p.m. check-in, 2–3 p.m. tour


Darnell Moore, Author, No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America; Co-Managing Editor, The Feminist Wire; Writer-in-Residence, Center on African American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice, Columbia University; Co-Founder, YOU Belong Hana Baba, Host, KALW's "Crosscurrents" News Magazine; Co-Host, "The Stoop" Podcast—Moderator Leila Day, Producer, Pineapple Media, CoHost, "The Stoop" Podcast—Moderator.

Join INFORUM for Pride Month and a conversation about the intersectionality of faith, sexuality, blackness and gender with author Darnell L. Moore, as he discusses his new memoir, No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of

Age Black and Free in America. This will be an empowering and insightful evening that you won’t want to miss. Moore is regarded as “one of the most influential black writers and thinkers of our time,” centering his work largely around the topics of liberation, self-love and tolerance. Moore is an embodiment of resilience, having endured traumas such as narrowly escaping being burned alive at 14 years old by homophobic neighborhood children, suffering a near-fatal heart attack at 19 years old, and enduring poverty and brutality in his childhood home. Today, Moore is an award-winning writer and activist, a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement and a champion of justice. His writing centers around anti-racist, feminist, pro-queer people of color and anti-colonial thought. Moore is also a renowned scholar in black Christian thought. SAN FRANCISCO • INFORUM PROGRAM • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program, 7:30 p.m. book signing • Notes: Part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation; in association with San Francisco Pride; photo by Erik Carter


Tam O'Shaughnessy, Author; Co-founder and Executive Director, Sally Ride Science, UC San Diego Michelle Meow, Host, “The Michelle Meow Show”; President, SF Pride John Zipperer, Host, Week to Week Politics Roundtable, The Commonwealth Club— Co-host

Come meet Tam O'Shaughnessy, author of children's book and executive director of

Sally Ride Science, which she co-founded with her life partner, Sally Ride, America's first woman in space. Learn about her fascinating life and the work to which she has devoted her life. SAN FRANCISCO • MICHELLE MEOW PROGRAM • Location: Max Thelen Board Room, 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco • Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program

RUSSIAN HILL WALKING TOUR Join a more active Commonwealth Club neighborhood adventure! Russian Hill is a magical area with secret gardens and amazing views. Join Rick Evans for a “cardio hike” up hills and staircases and learn about the history of this neighborhood. See where great artists and architects lived and worked, and walk down residential streets where some of the most historically significant houses in the Bay Area are located. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: Swensen’s Ice Cream, 1999 Hyde St., San Francisco • Time: 1:45 p.m. check-in, 2–4:30 p.m. walk • Notes: Take Muni (Bus 45) or a taxi; there is absolutely no parking on Russian Hill—no parking lots or street parking; please take a taxi or public transport; the tour ends about six blocks from Swensen’s Ice Cream, at the corner of Vallejo and Jones; it is an easy walk down to North Beach from there; there are steep hills and staircases; the tour is recommended for good walkers only; tour operates rain or shine; limited to 20 participants; tickets must be purchased in advance and will not be sold at check-in


Dr. Ruth Shapiro, Founder and Chief Executive, The Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society; Author, Pragmatic Philanthropy: Asian Charity Explained Dr. Gloria Duffy, President and CEO, The JUNE/JULY 2018


For current prices, call 415.597.6705 or go to

Tesla: Inventor of the Modern 6/18

Commonwealth Club—Chair Jack Wadsworth, Co-Chairman, Asia Society Northern California; Former Chair, Morgan Stanley Asia—Moderator

As enormous wealth continues to be created in Asia, the region’s ultra-high-net-worth individuals are turning to philanthropy. But their path continues to manifest quite differently from the United States and Western Europe. Drawing upon exclusive interviews with ultrahigh-net-worth individuals and case studies of successful social initiatives, this talk will examine why and how Asia’s traditional and newer philanthropists are giving. Dr. Ruth Shapiro is the founder and chief executive of the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society, a nonprofit incorporated in Hong Kong in 2014. In addition to Pragmatic Philanthropy, Shapiro edited The Real Problem Solvers, a book about social entrepreneurship in America.

SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program, 7:30 p.m. book signing • Notes: In association with The Asia Society of Northern California


Richard Munson, Author, Tesla: Inventor of the Modern

Nikola Tesla invented the radio, robots and remote control. When his first breakthrough—alternating current—pitted him against Thomas Edison’s direct-current empire, Tesla’s superior technology prevailed. Although penniless later in life, he never stopped imagining. In the early 1900s, he designed plans for cell phones, the Internet, death-ray weapons and interstellar communications.



Richard Munson pieces together the magnificently bizarre personal life and mental habits of this farsighted and underappreciated mastermind. Strikingly handsome and impeccably dressed, Tesla spoke eight languages and could recite entire books from memory. Yet his most famous inventions were not the product of fastidiousness or linear thought but of a mind fueled by both the humanities and sciences. He conceived the induction motor while walking through a park, reciting Goethe’s “Faust,” and then worked tirelessly to offer electric power to the world, and develop machines that could abolish war.

SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program, 1 p.m. book signing • MLF: Humanities • Program organizer: George Hammond • Notes: Part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation


Michael Eric Dyson, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times; Professor of Sociology, Georgetown University; Author, What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America

According to celebrated author and sociologist Michael Eric Dyson, 1963 was a defining year for the civil rights movement in the United States—universities in the South were integrated, four young girls were killed in a church bombing and a quarter of a million Americans marched on Washington to hear Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. That same year, Attorney General Robert Kennedy sought out cultural leaders such as James Baldwin, playwright Lorraine Hansber-

ry, psychologist Kenneth Clark and activist Jerome Smith to explain the rage that threatened to engulf America. According to Dyson, every fundamental argument about race in America was heard in that room. Fifty-five years later, the tense intersection of conflict between conscience and politics—between morality and power—in addressing race continues on with Black Lives Matter. In his new book, Michael Eric Dyson confronts a difficult situation directly: whether we embrace political resolution or moral redemption to fix our fractured racial landscape in this country. Dyson believes the future of race—and of democracy itself—hangs in the balance.

SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program, 7:30 p.m. book signing • Notes: Photo by Nina Subin

SOCRATES CAFÉ Socrates Café is devoted to the discussion of a philosophical topic chosen at that meeting. The group’s facilitator, John Nyquist, invites participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic briefly explains why that topic is important. An open discussion follows, and the meeting ends with a summary of the various perspectives participants expressed. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 6 p.m. check-in, 6:30–8 p.m. program • MLF: Humanities • Program organizer: George Hammond


Katie Sowers, Assistant Coach, San Francisco 49ers

For current prices, call 415.597.6705 or go to

The Hope of Our Future: Youth Leaders in Their Own Words 6/19 • Below: Dr. Ruth Shapiro 6/14

Michelle Meow, Host, "The Michelle Meow Show" on TV and Radio; Board President, SF Pride—Co-host/Moderator John Zipperer, Host, Week to Week Political Roundtable—Co-host/Moderator

Katie Sowers made history when she became the first openly LGBTQ coach in the National Football League. Sowers is in her third season in the NFL and second with the 49ers as a seasonal offensive assistant. She originally joined San Francisco in June 2017 as part of the 49ers 2017 Bill Walsh Minority Fellowship, where she worked with the team’s wide receivers. Join us for a fascinating discussion of her life, sports and more. SAN FRANCISCO • MICHELLE MEOW PROGRAM • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program


Bob Kocher, M.D., Partner, Venrock; Adjunct Professor, Stanford In Conversation with Lenny Mendonca, Senior Partner Emeritus, McKinsey & Company; Member, Commonwealth Club Board of Governors

Don’t miss this behind-the-scenes peek into what is going to happen over the next decade as the nation grapples with health care costs, quality and access. Speakers will discuss how public policies and politics, incentive changes for doctors and hospitals, new entrants, and new technologies such as artificial intelligence are likely to emerge and evolve and how these trends are going to impact health care for patients. Bob Kocher served in the Obama administration and is a partner at Venrock, where he focuses on health care IT and services invest-

ments. Lenny Mendonca is a senior partner emeritus of McKinsey & Company and is a lecturer at the Stanford Business School.



Celebrated science journalist Carl Zimmer helps unravel some of the deepest mysteries surrounding our genetic blueprint and the traits that appear in generation after generation. Through the years and technological advancements we’ve learned that heredity isn’t just about genes that pass from parent to child. It continues within our own bodies, as a single cell gives rise to trillions of cells that

SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6 p.m. program • MLF: Health & Medicine • Program organizer: Bill Grant

Panelists TBA

The recent March for Our Lives nationwide protests against gun violence, led by teenage survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, were some of the largest youth protests since the Vietnam War. But young people have been fueling social change in America for decades, from the civil rights movement and Vietnam War protests to the undocumented youth and Black Lives Matter movements. Twenty-two million American teens will turn 18 by the 2020 election, giving youth tremendous power during a critical moment in our nation’s history. What will the future look like under their leadership? When we create space for young people, support their advocacy and listen to their voices, they speak truth to power and we all stand to win. That’s why, for this event, we’re handing them the microphones. Join some of the Bay Area’s brightest young leaders as they discuss the issues they care about, the policies they’re working to change, and the tools and strategies they’re using to grow their movements.

SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6 p.m. program • Notes: This panel is proudly sponsored by the Bay Area Leads Fund of the San Francisco Foundation and is the latest in The Foundation’s series on People, Place and Power; photo by Francisco Osorio

Carl Zimmer, Columnist, The New York Times; Author, She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity; Twitter @carlzimmer Lisa Krieger, Science Journalist, Bay Area News Group—Moderator

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Carl Zimmer: Understanding Heredity 6/19 • Roseann Lake 6/21

make up our bodies. Drawing on scientific research and his own experiences with his two daughters, Zimmer offers a fascinating new way to understanding heredity and who we really are.

SILICON VALLEY • Location: Schultz Cultural Hall, Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto • Time: 6:30 p.m. check-in, 7 p.m. program, 8 p.m. book signing • Notes: In association with Wonderfest

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20 WEEKLY CLUB TOUR The Commonwealth Club’s doors are open! For the first time since our founding 115 years ago, The Commonwealth Club has a permanent place of its own, and we are so excited to share it with you. We’re giving both members and nonmembers behind-the-scenes tours of our vibrant new home at 110 The Embarcadero. At our spectacular, state-of-the-art gathering space, which features a rooftop terrace with unobstructed views of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco Bay, you can learn about our storied history and the many amenities of being a Club member. Reserve your space now to visit San Francisco’s newest—and oldest—cultural treasure at our new location. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Osher Lobby, San Francisco • Time: 1:30 p.m. check-in, 2–3 p.m. tour


Dr. Thomas Seyfried, Cancer Researcher; Author, Cancer as a Metabolic Disease

Boston College Professor Dr. Thomas Seyfried will present surprising information that shakes the whole foundation of cancer treatment research. His own research reveals that cancer can be considered a single disease with



a common pathophysiological mechanism involving dysfunction of mitochondria. The gene mutations observed in various cancers and all other recognized cancer hallmarks are considered downstream effects, and not causes, of the initial disturbance of cellular energy metabolism. Learn how to empower yourself to more healthily address the causes, with the goal of healthily treating and preventing cancer . . . without chemicals, drugs and side effects. Seyfriend states that “cancer cell growth and progression can be managed by following a whole-body” approaches. Seyfried is a trailblazer in the arena of conquering cancer. His groundbreaking book, Cancer as a Metabolic Disease, shook the foundations of the ways cancer causes and treatment are viewed. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing • MLF: Health & Medicine • Program organizer: Adrea Brier


Katrina Lake, CEO and Founder, Stitch Fix Lauren Schiller, Host, Inflection Point— Moderator

Katrina Lake became the youngest female founder and CEO to take a company public when her online personal styling company, Stitch Fix, completed its IPO in November 2017. Lest that not be a big enough splash on the male-dominated business world, she did so on stage at NASDAQ with her young son casually resting on her hip, setting the tone for a new generation of women tech leaders. Lake started Stitch Fix in Harvard Business School, and often faced skepticism from a mostly male venture capital world as she pitched the concept of the data-driven fash-

ion company targeted to women. Seven years after Katrina received her first term sheet, Stitch Fix is valued at more than $2 billion and has shipped millions of "Fixes": boxes of clothes and accessories personalized for clients using a unique combination of algorithms and human stylists. Beyond its success with customers and investors, Stitch Fix’s workforce is 86-percent female, and the company also focuses on representation in its leadership, maintaining a 50/50 split of men and women on its board. Stitch Fix was named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies of 2018, and Lake has been recognized as a Forbes 40 Under 40 recipient, as well as numerous other accolades. Join INFORUM for a dynamic conversation with Katrina Lake about life as an entrepreneur, being a female CEO, and the future of style and technology. SAN FRANCISCO • INFORUM PROGRAM • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program


Michelle Meow, Host, “The Michelle Meow Show”; President, SF Pride John Zipperer, Host, Week to Week Politics Roundtable—Co-Host

Each Thursday at noon, Michelle Meow brings her long-running daily radio program to The Commonwealth Club, where you can hear and meet fascinating—and often controversial—people discussing LGBTQ issues. Check for this week’s guests, and bring your questions. SAN FRANCISCO • MICHELLE MEOW PROGRAM • Location: Max Thelen Board Room,

For current prices, call 415.597.6705 or go to

Style Startup to IPO with Katrina Lake 6/20 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco • Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program


Roseann Lake, Author, Leftover in China; Television Reporter; Cuba Correspondent, The Economist

Forty years ago, China enacted the onechild policy, only recently relaxed. Among many other unintended consequences, it resulted in both an enormous gender imbalance—with a predicted 20 million more men than women of marriage age by 2020—and China’s first generations of only-daughters. Given the resources normally reserved for boys, these girls were pushed to study, excel in college and succeed in careers, as if they were sons. Now living in an economic powerhouse, enough of these women have decided to postpone marriage — or not marry at all— to spawn a label: “leftovers.” Unprecedentedly well-educated and goal-oriented, they struggle to find partners in a society where gender roles have not evolved as vigorously as society itself, and where new professional opportunities have made women less willing to compromise their careers or concede to marriage for the sake of being wed. Further complicating their search for a mate, the vast majority of China’s single men reside in and are tied to the rural areas where they were raised. This makes them geographically, economically and educationally incompatible with city-dwelling “leftovers,” who also face difficulty in partnering with urban men, given the urban men’s general preference for more dutiful, domesticated wives. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium, San Fran-

cisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6 p.m. program • MLF: Asia-Pacific Affairs • Program organizer: Lillian Nakagawa


Hrair Balian, Director, Conflict Resolution Program, The Carter Center George Smith, Member, Commonwealth Club Board of Governors—Program Chair Skip Rhodes, Past Chair, Commonwealth Club Board of Governors—Moderator

In a world that often seems beset by turmoil, come for an important discussion of how ongoing dialogue can significantly reduce violent confrontation and aid desperate populations. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide. A nongovernmental organization, the center has helped to improve life for people in more than 80 countries by resolving conflicts and advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity. Hrair Balian leads the Carter Center’s conflict resolution efforts, which are underway in Israel-Palestine, where the Center supports a 2-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; in Liberia, to advance access to justice in a post-war setting, paying special attention to the needs of marginalized populations; in Syria, where the center is working toward a political solution to the catastrophic war by exploring governance and constitutional reform options; and in Europe and the U.S. to prevent the rise of violent extremism. Since 1991, Balian has worked in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, the independent states emerging from the former Soviet Union, the

Middle East and Africa, serving in intergovernmental organizations (the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) and nongovernmental organizations (International Crisis Group and others).

SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program


Keynote Introduction: Norman Mineta, Secretary (ret.) U.S. Department of Transportation Keynote Address: Laurie Berman, Director, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) Featured Speaker: Asha Agrawal, Ph.D., Director, Mineta Transportation Institute National Transportation Finance Center Karen Philbrick, Ph.D., Exec. Director, Mineta Transportation Institute—Moderator

The need to invest in California’s transportation system is dire and after years of seeking a solution to the state’s transportation crisis, the State Legislature passed and the governor signed SB 1, also known as the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, increasing transportation funding by $54 billion over a decade. SB 1 provides the first significant, stable and ongoing increase in state transportation funding in more than two decades. This free, half-day summit hosted by the Mineta Transportation Institute looks at how SB1 funds are being implemented and documents the strategies that state, local, and regional governments and transportation agencies are taking to address California’s transportation JUNE/JULY 2018


For current prices, call 415.597.6705 or go to

Mineta Transportation Summit 6/22 • Below: Stacey Abrams: Leading from the Minority 6/27


SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 8:15 a.m. check-in and continental breakfast, 9-11:30 a.m. program • Notes: Free program; please register by Thursday, June 21 at noon; underwritten by the Mineta Transportation Institute


Ben Rhodes, Former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama; Author, The World as It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House

The Obama years were a historic moment

in American history. For nearly 10 years, Ben Rhodes was at the center of everything that happened—first as a speechwriter, then as deputy national security advisor and a close presidential aide and confidant. From the early days on the campaign trail to the final hours in the Oval Office, Ben Rhodes captures Obama’s historic presidency. Rhodes knows what it was like watching the Osama bin Laden raid in the Situation Room, responding to the Arab Spring, reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran and leading secret negotiations with the Cuban government to normalize relations.

SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 11 a.m. check-in, noon program, 1 p.m. book signing • Notes: Part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation


Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Attorney; Israeli activist; Founder and Director, Israel Law Center; Author, Harpoon: Inside the Covert War Against Terrorism’s Money Masters Robert Rosenthal, Board Member and Former Executive Director, The Center for Investigative Reporting—Moderator

Darshan-Leitner, the founder and director of the Israel Law Center, will discuss the unconventional Israeli task force Harpoon, which was created to combat terrorism. Leitner has appeared on CNN, BBC, Fox News and other media outlets, and will explain the unconventional ways Israel’s espionage service Mossad waged financial warfare against extremist organizations and regimes funding worldwide terrorism and how Harpoon’s cloakand-dagger campaign became the blueprint for American efforts to

fight threats such as ISIS.

SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium San Francisco • Time: 5 p.m. check-in, 5:30 p.m. program, 6:30 p.m. book signing • MLF: Middle East • Program organizer: Celia Menczel


Max Brooks, Fellow, Modern War Institute, West Point; Co-editor, Strategy Strikes Back: How Star Wars Explains Modern Military Conflict; Author, World War Z ML Cavanaugh, Fellow, Modern War Institute, West Point; Co-editor, Strategy Strikes Back: How Star Wars Explains Modern Military Conflict

Brooks and Cavanaugh brought together more than 30 of today’s top military and strategic experts—generals, policy advisors, seasoned diplomats, counterinsurgency strategists, science fiction writers, war journalists and ground‑level military officers—to explain the strategy and the art of war by way of the Star Wars films. They provide a relatable, outside‑the‑box way to simplify and clarify the complexities of modern military conflict. Brooks makes the case for planet building on the forest moon of Endor to offer a unique way to understand our own sustained engagement in war-ravaged societies such as Afghanistan. They share how counterinsurgency waged by Darth Vader against the Rebellion sheds light on the logic behind past military incursions in Iraq. Come for a fascinating look at the relevance of a galaxy far, far away to military actions on Earth in 2018. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program, 7:30 p.m. book signing

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California and Midterm Elections 2018 with The New York Times 6/27


How should Americans do politics in an age of polarization? One great way is The Commonwealth Club way: Talk to each other. Join our panelists for informative and engaging commentary on political news, audience discussion of the week’s events, and our live news quiz. Come early before the program and discuss the news over snacks and wine at our members social (open to all attendees). SAN FRANCISCO • WEEK TO WEEK PROGRAM • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. wine-and-snacks social, 6:30 p.m. program

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27 WEEKLY CLUB TOUR We’re giving members and nonmembers behind-the-scenes tours of our vibrant new home at 110 The Embarcadero. At our spectacular, state-of-the-art gathering space, featuring a rooftop terrace with unobstructed views of the Bay Bridge and the bay, learn about our storied history and the many amenities of being a Club member. Reserve your space now to visit San Francisco’s newest—and oldest— cultural treasure at our new location. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Osher Lobby, San Francisco • Time: 1:30 p.m. check-in, 2–3 p.m. tour


Alex Burns, National Political Correspondent, The New York Times Nate Cohn, Domestic Correspondent for "The Upshot," The New York Times

Maggie Haberman, White House Reporter, The New York Times; Pulitzer Prize Recipient 2018 Adam Nagourney, Los Angeles Bureau Chief, The New York Times—Moderator

Four prominent New York Times political journalists will take The Commonwealth Club stage to discuss the most consequential midterm election in a generation. What will the results mean for California and the nation? Following the California primary, Adam Nagourney, New York Times Los Angeles bureau chief, will moderate a discussion about the shape of the races, the role President Trump will play in this election, the future of polling and more. He will be joined by White House reporter Maggie Haberman, who was part of the team honored with a Pulitzer Prize in April for their coverage of Russia’s influence in the 2016 election; Nate Cohn, domestic correspondent for “The Upshot,” a data-driven blog which features a digital probability needle on The New York Times website on each election night; and national political correspondent Alex Burns. SAN FRANCISCO • INFORUM PROGRAM • Location: Marines' Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter St., San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program


Stacey Abrams, Candidate for Governor of Georgia; Former Minority Leader, Georgia House; Author, Minority Leader: How to Lead from the Outside and Make Real Change

It’s almost a cliché: it’s good to be different. However, it’s hard to believe this when there is a plethora of experiences and challenges that hinder anyone who exists beyond the structure of traditional power. But today, there are women, people of color, members of the

LGBTQ community and millennials in the world who are ready to make a difference. Stacey Abrams, former Georgia House minority leader and candidate for governor of that state, wants to show that there is truth in the cliché and value in the struggle against traditional power structures. She shares personal stories about launching a company, starting a daycare center for homeless teen moms and running a successful political campaign to show how ambition, fear, money and failure function in leadership. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program, 7:30 p.m. book signing • Notes: Attendees subject to search; hospitality sponsor Hotel VIA


Dan Pfeiffer, Co-host, “Pod Save America”; Former White House Communications Director; Author, Yes We (Still) Can: Politics in the Age of Obama, Twitter, and Trump

How did we get here and what do we do next? Pfeiffer was one of President Obama’s longest-serving advisors, working on two presidential campaigns and spending 6 years in the White House as communications director and senior advisor to the president. Now he co-hosts the wildly popular Pod Save America podcast, along with Jon Favreau and Tommy Vietor, which brings insiders' expertise to bear in a twice-weekly discussion about the latest happenings in the White House and Congress. Pfeiffer shares never-before-heard stories about working in the Oval Office and reflects on those years of massive change that helped rewrite the rules of politics. JUNE/JULY 2018


For current prices, call 415.597.6705 or go to

A Brighter Day 7/2 • Below: Dan Pfeiffer 6/27 SILICON VALLEY • Location: Mayer Theatre, Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara • Time: 6:15 p.m. check-in, 7 p.m. program, 8 p.m. book signing • Notes: Part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by The Bernard Osher Foundation


Michelle Meow, Host, “The Michelle Meow Show”; President, SF Pride John Zipperer, Host, Week to Week

Fascinating and often controversial people discussing LGBTQ issues. Check for this week’s guests.

SAN FRANCISCO • MICHELLE MEOW PROGRAM • Location: Max Thelen Board Room, 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco • Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program

WATERFRONT WALKING TOUR Join Rick Evans for his walking tour exploring the historic sites of the waterfront neighborhood that surrounds Club headquarters. Hear about entrepreneurs, artists and labor organizers who created this revitalized neighborhood. Get a lively overview of the historic significance of this neighborhood.

SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Osher Lobby, San Francisco • Time: 1:45 p.m. check-in, 2–3 p.m. tour • Notes: The tour operates rain or shines; tickets must be purchased in advance and will not be sold at check-in


Spencer Christian, Weather Anchor, ABC 7 Television, San Francisco; Author, You Bet Your Life: How I Survived Jim Crow Racism, Hurricane Chasing, and Gambling



In conversation with Dan Ashley, ABC 7 Television Anchor

Growing up poor and black in the rigidly segregated South, Spencer Christian relied on his family’s strong values to overcome adversity. On “Good Morning America” from 1986 to 1999, he was a daily presence in the homes of millions of Americans. He had it all—a loving wife and two wonderful children, a beautiful home, and a rewarding and remarkable career. Yet, he was living a double life that was largely unknown to the TV-viewing public. For nearly 30 years, he was a compulsive gambler—and fully addicted to the high-roller lifestyle. By the time he found the courage to confront his dependence, he had lost more than $3 million, his home, his job—and most important—his family. Spencer reveals his roller-coaster rise to success and crash to rock bottom. He also details his recovery of hope and happiness. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program, 7:30 p.m. book signing



Elliot Kallen,, Financial Accountant; Wealth Manager; Founder, A Brighter Day

Suicide is a leading cause of death among U.S. teens. Elliot Kallen, who founded A Brighter Day in honor of his late son, Jake, will discuss the organization’s efforts in fighting depression and teen suicide. A Brighter Day reaches out to teens suffering from depression and other related issues while allowing them to maintain their dignity. It connects teens to the resources they need, showcasing

local bands in a way that helps teens learn about depression and its risk factors.

SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 4:45 p.m. networking reception, 5:15 p.m. program • MLF: Psychology • Program organizer: Patrick O’Reilly


Joseph Tartakovsky, James Wilson Fellow in Constitutional Law, Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy; Author, The Lives of the Constitution

Monday Night Philosophy investigates Tartakovsky’s blend of biography and history, which tells

For current prices, call 415.597.6705 or go to

Joseph Tartakovsky 7/9 • Aging in the Zone 7/11

the epic and unexpected story of our Constitution through the eyes of extraordinary individuals—from Alexander Hamilton and Woodrow Wilson to James Wilson and Ida B. Wells-Barnett. Tartakovsky brings to life their struggles over our supreme law from its origins in revolutionary America to the era of Obama and Trump. Tartakovsky’s vivid cast grapples with democracy, equality, free speech, economic liberty, and the role of government.

SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing • MLF: Humanities • Program organizer: George Hammond • Notes: Part of the Crisis in Our Country Summer Series


Malcolm Nance, Retired Intelligence Office; Author, The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin’s Spies Are Winning Control of America and Dismantling the West

Retired Intelligence officer and bestselling author Malcolm Nance offers a provocative analysis of the Russian Federation’s master plan to destroy democracy, the methodologies used in the 2016 election, their next steps, and how to stop them.

SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 6 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program, 7:30 p.m. book signing


David Peritz, Professor of Politics, Sarah

Lawrence College

Political polarization, accompanied by negative partisanship, are striking features of the current political landscape. Perhaps these trends were originally confined to politicians and the media, but we recently reached the point where the majority of Americans report they would consider it more objectionable if their children married across party lines than if they married someone of another faith. Where did this polarization come from? And what it is doing to American democracy? Professor David Peritz examines some of the deeper forces in the American economy, the public sphere and media, political institutions and even moral psychology that best seem to account for the recent rise in polarization. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6 p.m. program • MLF: Health & Medicine • Program organizer: Bill Grant

WEDNESDAY, JULY 11 WEEKLY CLUB TOUR We’re giving behind-the-scenes tours of our vibrant new home at 110 The Embarcadero. At our spectacular, state-of-the-art gathering space, which features a rooftop terrace with unobstructed views of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco Bay, you can learn about our storied history and the many amenities of being a Club member. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Osher Lobby, San Francisco • Time: 1:30 p.m. check-in, 2–3 p.m. tour


Bob Kriegel, Ph.D., Author; Sports Psychol-

ogist; Lecturer

We’ve all had those days when everything we were doing worked, things just seemed to

fall into place and we were more productive and yet it felt effortless, that we were completely in tune with what we were doing. This experience has been described as being in the zone, in the flow or on a roll. Dr. Kriegel will present techniques and a "zone map" to enable anyone to access that optimal "zone" more often and for longer periods of time. He will also discuss how to overcome the sabotage thinking that creates stress, anxiety, worry and depression and lands us in the high-stress panic zone or depressed zone. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 4:45 p.m. check-in, 5:15 p.m. program • MLF: Grownups • Program organizer: John Milford


Michelle Meow, Host, “The Michelle Meow Show”; President, SF Pride John Zipperer, Host, Week to Week Politics Roundtable—Co-host

Each Thursday at noon, Michelle Meow brings her long-running daily radio program to The Commonwealth Club, where you can hear and meet fascinating—and often controversial—people discussing LGBTQ issues. Check for this week’s guests, and bring your questions.

SAN FRANCISCO • MICHELLE MEOW PROGRAM • Location: Max Thelen Board Room, 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco • Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program

SAN FRANCISCO ARCHITECTURE WALKING TOUR Explore San Francisco’s Financial District with historian Rick Evans and learn the history and stories behind some of our city’s JUNE/JULY 2018


For current prices, call 415.597.6705 or go to

The Tragedy of Julias Caesar, by Shakespeare 7/12 • Below: Tam Nguyen 7/16

remarkable structures, streets and public squares. Hear about the famous architects who influenced the building of S.F. 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!

SAN FRANCISCO • Location: Meet in Galleria Park Hotel Lobby, 191 Sutter St., San Francisco • Time: 1:45 p.m. check-in, 2-4:30 p.m. walk • Notes: The tour involves walking up and down stairs; Limited to 20 participants; tickets must be purchased in advance and will not be sold at check-in

WE PLAYERS BOOK DISCUSSION: THE TRAGEDY OF JULIUS CAESAR, BY SHAKESPEARE Join us to discuss both The Tragedy of Julius Caesar and We Players adaptation of Shakespeare’s play. Based on events from Ro-

man history, the central psychological drama of this 1599 play focuses on Brutus’ struggle between the conflicting demands of honor, patriotism and friendship. Discussion led by George Hammond.

SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Max Thelen Boardroom, San Francisco • Time: 6 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program • MLF: Humanities • Program organizer: George Hammond



Tam Nguyen, Ph.D., Behavioral Health Director, Tri-City Health Center (TCHC)

The opioid epidemic is ravaging communities nationwide, and the president has announced it’s a top priority to take action. Come learn about the problem: the extent of the opioid epidemic nationally as well as the current data in Alameda County; drug trends; the intersection of chronic pain and the intersection of opioid use disorder; and the promises and potential pitfalls of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and its application at Tri-City Health Center. Dr. Nguyen is a licensed clinical psychologist who maintains an active training, consulting and therapy practice. Dr. Nguyen is continuously developing innovative ways to translate science into practice. She is responsible for the dissemination of state-of-the-art knowledge and treatment interventions to integrate behavioral health and substance use services within a primary care setting. She oversees the MAT Program at TCHC and is a member of the East Bay Safe Prescribing Coalition Accelerator Program, sponsored by California Health Care Foundation. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110

The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 4:45 p.m. check-in, 5:15 p.m. program • MLF: Psychology • Program organizer: Patrick O’Reilly


Carla Marinucci, Senior Writer, Politico California Playbook Additional Panelists TBA

Join our panelists for informative and engaging commentary on political news, audience discussion of the week’s events, and our live news quiz. Come early before the program and discuss the news over snacks and wine at our members social (open to all attendees). SAN FRANCISCO • WEEK TO WEEK PROGRAM • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. wine-and-snacks social, 6:30 p.m. program


David Peritz, Professor of Politics, Sarah Lawrence College

Political polarization in contemporary American politics doesn’t simply reflect the fact that we are more sharply divided on the issues but instead stems from deeper structural forces like rising economic inequality, declining social mobility, rapid cultural change, and the reorganization of the public sphere with the rise of digital and social media. If correct, this suggests that in order to make our politics less divisive and fractious we cannot simply will ourselves to be more open to the other side but must instead seek to address the structural causes of polarization. This would require a successful reactivation of what will be

For current prices, call 415.597.6705 or go to

Caesar Maximus 3/19

described as the politics of democratic self-repair, i.e. when democratic citizens mobilize to fix problems with democracy itself. In this talk Professor David Peritz will discuss the general idea of this kind of politics, the impediments to its successful reactivation in the early 21st century, and some recent more promising developments. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6 p.m. program • MLF: Health & Medicine • Program organizer: Bill Grant

WEDNESDAY, JULY 18 WEEKLY CLUB TOUR The Commonwealth Club’s doors are open! For the first time since our founding 115 years ago, The Commonwealth Club has a permanent place of its own, and we are so excited to share it with you. We’re giving both members and nonmembers behind-the-scenes tours of our vibrant new home at 110 The Embarcadero. At our spectacular, state-of-the-art gathering space, which features a rooftop terrace with unobstructed views of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco Bay, you can learn about our storied history and the many amenities of being a Club member. Reserve your space now to visit San Francisco’s newest—and oldest—cultural treasure at our new location. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Osher Lobby, San Francisco • Time: 1:30 p.m. check-in, 2–3 p.m. tour


Michelle Meow, Host, “The Michelle Meow Show”; President, SF Pride John Zipperer, Host, Week to Week

Hear and meet fascinating—and often

controversial—people discussing LGBTQ issues. Check for this week’s guests, and bring your questions.

SAN FRANCISCO • MICHELLE MEOW PROGRAM • Location: Max Thelen Board Room, 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco • Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program


Richard Levin, Professor Emeritus, UC Davis; Author, Shakespeare's Secret Schemers Matt Davis, Latin Teacher, Miramonte High School Ava Roy, Artistic Director, We Players

Julius Caesar’s ambition, writing, generalship and brutal death on the Roman Senate floor continue to fascinate us more than 2,000 years later. Our panel will discuss both why Caesar continues to hold our attention, and the related world premiere of “Caesar Maximus,” which will be staged by We Players at the Music Concourse this fall. This new multi-disciplinary, site-integrated adaptation explores power, grief and the blind fury of a righteously angry mob. It also incorporates popular entertainment elements from the Opera and the Circus, opening up Shakespeare’s greatest political parable for our own tumultuous time. A crowd is expected to attend. Et tu? SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6 p.m. program • MLF: Humanities • Program organizer: George Hammond


Andy Slavitt, Former Acting Administrator, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, Obama Administration; Founder and

Board Chair, United States of Care David Durenberger, Former U.S. Senator (R-MN) Sandra Hernandez, M.D., President and CEO, California Health Care Foundation Mark Zitter, Chair, The Zetema Project; Member, Commonwealth Club Board of Governors—Moderator

Early in 2018, many of the best known leaders from across American health care joined forces to launch United States of Care, a bipartisan initiative to ensure access to quality, affordable health care for every American. The founding belief is that when political rhetoric is removed, Americans outside of Washington agree more than they disagree about health care access and coverage. The organization seeks politically and economically viable solutions that can garner broad support that won’t disappear with the next election or presidential administration. The group’s Board and Founders Council is a who’s who of U.S. health care, several of whose members will be on hand for this lively discussion. SF • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco • Time: 6 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program

WEDNESDAY, JULY 25 COMMONWEALTH CLUB WEEKLY TOUR The Commonwealth Club’s doors are open! For the first time since our founding 115 years ago, The Commonwealth Club has a permanent place of its own, and we are so excited to share it with you. We’re giving both members and nonmembers behind-thescenes tours of our vibrant new home at 110 The Embarcadero. At our spectacular, stateof-the-art gathering space, which features a rooftop terrace with unobstructed views of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco Bay, you JUNE/JULY 2018


For current prices, call 415.597.6705 or go to

Chinatown Walking Tour 7/26 • Michael Chertoff 7/26

can learn about our storied history and the many amenities of being a Club member. Reserve your space now to visit San Francisco’s newest—and oldest—cultural treasure at our new location. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Osher Lobby, San Francisco • Time: 1:30 p.m. check-in, 2–3 p.m. tour


Michelle Meow, Host, “The Michelle Meow Show”; President, SF Pride John Zipperer, Host, Week to Week Politics Roundtable—Co-host

Each Thursday at noon, Michelle Meow brings her long-running daily radio program to The Commonwealth Club, where you can hear and meet fascinating—and often controversial—people discussing LGBTQ issues. Check for this week’s guests, and bring your questions. SAN FRANCISCO • MICHELLE MEOW PROGRAM • Location: Max Thelen Board Room, 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco • Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program

CHINATOWN WALKING TOUR Enjoy a Commonwealth Club neighborhood adventure. Join Rick Evans for a memorable morning walk and discover the history and mysteries of Chinatown. Explore colorful alleys and side streets. Visit a Taoist temple, an herbal store, the site of the first public school in the state and the famous Fortune Cookie Factory.

SAN FRANCISCO • Location: Meet in Starbucks, 359 Grant St., San Francisco • Time: 9:45 a.m. check-in, 10 a.m.–12:30 p.m. walk • Notes: The temple visit requires walking up three flights of stairs; tour operates rain or shine; limited to 12 participants; tickets must be purchased in ad-



vance and will not be sold at check-in


Michael Chertoff, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security (2005-2009); Author, Exploding Data: Reclaiming Our Cyber Security in the Digital Age Ellen Tauscher, Former Representative, California’s 10th Congressional District; Former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security—Moderator

The most dangerous threat we—individually and as a society and country—face today is no longer military, but rather the increasingly pervasive exposure of our personal information; nothing undermines our freedom more than losing control of information about ourselves. And yet, as daily events underscore, we are ever more vulnerable to cyber-attack. Michael Chertoff argues that our laws and policies surrounding the protection of personal information, written for an earlier time, need to be completely overhauled in the Internet era.

SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 6 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program, 7:30 p.m. book signing


Tiffany Woods, Program Coordinator and Co-creator, TransVision, Tri-City Health Center, Alameda County

Transgender rights are increasingly under threat. The president began his administration by rescinding new federal protections for transgender students in public schools, followed by a ban on transgender individ-

uals from serving “in any capacity” in the U.S. armed forces—via Twitter. A new HHS Conscience and Religious Freedom Division is expected to offer greater protections for health care workers who do not wish to treat transgender patients. How do these assaults on transgender civil rights affect the mental health and well-being of trans individuals? Find out how Tri-City Health Center, a community clinic on the front lines of transgender care in the age of Trump, addresses these and other issues in Alameda County. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 4:45 p.m. check-in, 5:15 p.m. program • MLF: Psychology • Program organizer: Patrick O’Reilly


Let’s end July with a free-for-members social hour and political roundtable. We know you’ll fill the room with good cheer, and we know we won’t have any trouble finding things to talk about. Join our panelists for informative and engaging commentary on political news, audience discussion of the week’s events, and our live news quiz. Come early before the program and discuss the news over snacks and wine at our members social (open to all attendees). SAN FRANCISCO • WEEK TO WEEK PROGRAM • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. wine-and-snacks social, 6:30 p.m. program

MIDDLE EAST FORUM DISCUSSION The Middle East Forum discussion group has been meeting monthly for about 10 years. We are not a debate group. We discuss timely, cultural subjects in a civil atmosphere with re-

For current prices, call 415.597.6705 or go to

Transgender Health-Mental Health in the Age of Trump 7/30 • Sean Spicer 8/2 • Below: Andy Weir 7/31

spect for others and their opinions.

SAN FRANCISCO • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Max Thelen Boardroom, San Francisco • Time: 5 p.m. check-in, 5:30 p.m. program • MLF: Middle East • Program organizer: Celia Menczel


Andy Weir, Author, The Martian and Artemis

Andy Weir was unexpectedly thrust into the world of science fiction stardom when his debut novel The Martian became a best-selling book turned Oscar-nominated blockbuster movie starring Matt Damon. With that success, Weir has been living out his dream of writing full time and releasing his second novel, Artemis. Don’t miss an out-of-this-world program as Weir discusses how he combines his lifelong love of space, science and humor—along with a healthy dose of research— to create compelling stories for the science and science fiction fans among us. SILICON VALLEY • Location: Schultz Cultural Hall, Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto • Time: 6:30 p.m. check-in, 7 p.m. program, 8 p.m. book signing • Notes: Part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation; in association with Wonderfest; photo by Aubrie Pick


Sean Spicer, Former White House Press Secretary; Author, The Briefing

Before the former White House press secretary made his mark as one of the most recognized staffers in the Trump administration, Spicer built a decades-long career in Republican politics, witnessing and shaping the inner workings of Washington, D.C.,

from every vantage point—as a House of Representatives communicator, assistant U.S. Trade representative, Republican National Committee chief strategist, advisor to presidential campaigns and, of course, White House spokesman. Few in Washington are as well-equipped as Spicer to pull back the curtain and dissect what’s really happening in the nation’s capital. Spicer takes readers behind the scenes of his turbulent tenure as President Trump’s press secretary, shedding new light on the headline-grabbing controversies of the Trump administration’s first year. SAN FRANCISCO • Location: Marines’ Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter St., San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program • Notes: Attendees subject to search



Jeff Adachi,, San Francisco Public Defender Alicia Garza, Co-Founder, Black Lives Matter; Special Projects Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance; Activist; Writer Mina Kim,, News Anchor and Friday's "Forum" Host, KQED—Moderator

Does the Bay Area have policies that affirm racism? Join INFORUM and KQED as we explore one of the most polarizing topics of our time, asking the questions that divide us and seeking answers that may unite us. Arrive early or stick around afterwards to mix and mingle with audience mem-

bers and keep the conversation going. The evening will be moderated by Mina Kim, anchor and host at KQED, and include Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, and Jeff Adachi, San Francisco Public Defender. SAN FRANCISCO • INFORUM PROGRAM • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, San Francisco • Time: 5:30 p.m. checkin, 6:30 p.m. program, 6:30 p.m. book signing • Notes: In association with KQED


See website for program details.

SAN FRANCISCO • CLIMATE ONE PROGRAM • Location: 110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, S a n Francisco • Time: 6 p.m. checkin, 6:30 p.m program

INSIGHT The Death—and Rebirth?—of Civility Dr. Gloria C. Duffy, President and CEO


n April, the Club held a public conversation between former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and me, in Palo Alto. Channel 5, KPIX TV, filmed the conversation, and quickly posted a clip from it on YouTube. I looked at the video clip and the comments posted about it on YouTube. The very first comment, from a user whose icon is Teletubbies with a swastika, was “Why would anyone wanna listen to this senile [racial expletive used against people of Jewish descent]?” In the environment in which our White House publicly insults dying war hero John McCain, it is obvious that America has reached new lows of civility. The present tone of communication affects us at every level—in the workplace, at school and in our public policy discourse. The Commonwealth Club was built on four principles, for which it continues to stand today. They are: an attitude of positive regard for an opponent despite policy differences; the concept that there is a common good; regarding compromise as essential for successful public policy, and believing that good, objective, validated information should be the basis for decisions. All our programs and projects reflect these principles. With these values, the Club is of course concerned about the trend toward incivility. So we decided to look for others who are similarly concerned and to find out what various groups and organizations are doing to combat the trend. First, we looked to see if leaders are concerned about incivility and found that a growing number of political, media and other leaders from across the political spectrum are worried. These include CNN commentators Van Jones and Sally Kohn, former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, USC and UC Berkeley professor Dan Schnur, former congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Atlantic Senior Editor David Frum, Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics Director Kirk Hanson, and former Bay Area congressman Tom Campbell. The Club queried these individuals, some in private interviews and some through questions posed at public Club programs, for their thoughts about the state of public dialogue. Universally, they are disturbed by the trend toward hyper-partisanship and extreme expression. Two of the individuals, Tom Campbell and Dan Schnur, have left their party to become registered independents. They see many causes of rising extremism and incivility, including the advent of social media that compresses thoughts into short and often extreme bites, media that thrives on arguments



and polar views and the political process that micro-targets opinion groups through political electronic media advertising buys and pushes candidates and officeholders to the extremes of right and left. And they see damage done by this extreme polarization, including the inability to find good solutions to societal problems, which often lie in Photo courtesy of Gloria Duffy the middle of the political spectrum, rather than at one end. As Van Jones memorably said in his interview, we don’t want solely individuals like him making public policy. Fiscal conservatives, he noted, think about where the money will come from for social programs, where he pays little attention to those concerns and just wants to “feed the babies!” If he were in charge, he said, our society would be broke. Many examples were cited about what the great collaborators of the past were able to get done: House Republican Minority Leader Robert Michel, Senators Nunn and Lugar, Abraham Lincoln’s “Team of Rivals,” Senators McCain and Feingold. Then we looked for people and organizations working to improve civility and political collaboration in our society. As disturbing as the trends toward incivility are, the number of organizations working to bring back civility is very exciting. I’ve written previously about Generation Citizen, which engages middle and high school students in active civics education through projects for positive change in the society around them. The Institute for Civil Dialogue practices and trains others in a method for bringing people of differing views together for productive discussions. The Bipartisan Policy Center educates about the value and accomplishments of bipartisanship throughout US history. Spaceship Media uses journalism to create dialogue between conflicting groups in the community. The Commonwealth Club upholds the principle of respectful dialogue every day and offers our model to society. As one individual we interviewed said, the Club is countercultural to the norm today, and we need to build on and promote our approach as the norm. We are thinking at the Club about ways we can better create dialogue through our programming, and we will continue to improve our service to the community as we all work to restore civility and promote cooperation.

“You completely undersold our recent trip to Cuba. I was blown away by all the things we were able to do and see in a short time.” -Nikki Young

Havana & the Viñales Valley December 8-15, 2018

“It was such a magical week– such an incredible array of experiences and people. I am amazed at how much we packed in. Each memory makes me smile!” -Kathy Hallock

WE WERE PROVIDED A FANTASTIC CROSSSECTION OF CUBA. -Charles Reid “Although I have been on other excellent trips, I have never had such access to so many intelligent, articulate speakers in such a short time.”

“The best reason to travel to Cuba with a group is access to lectures by experts.” -Jennifer Wilson

-Elliot Morrison

WE COULD NOT HAVE ORGANIZED THIS ON OUR OWN. -Dan Purkett Details online at | 415.597.6720 |

CST# 2096889-40

To purchase tickets:

The Commonwealth Club of California

visit or call (415) 597-6705 or call (800) 847-7730

P.O. Box 194210 San Francisco, CA 94119

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Details on page 51




Stacey Abrams, Candidate for Governor of Georgia; Former Minority Leader, Georgia House; Author, Minority Leader: How to Lead from the Outside and Make Real Change

Dan Pfeiffer, Co-host, Pod Save America; Former White House Communications Director; Author, Yes We (Still) Can: Politics in the Age of Obama, Twitter, and Trump

Pfeiffer shares never-before-heard stories about working in the Oval Office and reflects on those years of massive change that helped rewrite the rules of politics. He addresses the current political landscape and offers a hopeful message for where our country can go from here.

Stacey Abrams, former Georgia House minority leader and candidate for governor of Georgia, wants to show everyone that there is truth in the cliché about the value in the struggle against traditional power structures. She emphasizes the importance of knowing your own passion, regardless of the scale or target.


Details on page 53


Malcolm Nance, Retired Intelligence Officer; Author, The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin’s Spies Are Winning Control of America and Dismantling the West

Retired intelligence officer Malcolm Nance knows about Vladimir Putin and the threat he poses to American sovereignty. From the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in our elections to Putin’s persistent presidency, Russia has a looming presence. Nance suggests this presence isn’t benign but part of a greater plan to break down Western democracy.

Details on page 51


Details on page 57


Sean Spicer, Former White House Press Secretary; Author, The Briefing

Few in Washington are as wellequipped as Spicer to pull back the curtain and dissect what’s really happening in the nation’s capital. Spicer takes readers behind the scenes of his turbulent tenure as President Trump’s press secretary, shedding new light on the headline-grabbing controversies of the Trump administration’s first year.

The Commonwealth June/July 2018  

At 96, Betty Reid Soskin is the nation's oldest serving park ranger, and she's got a century's worth of stories about America and Americans....

The Commonwealth June/July 2018  

At 96, Betty Reid Soskin is the nation's oldest serving park ranger, and she's got a century's worth of stories about America and Americans....