Page 1

Condoleezza Rice: ALABAMA TO D.C. pg 16

David Gergen: AMERICAN IDEAL pg 47

David Boies: CHALLENGING PROP 8 pg 52

Dr. Gloria Duffy on THE POSSIBLE pg 58

Commonwealth The


December 2010/January 2011


$2.50; free for members

The Commonwealth Club of California’s

108th Anniversary and 23rd Annual Distinguished Citizen Award Dinner


“A Room with Views” Table conversations with some of the Bay Area’s most interesting people!

March 15, 2011 – Palace Hotel, San Francisco Distinguished Honorees Include: Mary B. Cranston Firm Senior Partner and Immediate Past Chair, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP Janet Lamkin President, Bank of America California The Honorable Tad Taube President, Koret Foundation; Chairman, Taube Philanthropies and Chairman and Founder, Woodmont Companies

Dinner Chairs: Maryles Casto & Brian D. Riley

For more information: (415) 869-5909


Inside Commonwealth Vo lum e 1 0 5 , NO . 0 1

D e c E M B E R 2 0 1 0 / J a n UA RY 2011

page 16

Ordinary Extraordinary “I’ll never forget driving home and hearing the thud [of a bomb in Birmingham]. My father immediately turned the car around, and my mother said, Where are you going? He said, I’m going to go to the police. She said, They probably set it off.” –Condoleezza Rice

Photo by Ed Ritger






29 Program Information 30 Eight Weeks Calendar

10 Debt Nation Bipartisan panel looks at the deficit/debt time bomb

15 The Swiss Answer Swiss Federal Chancellor Corina Casanova on direct democracy

43 Pay to Ride Funding the transportation system of the future

47 How Can America Remain a Great Nation?

David Gergen explains

52 The Prop 8 Challenge David Boies on the legal plan

55 Capturing the Flavors

by John Zipperer America’s Top Diplomat


Events from November 29, 2010, to January 23, 2011

The Commons A chat with P.J. O’Rourke, Barbara Boxer on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, & more

32 33 42 32

46 Supporting the Club Make your gifts go even further

58 InSight

Programs by Region Program Listings Late-breaking Events Language Classes

About Our Cover: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed a sold-out Commonwealth Club audience in October. Photo by Ed Ritger.

by Dr. Gloria C. Duffy The Art of the Possible



Rick Bayless dishes

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Photo by Beth Byrne

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on America’s challenges

Editor’s Note

Sculptural illustration by Steven Fromtling

Diplomacy, Security, and the Future

Commonwealth The


Editor’s Note America’s Top Diplomat

John Zipperer

SENIOR Editor Sonya Abrams

John Zipperer


Vice President, Media & Editorial

Steven Fromtling

Editorial Interns Abigail Sessions

Sally Schilling


Jack Huynh Ed Ritger

follow us online

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

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




Photo by Ed Ritger

n the days immediately before her October 15 appearance at The Commonwealth Club, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was in the Balkans, supporting efforts at political and ethnic reconciliation. Clinton and her husband, the former president, are very popular in Kosovo, due to the Clinton administration’s efforts to stop the brutal ethnic warfare there during the 1990s. One scene particularly stood out: She stopped in front of a 12-foot statue of Bill Clinton, and she dropped in on a boutique named Hillary, all near a street named Clinton. Clinton’s predeccessor at the State Department, Condoleezza Rice, recently complimented Clinton’s work and commisserated to reporters about the demands of the job. “You’re always on an airplane,” Rice told CNN. “Sometimes you never quite know what country you’re in, and you’re always hoping you’re not going to make the mistake and say you’re in a country that you’re not in. I did it on one occasion, but I hope no one noticed.” After her Kosovo trip, Clinton came to The Club in San Francisco, only the third U.S. city in which she’s spoken since she assumed her State Department role. It was also the largest crowd she’s addressed since her appearance at her party’s nominating convention. Putting together a huge event, such as the Clinton appearance at our Climate One division, is an all-hands-on-deck undertaking here. The Clinton event took shape in about two-weeks’ time: a rush of arranging the details, promoting it to members and the general community, accommodating a sold-out crowd of 1,400 people, and welcoming local and national news media. If that wasn’t enough to keep your loyal Club staff and volunteers busy, just three days later, Condoleezza Rice spoke to a large crowd, and an hour after that, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner addressed a big Club audience in Silicon Valley. So we’re ending this exciting year at The Commonwealth Club by filling this year-end issue of The Commonwealth with a selection of some of the most interesting names in the country. You can read what Clinton and Rice had to say in this issue of your magazine. Next month, we’ll bring you Geithner’s words. There are lots of great speakers coming your way in 2011, so be sure to check the program listings in this issue, on our web site, and in our free weekly e-mail newsletters to stay up to date.

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Jog Your Memory

Who’s Got the Gavel?

Surprise visitor

Addressing America’s critical gavel shortage

n the hour before economist Robert Reich’s September 28 program in San Francisco, The Club’s check-in staff was greeted by a man who hurriedly asked if the speaker was in and if he could say hello. The inquiring visitor – dressed in athletic clothes and clearly in the middle of an early-evening run – was peering into the auditorium when Associate Program Director Wendy Wandermann recognized him as someone she’d been interacting with cross-country for weeks: New York Times columnist and television pundit David Brooks, who will be speaking at The Club in January. In fact, Brooks will be speaking at The Club twice in early 2011, so keep watching the calendar. We’re pretty sure he’ll be wearing a suit and tie for those programs.


Being Agreeable The spirit of Climate One


n June 2010, The Club’s Climate One project hosted Chevron Chairman and CEO David O’Reilly and the Sierra Club’s Carl Pope in a first-ever face-to-face meeting. Surprisingly, O’Reilly and Pope agreed on issues for which they could jointly advocate in Washington, D.C. That spirit appears to be reflected in a new ad campaign by Chevron. The ads feature critics’ statements, such as, “It’s time oil companies get behind the development of renewable energy.” Videos and text pair the critical comments with the company’s response, which is, “We agree.” The multimedia campaign is an attempt to bridge that gap between energy companies and their critics.

ore than a few moderators at The Commonwealth Club over the years have started a program by grabbing the iconic Club gavel, hitting the wodden table with it, and saying with a childish grin, “I’ve always wanted to do that.” On September 30, The Club hit the limit of how many programs it could hold at one time – at least events with gavels. Club events were taking place in Lafayette, Silicon Valley, and multiple locations in San Francisco. Staff and volunteers were stretched to the limit, but we needed to hunt down every last gavel to put them to use. Luckily, all events were gavelled, averting a crisis.

The TV Show that Never Was The O’Rourke-Buckley Story


onservative political satirist P.J. O’Rourke has conquered the worlds of print magazines and books, and he’s a regular guest on television talk shows such as “Real Time with Bill Maher,” as well as a recurring panel member on the National Public Radio news quiz program “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me.” Considering the hundreds of cable television channels, The Commonwealth asked O’Rourke if he’d ever been tempted to have his own program. It turns out that in the 1990s he and au-

Seriously, Folks Did you hear about ...


ollowing his participation in an Inforum panel discussion on politics and comedy back in August, local comedian W. Kamau Bell was approached

thor Christopher Buckley (another past Club speaker) drew up a plan for a joint television project, thinking they could take it to one of the Fox channels. “I think we might have had some success,” O’Rourke said. But then, he tells us, “having considered the question sober, we decided that we would go out and have a drink and consider the question drunk.” And in the, er, clarity of drink, they realized the program would take over their lives, and they “would never be able to do any more writing.” If only they’d stayed sober, the world would have gotten an interesting – and probably the funniest – political show around. Photos (l to r) by Beth Byrne & Amanda Leung


Photo courtesy of David Brooks

Talk of the Club

by an audience member who said, “I’ve got some advice for your act. Wanna hear it?” Bell replied, “No,” and walked away. He might not have wanted to hear it, but we hear Bell’s been using the story about that “helpful” audience member in his stand-up act ever since.

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Photo by Amanda Leung


P.J. O’Rourke Political Satirist; Author, Don’t Vote: It Just Encourages the Bastards The political satirist gives background to his conservative political views. COMMONWEALTH: You’re conservative. But a lot of liberals love you. When you write a book or you are speaking, are you trying to reach non-conservatives? P.J. O’ROURKE: Yes, I am. Especially in this book, what is the point of having a political view or a set of political beliefs Some of us, of course, are moved more a feeling that the tendency that we see over that one believes to be worthwhile – why would you deliberately alienate people? Why by anger, some more by sloth, some by this fall is going to strengthen at least over the next few years. wouldn’t you be inviting in your discussion whatever. COMMONWEALTH: A tendency to – But we all have these internal things that of these beliefs with them? Why would you O’ROURKE: – try to diminish the size and drive us, and that’s what makes us human. deliberately be off-putting? In the first place, scope of government and try to get it back Recognition of that is really the definition I don’t have an elaborate, detailed political on a sounder financial footing. ideology by any means. A lot of what COMMONWEALTH: It was interI believe is simply commonsensical. If “If [I say] it right, a lot of people esting that it was Europe that started [I say] it right, a lot of people are going to, if not exactly agree with me, at least are going to, if not exactly agree the austerity drive. see my point. with me, at least see my point.” O’ROURKE: I was talking to a semiconductor executive last night, who Of course, that’s part of using huwas saying what we should do is vote mor as a tool. There are a lot of ways to for all the wrong people, because we have of a humorist, as opposed to making jokes. use humor as a tool, and you can definitely to make this thing so bad that there’s no COMMONWEALTH: Regarding the title use it as a weapon; you can definitely use it choice but to deal with it. We have to turn of your book, Don’t Vote: It’s somewhat satirias a form of displaced violence. There’s no the country into Ireland or Greece. cal, but are you looking at this election, exdoubt about it. But it can also be used to huCOMMONWEALTH: Isn’t that what pected to be a Republican year of Republican manize things and put people at their ease. some critics claim Reagan and [budget years, and are you expecting good things? If you were to use the word humordirector David] Stockman were trying to O’ROURKE: Yeah, I’m expecting good ous in its do, run up deficits so high that you would things. I do think that whatever happens traditional, have to cut government? on November 2, the Democrats are not 18th-century definition, going to emerge from this with as free a O’ROURKE: I don’t in fact think that’s what it’s not really hand as they had during the past two years. they were trying to do. I think Reagan was about being The bloom’s off the rose with Obama as under the misapprehension that government funny; it’s re- a president. Even if the Democrats man- would be forced to contract if he cut off its ally about an age to hold on to both the House and the funding. I think Reagan was naive about understand- Senate, their majorities will be diminished, [that]; the modern government has so many ing of the and the more conservative members in the sources of funding that Reagan couldn’t put humors – the Democratic Party will be strengthened. a finger in every dike. So that technique has core drives The era of central-planning brainstorms been discredited. A more direct attack on the we all have, will have come to a close. A little bit will, spending itself has to be made. that move us. of course, depend upon events, but I have Interview by John Zipperer.



D ecem be r 2010/Jan ua ry 2011

Photo by Sonya Abrams

Fast Forward

Club Leadership Photo by Sonya Abrams

First Word Barbara Boxer U.S. Senator, California

OFFICERS of The Commonwealth Club of California Board Chair Dr. Mary G. F. Bitterman Vice Chair Maryles Casto Secretary William F. Adams Treasurer Anna W. M. Mok President and CEO Dr. Gloria C. Duffy

Excerpt from her Club appearance on August 31, 2010


would like to say that today the president announced that all of the combat troops have been taken out of Iraq and are coming home. That’s important. And the residual forces that will be left will be aimed at al-Qaida. Now, in Afghanistan, I have asked continually – as I did in the Iraq situation – that there be an exit strategy, that it be in writing, that there be conditions that are shown as to when the troops are coming home. We’re going to have to push hard. I think the president wants to do it. He’s said he’s going to start bringing the troops home next year. But we don’t have yet the exit strategy that we need. Here’s my view: I believe in nation-helping, not nation-building. What we need to do is help nations get on their feet, help them protect their families, but we can’t take over these countries and run them. It just seems to me that we need to have that rebuilding going on right here in America today. ... When I found out there was no combat casualty care center in California that was comprehensive for our wounded warriors coming home from the wars, and their families had to go all the way to Walter Reed [Hospital] across the country, I was able to get a site designated in San Diego, and now it’s there. Our soldiers – we have [from California] such a large percentage of the wounded, probably over 20 percent – they can be there with their families. Ω

Getting Good Reception The Club shines in its latest opportunity to meet new members Fischer, The Club’s director of membership and marketing. “We couldn’t have done it without the help of our great volunteers, staff, and some wonderful local businesses.” Generous help in feeding those attendees was provided by Aroma Restaurant and Catering; Fuze beverages; Hansen’s Natural Cane Soda; Organo Gold coffee; Quady Winery; Cape Ardor, an importer of South African wines; and GPS Connections, which helped put together the successful event. Thanks to those local companies, attendees were well fed – with new information and with great food and beverages. Ω Photo by Sonya Abrams


everal times a year, The Commonwealth Club holds a program that has no featured speaker, no book signings, no insight into current events. But these events still draw several hundred attendees. They’re our New Member Receptions, and in September, we once again gathered together new and prospective members to meet Club volunteers, leadership, and staff; enjoy tasty hors d’œuvres and drinks; and learn about the programs and services The Club has to offer. ”We were really pleased to see so many new and prospective members show up for the reception,” said Mike

BOARD OF GOVERNORS Massey J. Bambara Ralph Baxter Hon. Shirley Temple Black* John L. Boland J. Dennis Bonney* Helen A. Burt John Busterud* Michael Carr Hon. Ming Chin* Jack Cortis Mary B. Cranston** Dr. Kerry P. Curtis Dr. Jaleh Daie Evelyn S. Dilsaver Timothy C. Draper Lee J. Dutra Joseph I. Epstein* Rolando Esteverena Jeffrey A. Farber Dr. Joseph R. Fink* Dr. Carol A. Fleming, Ph.D. Karen C. Francis Lisa Frazier William German* Dr. Charles Geschke Rose Guilbault** Jacquelyn Hadley Edie G. Heilman Eugene Herson* Hon. James C. Hormel Mary Huss Claude B. Hutchison Jr.* Dr. Julius Krevans*

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

ADVISORY BOARD Karin Helene Bauer Hon. William Bradley Dennise M. Carter Steven Falk Amy Gershoni Richard N. Goldman

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

D ecem b e r 2010/J an ua ry 2011



Dip Se AN Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls for wider involvement in supporting American foreign policy and strengthening America’s global role. Excerpt from “Hillary Clinton,” October 15, 2010. hillary rodham clinton U.S. Secretary of State


learly, for me as secretary of state, it is a primary mission to elevate diplomacy and development alongside defense so that we have an integrated foreign policy in support of our national security and in furtherance of our interests and values. Now, that seems self-evident when I say it tonight here in this gathering, but it’s



actually quite challenging to do. It’s challenging for several reasons. First, because the diplomacy of our nation – which has been from the very beginning one of the principal tools of what we do – has never been fully and well understood by the general public. It appears in the minds of many to be official meetings mostly conducted by men in three-piece suits with other men in

decem be r 2010/Jan ua ry 2011

government buildings and even palaces, to end wars and resolve all kinds of impasses. Of course, there is still that element, not only with men any longer, but nevertheless, the work of diplomacy is still in the traditional mode. But it is so much more today, because it is also imperative that we engage in public diplomacy reaching out to not just leaders,

lomacy, curity, D the Future Photo by Ed Ritger

[but to] the citizens of the countries with whom we engage, because even in authoritarian regimes, public opinion actually matters. In our interconnected world, it matters in ways that are even more important. So we have tried to use the tools of technology to expand the role of diplomacy. Similarly, with development, I have long been passionate about what our assistance programs mean around the world, how they represent the very best of the generosity of spirit of the American people. USAID, which was started with such high hopes by President Kennedy, did so much good work in the 1960s and ’70s. The Green

Revolution, the absolutely extraordinary commitment that the United States, our researchers and our agricultural scientists made to improving agriculture around the world, transformed the way people were able to feed themselves and to build a better future. Then over time, USAID became hollowed out. It became not so much an agency of experts as a contracting mechanism. So the work that used to be done by development experts housed in the U.S. government became much more a part of contracting out with NGOs [non-governmental organizations] here at home and around

the world. The identity, the reputation of USAID no longer was what it needed to be. So when I came into the office of secretary of state, I sort of followed the example of the Defense Department, which has for many years conducted what’s called the Quadrennial Defense Review. When I was in the Senate, I served on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and I realized what a powerful tool that QDR was, because it provided a structured planning experience internally for the Defense Department that would then be shared throughout the executive branch, presented to Congress (Continued on page 22)

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decem be r 2010/Jan ua ry 2011

A bipartisan economics panel examines America’s debt and deficit problems, identifying ways to solve the problem before it gets worse and threatens the country’s role in the world. Excerpt from “National Debt: The Threat and Potential Solutions,” September 23, 2010. david walker Former U.S. Comptroller General; President and CEO, The Peter G. Peterson Foundation Robert L. Bixby Executive Director, The Concord Coalition Michael Boskin Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution; Chairman, President George H.W. Bush’s Council of

Economic Advisers

Isabel sawhill Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution tom campbell Visiting Professor of Economics and Law, Chapman University; Former Director of Finance, State

Sculptural Illustration by Steven Fromtling

of California – Moderator

CAMPBELL: Describe the facts of this problem. WALKER: While Americans are very concerned about today’s deficits and debt – $1.4 trillion and $13.4 trillion, respectively – they really don’t represent the threat to America’s future. The threat to America’s future are the deficits and debt levels that will occur in the future because of known demographic trends, rising health-care costs and a growing gap between revenues and expenses. Today’s deficits are largely temporary. They’re due to a weak economy. They’re due to temporary tax cuts. They’re due to two wars that are undeclared and unfinanced. They’re due to a range of unprecedented bailout and stimulus programs. These things will pass over time, but the structural deficits, the ones that exist because of the things that I mentioned before, they represent the threat to the ship of state. You can’t grow your way out; it would take double-digit real GDP growth for decades. You can’t inflate your way out, because most of the problems are off-balance-sheet obligations: unfunded Medicare, Social Security and other obligations. You can’t tax your way out, because you’d have to double taxes over time to be able to deal with it. You can’t cut your way out solely, because you’d have to decimate social insurance programs, which are important for a safety net. So everything has to be on the table. For the second time in the history of the United States, we have a debt that is over 60 percent of GDP. The only other time that we’ve ever had it was World War II. That doesn’t count the several trillion dollars that we owe to Social Security and Medicare. If you counted that, we’re at 91 percent of GDP. Furthermore, if you do honest ac-

counting, federal, state and local debt held by the public, as a percentage of the economy, we’re already worse than Spain, we’re already worse than Portugal, we’re already worse than Ireland, we’re already worse than the United Kingdom. We’re within 10 years of being where Greece is, and if you count what we owe Social Security and Medicare, we’re within three years of Greece. BOSKIN: There is a really serious intermediate-term deficit and debt crisis. [Walker] said, Don’t worry about the short term. I personally think he’s partly right. Part of

“If you count what we owe

Social Security and Medicare, we’re within three years of being where Greece is.” – David Walker the short-term deficit and debt has been aggravated by very ineffective programs designed to try to deal with the economy. Perhaps they were well intentioned, but they seem to have been, and most studies suggest, pretty ineffective. Most important, he’s very sanguine about all this stuff disappearing later. We keep seeing more and more stuff piled on, attempts to make more and more of it permanent, etc., so I’m very concerned that the spending will get entrenched. It’s very important not just to deal with the long-term deficit and debt problem, but to deal with the intermediate-term problem

quickly, so we’re on a path over the next two, three, four years – not just 20, 30 years to deal with the long-run problem, but deal with the intermediate problem to get us back to a sensible fiscal position. It undermines a lot of things in our country, and right now the seriousness is being masked by the fact that people are willing to hold lots of Treasury bonds at very low interest rates because of the great uncertainty in our financial system, and so on. We are financing our debt unprecedentedly at the short end of the market. When interest rates rise and people want higher yields, we’ll have to go longer term and interest costs will explode. So we have a lot of problems that are embedded in the spending programs and other programs that have been promulgated in the last several years – and not just by the current administration but by previous ones – and those have to be unwound as well, in the intermediate term, or we’ll wind up further into the baby boomers’ retirement with a lot more problems already on our doorstep besides having to deal with future problems. I would also make a couple of other points. One is that it should not be a matter of indifference to us how we close this gap. If it was done overwhelmingly on the tax side, the probability is [almost certain] that it would do immense harm to our economy. We have responsibilities on the spending side, we need an effective government to be a successful society, from defense to a sensible safety net, etc., but it is important that we keep the tax burden in our society as low as we can, consistent with funding the necessary functions of government, and restructuring programs that are not targeted

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Photos by Beth Byrne

Our special economic panel of experts (clockwise from top left): Tom Campbell, David Walker, Robert L. Bixby, Isabel Sawhill, and Michael Boskin.

well and not effective enough to make them more effective, more conscious, and to enable us to afford the demographic surge that’s going to occur. The second point is that until we make some of these changes, it will be very, very difficult to deal with some of those cost changes, especially the medical costs. In the current system, there is very little incentive to economize. There are many reasons for that; some of it’s government policy, some of it’s the way Medicare is funded, some of it’s third-party reimbursement. The people have very little skin in the game at the margin for their non-emergency, non-catastrophic services, and have little incentive to economize. If we don’t make some sensible changes – President Obama got his set in there, I personally think that they’re not very good, I would much prefer to replace many of them with things I think will be better – the fact of the matter is the arithmetic will be even worse. So it’s important that we not just think of it as an accounting exercise – as important as that is to give us a sense that the overall problem is tremendously large – because otherwise we’ll neglect the fact that we’re going to do things that could harm the economy. CAMPBELL: The expansion of Medicare for pharmaceuticals under the previous administration would certainly be one of those open-ended additions, would it not? BOSKIN: That’s exactly right. It should have been much more carefully focused on need and on catastrophic coverage. But in the modern day and age, as is typical, the government sets something up over a long time, people substitute away from it. So



more and more medical coverage became pharmaceuticals rather than things that Medicare covered. CAMPBELL: Is it a problem that we observe now? Is it something that’s long-term or is it immediate as well? SAWHILL: There’s something to be said on all fronts. On the history, it’s very clear that we’ve had many years of irresponsible fiscal policy. As has already been said, we finance two wars and a prescription drug benefit that you just mentioned. Just put them on the national credit card and didn’t make any effort to pay for them. We had surpluses at the end of the Clinton administration. They had evaporated very soon after the Bush administration came into office and we have very large tax cuts. If you look at how we went from a surplus in 2000 to the $1.3 trillion or $1.4 trillion deficit we have right now, about 40 percent of it, the analysis shows, was due to things that happened on Bush’s watch. About 20 percent is due to the current recession. About 16 percent is due to Obama’s policies and another chunk is due to some technical factors we don’t need to get into. There’s plenty of blame to go around for all kinds of recent administrations. On the current situation, I agree with [Boskin] that once a spending program is in place, or once a tax cut is in place, it’s very hard to reverse it. Many of these tax cuts that Bush passed are supposed to expire at the end of this year, but nobody believes that they aren’t going to be extended. Similarly, some of the spending programs that were part of the recovery package are expected to possibly be extended as well. But I don’t

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agree with [Boskin] when he suggests that they have been ineffective. I believe that during a deep recession like we have now, you do need to reduce taxes and increase spending and deficits are not bad, and there is analysis that’s been done by Alan Blinder, former Fed vice chair, that found that 8.5 million jobs had been created by a combination of the financial bailout and the Recovery Act. I also agree with [Walker] that the big problem is long-term and that it’s driven by rising health-care costs and the aging of the population. CAMPBELL: Do we really need to act now? We’re in the worst recession since the Great Depression. Whatever the long-term problems are, let’s get through this first. What’s wrong with that advice? BOSKIN: First of all, let’s be clear: We’re in a weak recovery, not a recession. Times aren’t good, but there’s a big difference in the operation of policy. It’s a slow recovery. It’s painfully slow. It’s less than half of the speed of the recoveries from the previous two deep recessions. It’s likely to be weak for the next year. CAMPBELL: So it is a weak recovery. Is it the right time or shouldn’t we do everything we can, get robust recovery and then deal with this? BIXBY: Again it’s important to distinguish short-term and long-term objectives here. It’s possible to do both at once. You can be cognizant of the weak recovery, which we’re now in, and at the same time be cognizant of the deficits that are projected for the future, so that a rational policy would continue to allow for, I don’t want to say more stimulus, but I don’t think you need to start a draconian deficit reduction regime immediately. I think you can have some flexibility there. The things that would address the long-term structural deficit, you can enact things like that now that would be phased in. Nobody is going to be cutting Social Security benefits right now; you could phase it in. Medicare changes would have to take a long time. The same thing is true with tax reform. CAMPBELL: You said cutting Social Security benefits, [but] you meant capping the rate of growth of Social Security benefits, or am I putting words in your mouth? BIXBY: You can phrase it any way you want to – slowing the growth from current projections.

SAWHILL: I think that’s an important distinction that you just made, Tom. I don’t think anyone is talking about cutting Social Security benefits from where they are now, nor are they talking about doing anything immediately. They’re talking about slowing the growth of benefits out in the future, probably in a way that would not affect anybody who is now over 55 years of age, and probably mostly for those who are most affluent. WALKER: We’re also not talking about privatizing Social Security either, because Social Security is a very important foundation of our retirement income security. For lots of reasons it needs to save primarily a defined benefit problem. We need to make it solvent, sustainable, secure and more savings-oriented. But we do need to get our savings rate up so we may need to have some type of automatic savings vehicle on top. BOSKIN: I agree with what [Walker] just said. Two points. Number one, it would be a good thing if we made serious structural reforms that had the effect of exempting people that are at retirement or close to retirement, and were structured so they gradually became more forceful as you moved through time, so that 20, 30, 40 years from now they would slow the growth a lot from projections but not a lot in the very short-term, so they wouldn’t have a big effect on people close to retirement. That I think everybody agrees makes sense. The problem is agreeing on what those are and enacting them now in advance. It’s really important to have two facts in your head for the long-term. Number one, 55 percent of the increases and outlays in Social Security are due to rising real benefits per beneficiary, 45 percent to demography, to having more retirees per worker. In Medicare, it’s quite a bit more to demography and the interaction of demography and the fact that older people consume more health care; it’s more like 75-25. So it is possible to entirely eliminate – mathematically, it’s too difficult to do politically – the Social Security deficit without decreasing anybody’s real benefits one dime. BIXBY: It makes it easier to have a shortterm policy that accommodates a deficit if you have a long-term policy that reins in the structural deficit. WALKER: From a practical standpoint, you don’t want to do anything that’s going

to cause a double-dip recession. We need to do things to get unemployment down. At the same point in time, we need to be able to take steps on both fronts, short-term and medium-/longer-term. What we ought to be doing in 2011 is re-imposing tough statutory budget controls, pay-as-you-go rules that don’t have trillions of dollars of exemptions, that will be effective immediately, statutory spending caps that will take effect once unemployment gets to a stated level. We need to reform Social Security to make it solvent, sustainable, secure and more savings-oriented – not because of its immediate prices, not because it’s the biggest problem, it’s the biggest opportunity. We need to start re-base-lining government to make it future-focused and results-oriented. It’s going to take us 10 to 20 years to do that,

“Nobody is going

to be cutting Social

Security benefits right now; you could phase it in.” – Robert L. Bixby but we need to get started in 2011. CAMPBELL: Let’s talk about specific solutions. We know that there is the Alan Simpson [and] Erskine Bowles commission that President Obama appointed. They are going to come up with a series of recommendations in December. What should that commission be recommending? SAWHILL: Both spending and revenues have to be on the table. On the revenue side, the most specific and most near-term thing that we need to do is not extend the so-called Bush tax cuts, because they cost something close to $4 trillion over the next decade. Remember that we have a $15-trillion gap; $4 trillion would help a lot. We cannot afford them and we should not be extending them permanently. There is an argument that can be made that they should be maintained in place temporarily, but that’s a different argument. Right now the president of the United States as well as most members of the Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, are trying to extend them,

for the most part, permanently. So the first thing we should do is not do that. That is politically motivated. That is not good policy in my view. Second, we do need to take on Social Security and I think we do need to take a second bite out of the health-care apple. The reform bill that was enacted this summer took a little nick out of the deficit over the next 10 years or over the next 20 years, but it’s only a nick. And there are political reasons to suspect that even those provisions may not be maintained. So we should be doing more on the health-care front. BIXBY: If you’re starting on the spending side, we have said a lot about Social Security, but one of the things we have advocated over the years is a gradual increase in the eligibility age, it’s already going up to 67, but it might go up further. We may think about increasing the early retirement age, which would be more controversial but that would be a possibility. I think that raising the payroll tax cap is something that would bring more revenue into the system and adjusting benefits on a progressive basis is something that the Concord Coalition has always advocated. On the tax sides, there’s a trillion dollars worth on an annual basis of exemptions, credits, deductions. We really need to go through those and pare them back so that we have a more efficient revenue system. I would agree with [Sawhill] that we need to take another whack at health care. Also, let me say, defense has got to be on the table. The defense budget has grown dramatically in recent years, so there is going to have to be some paring back on that front. CAMPBELL: You do not support continuing all of the tax cuts of the President George W. Bush administration? BIXBY: No, we do not. We thought that they were imprudent at the time, but I think that they should not be made permanent. BOSKIN: About the stupidest thing you could do would be to raise taxes in a very weak economy. It’s clear that the best thing you could do to avoid this issue of a doubledip would be to take tax increases off the table right now. Second, I happen to be in favor of a broader tax base and the lowest possible rates. So I’m sympathetic, not necessarily to just raising revenue, but to use the broader base and lower rates to generate more

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“Don’t ... do anything that’s going to cause a

double-dip recession.” – David Walker

“Europeans rely much less heavily on income

taxes than we do.” – Isabel Sawhill

“The stupidest thing

would be to raise


in a very weak economy.” – Michael Boskin 14


economic activity, which would generate more revenue. On Social Security, I would strongly favor price rather than wage indexing of initial benefits, which would keep the level adjusted for inflation. Rising through time, it would maintain a strong, defined-benefit system. The benefit structure of Social Security is highly progressive, so that would work. I personally would agree that it’s a good idea to gradually have a small increase, somewhat in the future, in the retirement age. But I personally favor strongly retaining a strong early retirement option; I’m very cognizant as a professor that there are people in physically demanding and dangerous jobs who aren’t going to be able to do them very well when they’re my age. We really have to re-think Medicare. It’s an important program, but it’s poorly designed to deal with changes in demography. It’s very poorly designed to empower people to control their spending and costs and to be effective. We need to reform Medicare in the sense of giving people the ability to have higher co-pay, lower monthly payment premiums, to have policies that focus more on catastrophic coverage, etc. Allowing competition into the system would help reduce costs and help give people more opportunities to incorporate the consumer of the health-care services on our side to try to help curb costs, rather than trying to impose it above, by the Congress imposing all of these rules and regulations that wind up then getting imposed by special panels that are so unpopular. WALKER: With regard to the Bush tax cuts, I don’t believe that any of the income tax rate reductions should be made permanent. A strong case could be made that you should extend temporarily the ones that deal with middle-income [taxpayers]. Politically, they may end up doing it for upper-income. But as a certified public accountant, among other things, a lot of things that people don’t realize is that even if you end up going back to the prior marginal tax rates, a lot of people won’t pay higher taxes because of something called alternative minimum tax. So people haven’t really focused on that. In addition, we need to make the R&D tax credit permanent. We need to come up with a long-term solution to the estate tax. I think there should be an estate tax, but with a higher exemption than historically we had

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and with a lower tax rate than we historically had. As far as the retirement age, it needs to go up with an exception for certain occupations where there’s heavy manual labor. Both my grandfathers were in that case. One was a mine worker, one was a steel worker. A vast majority of the population is not in that case. You design policy for a vast majority of the population, not a shrinking minority of the population. On health care, this last health-care bill increased health-care costs as a percentage of the economy. It really didn’t do much to slow health-care costs at all. If there’s one thing that would bankrupt the country, it’s health-care costs. We need to start making some tough decisions on health-care costs, on what level of coverage is appropriate, affordable and sustainable. We need a budget on health care; we’ve got to move away from fee-for-service. We’ve go to do real malpractice reform. We’ve got to actually start getting serious rather than playing in politics. SAWHILL: It’s interesting to make this comparison to other countries. Other countries do have higher overall tax burdens than the U.S., no question. Most people don’t know that Europeans rely much less heavily on income taxes than we do. They tax consumption, they do it with a valueadded tax, which is essentially a sales tax. That discourages consumption, encourages saving and encourages growth. I believe that it would be a good idea in the U.S. if we moved in that direction. There are many ways to raise revenues that don’t affect income tax rates. Broadening the base, getting rid of the exemptions and deductions, taxing consumption, taxing energy. We have a problem with climate change. BOSKIN: Economic review studies reveal that the size of government has the largest impact on living standards. The worst thing you can do is have a much larger government share of the economy and crowd out the private sector. WALKER: The problem is primarily a spending problem. But you’re not going to close [a] $62 trillion hole in a way that can preserve the social safety net without additional revenues. There’s a new four-letter word in Washington, its called math. Ω This program was made possible by the generous support of the Travers Family Foundation.


Swiss answer

California and Switzerland share a love of direct democracy. The Swiss leader explains how her country has avoided some of the excesses of the initiative process. Excerpt from “The Swiss System of Direct Democracy and How It Compares to the U.S.,” October 6, 2010. Corina Casanova Federal Chancellor, Switzerland

Photo by Sonya Abrams


espite similarities, there are some interesting differences between the respective democratic rights in the two states, Switzerland and ... California. In California, democratic rights have become established as rights to counterbalance distrusted authorities. Though it would be legally possible, there are no preliminary considerations of popular initiatives in the political institutions, and their debate in government has never become an established procedure. By the same token, the authorities never work out counterproposals [to referenda]. If proposals are forthcoming, they are the result of popular initiative of opposition groups in the civil society. Thus California popular initiatives could be considered relatively confrontational and not aimed at achieving consensus and compromise. Also, they are never withdrawn, and they are completely successful in a third of all cases. Contradictions in the law due to the adoption of several opposition initiatives are avoided through a system in which the highest number of yes votes decides. In Switzerland, on the other hand, thanks to the referendum, a strong culture of consensus has developed. There is usually an institutionalized search for a compromise. This usually means that the authorities draw up direct counterproposals to most popular initiatives at constitutional level. Similarly, at statutory level, they draw up indirect counterproposals. The counterproposals address the same concerns that led to the popular initiative in the first place, but they do so normally at the subsidiary statutory level. In practical terms, this means that behind the scenes, initiative committees and the

authorities engage in a process of bargaining that may be hard but also is fair. As a result, of the 58 popular initiatives dealt with in Switzerland in the past 15 years,

no less than in 36 cases, there was an indirect counterproposal, and in a further five, a direct counterproposal; 11 popular initiatives were ultimately withdrawn. While in California, a third of all initiatives are approved by the people, in Switzerland, just under 10 percent win popular approval. The culture whereby the authorities attempt to accommodate the concerns expressed in popular initiatives often heads off a direct showdown. The initiative committees are often satisfied [enough] with the response of the institutions to address their concerns that they eventually withdraw their request. This concept – the possibility of withdrawing a popular initiative – was developed in Switzerland shortly before the introduction of democratic rights in California. The essential consequence of this

cultural difference is that considerably longer periods of time are allotted in Switzerland for the handling of popular initiatives. Moreover, the federal chancellery manages to avoid the situation in which two contradictory popular initiatives or other bills are put to a referendum at the same time. This is achieved without exercising any special powers, but simply by conducting an early analysis of the initiative and the concern that created them, and by alerting the politicians to them. The result is that no internal contradictions can ever occur within the legal system. This is important, because in Switzerland popular initiatives, if they are accepted, always result in constitutional amendments. Often, Switzerland is regarded as the cradle of direct democracy. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is true to say that Switzerland has influenced some constitutional developments overseas – in California, not to mention Uruguay and Australia. Often these developments have been based on personal connections that Swiss people had with the country concerned. But in the case of the U.S. and California, the opposite applies. The Swiss constitutional reality of the 19th century was decisively influenced by American political thinkers and their experiences. They helped to originate the federal concept that enabled Switzerland to reshape the federalist referendum into direct democratic rights, while preserving freedom. For, as we know in both of our countries, federalism brings freedom. So it is no longer a surprise that despite the enormous difference in size between the U.S. and Switzerland – or California – [they] have enjoyed a comparable degree of political stability, albeit by using slightly different strategies. Ω

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Illustration by Steven Fromtling

The former secretary of state describes the world and family that made her who she is today. Excerpt from “Condoleezza Rice,” October 18, 2010. Condoleezza Rice Former

U.S. Secretary of State; Professor of Business and Political Science, Stanford University; Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution; Author, Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family

in conversation with mary cranston Senior

Partner, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP



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CRANSTON: Could you talk a little bit about your parents? They were really exceptional. RICE: They were, in many ways, quite ordinary people. My mother was a schoolteacher, first an English teacher. By the way, one of her early students was Willie Mays. Later, [she] was a science teacher. My father was a football coach when I was born, then later a high school guidance counselor, Presbyterian minister, and ultimately a university administrator. So in that sense, they were quite ordinary people, and I doubt that they ever made more than $60,000 between them. But what made them extraordinary was that, first of all, they were growing up themselves and ultimately raising a family in segregated Birmingham, Alabama, a quite extraordinary place. I’ve called Birmingham the most segregated big city in America, a place where you couldn’t go to a restaurant, where you couldn’t stay in a hotel, and yet, within this place with very limited horizons, they somehow had their little girl convinced that she might not be able to have a hamburger at the Woolworth’s lunch counter, but if she wanted to be president of the United States, that was perfectly fine and she was capable of doing it. In that sense, they were extraordinary. CRANSTON: In the book, you almost

describe a parallel universe that you were in, and that your parents, your extended family and your friends really were sheltering the younger generation to some extent. Could you describe that a little bit? RICE: Yes, I was fortunate to live in a little enclave, really a little suburb of Birmingham, though downtown Birmingham was just maybe 10 minutes away. It was called Titusville, and it had a long heritage as a little black, middle-class enclave, where I think there was one lawyer, one doctor and everybody else taught school. This was a place where education was everything. I’ve always believed that for my parents and their friends, education was a kind of talisman against everything bad. It was a kind of armor against the harshness of racism. So if you could speak English perfectly, you could play the piano, and you were a good student, then they – which is what the white man was called in a kind of depersonalized way – may not like you but they had to respect you. It might mean you had to be twice as good, which we were told all the time. So this little enclave gave us ballet lessons, French lessons, and etiquette lessons – in fact, etiquette lessons I was very glad I had when I went to those White House dinners; I knew which fork to use, and so forth. CRANSTON: Your paternal grandfather was also a well-known pastor and influential in your life. RICE: We all have our heroes from our families. One of our most important ones was John Wesley Rice Sr. [He] was actually a sharecropper’s son in Eutaw, Alabama, and he decided when he was about 19 years old that he wanted to get book-learning in a college. So he asked how a colored man could go to college, and they told him about Stillman College, which was a little Presbyterian school 30 minutes from where he lived. He went off to college, sold his cotton to pay for college, and after one year, they asked him, How are you going to pay for your second year? He said, Well, I’m out of cotton and out of money. They said, Then you’re out of luck. Thinking quickly, he said, How are those boys going to college? They said, They have what’s called a scholarship, and if you wanted to be a Presbyterian minister, then you could have a scholarship, too. My grandfather said, That is exactly what I had in mind. And my family has been college educated – and Presbyterian – ever since.

He was really the first to be college educated. He went on to educate my father, who ended up as a university administrator, and my aunt, Theresa, who was one of the first black women to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, in 1952, in Victorian literature. She wrote books on Dickens, of all things. So that side of my family was educated. My grandfather was a kind of educational evangelist. He would found a church and then next door he would


my parents

and their friends,

education was a kind of talisman against everything bad.” found a school, and after a while he would move along and found another church and another school. He would go door to door in these communities and say to the parents, Your daughter is smart, or, Your son is smart, and I’m going to get your son or daughter a scholarship at Tuskegee, or Alabama State. I want you to send your daughter or son to college. Scores and scores and scores of people got educated thanks to his efforts. He died two months before I was born. He died September 14, 1954; I was born November 14, 1954. He still remained in our family this giant of a figure. He was such an intellectual that at the height of the Great Depression, he bought nine leatherbound, gold-embossed books. When my grandmother, who had been struggling to make ends meet, said to him, How much did you pay for these books? He said, Don’t worry, they cost $90. Height of the Great Depression. He said, But we can buy them on time; we only have to pay $3 a month for the next three years. Well, my grandmother was not thrilled. She tried to get him to take these books back. He wouldn’t. Fortunately, he didn’t, because the day I was going to receive my Ph.D., my father gave me the five remaining leather-bound gold-embossed books: the works of Dumas, the works of William Shakespeare, the works of Victor Hugo. My grandfather believed education

was everything. CRANSTON: Your father was very similar to his father. He wasn’t on the spot forced into becoming a Presbyterian minister, but he did become a Republican under similar kinds of circumstances. RICE: Yes. My father and my mother went to register to vote in 1952. They were not yet married but they went down together to register to vote. They had in those days poll tests; someone would actually ask black voters questions before you could register to vote. The poll tester asked my mother – who was a light-skinned, beautiful woman – So, who was the first president of the United States? She said, George Washington. He said, Fine, you go register. Then he turned to my father and said, How many beans are in that jar? There were hundreds of beans in that jar. My father said, I don’t know. [The poll tester said,] You don’t pass the test. So my father went back to his church. He was very upset. An elderly man named Mr. Frank Hunter said, You know, Reverend, I’ll show you how to get registered; you go down there and there’s one of those clerks who is a Republican, and she’s trying to build the party. Now, you didn’t register by party affiliation, but this woman clearly would ask people, What are you? And if you said a Republican, she would just register you, and then kind of expect you to join the party, which my father then did. He registered, he became a Republican, he was a lifelong Republican after that. CRANSTON: The black population in America tends to vote Democratic, yet you have remained Republican. What are your feelings about the Democrats, and why have you stayed in the Republican side? RICE: Well, actually I started as a Democrat. I couldn’t vote in ’74; I wasn’t old enough. Then in ’76, when Jimmy Carter ran for office, he for me meant reconciliation of North and South; I voted for Jimmy Carter. But it was actually foreign policy that led me to become a Republican. I was very unhappy after the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, that the best we could do was to boycott the Olympics. I was therefore attracted to Ronald Reagan’s somewhat tougher stance toward the Soviet Union. I became a Republican a couple of years later, and I’m comfortable in the Republican Party. Look, I don’t like everything in the Republican Party. It certainly has a lot to,

d ecem b e r 2010/J an ua ry 2011



Photos by Ed Ritger

in my point of view, atone for [regarding] the Southern Strategy. In 1964, when the Civil Rights Act passed, the Republican Party tried to capitalize on that by going to Southerners who were unhappy about desegregation. The Republican Party has a lot to atone for on that. But frankly I think that the emphasis on the individual rather than the group [is better] – I’m not very fond of identity politics. I know there are challenges from being female, there are challenges from being black, but one should not say the group, the blacks, the minorities, the women; let’s see how the individuals respond to their circumstances. If there’s one thing I really learned from my parents, it’s that you may not be able to control your circumstances, but you can control how you respond to them. CRANSTON: You were in Birmingham during the violence in the final breakthrough to integration down there. You had friends who were killed. How has that shaped your career and how did it impact your attitude about violence? RICE: In Birmingham, this little parallel society that I have described, in ’62 and ’63, it wasn’t possible any longer really to shield the children of Birmingham. Birmingham became known as Bombingham; bombs were going off in neighborhoods almost every night. One went off in our neighborhood. I’ll never forget driving home and hearing the thud, and my father immediately turning the car around, and my mother saying, Where are you going? He said, I’m going to go to the police. She said, They probably set it off. You didn’t feel safe at all. In September of 1963, we were at church. We’d gone early, because my mother



was the choirmaster and my father was the minister. And there was a loud thud. Everybody in Birmingham knew that that was a bomb. But we didn’t know where, until a woman came in. They’d received a phone call: 16th Street Baptist Church had been bombed. They were worried that there might be coordinated bombings across many churches. So we were watching to see if bombs were going to be going off across the city. We heard pretty soon that indeed this bomb had gone off in the basement

“I started as a

Democrat. But it was actually foreign policy that led me to become a Republican.” where little girls had been getting ready for Sunday School. The names became known, and one of them was Denise McNair, who had been my kindergarten classmate. There is a picture in the book of this little girl being given a certificate of graduation from kindergarten by my father. So that’s how close we were to those little girls. At that point you know that the police were not going to protect you. My father, along with other men in the community, formed shotgun brigades. They would literally go to the head of the community and scare off [Ku Klux Klan] night riders. They never shot anybody, but they did shoot into

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the air quite a lot. CRANSTON: [When you were] 12, your father took an administrative position at the University of Denver, and you left Birmingham. What was that transition like, going into a mostly white community? RICE: It’s funny; I don’t remember thinking terribly much about it. I was just glad that we were moving to Denver where I could skate year-round. My parents and I started going to Denver in the summers. Back in 1960, my Dad had decided he wanted to go into university work, and he needed to get a master’s degree in something called student personnel administration; the University of Denver had a very good program. So we would pack up the family car every summer, as soon as school ended. We would drive to Denver, and then it was a question of what to do with me. One day I saw the figure skaters in their little short skirts, and I had watched [Olympic skating champion] Tenley Albright, and I said, I want to go skating. So it became high-priced childcare. You could drop me off at the rink, and my parents could go to school. I just loved to skate. My dad kept going; he finally decided he was never going to finish just going in the summers, so he took a year’s leave from Stillman College, where he was now dean of students. The family moved for what was to be a temporary year to Denver. When my dad finished his degree, a man named Maurice Mitchell [chancellor of the University of Denver], had been standing in the parking lot with my father through all those skating hours because Maurice Mitchell’s daughter Debbie was a skater with me – shows you how coincidences happen. [Mitchell] offered [my

father] a job at the University of Denver. We moved. From my point of view, this was the best possible news, because now I could skate year-round. When I went back to Alabama before, I’d practice skating on the floor, but you can only get so good skating on the floor. CRANSTON: Madeleine Albright was here two years ago, and I asked her what she thought of your career as secretary of state. She said she really didn’t like talking about sitting secretaries of state. But she said she had the utmost respect for you and that you shared a father – she was talking about her biological father and your academic father. You write about Josef Korbel in the book. Maybe you could talk a little bit about him. RICE: I have to set this story up a little bit. I had studied piano from the age of three; I was going to be a concert pianist, no doubt about it. In the summer after my sophomore year, I went to the Aspen Music Festival’s school to study, and I met prodigies who could play from sight what it had taken me all year to learn. I was 17, they were 12. These kids could play better than I could ever play. I thought, I’m about to end up teaching 13-year-olds to murder Beethoven, or maybe play at a piano bar, or maybe I’ll play at Nordstrom, but there is no chance that I am going to play at Carnegie Hall. So I went back home and said to my parents, I’m changing my major. My father said, What are you changing your major to? I said, I don’t know. He said, You don’t know what you’re going to do with your life? I said, That’s right, it’s my life. He said, That’s right, it’s our money, so find a major. I went back to college in desperate search of a major. After trying English literature –

didn’t work – state and local government – didn’t work – I wandered into a course taught by Josef Korbel, in international politics. It was like finding love. All of a sudden I had found what I wanted to do; I wanted to be a Soviet specialist. He was a Soviet specialist. So I told my parents, I’m going to be a Soviet specialist. Fortunately, they didn’t say, What’s a nice black girl from Birmingham talking about being a Soviet specialist? They sort of said, Go for it. And I did. But without Dr. Korbel I would never

“Birmingham became known as

Bombingham; bombs were going off almost every night.” probably have entered the field. CRANSTON: Then you graduated from college at obviously a fairly young age and by, I’m sure, competence and luck, you had some good opportunities, including a fellowship at Stanford. You’ve often said you were an affirmative-action hire. I’d be interested both in your experiences at Stanford and also what is your attitude to affirmative action generally. RICE: I went to Stanford on a fellowship at the arms control and disarmament program – that shows you how long ago it was. Gloria Duffy, the CEO of The Commonwealth Club, was one of the other fellows in that

program. In fact, the Stanford program had never had a female fellow, and all of a sudden there were four of us. I found myself finishing my dissertation at Stanford and studying details of international security policy. Stanford came to me through the political science department – they’d heard me give a talk – and said, Would you be interested in a faculty position? It was going to be what was called a term position at the time; you stay three years and then you’re done. Pretty soon, it kept going, and now it was going to be a regular tenure-line position. I didn’t know the ins and outs of universities at the time. It finally occurred to me what Stanford was doing. Stanford had found a black woman Soviet specialist that they liked. They didn’t need another Soviet specialist; in fact, they had three at the time. But I think they decided they wanted to diversify the faculty, and here was somebody who could do that. They took, in that sense, a risk, because Stanford did not usually get its faculty from the University of Denver but rather from like-schools, like Harvard and Yale and so forth. But it said to me that this was affirmative action at its best, because it worked out fine for me and it worked out fine for Stanford. In fact, what it was, was broadening the pool of people that you look to, to broaden and diversify the faculty. I don’t personally believe in quotas – in 25 percent of this and 20 percent of that – but I absolutely believe that it is legitimate and smart to look outside of your normal channels and to take a few chances. Now, they also made it very clear that when we came up for tenure, there would be no special circumstances. I also agree with that, because I think affirmative action

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Condoleezza Rice (left) explains to Mary Cranston the background to her historic rise to head the State Department.

ought to be an opportunity for equal access but not a guarantee of outcomes. CRANSTON: After a couple years at Stanford, you were tapped under the first President Bush to become the director of Soviet and East European affairs at the National Security Council. That was a very interesting time, with the opening of the USSR and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Could you talk about some of the things you got to see from the front row? RICE: It was Brent Scrowcroft, who would become national security advisor, who had plucked me out of a crowd in a seminar at Stanford. When he was made national security advisor under President George H.W. Bush, I went back [to Washington, D.C.] with him. I had no idea that as the Soviet specialist in the White House from 1989 to 1991, I would witness everything from the liberation of Eastern Europe, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the beginnings of the collapse of the Soviet Union itself. It was an extraordinary time. But I had to keep reminding myself that we were fortunate. We were at the end of a big historical epic. The Soviet Union was largely a spent force by that time. The good decisions, the tough decisions, had been made in 1946, 1947 and 1948, when Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union were astride Europe, when the Soviet Union exploded a nuclear weapon five years ahead of schedule in 1949. Nobody would have believed that you were going to have the collapse of the



Soviet Union December 25, 1991 – the hammer and sickle comes down for the last time – communism, never mind. What it reminded me is that history has a long arc, not a short one. So I was lucky enough to be in the White House on 11/9, when the Berlin Wall fell; and then I was in the White House on 9/11, for the start of another big historical epic. CRANSTON: Today, what would be your perspective on the future of Russia, as it has transformed since you had that job? RICE: When people say BRICs – Brazil, Russia, India and China – I think that Russia doesn’t actually fit. Russia is going through a very difficult period. It’s a big oil and gas, extractive-industries economy that’s just fine when oil is $140 a barrel and not so great when it’s $70. It is really in a struggle for what it’s going to become. On the one hand, it’s become quite authoritarian over the last several years. On the other hand, you begin to hear murmurs, particularly from its president, Dmitry Medvedev, that Russia needs to be something different, Russia needs to be a place where the knowledge revolution is led. The Russians will remind you that they have some of the best software engineers in the world. Their problem is that the great majority of them are working in Israel and the United States. The question is, How do they harness all of that talent to let Russia take its natural and proper place in the international economy? So I’m hoping that there is now room

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for a different Russia, a Russia that’s not so dominated by authoritarian tendencies, by statist economic policies. Remember that President Medvedev was here in Silicon Valley, trying very much to see how to build the Silicon Valley of Russia. So perhaps that is changing, because Russia is the place where the human potential is great but the human capital is diminishing. It’s a country where 140 million Russians within 25 to 30 years could be 100 million Russians, because of the mortality, morbidity rates and the low birth rates. CRANSTON: At the 20,000-foot level, how would you assess the Bush presidency? RICE: I am a big believer that history has a long arc. Those assessments will come long after I’m even gone. But I hope that people will remember, first of all, that if you told me on September 12 that there wasn’t going to be another attack on the United States of America after September 11, I would have said, Not possible. It was not easy to defend the country; we did so thanks to intelligence officers, thanks to Homeland Security people, thanks to the men and women in uniform who volunteer to defend us on the front lines of freedom. I’m very grateful for that. I’m also grateful that we were able to speak out for the proposition that no man, woman or child should have to live in tyranny. The United States of America has to speak for that. The moral case for democracy should be very clear, but there’s also a

practical case. [Referring to protestors:] We’ve been witnessing democracy at its noisiest. But let’s remember something: Democracy at its noisiest is preferable to the silence of authoritarianism. CRANSTON: One comment you made in the press this week was that you even today would say that [Saddam] Hussein had to be taken out of power, but you might have had a different approach to the rebuilding of Iraq. Could you address that, and maybe what should have been done with respect to Iran in those years? RICE: With respect to Iran, I actually think we put into place the machinery that is still being used and ultimately might solve the Iranian problem. This was to bring together the P-5 Plus 1, which is the permanent members of the Security Council – Russia, China, the UK, France, and the United States – with Germany, which had been negotiating on behalf of the European Union, and try to get Security Council sanctions that would force the Iranian regime to make different choices than it had been making. The Iranian economy is now struggling from the twin hits of the sanctions and the fact that [Iranian President] Ahmadinejad made very bad economic decisions. Plus the fact that that regime is quite weak internally – you can keep a skeleton in place a long time with coercion, but that regime has no legitimacy with its own people. As to Iraq, what I’ve said is [that] we very much tried to build Iraq from Baghdadout. In retrospect, the strength of building it from the outside-in would have meant that you were building provinces that were capable of defending themselves, like Al Anbar turned out to be capable of defending itself, you would have had construction projects that were smaller in scale, probably easier to manage, probably less subject to the kinds of attacks that the big projects had, and the governance might have been easier from the outside-in. I understand, let me be very clear: The lives lost there – whether Iraqi or American or other coalition – can never be brought back. I understand that fully. And the sacrifice is something that I have to live with. I also know that nothing of value is ever won without sacrifice. I know that the conversation today about Iraq is not the conversation that it was in 1998 or 1999 or 2000 – What is Saddam Hussein doing? Is he going to use

weapons of mass destruction again, as he had twice? When is he next going to invade his neighbors, as he did twice? When is he finally going to get lucky and shoot down an American aircraft patrolling his [airspace], which would have eventually happened? How long will it be before oil-for-food is exposed as the complete scandal that it was? That was the conversation about the cancer that was Saddam Hussein, and now the conversation is: Can Sunni and Shia take the results of a free election in Iraq and form a government? That’s a different conversation.

“Let’s remember something: Democracy at its noisiest is preferable to the silence of authoritarianism.” CRANSTON: How do you see Hillary Clinton doing in the job you had? RICE: She’s doing a fine job. She’s a patriot. She understands the importance of defending American interests. And it’s a hard job. You’re always on a plane to someplace. I flew a million miles as secretary of state. You’re just getting off the plane hoping that you’re not going to say that you’re in a country that you’re not actually in because you’re sometimes not quite sure where you are. [Laughter] You hear people talk a lot about the decline of American power and the irrelevance of American power. Don’t believe it. Every time there is a major issue – even sometimes extremely minor issues – to be resolved, people come to the American secretary of state and say, We can’t do this without the United States. You say, Surely, you can do this without the United States? So it’s a difficult job, because it is the address for almost every problem in the world. CRANSTON: Obviously President Obama belongs to a different party than you do. But how did it make you feel that a black man was elected president of the United States? RICE: The day of the election I actually went down to the State Department press room just to say how extraordinary it was

and how proud it made me as an American, because it said America is everything that it claims to be. We’ve been getting there, we’ve been inching there for a while, I think. First black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – that said yes, the highest-ranking military officer can be black. You had back-to-back black secretaries of state: the highest-ranking diplomat of the United States of America can be black. And then another tremendous leap, the president of the United States. I think it says that perhaps while we’re never going to be colorblind as a country – I think that’s asking too much of a country that has the deep racial wounds that we have, that has the birth defect of slavery – we are perhaps less quick to think we know what that person can be by looking at their color. It said one other thing that I’ve carried forward with me, not only from that experience but as secretary of state: The great thing about democratic institutions – constitutions and the like – is that while they may not at the very beginning really be true for a people, they do stand there as the ought, as George Shultz called it. They stand there as what it is supposed to be. So whether it was Frederick Douglass, or Martin Luther King, or Rosa Parks, they did not have to tell the United States of America that it ought to be something different. They simply had to say that the United States of America ought to be what it said that it was. Ω This program was made possible by the generous support of The Koret Foundation.

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Climate One Director Greg Dalton listens to Secretary Clinton discuss U.S. policy on clean and dirty energy. Photo by Ed Ritger

Hillary Clinton (Continued from page 9)

and to the public, and help to guide what it was that our country would be doing for the next four years when it came to the nation’s defense. So I embarked upon the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, which will come out by the end of this year. It’s quite an undertaking to do it for the first time, because you have to question all of your assumptions and your presumptions and try to figure out how best to present what we do in the State Department and USAID, for which I am also responsible, and to set forth a vision with strategies and objectives that will take us where we want to go as a nation. I’m also working very hard to make it not just bipartisan, but nonpartisan, because certainly our national commitment to defense is nonpartisan and has bipartisan support in the Congress, and I want the same for diplomacy and development. One aspect of what we’re doing to promote diplomacy and development that is quite new and has special relevance for the Bay Area in Northern California is our emphasis in innovation and our use of technology. We have been working very hard for the last 20 months to bring into the work we do the advances that many of the companies and the innovators [and] entrepreneurs here in California have brought to business, have brought to communications in particular. Innovation is one of America’s greatest values and products, and we are very



committed to working with scientists and researchers and others to look for new ways to develop hardier crops or lifesaving drugs at affordable costs, working with engineers for new sources of clean energy or clean water to both stem climate change and also to improve the standard of living for people. Social entrepreneurs who marry capitalism

“We’re working to leverage the power

and potential in what I call 21st-century


and philanthropy are using the power of the free market to drive social and economic progress. Here we see a great advantage that the United States [is] putting to work in our everyday thinking and outreach around the world. Let me just give you a couple of examples, because the new communication tools that all of you and I use as a matter of course are helping to connect and empower civil society leaders, democracy activists, and everyday citizens, even in closed societies. Earlier this year, in Syria, young students witnessed shocking physical abuse by their teachers. Now, as you know, in Syria, criti-

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cism of public officials is not particularly welcome, especially when the critics are children and young people. A decade earlier, the students would have just suffered those beatings in silence. But these children had two secret weapons: cell phones and the internet. They recorded videos and posted them on Facebook, even though the site is officially banned in Syria. The public backlash against the teachers was so swift and vocal that the government had to remove them from their positions. That’s why the Obama administration is such a strong advocate for the “freedom to connect.” Last January I gave a speech [about] our commitment to internet freedom, which, if you think about it, is the freedom to assemble, the freedom to freely express yourself, the right of all people to connect to the internet and to each other, to access information, to share their views, participate in global debates. I’m well aware that telecommunications is not any silver bullet, and these technologies can also, as we are learning, be used for repressive purposes. But all over the world we see their promise. So we’re working to leverage the power and potential in what I call 21st-century statecraft. Part of our approach is to embrace new tools, like using cell phones for mobile banking or to monitor elections. But we’re also reaching to the people behind these tools, the innovators and entrepreneurs themselves. For instance, we know that many business leaders want to devote some of their

Commonwealth Club President and CEO Dr. Gloria Duffy (left) accompanies Secretary Clinton to the Marriott Marquis auditorium. Photo by Jack Huynh/Orange Photography

companies’ expertise to helping solve problems around the world, but they often don’t know how to do that, what’s the point of entry, which ideas would have the most impact. So to bridge that gap, we are embracing new public-private partnerships that link the on-the-ground experience of our diplomats and development experts with the energy and resources of the business community. One of my first acts as secretary was to appoint a special representative for global partnerships, and we have brought delegations of technology leaders to Mexico and Colombia, Iraq and Syria, as well as India and Russia, not just to meet with government officials, but [with] activists, teachers, doctors, and so many more. This summer, an entrepreneur named Josh Nesbit from FrontlineSMS, which designs communications tools for NGOs, joined a State Department delegation to Colombia. On the trip he learned first-hand about one of the biggest problems in the country’s rural areas: injuries and deaths from unexploded land mines. He was so moved that this month he is going back to work with the government, local telecom companies, and NGOs on a mobile app that will allow Colombians to report the location of land mines so they can be disposed of safely. Similarly, in Washington, we are bringing together groups of experts from various fields to join us in working on big foreign policy challenges. Last year we held our first TED@State conference. Just

last week, [with] Cherie Blair and the cell phone industry [from] around the world, we convened a group to talk about how to advocate for girls and women to get access to cell phones. It’s a new initiative called mWomen, which will work to close the gender gap that has kept mobile phones out of reach for 300 million women in low- and

“We cannot take


granted that the United States will still lead in the innovation race.”

middle-income countries. At USAID, we’re pursuing marketdriven solutions that really look to see how to involve the business community. We just unveiled a new venture-capital-style fund called Development Innovation Ventures, which will invest in creative ideas that we think can lead to game-changing innovations in development. As part of our first round of financing, the fund has already invested in solar lighting in rural Uganda, mobile health services in India and an affordable electric bicycle that doubles as a portable power source. The door is open to each and every one

of you. I just met with a group from Twitter, and I know that there are a million ideas that are born every day here. If you have a good idea, we will listen. Because despite all the progress that we’ve made, we cannot take for granted that the United States will still lead in the innovation race. We’re working to foster innovation at home and promote it abroad. President Obama has set the goal of devoting 3 percent of our gross domestic product to research and development and to moving American students from the middle to the top rankings in math and science, and ensure that by 2020 we regain the position that we held for decades, which we have lost: having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. And we need to make sure that American companies have the incentives they need to keep innovating. Companies must be assured that if they sell their products around the world, they do so without fear of piracy, that their intellectual property rights are protected and that the rule of law applies to everyone equally. In our efforts over the last 20 months, we’ve been raising these issues at the highest levels across the globe. But we can’t do this alone. We need your help. One way to contribute is by joining one of the new publicprivate partnerships I’ve described. We recently launched a new mentoring program called TechWomen that pairs accomplished women in Silicon Valley with counterparts in Muslim communities around the world.

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Women from these Muslim communities will spend five weeks gaining skills and experiences here in California. Just this week Twitter joined the program, and I hope many more will follow. I also urge you to become involved with the social entrepreneurship movement, which is proving every day that there is money to be made through socially responsible investments. Putting financial and social capital to work is one of our goals. And next year we will host a conference for social entrepreneurs and investors in Washington, called SoCap@State. But most of all, we just want to let you know that when I talk about diplomacy and development in the 21st century, it’s not just what I do when I go off to Asia or Africa or Latin America or anywhere else; it is what we all do. Because I’m convinced that it is not only our connections through governments that will really chart the course of the 21st century, but indeed, it is the peopleto-people connections. There isn’t anyone anywhere who doesn’t know that our free dynamic society with so many opportunities for people doesn’t in some way hold out both promise and example for them. So whether you care about Haiti where we have worked from the very beginning of the disaster there to help with relief, recovery, and now reconstruction; or whether you care about the violence in Mexico from the drug cartels, and we’re helping to put together an anonymous crime reporting tip line so citizens can report what they see



and learn without fear of being exposed; or whether you care about national treasures like those in Iraq that were endangered over the last several years, so we worked with the Iraq National Museum and Blue State Digital and Google Maps and Google Street View and Google to send engineers to Baghdad to take 15,000 pictures to create a catalogue of the antiquities that were in danger of being lost; or whether you care about empowering young people or mobile justice in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the site of some of the most gender- and sexualbased violence in world history, where we’re planning a project to use technology to facilitate justice for survivors of violence in Eastern Congo; whatever you care about, there is a place for you to become involved and work with us at the State Department and USAID. Because I believe strongly that you each can play a role in helping us chart a better future. Question and answer session with Greg Dalton, Climate One director and Commonwealth Club vice president DALTON: Afghanistan is a place where the U.S. is trying to promote economic development and democracy. We have a question from the audience: How do you define success in Afghanistan? CLINTON: I define it as a stable country that is able to defend itself and is making progress toward institutionalizing democracy and better services for the people.

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To get to that, we have to work with the Afghan government to build up their own security forces, and we’re seeing progress in that arena. Not enough, but enough to be able to say we can see a path forward. We have to help rid certain strongholds of Taliban insurgency from interfering with and preventing the gradual expansion of security and stability. We have to really help the government at all levels understand how better to function, and we have some effective ministries and others that have a long way to go. So it is a multi-pronged approach that is both, from our perspective, military and civilian. When I became secretary of state, both our military and our civilian efforts were woefully under-resourced. We were basically treading water. You either had to make a decision that the president was facing to try to move toward what I’ve just said is a model that I believe represents success, or not and just try to pick off insurgents and leave it at that. It is a very difficult environment for all the obvious reasons that this audience knows because you follow the news. But it is not a hopeless one, and it is not a failing environment. It is one that has a lot of challenges that are inherited, that are inherent, that have to be dealt with. Its culture is not our culture. The way that we have tried to approach the civilian side of the equation is to, number one, increase our presence. Upon reviewing where we were, we had fewer than 300 civilians and most of them were not in the country

more than six months at a time. Very difficult to build relationships, to mentor, to do the kind of outreach we were seeking. We’re now over a thousand, and they are full-time very committed experts, from the agriculture experts to the education and health and rule-of-law and everybody else. So it’s been an effort. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I know what the end of the story will be, but I think that we have made a very effective commitment, and we have an increasingly effective strategy that we are going to follow through on. DALTON: Reportedly, the U.S. now has a dual-track strategy of both increasing bombings with drones in Afghanistan as well as opening a negotiating track with the Taliban, according to recent reports. What are the conditions or expectations of that dual-track strategy? What’s the end game to negotiate with the Taliban? CLINTON: This is an Afghan-led process, which we support. We have agreed upon red lines and there are two tracks to that: reintegration and reconciliation. Reintegration is focused on the battlefield and the individual fighter who is ready to go home. We find more and more of those as reported by our military commanders. These are mostly young men who were either intimidated into joining the Taliban or chose to do so through family or village pressure or because it was a way to make a living. For many years, the Taliban paid a lot better than anything else in Afghanistan. This was one of the [reasons] why we lost the momentum

that everybody thought we were building in the prior administration, because there was no real emphasis on helping to employ young men and helping to build a security force so that there was a choice. It doesn’t take much to realize how important it was to raise the pay of those who joined the police and the army. And we began to get many more recruits. In reintegration, if they are willing to leave the battlefield, renounce violence, renounce any connection to al-Qaida and agree to abide by the constitution and laws of Afghanistan, we will help facilitate their reintegration. Reconciliation is more along the lines of the classic negotiation among leaders, [to see whether] the leadership of the Taliban [is] willing to end their fighting. We are just at the beginning of that process. You may have seen where Afghanistan has established a peace council under former President Rabbani to lay down principles that will guide them in pursuing their discussions with representatives of the Taliban. We have the same red lines. They have to renounce violence, give up violence as a means of pursuing their goals, they have to renounce al-Qaida – because remember President Bush told the Taliban if they would turn over Bin Laden, if they would renounce al-Qaida, the United States would not go after Afghanistan, and Mullah Omar would not [agree]. You may have followed some of the recent comments from General Petraeus, where our military forces have been asked

to facilitate certain of the meetings that Afghanistan’s leaders have had. So we’re just really testing the waters on this, and it is very challenging because many of the leaders live not in Afghanistan, but in Pakistan. And many of the sanctuaries for the Taliban in Pakistan are where the planning and the organization and the direction and the coordination with al-Qaida continues. As part of the review that the president ordered back in January ’09, we have engaged much more intensely with the Pakistani leadership, both the civilian government and the military leadership, and have made it very clear to them that we want a different relationship, but we expect their assistance in going after not just the Pakistani Taliban who threaten them, but the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network, and al-Qaida which threaten us. But I have also been really clear with this message to Pakistan. In Pakistan as well as outside of Pakistan, the United States cannot and should not be expected to help Pakistan with its development needs unless Pakistanis do more to help themselves, and that includes reforming a tax system that does not tax the elite and the landed propertied class. Pakistan has one of the lowest tax-per-GDP percentages, at 9 percent, in the world. So we are working with them on reforming their tax system, because some of the richest people in Pakistan pay less than $100 in all taxes. When I was in London – no, where was I – Brussels yesterday – [laughter] – I was with Cathy Ashton who

d ecem b e r 2010/J an ua ry 2011 Photos by Ed Ritger



Photo by Jack Huynh/Orange Photography

Photo by Sonya Abrams

Photo by Ed Ritger

Photo by Ed Ritger

Photo by Jack Huynh/Orange Photography



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is the newly appointed high representative of the European Union. We did a press conference about aid for Pakistan. I said, and she certainly echoed, our expectation that the elite of Pakistan do more to help their own country if they expect us to help them. DALTON: Another international issue that you signed in on last year was the Alberta Clipper, a pipeline from Alberta that brings tar sands, oil sands, directly into Wisconsin to the U.S. Midwest. This is some of the dirtiest fuel in the world. How can the U.S. be saying climate change is a priority when we’re mainlining some of the dirtiest fuel that exists? [Applause] CLINTON: Well, there hasn’t been a final decision made. It is – DALTON: Are you willing to reconsider it? CLINTON: Probably not. [Laughter.] We haven’t finished all of the analysis. So as I say, we’ve not yet signed off on it. But we are inclined to do so for several reasons. We’re either going to be dependent on dirty oil from the Gulf or dirty oil from Canada. Until we can get our act together as a country and figure out that clean, renewable energy is in both our economic interests and the interests of our planet – [applause] – I mean, I don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone how deeply disappointed the president and I are about our inability to get the kind of legislation through the Senate that the United States was seeking. Now, that hasn’t stopped what we’re doing. We have moved a lot on the regulatory front through the EPA here at home, and we have been working with a number of countries on adaptation and mitigation measures. But obviously, it was one of the highest priorities of the administration for us to enshrine in legislation President Obama’s commitment to reducing our emissions. So we do have a lot that still must be done. It’s a very hard balancing act. But, for me, energy security requires that I look at all of the factors that we have to consider while we try to expedite as much as we can America’s move toward clean, renewable energy. And the double disappointment is that despite China’s resistance to transparency and how difficult it was for President Obama and [me] to drive even the Copenhagen Agreement that we finally got by crashing a meeting of China and India and Brazil and South Africa, which – DALTON: I would have liked to have

seen that one. CLINTON: Yeah, that was – [applause] – well, so we got the Copenhagen Agreement and China did sign up for it. But at the same time, they’re making enormous investments in clean energy technology. If we permit that to happen, shame on us. It is something that the United States should be the leader in. It is one of the ways to stimulate and grow our economy – [applause] – and create good jobs. So that’s just a small window into the dilemma that we’re confronted with. DALTON: The U.S. has resumed military relations with China. The currency is not where the U.S. would like it. And Liu

“We have an increasingly

effective strategy [in Afghanistan] that we are going to follow

through on.”

Xiaobo recently won the Nobel Peace Prize. Now, I believe there’s a state visit planned later this year with Hu Jintao. Where do you want U.S.-China relations to go before that state visit on those fronts? CLINTON: There is going to be a state visit. This is another example of our efforts to balance many competing interests. We have committed to working toward a positive, cooperative, comprehensive relationship with China, which is certainly in the interests of cooperation on so many issues in the world today. We continue to speak out in disagreement with the treatment of the Dalai Lama and Tibet. We continue to speak out in favor of providing defensive capability to Taiwan. We continue to speak out on human rights inside China. But we also worked very hard to have China on the side of sanctioning North Korea, sanctioning Iran, working to implement those sanctions, participating in the international effort against piracy, looking for ways to partner on clean energy, on finding some opportunities to work on development in Africa where China has many contracts in the exploitation of natural resources. And we want to try to better find ways to assist the people in those countries

by working together. So it is a constant balancing act and there is not either/or, because the relationship with China is and will remain a core central focus of American foreign policy for as long as I can see into the future. We support China’s peaceful rise. We want China to be a responsible member of the international community. I thought one of the most historically significant actions that just occurred was the statement by Communist Party elders in favor of greater freedom of expression inside China. There is no way the United States can force the kind of internal changes toward greater openness, democratization, respect for human rights that, of course, we would like to see. We can advocate for it. We can stand up for it. But ultimately, it’s going to have to be motivated and directed by people inside. And there will be a day of reckoning, just as there will be on the currency, that pursuing a policy of devaluing your currency is not a long-term strategy for economic success. Trying to have economic freedom and growth without accompanying political openness is just a recipe for an internal collision. So there are lots of trends that we can look at and see moving slowly, but inexorably in the right direction. And so we have to continue to support that, but at the same time, take a very realistic view about what we can actually accomplish right in the here-and-now that will improve security and deal with some of the immediate threats, such as Iran’s nuclear program. DALTON: We have a number of questions about Mexico. The gang drug violence there. It’s a country that’s about to go from being an oil exporter to an oil importer. So what can you do about Mexico? CLINTON: Well, I care deeply about Mexico, and I’m extremely impressed by the courage of President Calderon in taking on the drug cartels. This is one of the most difficult fights that any country faces today. We saw it over the last couple of decades in Colombia. We are watching drug traffickers undermine and corrupt governments in Central America, and we’re watching the brutality, the barbarity of their violent assaults on mayors and governors, the press, as well as each other in Mexico. So it’s been one of my highest priorities. We have worked closely with the Mexican government to assist them in ways that they’ve requested.

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Photo by Ed Ritger

be their partners and that they do need to win this struggle against the drug traffickers. You cannot accommodate the drug traffickers, because what has happened is that these drug cartels are now taking on the attributes of a lot of the insurgent and terrorist groups that we see elsewhere around the world. For the first time, the Mexican drug gangs are using car bombings like you would see in Iraq or Pakistan. You see them being much more organized in a kind of paramilitary way. In fact, one of the most violent of the drug gangs are former special forces members from the Mexican army who went over to the dark side. So this is a struggle that has a Ten-year-old Ellie got her question answered in person huge consequence for the United by Secretary of State Clinton. States, not just along our border, I went to Mexico shortly after becoming but far into our nation. secretary of state and said what I believed, There is so much more we can do to help which is that the United States shares the re- Mexico, and we’re looking for ways that the sponsibility for the violence that is plaguing Mexican-American diaspora can be of help Mexico. Our insatiable demand for illegal as well. I’m going to be rolling out somedrugs, our unwillingness to crack down on thing like that hopefully early next year. thousands and thousands of weapons being That’s a point, Greg, that I want to trafficked across our border into Mexico. underscore. I really believe, as I said in my I thought it was an obvious thing to say opening comments, that diplomacy and – some political commentators criticize me outreach can’t just be left to our governfor it – but it meant that for the first time ment. There are so many ways that we the United States was coming to Mexico can influence what goes on in other counnot to tell Mexico what to do, but to say, tries – through technology like I said, the Look, we have a problem, not you; we have anonymous crime tip line that we’re helping a problem and we want to help you deal Mexico set up, and through the diaspora, with this very serious problem to the safety because remittances, especially to Latin of your citizens and the stability of many America, but also to Africa and places in local governments. So we are working hard. Asia, are often the biggest source of foreign It’s not just a question of providing Black aid. We’ve just rolled out this idea that we’ve Hawk helicopters, which we have promised unveiled at the United Nations along with to do, or better equipment for the police and Honduras and El Salvador, to leverage the the military; it’s also helping them build an remittances to assist in infrastructure buildindependent judiciary, build a corrections ing in countries that are so dependent on system that can actually keep the criminals remittances coming from the United States. in once they are caught, working to improve So we’re coming up with lots of ideas, their conviction and prosecution rate – but please take this as an invitation to let which is about 2 percent – helping them us hear from you about any thoughts you professionalize their police force, because have about helping us tackle this complex they don’t have a national police force and of problems that we face. they’re moving toward that under President DALTON: Your staff is giving us the hook. Calderon’s leadership. I don’t know if you have time for a question Every American should support what from a 10-year-old in the audience. the government of Mexico is trying to do CLINTON: Oh, absolutely. and send a very clear message that we will DALTON: “You’re in the position, poten-



decem be r 2010/Jan ua ry 2011

tially, to think about future generations. I am 10-years-old, and I’m worried about my future environment. What can people do to help?” This is Ellie from the fifth grade. CLINTON: Well, Ellie, I think that there is a lot that you can do, because it’s been my experience that young people are much more environmentally conscious and committed to protecting the world you’re growing up in than some of us older people are. Therefore, working on projects in your school, asking questions like this of people like me who talk about priorities for our country. It’s important to work with the environment that is right in your area, and there are lots of ways and lots of projects that young people are doing that set an example for what can be accomplished. I’m out of politics, as you all know. The secretary of state is not involved in any political activity, and certainly not elections. So speaking as a private citizen – [laughter, applause] – I think people running for office should be asked to explain their positions on what they’re going to do. I know that from what I read in the newspapers these days, there’s a lot of frustration and anxiety and even anger in our country right now over unemployment, feeling that our government is not working, our economy is not working; just a lot of concern, which is very real. I hope that people take some of that energy and focus it on the environment and on climate change, because we really do have to have a longer-range view of what’s going to make our country strong and rich and smart ... and I obviously believe that President Obama’s policies are going to be borne out and demonstrate their effectiveness. We didn’t get into the problems we’re in today overnight. We got into them over time. We can get out of them, but we can’t get out of them if we’re not thinking, if all we’re doing is reacting and being upset and mad and looking for somebody to blame instead of working together. That’s going to require a renewal of American partnership and spirit about solving the problems that we face and not pretending that they are either ignored or resolved in any easy way. So I’m hoping that your question, Ellie, will be on the minds of everybody. Because clearly the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat is all connected to our environment. It’s up to us to give it to you in as good a shape as it should be. Ω


For up-to-date information on programs, and to subscribe to our weekly newsletter, go to



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

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

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

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

RADIO, Video and podcasts

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

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

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

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

Member-Led Forums Chair

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

Dr. Carol Fleming carol.fleming@speechtraining com

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

FORUM CHAIRS 2009 ARTS Anne W. Smith Lynn Curtis ASIA–PACIFIC AFFAIRS Cynthia Miyashita BAY GOURMET Cathy Curtis SF BOOK DISCUSSION Howard Crane BUSINESS & LEADERSHIP Kevin O’Malley ENVIRONMENT & NATURAL RESOURCES Kerry Curtis Marcia Sitcoske GROWNUPS John Milford

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

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

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

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

HARD OF HEARING? To request an assistive listening device, please e-mail Ricardo Esway at or call (415) 869-5911 seven working days before the event. d ecem b e r 2010/j an ua ry 2011



Eight Weeks Calendar November 29 – January 23 M on



November 29


December 01

5:15 p.m. The Alternative Medicine Movement FM 6:30 p.m. Reza Aslan FM

Noon Mark Twain’s 17th Birthday 6:30 p.m. No Authentic Cuisine but Yours

5:30 p.m. LGBT Planning Meeting 6:00 p.m. Blueprint for a Creative Culture




Noon Improving Communications Between Palestinians and Israelis FM 5:30 p.m. The Lacuna FE 6:00 p.m. The Philosophy of Food FM

6:00 p.m. Behind Closed Doors 6:00 p.m. Manmade Clouds

6:00 p.m. Premal Shah













6:00 p.m. Middle East Discussion Group FE

6:00 p.m. Art as Context FM




6:00 p.m. William Draper FM 6:00 p.m. World Energy, Water and Food FM

6:00 p.m. David Brooks 6:00 p.m. It’s All About Cookies

6:00 p.m. Moving Beyond Lip Service for Sustainable Water 6:00 p.m. Jacqueline Novogratz






6:00 p.m. William Davidow

5:30 p.m. Humanities West Book Discussion: The Ornament of the World FE 6:00 p.m. Abbas Milani 6:00 p.m. Sacrifice Zones

d ecem be r 2010/jan ua ry 2011


San Francisco


Free program for members

East Bay


Free program for everyone

Silicon Valley


Members–only program



S at



















January 01













6:15 p.m. Science & Technology Planning Meeting FE 7:00 p.m. William Draper

12:30 p.m. Tom Campbell MO

6:00 p.m. New Corporate Form

09 5:30 p.m. New Member Reception and Holiday Open House

6:00 p.m. Club Volunteer Orientation 6:30 p.m. Timothy Ferriss

13 9:00 a.m. People Power: Rethinking Electricity 6:00 p.m. Michael Milken 6:00 p.m. Arts, Activism and Creativity

d ecem b e r 2010/j an ua ry 2011



Index By Region


December 01 – February 15

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

San Francisco December WEd 01 5:30 p.m. FE LGBT Planning 6:00 p.m. Blueprint for a Creative Culture

THU 13 9:00 a.m. People Power: Rethinking Electricity 6:00 p.m. Michael Milken 6:00 p.m. Arts, Activism, Creativity

THU 02 6:00 p.m.

tue 18 6:00 p.m.

New Corporate Form

William Davidow

MON 06 Noon FM Improving Communication Between Palestinians and Israelis 5:30 p.m. FE The Lacuna 6:00 p.m. FM Philosophy of Food

wed 19 5:30 p.m. FE Humanities West Book Discussion 6:00 p.m. Abbas Milani 6:00 p.m. Sacrifice Zones

Tue 07 6:00 p.m. Richard Wolffe 6:00 p.m. Manmade Clouds

THU 20 6:15 p.m.

Premal Shah

THU 09 5:30 p.m.

FM New Member Reception and Holiday Open House

January MON 03 6:00 p.m.

FM Art as Context

THU 06 6:00 p.m. 6:30 p.m.

FM Club Volunteer Orientation Timothy Ferriss

MON 10 6:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m.

FM William Draper FM World Energy, Water, Food

tue 11 6:00 p.m. David Brooks 6:00 p.m. It’s All About Cookies WED 12 6:00 p.m. Sustainable Water 6:00 p.m. Jacqueline Novogratz

MON 14 6:00 p.m.

FM Gen Y Decoded

Tue 15 6:00 p.m.

Traveling Blind

Silicon Valley

Growing Food and Wisdom

thu 27 Noon 5:15 p.m.

Alone Together The Long-Term Care Café

THU 20 7:00 p.m.

MON 31 6:00 p.m.

FM Josh Silver

MON 24 7:00 p.m. Jane McGonical


January FM William Draper

wed 26 7:30 p.m.

FE Silicon Valley Reads: Michelle Richmond V.S. Ramachandran

Tue 01 6:00 p.m.

Omega-3 Breakthrough

Thu 27 7:00 p.m.

MON 07 6:00 p.m.

FM Mind-Body Connection


tue 08 6:00 p.m.

Products That Win

wed 09 6:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m.

Fri 04 Noon Marc Hershon and Jonathan Littman

Matt Bannick Food Justice

MON 24 7:00 p.m. Jane McGonical

Foreign Language Groups FRENCH, Intermediate Class Thursdays, noon Pierrette Spetz, Graziella Danieli, FRENCH, Advanced Conversation Tuesdays, noon Gary Lawrence, (925) 932-2458 GERMAN, Int./Advanced Conversation Wednesdays, noon Uta Wagner, (650) 697-3004 ITALIAN, Intermediate Class Mondays, noon Ebe Fiori Sapone, (415) 564-6789 RUSSIAN, Int./Advanced Conversation Mondays, 2 p.m. Rita Sobolev, (925) 376-7889 SPANISH, Intermediate Conversation Tuesdays, noon Isabel Heredia, SPANISH, Advanced (fluent only) Thursdays, noon Luis Salvago-Toledo (925) 376-7830


FM The Turkish House

tue 25 6:00 p.m.

Free for members. Location: San Francisco Club Office


Fri 11 Noon

FE Science & Tech Planning

Fri 21 12:30 p.m. MO Tom Campbell

WEd 08 6:00 p.m.

THU 10 5:30 p.m. FE Toledo Salon 6:00 p.m. Belva Davis 6:00 p.m. U.S.-China Relations

decem be r 2010/jan ua ry 2011

December 01–06 STATEMENT OF OWNERSHIP Publication title: The Commonwealth. ISSN: 0010-3349. Filing date: October 10, 2010. Issue Frequency: Bimonthly. Number of issues published annually: 6. Annual subscription price: $34. Location of office of publication: 595 Market St., 2nd floor, San Francisco, CA 94105. Location of office of general business office: 595 Market St., 2nd floor, San Francisco, CA 94105. Name and address of Publisher: The Commonwealth Club of California, 595 Market St., 2nd floor, San Francisco, CA 94105. Editor: John Zipperer, Commonwealth Club, 595 Market St., 2nd floor, San Francisco, CA 94105. Managing Editor: Sonya Abrams, Commonwealth Club, 595 Market St., 2nd floor, San Francisco, CA 94105. Owner: The Commonwealth Club of California, 595 Market St., 2nd floor, San Francisco, CA 94105. Known bondholders, mortgages and other security holders: None.

EXTENT AND NATURE OF CIRCULATION Avg. No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: Total number of copies (net press run): 12,303. Paid/ Requested Outside County Subscriptions: 10,532. Paid In-County Subscriptions: None. Sales Through Dealers & Carriers: None. Other Classes Mailed Through USPS: None. Total Paid Distribution: 10,532. Free Distribution by Mail: None. Free or Nominal Rate Distribution Outside the Mail: 1,671. Total Free or Nominal Rate Distribution: 1,771. Total Distribution: 12,203. Copies not Distributed: 100. Total: 12,303. Percent paid and/or requested circulation: 86.31 percent. No. Copies Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date (October 2009): Total number of copies (net press run): 11,440. Paid/Requested Outside County Subscriptions: 9,540. Paid In-County Subscriptions: None. Sales Through Dealers and Carriers: None. Other Classes Mailed Through USPS: None. Total Paid Distribution: 9,540. Free Distribution by Mail: None Free or Nominal Rate Distribution Outside the Mail: 1,800. Total Free or Nominal Rate Distribution: 1,900. Total Distribution: 11,340. Copies not Distributed: 100. Total: 13,440. Percent paid and/or requested circulation: 84.13 percent. I certify that the statements above are correct and complete. John Zipperer, Vice President of Media & Editorial, October 10, 2010.

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

LGBT Planning Meeting

Blueprint for a Creative Culture: Building Engagement in Your Organization

The Commonwealth Club is a great place to discuss topics of importance to the LGBT community. Come discuss ideas for programming and meet other people who are engaged in everything from marriage equality to queer spirituality. We want to hear from you! MLF: LGBT Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. program Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Stephen Seewer

Kate Rutter, Senior Practitioner, Adaptive Path

As leaders, managers and workers, we’re responsible for the innovative thinking needed to explore ideas and envision solutions. It takes a team approach to create a culture that embraces creativity. How can workplace culture support creative thinking? What activities foster curiosity and collective engagement? A design diva shares her success with Fortune 500 clients and introduces elements needed to get there. MLF: Business & Leadership Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $8 members, $20 non-members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Kevin O’Malley

T h u 02 | San Francisco

M O N 06 | San Francisco

New Corporate Form: A Viable Game-Changer for Sustainability

Improving Communications Between Palestinians and Israelis

Carl Bass, CEO, Autodesk Jeff Mendelson, CEO, New Leaf Paper Don Shaffer, President, RSF Social Finance Susan Mac Cormac, Partner, Morrison Foerster

Debates over the causes of the BP oil spill have raged from Washington to London to Louisiana. However, a primary contributor that has not been closely examined is BP’s structure as a corporation. Come hear about the growing movement in the U.S. and overseas to create a new corporate form that would integrate social and environmental factors more deeply into the DNA of corporations. Mac Cormac is principal author of the Flexible Purpose Corporation (SB1463), a bill now in the California Senate. She will be joined by CEOs who will be impacted by the bill for a lively discussion of the impacts of such groundbreaking change. MLF: Environment & Natural Resources Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $8 members, $20 non-members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Chris Erikson

Steven West, Ph.D., Near Eastern Cultures and Languages Iftekhar Hai, President, United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance

In light of direct peace talks which began in September, West and Hai discuss the outlook for peace in the Middle East. They believe that acknowledging the humanity behind Israeli and Palestinian stories and finding common values are the first steps to building the trust necessary to end the violence and struggle that plagues the region. MLF: Middle East Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program Cost: MEMBERS FREE, $20 non-members, students free (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Celia Menczel

d ecem b e r 2010/jan ua ry 2011



December 06 – January 06 M on 0 6 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

M O N 06 | San Francisco

T U E 07 | San Francisco

The Lacuna

The Philosophy of Food

Don’t miss this fun and illuminating chance to discuss The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver’s new historical novel that moves from the Mexico City of Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky in the 1930s to the Washington, D.C., of FDR, J. Edgar Hoover and Richard Nixon in the 1940s. As a reminder, this is a book discussion group; the author will not be present.

Susan J. Machtinger, Certified Nutrition Consultant

Behind Closed Doors: Inside the Obama White House

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

Monday Night Philosophy celebrates the holidays by investigating our intimate and cultural relationship with food. During the holiday season, when we indulge in foods imbued with meaning on many levels, let’s reflect upon this relationship as it applies to our underlying values, as well as our interactions with the natural world. MLF: Humanities Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: MEMBERS FREE, $20 non-members Program Organizer: George Hammond

Richard Wolffe, Political Commentator; Author, Renegade and Revival

Award-winning journalist Wolffe tells the inside story of the defining period of the Obama White House, based on exclusive interviews with President Obama and his White House staff. At Newsweek, Wolffe covered the entire length of Obama’s presidential campaign and has had unprecedented access to Obama. Come listen to Wolffe as he answers the simple yet enduring question: Who is Barack Obama? Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: $12 members, $20 non-members, $7 students (with valid ID). Premium (priority seating) $30 members, $45 non-members

Tue 07 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

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

Manmade Clouds: Global Solution, or Unintended Consequences?

Premal Shah

Mark Z. Jacobson, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of the Atmosphere Energy Program, Stanford University Allan Buckmann, Former Scientist, California Fish and Game; Presenter, UN Conference on Global Warming Eric Karlstrom, Ph.D.; Professor of Geography, California State University, Stanislaus; Filmmaker Rosalind Peterson, President and Co-founder, Agriculture Defense Coalition; Former Crop Loss Adjustor, U.S.D.A. Farm Service Agency Christie Dames, CEO, TechTalk / Studio – Moderator

Co-founder and President, Kiva

From commercial airlines to solar radiation management and weather modification, what is happening in our skies may have more to do with our health and the health of the planet than we know. Academia, NGOs, media from Scientific American to NBC, and global citizens have started to investigate the effect of jet contrails and weather modification on weather patterns, plant and wildlife, and the health of people. What’s going on, how do we understand it, and what can we do about it? MLF: Business & Leadership Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $8 members, $20 non-members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Kevin O’Malley



d ecem be r 2010/Jan ua ry 2011

Ruth Shapiro, Social Entrepreneur Series Director – Moderator

Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending web site, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs around the globe. Combining technology with social issues in a way that allows mass participation in facilitating solutions, it inspires grassroot support for the financing of social alleviation projects. Kiva has generated extraordinary excitement and more than $100 million in small online loans that are reimbursed if the donor requests such an outcome. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $12 members, $20 non-members

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

N ov 0 5 - J an 1 1

New Member Reception and Holiday Open House

Middle East Discussion Group

“Imaginary Countries”: Photos by Alexis Papahadjopoulos

Enjoy hors d’oeuvres, wine and the company of fellow Club members, ambassadors and staff as we celebrate new members and the holiday season! Are you new to The Club? Just want to explore and check it out? Come take a peek and meet other new members. Learn about all The Club has to offer – from volunteer opportunities, travel destinations and free language discussion groups to the high-quality programs you expect from us. Bring a friend and explore The Club together! Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30-7:30 p.m. reception, with brief remarks and Q&A at 6:30 p.m. Cost: FREE (with advance reservation)

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

His goal was to travel to the ends of the earth, then bring back a distillation of his experiences. Whether in a landscape or in a person’s face, Papahadjopoulos created a world as he wanted it to be, perfect in color, form and emotion. Come view his work on display at The Commonwealth Club. MLF: The Arts Location: SF Club Office Time: Regular Club business hours Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Lynn Curtis

M on 0 3 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

th u 0 6 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

T h u 06 | San Francisco

Art as Context

Club Volunteer Orientation

The Four-Hour Work Week

Kara Cohen, Recent Philosophy Graduate

The Club can’t function without the dedication of its great volunteers. Help us keep public discussion alive. Event volunteers assist with greeting, ticketing, receptions, ushering, question cards and timing programs for radio broadcast. To reserve a space at this volunteer orientation, please e-mail volunteers@common Volunteering is reserved for Club members only. Please include your name, phone number and membership ID number in your e-mail.

Monday Night Philosophy explores aesthetics through the eyes of a recent philosophy graduate. Cohen will review the major milestones in the history of aesthetics, including Plato’s and Kant’s observations, and will suggest that art exists through its context. Cohen will also briefly speak about what it is like to be a student of philosophy in contemporary society. Her talk will be followed by our usual open discussion. MLF: Arts/Humanities Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: MEMBERS FREE, $20 non-members Program Organizer: George Hammond

Location: SF Club Office Time: 6 p.m. orientation Cost: FREE

Timothy Ferriss, Author; Investor

Want to work just four hours a week? Ferriss believes he can show you how. This Jack-of-all-trades has done it all, from becoming the National Chinese Kickboxing Champion and the Guinness World Record-holder for tango dancing to working for education reform. In his controversial book, The 4-Hour Workweek, Ferriss advocates throwing out old ideas of retirement and deferred-life plans. He says you can have it all…right now. Location: SF Club Office Time: 6 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program, 7:30 p.m. networking reception Cost: $12 members, $20 non-members, $7 students (with valid ID). Premium (copy of The 4-Hour Workweek, priority seating, private reception with Ferriss): $35 members, $45 non-members

d ecem b e r 2010/jan ua ry 2011



January 10–13 J an 1 0 – M a r 0 3

M on 1 0 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

M on 1 0 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

The Art of Living Black: Artworks by Karin Turner and Ajuan Mance

William Draper

World Energy, Water and Food

Entrepreneur; Author, The Startup Game

Lynn R. Wallis, Retired Director of Public Affairs and Media Relations, GE Energy

For more than 40 years, Draper has worked with top entrepreneurs in fabled Silicon Valley, where today’s vision is made into tomorrow’s reality. This venture capitalist saw the value in Skype, Open Table and many other companies, and he will share his firsthand stories of success. Draper will provide an inside look at how the worlds of venture capital and entrepreneurship work and will reveal lessons for success in both business and life.

If the crisis resulting from energy and water shortages continues, the world faces an ugly process of de-development, says Wallis. Providing the food necessary to supply the growing world population will require significantly more energy and water to improve food yields from the available arable land. For example, it requires the energy equivalent of one half glass of diesel fuel to produce a glass of milk. Adequate energy supplies are key to the future well-being of the planet. Wallis will explain what can, and must, be done.

This year, The Commonwealth Club celebrates Black History Month with an exhibition of paintings that address the issues of race and gender. Artist Turner and Ajuan Mance, artist, writer and professor, are both Bay Area women of African descent. Their exhibition is in conjunction with the annual “The Art of Living Black” celebration. MLF: the Arts Location: SF Club Office Time: Regular Club business hours Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Lynn Curtis

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

MLF: International Relations Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: MEMBERS FREE, $20 non-members Program Organizer: Jerry Robertson

T u e 11 | San Francisco

T u e 11 | San Francisco

W E D 12 | San Francisco

David Brooks: Politics and Culture in the Age of Obama

It’s All About Cookies

Moving Beyond Lip Service for Sustainable Water

Columnist, The New York Times; Commentator, PBS “NewsHour”

Political and cultural commentator Brooks offers a fresh perspective on politics and culture in the age of Obama. Is the country moving to the left, right or center? What is the future of the Tea Party movement? Brooks has written on regional and intergenerational differences, America as a consumerist society, the benefits of a free-market economy, and foreign policy. Location: Mark Hopkins Hotel, 999 California St. (at Mason) Time: 5:45 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program Cost: $15 members, $30 non-members. Premium ( first few rows) $45 members, $65 non-members Also know: Part of the Taube American Values Series



Alice Medrich, Baker; Cookbook Author, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-inYour-Mouth Cookies

Medrich is often referred to as the First Lady of Chocolate – and for good reason. She introduced us to chocolate truffles in 1976 at her Bay Area dessert shop chain Cocolat and has written numerous award-winning cookbooks about chocolate. Lucky for us, she has turned her prodigious baking skills to cookies. Imagine a cookie cookbook organized by texture: gooey, crunchy, crispy – oh my! MLF: Bay Gourmet Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $8 members, $20 non-members Program Organizer: Cathy Curtis

d ecem be r 2010/Jan ua ry 2011

Marla Smith-Nilson, Founder and Executive Director, Water 1st International

Smith-Nilson believes the international aid community has mostly failed to find a workable way to help the 2.5 billion people who lack access to safe water and a toilet. She has overseen the implementation of over 450 community water and sanitation projects worldwide. With 20 years of hands-on field experience with community-managed water, SmithNilson will talk about how to end the cycle of poverty by first providing people with clean water. MLF: Environment & Natural Resources Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $8 members, $20 non-members Program Organizer: Kerry Curtis

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T h u 13 | San Francisco

Jacqueline Novogratz

Toward a More Prosperous Future for California

Arts, Activism and Creativity

Michael Milken, Chairman, The Milken Institute

Bycel brings a wealth of unique experiences to his work at the Redford Center. Founded by Robert Redford, the center’s mission is to inspire positive social, environmental and humanitarian change through creativity, education and empowerment and to address contemporary challenges in honest, open and bold ways. Bycel combines idealism with a strategic pragmatism about the value and importance of our actions locally and globally. Join us in this important discussion of activism, arts and change.

Founder and CEO, The Acumen Fund Ruth Shapiro, Social Entrepreneurship Series Director – Moderator

Acumen Fund is a global philanthropic venture capital fund that seeks to prove that small amounts of philanthropic capital, combined with business skills, can build thriving enterprises that serve vast numbers of poor people in developing economies. It now has 26 investments in a number of developing countries in south Asia and Africa. Novogratz is a trailblazer of the idea that business can be an effective means of bringing about social good. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $12 members, $20 non-members, $7 students (with valid ID)

Milken’s multimedia presentation shows what he believes must change to reinvigorate California. Despite challenges in education, infrastructure, government and manufacturing, Milken is optimistic that the state can have a bright future if its leaders and citizens summon the will to take advantage of its manifest strengths. Location: Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason St. Time: 5 p.m. check-in, 6 p.m. program Cost: $15 members, $30 non-members. Premium (first few rows) $45 members, $65 non-members Also know: Part of The Chevron California Innovation Series. Exclusive print media sponsor: San Francisco Business Times.

Lee Bycel, Exec. Director, Redford Center

MLF: Business & Leadership Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $8 members, $20 non-members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Ann Clark

T h u 13 | San Francisco

People Power: Rethinking Electricity Dian Grueneich, Commissioner, California Public Utilities Commission Ted Craver, Chairman and CEO, Edison International Ted Howes, Partner, IDEO

How will electric utilities adapt to a world of distributed generation and choice among formerly captive customers? Will utilities become a combination of eBay and UPS, shuttling electrons between many buyers and sellers? How will electric vehicles, renewables and smart meters fit into the equation? What policy and infrastructure changes will be required for mass adoption of electric vehicles? Join a conversation with leading lights rethinking the way California generates and uses electricity. Time: 9-10 a.m. program Networking Break, Featuring Local and Sustainable Fare. Time: 10-10:30 a.m.

Horsepower: Accelerating EVs into the Fast Lane Anthony Eggert, Commissioner, California Energy Commission, Transportation Lead (invited) Diane Wittenberg, Executive Director, California EV Strategic Plan Other Transportation Speaker TBA

Will California’s new strategic plan for electric vehicles really boost deployment of enabling technology and EV sales? Have we seen this movie before? What does California need to do to be the capital of the U.S. auto industry 2.0? Is the end game for California startups to be bought by Asian manufacturers? Who’s going to win in the recharging and infrastructure space? Join us for a conversation on putting the pedal to the metal in the race to lead personal mobility in the 21st century. Time: 10:30-11:30 a.m. program Location: SF Club Office • Cost: $45 members, $65 non-members. This price includes all morning sessions.

d ecem b e r 2010/jan ua ry 2011



January 18–26 T u e 18 | San Francisco

W ed 1 9 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

The Dire Consequences of Overconnectedness

The Shah, the Ayatollah and Iran’s Nuclear Program – Double Talk or Double Standards?

William Davidow, Former Sr. Vice President, Intel; Author, Overconnected

Davidow explains how the success of the Internet has also created a set of hazards, in effect overconnecting us, with the direst of consequences. Davidow explains everything from the recent subprime mortgage crisis to the financial meltdown of Iceland, asserting that much of it can be traced to the fact that we were so miraculously wired together. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $12 members, $20 non-members, $7 students (with valid ID) Also know: In association with the Science & Technology Member-Led Forum

Abbas Milani, Director of Iranian Studies, Stanford; Co-director, Iran Democracy Project, Hoover Institution; Author, The Shah

The life of Mohammad-Reza Shah Pahlevi, the last Shah of Iran, continues to resonate today. Milani looks at the monarch who shaped Iran’s modern age and with it the contemporary politics of the Middle East. He reveals the complex and sweeping road that he says has brought the U.S. and Iran to where they are today. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: $12 members, $20 non-members, $7 students (with valid ID)

W E D 19 | San Francisco

Humanities West Book Discussion: The Ornament of the World Surprisingly, medieval Toledo, Spain, home of Muslims, Jews and Christians, fostered a relatively tolerant culture. As we struggle with today’s issues of religious and cultural tolerance, exploring a wondrous historical phenomenon of peaceful co-existance and openness could not be more relevant. Join us to discuss The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain, by Maria Rosa Menocal. The discussion will be moderated by Lynn Harris. MLF: Humanities Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. program Price: FREE Program Organizer: George Hammond

W ed 1 9 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

T h u 20 | San Francisco

Sacrifice Zones and Environmental Justice

Science & Technology Planning Meeting

Steve Lerner, Author, Sacrifice Zones Bradley Angel, Executive Director, Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice Gail Smith, Environmental Activist, Daly City, Midway Village

Across the United States, thousands of people, most of them in low-income or minority communities, live next to heavily polluting industrial sites. Many of them reach the point where they say that enough is enough. Lerner tells the stories of 12 communities that rose to fight and had some success in reducing the pollution. He will be joined by Angel, who has worked with impacted communities throughout the United States for the past 24 years. Smith, a resident of an impacted community, will provide her perspective.

Join fellow Club members with similar interests and brainstorm upcoming Science & Technology programs. All Commonwealth Club members are welcome. We explore visions for the future through science and technology. Discuss current issues and share your insights with fellow Club members to shape and plan programs for the months ahead.

MLF: Environment & Natural Resources/Health & Medicine Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $8 members, $20 non-members Program Organizer: Bill Grant

MLF: Science & Technology Location: SF Club Office Time: 6:15 p.m. program Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Chisako Ress



d ecem be r 2010/Jan ua ry 2011

T h u 2 0 | S i l i co n Va l l e y

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

William Draper

Tom Campbell: Bank of America/ Walter E. Hoadley Annual Economic Forecast

Entrepreneur; Author, The Startup Game

Visiting Professor of Economics and Law, Chapman U.; Former Bank of America Dean, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley; Former Member of Congress

For more than 40 years, Draper has worked with top entrepreneurs in fabled Silicon Valley, where today’s vision is made into tomorrow’s reality. This venture capitalist saw the value in Skype, Open Table and many other companies, and he will share his firsthand stories of success. Draper will provide a look at how the worlds of venture capital and entrepreneurship work and will reveal lessons for success in both business and life.

Is the U.S. economic recovery in full swing, or are we headed for a double-dip recession? Former congressman, former Cal business dean and economic expert Campbell will lay out what we can expect in the year ahead and how you can be prepared. Campbell joined Chapman in January 2009 as a visiting presidential fellow. Prior to that, he was the Bank of America dean and professor of business at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. In the 20 years before that, he was a professor of law at Stanford Law School, a member of Congress, a member of the California State Senate, and the director of the California Department of Finance, during the last year when the state balanced the budget without additional borrowing, taxes, or dipping into reserves.

Location: Silicon Valley Bank, 3005 Tasman Dr., Santa Clara Time: 6:30 p.m. check-in, 7 p.m. program, 8 p.m. book signing Cost: MEMBERS FREE, $20 non-members, $7 students (with valid ID)

MEMBERS-ONLY +1 paying guest Location: Grand Ballroom, Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason St. (at California) Time: 11:45 a.m. luncheon, 12:30 p.m. program Cost: Regular $65 members, $80 non-members. Table pricing: Before Dec. 31, 2010: $800 members; $1,100 non-members; $2,500 patrons. After Dec. 31, 2010: $960 members; $1,320 non-members; $3,000 patrons. To purchase tables, please contact Mary Beth Cerjan in The Club’s Development department at (415) 597-5919. Also know: Underwritten by Bank of America. Registration required by noon on Jan. 19, 2011.

M on 2 4 | S i l i c o n V a l l e y

T u e 25 | San Francisco

W ed 2 6 | S i l i c o n V a l l e y

How Games Can Make a Better World

Growing Food and Wisdom

2011 Silicon Valley Reads: One Book. One Community Kick-Off Event

Jane McGonigal, Director of Game Research and Development, the Institute for the Future; Author, Reality Is Broken

Can problems like poverty and climate change by fixed through games? Visionary game designer McGonigal thinks it can. With more than 174 million gamers in the United States, McGonigal explores how we can save the world through the power of gaming. McGonigal is helping pioneer the fasting-growing genre of games that turns gameplay to achieve socially positive outcomes. Location: TBA Time: 6:30 p.m. check-in, 7 p.m. program, 8 p.m. book signing Cost: TBA

Joan Gussow, Author, Growing, Older Novella Carpenter, Author, Farm City

A young farmer and an older one will speak about the joys and frustrations of food production in the wilds of Oakland and in a Hudson River village. From chard and soybeans to chicken and hogs; death lessons, life lessons,and growing lessons from the authors of Farm City and Growing, Older. MLF: Environment & Natural Resources Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $8 members, $20 non-members Program Organizer: Marcia Sitcoske

Michelle Richmond, Author, The Year of Fog

Local Silicon Valley author Richmond’s novel follows the journey of Abby, a young woman overwhelmed with guilt after her fiancé’s six-year-old daughter disappears while in her care. The story continues as Abby tries to understand her memories and uncover the truth. Location: Campbell Heritage Theatre, 1 West Campbell Ave., Campbell Time: 7 p.m. doors open, 7:30 p.m. program, 8:30 p.m. book signing Cost: FREE Also know: In assn. with Santa Clara County Office of Education, Santa Clara County Library & San Jose Public Library Foundation

d ecem b e r 2010/jan ua ry 2011



January 27 – February 10 T H U 27 | San Francisco

T H U 27 | San Francisco

T h u 2 7 | S i l i co n Va l l e y

“I’ll Have the Plate of Chaos, Hold the Crisis”: How to Order in the Long-Term Care Café

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less fom Each Other

V.S. Ramachandran

David Hahklotubbe, Gerontologist

Sherry Turkle, Social Studies of Science and Technology Professor, MIT; Founder and Director, MIT Initiative on Technology and Self

This full-disclosure presentation will give you the tools to navigate long-term care. If you make decisions on behalf of your aged loved ones or plan on aging successfully yourself, you can’t afford to miss the presentation that some longterm care providers might prefer you not attend. Hahklotubbe’s candid style of delivery, infused with edgy reality and humor, makes this often-avoided topic of discussion more than palatable.

Turkle will shed light on the ways our use of technology is encouraging disturbing levels of isolation. We use social networking technology to modulate our relationships and make relationships easier to handle. But, as Turkle says, we just end up debasing them by showing how easily we are “willing to give up on each other.”

Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, UC San Diego; Author, The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human

Unlock the deepest mysteries of the human brain with the man Richard Dawkins has dubbed the “Marco Polo of neuroscience.” Ramachandran reveals insights into the evolution of the human brain, tracing back the strange links between neurology and behavior. With innovative approaches to answer age-old questions, Ramachandran takes on exciting and controversial topics, including new directions for treating autism.

MLF: Grownups Location: SF Club Office Time: 4:45 p.m. networking, 5:15 p.m. program Cost: $8 members, $20 non-members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: John Milford

MLF: Science & Technology Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program, 1 p.m. book signing Cost: $8 members, $20 non-members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Chisako Ress

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

T u e 01 | San Francisco

F ri 0 4 | S i l i c o n V a l l e y

Josh Silver: Future of Journalism and Internet Access – The Nexus of Media, Technology, Policy and Politics

Omega-3 Breakthrough

Marc Hershon & Jonathan Littman

Adiel Tel-Oren, M.D., C.C.N., D.A.C.B.N

Authors, I Hate People: Kick Loose from the Overbearing and Underhanded Jerks at Work and Get What You Want Our of Your Job

CEO, Free Press; Blogger, Huffington Post

The future of journalism and the Internet are both in jeopardy, says the president of the leading national organization working on media and technology policy in the public interest. Free Press chief Silver will address the three major fronts in the battle – Internet policy, journalism policy, and public media policy – and reveal how we can help solve this crisis at an individual level. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: MEMBERS FREE, $20 non-members, $7 students (with valid ID)



Unsaturated fats (Omega 3, Omega 6) are in our food, supplements and body – for better and for worse. Tel-Oren demonstrates that most omega-3 products are not ecological and contain rancid, polluted oil and have side-effects. Experts quote the literature which some believe has been heavily EPA/DHA-biased and largely ignore the rancidity issue. Tel-Oren discusses naturally stable plant-based Omega-3 and its proven health impact and reveals what the popular omega 3 oil industries don’t want you to know. MLF: health & Medicine Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $8 members, $20 non-members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Bill Grant

d ecem be r 2010/Jan ua ry 2011

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

Hershon and Littman identify the 10 most troublesome types of people to work with. Learn the attributes of workers like the “stop sign” (someone who always has a reason why an idea won’t work) or the “bulldozer” (someone who uses bullying tactics on others). They offer strategies on how to deal (and cope) with such difficult co-workers. Location: Building E, National Semiconductor, 2900 Semiconductor Dr., Santa Clara Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in/boxed lunch, noon program, 1 p.m. book signing Cost: $15 members, $20 non-members Also know: In association with National Semiconductor

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

T u e 08 | San Francisco

W ed 0 9 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

The Mind-Body Connection

Successful Strategies for Products That Win

Matt Bannick

Eric Nelson, Media Spokesperson and Legislative Advocate for Christian Science in Northern California

Monday Night Philosophy delves into whether the mind and the body are one and the same, or separate. Plato’s analogy was that the mind is like a charioteer and the body like two unruly horses pulling a chariot, in need of a reasonable charioteer’s control. Nelson will discuss his religion’s perspective on this ancient debate, as well as Christian Science’s approach to the advancement of healing through mental means alone. His talk will be followed by open discussion.

Managing Partner, Omidyar Network Steve Blank, Serial Entrepreneur; Founder, E.piphany; Professor, UC Berkeley and Stanford Engineering; Author, Four Steps to the Epiphany

From a leading serial entrepreneur, learn a step-by-step strategy for entrepreneurs and investors to successfully organize sales, marketing and business development for a new product or company. Packed with concrete examples, Blank offers insight into what makes some startups successful and leaves others selling off their furniture.

The Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm that helps to scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic, social, and political change. It funds both nonprofit and profitable ventures, as well as several hybrids. Omidyar Network “aims to create opportunity for entrepreneurs to succeed. When they do, so do their families and communities. People living in poverty are often ignored by mainstream businesses. We will prioritize our support for entrepreneurs providing services and products that can improve quality of life for those most in need.” Hear how Omidyar is changing the world.

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

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

W ed 0 9 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

T h u 10 | San Francisco

T h u 10 | San Francisco

Food Justice

Toledo Salon

Belva Davis: A Bay Area Legend Tells All

Robert Gottlieb, Professor, Occidental College

Join us to discuss the themes and ideas inspired by the “Toledo: Multicultural Challenges of Medieval Spain” program at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco on February 4th and 5th. Share your thoughts on whether Toledo’s relatively tolerant culture was an illusion or an unusually idealistic medieval multicultural achievement.

In today’s food system, farm workers face hazardous conditions, low-income neighborhoods lack supermarkets but abound in fast food franchises, and food products sometimes resemble more of a high-calorie chemical mash than a wholesome and healthy product. Opposing these conditions, a movement for food justice has emerged, which seeks to transform our food system from field to table. In his new book, Food Justice, Gottlieb tells the story of this emerging movement. MLF: Environment & Natural Resources Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $8 members, $20 non-members Program Organizer: Kerry Curtis

MLF: Humanities Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. discussion Cost: FREE Program Organizer: George Hammond

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

Broadcast Journalist; Host, “This Week In Northern California,” KQED Television; Author, My Wildest Dreams

Raised in a dysfunctional family in Louisiana and the Bay Area, Davis rose through the black radio industry, became the first black female reporter west of the Mississippi with her hiring at KPIX, and eventually anchored KQED’s “Evening Edition,” the station’s nightly news show. Davis will discuss her extraordinary journey, personal and professional. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $12 members, $20 non-members, $7 students (with valid ID)

d ecem b e r 2010/jan ua ry 2011



February 10–15 T h u 10 | San Francisco

F ri 1 1 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

M on 1 4 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

U.S.-China Relations: What Role for Human Rights?

Imagining the Turkish House

Gen Y Decoded: Insights and Tactics for Leaders, Teachers and Managers

John Kamm, Founder and Executive Director, Dui Hua Foundation

For more than 20 years Kamm has engaged the Chinese government in a dialogue on human rights. In addition to working on prisoners, he and his Dui Hua Foundation have had exchanges on juvenile justice, capital punishment, oversight of police forces and other topics. Kamm will reflect on what he has learned and how the United States can more productively engage a rising China on the sensitive subject of human rights.

Carel Bertram, M.A., Near East Studies; Ph.D., Art and Architecture of the Middle East

Bertram will discuss how Ottoman and Turkish houses became objects of memory, carrying personal and political meanings through periods of radical change. She has a particular interest in the poetics of space – how spaces are felt as well as built, as well as the richness and diversity of Islamic cultures. Bertram has worked extensively with Christians, Jews and Muslims in Bosnia.

Kit Yarrow, Professor/Chair of Psychology, Golden Gate University; Author, Gen BuY

Today’s teens and twenty-somethings are a different animal. Socio-cultural factors have contributed to a generation that thinks and relates to others differently than older generations. Managers and mentors are grappling with how to bring out the best in our future leaders (and keep their sanity). Discover the unique psychology of Gen Y and new techniques for leading, teaching and managing.

MLF: Asia-Pacific Affairs Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $8 members, $20 non-members Program Organizer: Lillian Nakagawa and Cynthia Miyashita

MLF: Middle East Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program, 1 p.m. book signing Cost: MEMBERS FREE, $20 non-members, students free (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Celia Menczel Also know: In association with the Consulate General of the Republic of Turkey in S.F.

T u e 15 | San Francisco

LATE-BREAKING EVENTS: See for complete event details

Traveling Blind Susan Krieger, Author, Traveling Blind: Adventures in Vision with a Guide Dog by My Side

Stanford University sociologist Krieger presents a romance, a travel adventure, an emotional quest, and a deeply reflective discussion of coming to terms with lack of sight. Krieger will offer pointed observations on vision, blindness and learning to walk with a service animal, Teela, her “lively golden guide.” MLF: Humanities Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $8 members, $20 non-members Program Organizer: George Hammond



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

wed , J A N 1 9 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

T u e, J A N 25 | San Francisco

Bridging the Innovation Gap

Ronald Reagan at 100: A Personal, Behind-theScenes Look

Mark Warner, U.S. Senator (D-VA); Co-Chair, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation Rob Atkinson, President, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation Additional Panelists TBA

Tyrus Cobb, Ph.D., Former National Security Council Member; Former Special Assistant to President Reagan T u e , F E B 0 2 | S i l i co n Va l l e y

th u , J an 2 0 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report: Findings and Ramifications Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Commissioner, Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission; Former Director, Congressional Budget Office Phil Angelides, Chairman, Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission; Former Treasurer, State of California Additional Panelists TBA Also know: Part of the Charles and Louise Travers Series on Ethics and Accountability

d ecem be r 2010/Jan ua ry 2011

John Robbins Author, The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World T u e , feb 0 2 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

Toledo Through the Centuries Peter O’Malley Pierson, Professor of History Emeritus, Santa Clara University

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Illustration by Steven Fromtling


MINETA: In the 1950s, the federal government embarked on the federal highway program. Is there political will to create a program of the same scale but of different scope, to link transportation dollars to transit and transportation initiatives that link land use, transportation, housing and the environment? MILLAR: At the national level, no, there is not that willingness at the moment. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be willingness in the future. For example, while we focus on the 1956 Highway Act that created the interstate highway system, forgotten is that the first lines went on the national map

for a national highway system back in the 1920s. So literally it was several decades of thought, of work, of commissions, of trying to figure out how it would be funded, before we came to agreement on the interstate highway system. When it comes to public transportation, high-speed and inter-city rail service in America, we’re very much in that development phase. So it’s possible to develop that kind of a coalition and interest, but I do not believe we have it yet at the national level. LOWENTHAL: I agree. The political contrast between the 1950s and today is so great. That was a time of great growth, of

great optimism in the country, and today we are facing a political climate of skepticism, of fear, of really people worrying where their next job and paycheck will come from. So I don’t see, at this moment, the political will to do that at the national level. We’re going to see a bottoms-up approach – if we see that. That’s what was pointed out in some of the surveys. It’s much easier to pass things at the local level when people see the impact of what they’re doing. Today people so much distrust government. You increase the sales tax in California, we sweep that money in the general fund to pay for something else also, because we have all

d ecem b e r 2010/J an ua ry 2011



these pressing needs. So it’s going to happen, but it’s going to start from the local needs when people see their systems deteriorating and they really will see what their tax money goes for. MINETA: Would linking quality of life to transportation taxes incentivize the chance for increased public support? And is there any chance that we’ll see another jobs bill with more dollars for transportation? HORSLEY: The House passed the Jobs for Main Street bill last spring, and we were hopeful the Senate would pick up on that, but the Senate – I think Senator Lowenthal has outlined the skepticism that’s sort of brought gridlock to the U.S. Senate on this issue – they just are intimidated to spend more money if it means borrowing more money. So that jobs bill is stymied and I don’t think you’ll see that moving forward. Likewise, the administration has proposed a livability program that would skim $500 million off the top of the current underfunded highway and transit program, and we don’t think that’s going to go anywhere, because it robs Peter to pay Paul. People don’t look at these issues in isolation – transportation in isolation from land use or housing or climate change or quality of life and the environment. They see what’s going on in their community, what’s going on in their everyday lives.... If you do it in combination, there’s a broader base of support for doing something. [Earlier,] Bill pointed [to] the 73-percent success rate in passing ballot issues when voters see that they’ll get benefit for their dollars. Nationally we are amazed by you folks here in California; 18 self-help counties have voted by a two-thirds majority to increase your taxes. That is phenomenal. But the reason behind it is perceived benefit. They get something if they vote for it. And that’s the challenge to us nationally: How do we connect with the voters and guarantee value for their dollar? MINETA: It’s sort of interesting how there are a number of questions relating to P3 – public-private partnerships – and also federal infrastructure banks. So let me just use that as an introduction for any of the panelists to deal with. If we can’t increase gasoline taxes, if we can’t even get a consumer price index tied to the 18.4-cent federal gasoline tax, are there other methods that we might be utilizing? What about the



federal infrastructure bank or public-private partnerships? MILLAR: That’s a several-hour-long topic on its own. PPPs – public-private partnerships – is one of those phrases that’s crept into our lexicon. A genuine PPP that is valuable in my view is an effort that brings both private and public investment together, and brings true private investment for the benefits that the private sector will receive in it. Unfortunately, many of the PPPs I see are not that type of an arrangement. Rather, they are a scheme to hide what the borrowing is that people say they don’t want their government to do in the first place. So I think we have to be very careful. On the other hand, the idea of a national infrastructure bank, if properly done, and perhaps if linked with another good idea, which would be a national capital budget – today the federal government invests in public transportation or in new roads as if it were buying pencils that are going to be used up tomorrow. That’s simply not the case. You’re willing to take a mortgage for your house; you’re not willing to take a mortgage for your groceries. We understand the difference between short-term consumables and long-term investment. Public transportation, roads, high-speed rail – these are longtime investments that will benefit the citizenry not only as soon as they’re open and while they’re being built in the terms of the number of jobs they create, but if well-done they’ll be here 100 years from now. Imagine, going back 106 years ago, when the first segment of the New York City subway opened. People were outraged it cost $35 million; 106 years later, we’re still getting benefit from that $35 million investment. Today you couldn’t do the planning studies for $35 million. We need to think long term. If PPPs are properly structured and recognize the value that will come back over time, then they’re a good thing. If they are a sham to hide what’s really going on, then they’re probably not a good thing. MINETA: When P3s means tolling of roads, is that a way of getting around tax increases in order to go through toll roads? And is that a skirting of the issue in terms of some of the survey work that you were doing, Asha? AGRAWAL: A lot of times, PPP is essentially borrowing. Most of the time, that’s how it’s used. I think that Secretary Mineta

decem be r 2010/Jan ua ry 2011

is correct; it’s often a way where local and state government is willing to raise tolls directly on a state facility, [and] it somehow seems more acceptable on a private facility. So it is sort of a way of skirting some of these political issues. But I want to take a step back and look at the larger question of PPPs. In state infrastructure banks, national infrastructure banks, we need to spend our money – every penny of it – really wisely and get the most from it that we can. There are times when PPPs are absolutely the best way to stretch our dollars and make them go farther. But, they are not, in any way, any shape, any stretch of the imagination, a solution for the revenue shortfall. We are not going to be putting tolls on every facility in the country. It’s just not a sustainable way to fund our entire transportation system. Instead, we need to look at it in cases where it may be a really good way to efficiently fund specific projects. But we have to keep reminding ourselves that PPPs are a small piece of the solution. They’re not the overall solution. LOWENTHAL: I’d like to concur with that. I think that the operative word is to use our money wisely, the PPPs to be wise, and to understand that they’re not a silver bullet. They’re not going to solve all of our problems. Also, [consider] how we use the income from PPPs. For example, we’re seeing in California the rise of HOT [high occupancy toll] lanes, tolling of our HOV lanes for congestion pricing. The question is, if that is with a P3, will the money that comes to the state be used for transit and other kinds of transportation that we cannot fund? So it’s not just the P3; it’s how we use that money, and where it’s going. The other point is that this is all a four-legged stool; we’re talking about local revenues, state revenues, federal revenues and also the private sector. We’ve embarked on a great adventure here in California in terms of high-speed rail; all of those four parts will be part of this adventure. So P3s will be a part of it, but they will not answer it all, and we still need both federal and state revenues. HORSLEY: Norm, let me point to the noted philosopher Charlie the Tuna. Remember the ads [that said], We don’t need tuna with good taste, we need tuna that tastes good. We’re in a period where voters and legislatures don’t have the appetite to

through expanded operations and maintenance rather than capital investment, yet most federal and many state revenue programs are limited to capital only. How can we create a level playing field for capital as compared to operational spending? Local sales tax programs in California generally only support capital programs for transportation, but service cuts by transit systems are due to insufficient operating funds. Capital funds cannot be transferred to subsidized operations. How do we reduce or reconcile this dilemma? MILLAR: We need both, and that’s what has to be clear here. It is not enough to buy a new bus and then not have the financing mechanism to pay the operating costs and the maintenance costs; yet there seems to be a much greater willingness to invest in capital items where ribbons can be cut than there is in providing the necessary revenue to operate and maintain the system. We have a tremendous shortfall in capital investment. We’re spending about one-fourth what we should be spending in capital investment. So if we take some of that money to operate the system, we probably then are further shorting our capital investment, which means our maintenance costs go up, which means we raise our operating costs. I think I have just described a downward spiral. We simply have to face the fact: infrastructure, be it transit, be it roads, you name it, is an investment. We benefit today from the investment of our parents and grandparents. We need to make a similar investment for our children and their children. AGRAWAL: [Researchers sponsored by the

Mineta Institute] asked people three questions about whether government should prioritize different kinds of spending on transportation: Should this be high, medium or low priority? Forty-four percent of people said that reducing congestion should be a high priority, but 67 percent of people said that maintaining streets, roads and highways in good condition should be a high priority. The public really does understand this, and we can further that by educating them so they understand just how really dire the condition is. LOWENTHAL: There really is a crisis in funding of public transit. In California for many years, in part, the state’s role in funding it came from sales tax, and we dedicated in our constitution 20 percent of the sales tax to transit. We’ve swept up all that money into the general fund, and now we’ve eliminated that sales tax. So this past year, the legislature fought to at least put in a funding stream for operations, $400 million a year. That is just a stopgap measure to keep transit going in the state. We have seen that if we don’t at least provide this minimal [amount], which we know does not allow for capital improvement, we are going to lose a third to a half of our transit in the state, the operations. On the other hand, every time we dedicate at least a minimal amount of money, come the next budget crisis that gets swept up, too, so all we’ve done is a stopgap measure in California. Ω This program was made possible by the generous support of the Mineta Transportation Institute. Photo by Sonya Abrams

raise the revenues that we need. But the need to invest to sustain the program and to expand the program so we can move the country hasn’t gone away. So in terms of bridging the gap, filling the need, you’re going to have to turn to creative solutions. You’ve done it here in California through that Proposition 1B, that is sustaining your investment for several years. We’ve seen it around the country through public-private ventures, such as in Indiana where a private outfit came in and leased the Indiana Toll Pike for 75 years, and Indiana for the next 10 years is going to capitalize needed expansion of their road network that they otherwise couldn’t pay for. Now Texas was sold that this was the silver bullet, and the voters, three years after they tried to impose a massive system, revolted and say, Not so fast, we’re not ready to do that. So it isn’t a panacea; but if done correctly, on a targeted basis, public-private ventures are going to make it possible to do projects that otherwise you couldn’t do. [Look at] the HOT lanes, the high occupancy toll lanes, measures where you offer drivers an option to pay for premium service and let them be the judge. You’re going to see options like that passed in legislatures all over the country, because if you offer drivers more options and let them decide whether they want to pay more, but don’t try to impose it on the general public, that is an equation that might strike the balance and get you the votes. What can you put forward that you can get a majority to support? MINETA: In many cases, transportation agencies can achieve greater mobility

(Left to right, seated): Norman Mineta, Asha Weinstein Agrawal, William Millar, John Horsley, Alan Lowenthal and (standing) MTI’s Rod Diridon. d ecem b e r 2010/J an ua ry 2011




to The Commonwealth Club


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Dear Club Members: We’ve recently been enjoying the reminiscences of our Golden Gavel members – years and years of special Club moments. Well-remembered speakers include President Eisenhower, Mikhail Gorbachev, Audrey Hepburn, Reverend Billy Graham, Mary Kay Ash, Governor (and then) President Reagan – so many individual highlights. Many, many longtime members remember being introduced to The Club by their fathers, grandmothers and other cherished family friends. The Club has meant so much to so many over the years, take a moment right now to consider what your most prized Club memories might be. Even members who haven’t attended a Club event for decades report feeling connected through The Commonwealth magazine and read it from cover to cover. All of The Club’s activities are made possible by members, both through annual membership dues and special donations to The Club. When you think about how much The Club has meant to you and your desire for impartial, thoughtful policy discussion, you will want to consider a yearend gift that reflects your respect for all The Club offers. Please take a moment right now to make a donation to your Club using the envelope in this magazine, and help us shine the light on the truth in the coming year, and for generations to come. Thank you for your membership! Wishing you a very happy holiday season,

Mary Bitterman Chair, Board of Governors

The Commonwealth Club celebrates our Golden Gavel members – those who have been members for 30 or more years. Last month we ran the first part of our Golden Gavel member list; this month, please join us in acknowledging these additional members and thanking them for their decades of loyalty to The Club and to our mission of letting loose truth in the world. Members for 60 to 69 years

John S. Cooper Stephen M. Heller Max Thelen Jr. George Uri Diane B. Wilsey*

Members 50 to 59 years

Ralph W. Coole George d’Artenay Arthur Graham Charles V. Hughes Frederick C. Kracke Allan N. Littman James M. Morley Edwin I. Power, Jr. Margaret C. Power* Elysabeth Pratt* Damon Raike

dec em ber 2010/Ja n ua ry 2011

Frank H. Roberts Richard H. Sciaroni Jacques S. Yeager, Sr.

Members for 40 to 49 years June Baggiani* Arthur S. Becker J. Dennis Bonney Allan Brown Robert H. Brunker Charles Bureker Charles R. Connell Robert H. Cornell Ann Nilsson David* Demetrios Dimitriou James Fousekis Michael A. Franchetti Mona Geller* A. Richard Gilchrist

Richard N. Goldman Martha S. Hurley* M. Bohannon Kaplan* Morton D. Kirsch Richard L. Ocheltree Joseph Perrelli Robert L. Rodriguez T. Gary Rogers Charlotte Mailliard Shultz* Fred Stitt James C. Strong Charles N. Travers J. A. Wade, Jr. Laurence C. Wegienka Jeanne L. Wong*

Member for 30 to 39 years

Mrs. Charles Black

Kathy Boardman J. Robert Coleman, Jr. Betty-Lou Harmon Michael S. Hebel Howard M. Kaplan Martine B. Larsen Fred Middleton Ellen Newman Peter G. Notaras Berniece Patterson Harriet Meyer Quarre Toni Rembe Robert D. Riegg Connie Shapiro George P. Shultz Ji Ing Soong Alois J. Strnad S. Kent Sullivan Roselyne C. Swig Suzanne Weeks

How Can

America Remain

a Great Nation?

Photos by Beth Byrne

A veteran of four administrations and longtime commentator gives his insight into the problems facing our country. Great nations, he warns, can fall quickly. Excerpt from “David Gergen: Will America Remain a Great Nation?,” July 28, 2010. david gergen Senior Political Analyst, CNN; Director, Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School


t’s a privilege for any citizen to work in the White House, so I’ve been unusually blessed by working for a series of four presidents. I must tell you that from those experiences, I see what is now facing us as a people. I cannot remember a time when I thought our problems were as big and our capacity to solve them was so small. It is deeply troubling where we are as a people. I must say we’ve had a history, in the time at least that I’ve been in politics, of being pretty good at responding to national emergencies: something that happens on the spot – boom, we’ve got to act. We rally together as a people. Go all the way back to Pearl Harbor up through 9/11, or look from the Great Depression to the Great Recession. In all of those cases, the nation responded well, and indeed I believe both President Obama and his economic team, as well as President Bush and his economic

team, deserve more credit than they get for stopping us from going over a cliff here a couple of years ago. We came very close, but in general we’ve been pretty good. The Gulf spill, I think, is an exception. In general we’ve been very, very good at responding to emergencies. Where we’ve had real trouble is in responding to chronic conditions that build up over time. A sage once said that America is excellent when we have a wolf at the door; we are pretty terrible when we have termites in the basement. That has been my experience to a significant degree in politics and what I continue to see happening today. I was in the White House in the early 1970s, with President Nixon and then President Ford. I ran the speechwriting team for President Nixon for a couple of years. You may remember, that was a time when OPEC reared its head and tried to strangle us. We had these long gas lines and the country was very aroused

about what we were facing over time about energy. I wrote some of those early speeches for Presidents Nixon and Ford calling for energy independence. That was our mantra: energy independence. We vowed that this country would end its addiction, end being hostage to other countries. Well, at the time we were 30-percent dependent on foreign oil. Today, some 40 years later, we are 60-percent dependent on foreign oil. I am very proud of the contributions I have made to American public life through my speech writing; they obviously worked very, very well. I was in the White House again in the early 1980s, when a national commission reported to President Reagan that we were a nation at risk because our K-12 education was deteriorating rapidly, especially in contrast to other nations. President Reagan saw that report, was alarmed by it, went barnstorming the country calling for education

d ecem b e r 2010/J an ua ry 2011



reform, by overhauling our K-12 schools. Some of the best governors in the country heard that same call, saw the problem and devoted themselves to it, whether it was Democrats like Bill Clinton in Arkansas or Jim Hunt in North Carolina, to Republicans like Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin and John Engler in Michigan. Many, many governors have worked on this problem. Where are we? We’ve made some progress. We have some encouragement with what’s going on right now in the Department of Education. I happen to think Arne Duncan is one of our best cabinet secretaries, doing a good job for President Obama. But the truth is, our scores are up only modestly, while other nations are moving ahead rapidly, and we [are] the nation that rose up in very large degree because of the quality of our education. There is a book out that is well worth reading, by two Harvard economists, Claudia Goldin and Larry Katz, two labor economists. They make a compelling argument that the reason America became the number-one nation in the world was that we had the best educational system in the world. As of 1900, we were the most educated people in the world, and we continued to improve the quality of education in this c o u n try right through the first

decades of the 1900s. Every generation went to school on average two years more than their parents did, and that happened generation after generation after generation. As of the 1960s, we were number one in college graduation rates in the world, and we had and continue to have the best universities in the world. But since the 1960s and ’70s, since that “Nation at Risk” report, we have actually gone downhill very rapidly. We are now number 15 in terms of college graduation rates. And a third of our kids are not finishing high school, another third finish but are not ready for college, not ready for 21st-century jobs; only a third come through the system. We talk about No Child Left Behind – it’s a joke; we are leaving millions of children behind. That’s because we haven’t come to deal yet with this chronic condition. Now, I was also in the White House when president after president said the baby boomers are going to retire in the early part of the 21st century. The costs of health care are going up and up; they’ve been going up faster than the rate of inflation since the 1950s. The cost of pensions are going up and up. We have to overhaul the Medicare system, we have to overhaul Social Security, we have to overhaul Medicaid. President

“We [are] a

nation that rose up in a very large degree because of the quality of our




decem be r 2010/Jan ua ry 2011

after president pleaded with us to do that. Year after year nobody would do it. We kept kicking the can down the road. Today what do we have? We have these entitlement programs, which are now ready to explode. They have already grown so much that every dollar we send to Washington in federal taxes now is necessary to pay for the entitlement programs. Everything else in government is done on borrowed money. All federal revenues are just enough to cover the cost of entitlements, and they are growing without reform. Over time we have allowed all these problems to build up, and now they are all falling on us at the same time. All this postponement is coming home to roost at the very moment when our political system seems so polarized and paralyzed. Many of us thought that President Obama could turn the page, that he could open a new chapter in American politics. We still hope that, but frankly that hope has waned for a great number of Americans, and if anything we are more polarized today than we were before he was elected. It’s a sad thing to see, and it’s troublesome about where we find ourselves. Now I have a valued colleague, who is a world-class historian by the name of Niall Ferguson. He teaches an entry-level history class for freshmen and sophomores at Harvard; it’s entitled The Rise of the West. We had dinner not long ago, with several others, in Cambridge. We got into a debate about what he would entitle the course if he were teaching it 30 years from now. Would he still call it The Rise of West? To borrow a phrase from Fareed Zakaria, might he rename it The Rise of the Rest? After all, China, India and Japan are all going to be at the table of power in 30 years, whether we like or not. I think we should welcome it, but they are going to be there. But then there was a third possibility that is more chilling. That is he might call the course The Rise and Fall of the West. Now, we haven’t had to worry about that issue very much for most of our lives, but I will tell you that that question is now in play seriously. It is on the minds of many Americans as well as many people overseas. It is already clear, when you talk about the West, that Europe is struggling to keep up. We’ve seen that for some time, long before this recession hit, the European growth rate

was about a percentage below the growth rate of the United States year in, year out, on average. Now with the recession and the trouble they’ve had, and we see what’s coming out of Greece and some of the fears that have been spreading across other parts of Europe and their inability, the hard time they’re having to compete with Asia. I think it’s already pretty clear that Europe is declining from what it once was, and the real issue is, What’s going to happen with the United States? I don’t think anyone yet knows the answer to the question of whether America is going to enter a period of decline, but I will tell you the danger is very real, very real. Now, what do we know about nations and decline? It’s worth starting to have that conversation. There are three things that stand out when you look at questions about decline. First of all, the decline of a great nation isn’t pleasant. If you want to take an extreme example, remember what happened after the Roman Empire collapsed. We went into the dark ages and they lasted 400 years. Now in this case, we are obviously going to be in relative decline in the sense others are catching up with us, but the question regarding real decline, if we started to go into real decline, we don’t know what the world is going to look like. It may well be that China will emerge as a superpower. It could be that the 21st century will be the “Chinese Century.” It’s also possible that China will stumble internally. It’s got a lot of its own internal problems; we can’t be sure where it’s going to go. After all, it was only 25 years ago that we thought Japan was going to buy up everything. Then we sold them Rockefeller Center, we sold them a few golf courses, and they went down. But we don’t know what’s going to happen. If China does not reach the peaks, we could have what’s called a polar world, [in which] there’s no supreme power. Whatever way it goes, if we decline, I can guarantee you that American influence is going to decline around the world and we are going to find it a more unruly place. We can already see psychologically the shifts that are going on. China’s flexing its muscles in new ways, you can see nations in the Middle East beginning to reorient themselves – after all, China has just passed us as the number-one consumer of energy in the world, and in 2027 their economy is likely to pass ours, so we could go either way on that.

Here at home, the decline of America could also mean significant suffering for a lot of people, especially in the middle class. A few years ago Andy Grove, who lives right down the road here and was so important as an immigrant coming to this country helping to found Intel, was by this time retired and was teaching a graduate course at Stanford. They have made calculations, he said, [that] unless we become more competitive, unless we pull our socks up in

“The decline of America could also mean significant

suffering, especially in the middle class.” our schools, keep great universities, become more innovative and have an environment in the country that encourages greater R&D and innovation and drop inertia – unless we do that, by the time our grandchildren reach their peak earning years, he said, their income will go down on average 25 percent from today’s standards. Now as it happens, I had the privilege of seeing Dr. Grove this afternoon in Los Altos and spending some time with him, and I asked him about that. He said, I have revised my estimates and I think it could be a little deeper than 25 percent. According to a new study [cited in] Bob Herbert’s column this morning in The New York Times, just two years ago, 20 percent of the people in this country suffered a 25 percent decline in one year, and they are devastated by the results. So, the economy isn’t pretty. The second thing is that decline can come very quickly. Niall Ferguson says conventional wisdom is that it took a thousand years for the Roman Empire to fall. If you read Edward Gibbon, that’s essentially the time frame that he looks at. Ferguson looks more closely, said that actually happened much more quickly, it happened within less than 100 years. His argument is that great empires have often collapsed within a generation. The Ming dynasty went down in a generation, the Ottoman dynasty went

down, the Romanov dynasty went down, they all went down like that. So if America goes into decline, it could happen very quickly. It is very important to understand that this is not something to be complacent about; this is not 25, 50 years down the road. This could happen in the lifetime of our children.

Money Problems


he third thing to understand about declines is that they are often the product of financial mismanagement by a country. Economists Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff’s recently published book [looks] at 800 years of financial crises around the world. What they have found is a common pattern, and that is when a serious, severe financial crisis is hit, great nations tend to throw a lot of money at them, just as we have. After the crises eases, what follows frequently is they then have a fiscal crisis. The fiscal crisis, if they don’t manage it well, in turn leads not only to them cutting back on their security, cutting the size of the military, but they often try to inflate their way out of it, they try to do a lot of other things, their debt gets too high, and they start to crumble. It has happened time and again. It happened to Spain, it happened to prerevolutionary France, it happened in the Ottoman Empire, and it also deeply affected Britain. The debt load in Britain between the wars was so high that they couldn’t afford to rebuild the military to face the rising German threat. It really undercut them. So, where are we? Rogoff and Reinhart have written that the tipping point often comes when a nation’s debt load – what’s called its gross debt – grows big enough that it exceeds 90 percent of the annual GDP, and then they begin to start going down. Well, guess what? We are already at 60 percent, and we are on course now within a decade to break the 90-percent barrier. That’s why this is important. That’s why we have to be serious about where we are. Now, what do we need to do? There are a ton of things we need to do, but most obviously and near-term, what’s paramount is to deal with our fiscal crisis that’s building up. Not immediately; we have to be protective of people this year, we may have to be protective of people the next year as the economy sort of gets its footing, but there’s no question that when the economy

d ecem b e r 2010/J an ua ry 2011



is on more solid footing, we have to do some significant work to get the deficit under control. These things are going to eat us up if we aren’t careful. Fortunately, President Obama has appointed a national bipartisan commission, headed by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, a Democrat and a Republican, to deal with the deficit and give us a report after early December. Erskine Bowles was the chief of staff for Bill Clinton in the latter part of the Clinton years, and he negotiated a balanced budget with Newt Gingrich and Republicans who were in control of the Congress back in 1997. Very significant. We had under Bill Clinton four years of surpluses. People forget that this can be done; it is not impossible, and Erskine was the guy who negotiated it. He’s back at it again, and he wants to

do some of the same kinds of things we did then. It is not impossible, and very important, what they have recognized and what they are working toward is trying to cut spending more than they raise taxes. Some of you may disagree with that; I happen to think it’s the right way to go. [Considering] the spending that it should be, taxes need to come up, but we need some sort of ratio on that. The Cameron government in Britain cut three dollars, in effect three pounds, for every one pound of increase in taxes. I don’t think that’s where we are going to wind up, but I think the Simpson-Bowles commission may well wind up with a two-to-one break on spending and taxes. That would cause significant political tensions and resistance, because it means doing some very bold things and, for a change, sacrificing. All of us are going to


DR. JOSEPH FINK, president of Dominican University, moderator: What do you think explains the polarization that exists in Congress today? DAVID GERGEN: Well, we can all have breakfast together. Polarization is not new either. The early days of the republic, if you will remember, were very fierce. Go back to the arguments between Jefferson and Hamilton, in the early days, and the newspapers, The Aurora and the like, and see what they printed about each other. Go out to Springfield to the Lincoln Library. There’s a room there for editorial cartoons from when Lincoln was in public life, and they are vicious, often coming from the political opposition. We would be scandalized by some of the ways they portrayed him. So it’s not entirely new, but it has gotten one hell of a lot worse in our lifetimes. Starting with the Great Depression, but certainly starting with the Second World War and the World War II generation, young men and women served, came of age in the war, and then came back, took their uniforms off and served this country so well. We had seven presidents in a row, John Kennedy through George Bush Sr., who were regarded as World War II presidents. Six of them were in the war itself; one, Jimmy Carter, was in the naval academy and the war ended before he graduated. He went on to serve honorably as a submariner. But that growing-up experience in uniform – those people are serving when they are young and when you serve when you are young, you tend to come back and really care about the country for a lifetime. That’s what happened with the World War II generation, and I think we will look back and say that generation and that period was more of a golden age than we realized at the time. When I got to Washington, for all their differences, people were strong Republicans and strong Democrats, but they thought of themselves as the World War II generation, and they thought of



decem be r 2010/Jan ua ry 2011

be called upon to sacrifice, including all of us in this room, in some fashion. But if it can be done wisely and it can be done with enough boldness, it actually has some real merit. But please understand that it does mean going back and reopening the heath-care bill to cut back on the costs of Medicare; we’ve got to get those costs back under better control. It means revisiting Social Security. It likely means raising the retirement age. It likely means cutting back benefits some. It likely means somewhat higher taxes. It means going into what we call tax expenditures. We all have deductions now for our home mortgages, we get deductions for what our employers pay into health care, we get deductions for charities. We are going to have to visit some of those; those are big spending items. The Defense Department is not going to be immune to

themselves first and foremost as strong Americans. Take Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill. They could fight like hell during the day but at five o’clock at night they could put down their differences and lift up a glass and tell old Irish yarns, laugh and have a good time, so that when Tip reached his 70th birthday, Reagan gave him a birthday party, a luncheon at the White House, invited some of his friends, and Reagan at the end of the lunch had written this little doggerel: “Tip, if I had a ticket to heaven, and you didn’t have one too, I’d give my ticket back, and go to hell with you.” I miss those days. FINK: You [have] mentioned young people being idealistic and moving forward, but are we really a nation willing to sacrifice? We went through the Bush years, when we fought a war without asking anyone to sacrifice but soldiers and their families. GERGEN: I don’t know whether we are willing to sacrifice or not. That’s one of the great questions in play. I do know [that] if we don’t sacrifice, we aren’t going to make it; I just think it’s about that simple. We are either going to have things forced on us that are going to be very inequitable, done in a way that people at the bottom are going to get really hurt; or we are going to do this in a way that is respectful of all groups and we are all going to pay a price. We can’t do this by just making the elite or the affluent the enemy. Yes, all of us who have the privilege of being more affluent in this country, we have to step it up. I think going back to the Clinton tax rates is a no-brainer. The nineties were good years. Going from 35 to 39.5 percent for upper tax rate, why should we be worried about that? But going to 50 percent is a different proposition. You add the state taxes on top of that, you’re talking 60-percent taxes in places like California. You are going to find that the economic consequences of that are quite serious, so we have to do this with sensibility. Even as we have to be enormously compassionate and caring and have to make sure there are economic opportunities and

this. It has got to participate in significant cuts, and we are going to have to raise taxes, not necessarily a [value-added tax], but we are going to have to raise taxes. This is all going to be very hard to do, but we have no choice. The choice is, either we are going to sacrifice or go into decline. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a pretty stark choice, but I think there’s only one answer to that. Now, that’s the near term. Long term, there are a whole host of things like creating a better economic environment, dealing with immigration so that we have smart people coming in through our borders, and we get rid of the porous borders we have now. It means a lot of other things, but I would just center on one other thing, and that is public education. If we don’t get this right soon, I don’t care what we do, the rest

of it’s not going to work. It’s particularly important that we pay attention to minority education in this country, because right now the minorities in this country are growing rapidly, and what we are going to find is the minorities are going to become the majority and a lot of our challenges at breaking through are in the minority community. We have to dedicate ourselves to ensuring Hispanic kids and African-American kids close the achievement gap. A lot of people in this country think you can’t do it. You get poor kids from broken homes, whatever they are, and they can’t learn. That is a myth. That is a myth and we are learning now that we can educate these kids, it is not the kids who were at fault; it was the rest of us who were at fault in not providing better schools. It’s something we are going to have to work on, and I have seen it happen.

educational opportunities for people who are coming up in the minority groups, it is extremely important that we not villainize people who have been successful. Yes, there are some bad guys out there, there are bad guys in a lot of fields, but because people are successful as entrepreneurs and build companies, we ought to continue to respect them for what they have done and not suggest there’s something suspicious about them. FINK: You’ve worked for four presidents. What was your favorite moment in working for a president of the United States? GERGEN: I had many. But since someone asked about Reagan, let me just finish up with a Reagan tale. Early on, one of my roles was as director of communications. President Reagan in his first year in office wanted to give a talk to the nation on live television about his budget and the deficit, and it was rather last minute. It was going to be nine o’clock in the Oval Office, and when presidents go on the air and talk about deficits, it’s sort of like the eyes glaze over. So we had this speech lined up for President Reagan, and I went to the president and said, Mr. President, we don’t have time to prepare any kind of graphics, but we need something to break this up. I had this notion with Mike Deaver of putting something on an easel behind his desk with a big white paper on it. I went to him and said, Mr. President, what we’d like you to do is while you are sitting in your chair reading the teleprompter, get up in the middle of the speech, go to the easel, and draw a line with this red felt-tip pen saying what’s going to happen to the deficit if the Congress fails to enact your budget program. I said, Mr. President, I know you’re a pro, but would you mind sir, given that this is a little complex, rehearsing before the speech? He said, I’d be glad to. So at 20 minutes to nine, he comes over and we have this just absolutely flawless rehearsal; everything goes smoothly, he draws the line, we’re all set. At nine o’clock, he starts up the speech, 100 million people

These problems are very daunting, but we should not be discouraged. Instead we should buck up here and realize that the country has faced tough challenges in the past; we went through a financial crisis and a fiscal crisis, we owed one hell of a lot of money when the republic was first created. That’s why Alexander Hamilton was so important, because he figured a way out of that. We have come through tougher problems than this and we can come through this one. But we have to recognize that we’ve got to stick to our values, appreciate what American values are, appreciate the kind of optimism it takes, the contagious optimism it takes, to create a sense of momentum that we can get ourselves out of this. Ω This program was made possible by the generous support of Robert W. Baird.

out there, and – classic Reagan – he went right through it until he got over to the easel and we’d made one mistake. We forgot to put the cap back on this red felt-tip pen. In those hot clean lights of television, that darn thing went bone dry. Reagan picks up his pen and says, here’s what’s going to happen to the deficit, and all you got was this kind of screech across the pad, with no line. I’m behind the television cameras in the Oval Office, about 20 feet away, updating my resume, not knowing what to do. Somebody who worked with me, Mark Goode, had had more foresight than I did; he had remembered to bring a second red felt-tip pen. So as soon as this happened, Mark hits the floor, and starts crawling across the Oval Office. The Secret Service has got this fixed look – it’s not in the playbook – you know, White House aid crawls at president and the president’s looking down at him [thinking], Who’s this jackass crawling across my floor? Mark crawls up to the desk, and Reagan’s standing behind the desk, Mark crawls around the desk, crawls along the floor, crawls up Reagan’s left pant leg and holds up his second red felt tip pen off camera. Well, Reagan got this little twinkle in his eye as he often did, and he reached down and got the thing very gracefully and he looked back at the camera and said, I think I’ll try my pen again. He drew this gorgeous line. I was thinking to myself: I worked for Richard Nixon, who was a bit clumsy, had a hard time getting his fingers around a dial telephone. You can imagine how he’d have been with a Blackberry. If that had been Nixon, the speech would have been called off, we would have been thrown out the window on our tushes into the Rose Garden, and the bombers would have been over Cambodia in the morning. But it was Reagan, and he had a contagious optimism, that we need to remember whether you’re conservative or liberal or anything else. We need to remember we can still be a great country, and we need to work together, come together, unite together and rally together to get that done. Ω

d ecem b e r 2010/J an ua ry 2011



One half of the bipartisan team that successfully challenged Proposition 8 in court, David Boies reveals the winning legal strategy.Excerpt from “David Boies: Challenging Law and Making History: Overturning California’s Prop 8 Gay Marriage Ban,” August 13, 2010.

david boies Attorney; Founder and Chairman, Boies, Schiller and Flexner LLP


his country was founded based on a culture for equality. When it was founded, that culture of equality existed only for a small fraction of citizens. Gradually, we have been expanding that scope of the people who have the ability to benefit from that culture of equality. We’ve seen it in areas of race; we’ve seen it in areas of gender. We have a long, long way to go in many areas, but there’s only one area in this country in which we have discrimination not based on individual prejudice and bias but on official state-sponsored, state-enforced discrimination against a group of fellow citizens: gay and lesbian rights. Yesterday we took an important first step in eliminating this last bastion of official state-sponsored discrimination. By doing that, we’ve moved ourselves much closer to the ideal that this country was founded on, and we’ve done it through the courts. It’s great when you make progress toward equality at the ballot box or through the legislature, and we’ve done that too in vari-



ous areas. But, fundamentally, we cannot allow individual rights to be determined by a vote of any majority, no matter how large. If you do, you don’t need a constitution. The whole point of a constitution is to say that there are certain rights that the majority does not have the right to take away from a minority. As the Supreme Court said in 1933, we’re not going to put fundamental rights up to a vote, because the decision when this nation was founded was that we wanted a democracy with majority rule, but we wanted that consistent with protection of certain fundamental rights for everyone. That balance in the Constitution distinguishes the nation that we founded. It is a point of encouragement, but also a point of embarrassment, that we have been left behind in the march to equality that we started. When Mexico and Argentina, Spain and South Africa are ahead of us in providing equal rights to citizens, there’s something fundamentally wrong. As a very young lawyer in the mid-1960s, I had both the privilege and the awful ex-

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perience litigating civil rights cases in Mississippi, where you found your opponents were not merely the people on the other side, not merely even the jury, but also the judges. We’ve come a long way since then, and one of the things that I take great pride in is the extent to which we have been able, as a country, to lead the progress toward equality through the judicial system. The judges in the South, many of them conservative Democrats, many of them Republicans who stood out in the civil rights battle, were people who were prepared to follow the dictates of the law, even at extreme cost to themselves: cost in reputation, cost in relationships in the community, even cost in terms of their physical danger. It is through that process that we had the decision that we had yesterday, and I believe we will one day see the courts declare that all Americans deserve equal rights. We said at the beginning of the trial that we would prove three things. We said we would prove that marriage was a fundamental right; we would prove that depriv-

Photo by Keoki Seu / Flickr

ing gay and lesbian citizens of the right to marry seriously harmed them and seriously harmed the children they were raising; and we were going to prove that permitting gay and lesbian citizens to marry could not in any way harm any other members of society, could not undermine heterosexual marriage, could not undermine the institution of marriage. We proved every one of those things. In the opinion that the judge issued yesterday, he lays to rest every one of the arguments that people have ever put up to justify discrimination against gays and lesbians. The idea that marriage was a fundamental right was actually not that hard to prove because the Supreme Court has said it a number of times, in respect to people who were child support scofflaws, people who were imprisoned. Missouri had a law that said that felons who are in prison can’t get married; because they can’t have any contact with their spouses, they can’t fulfill the traditional roles of marriage. The United States Supreme Court said no. They said marriage is a fundamental personal right. It’s a question of liberty and the right of association and the pursuit of happiness. It is the most important individual

right, the Supreme Court says, and yet you still have people who are prepared to argue that marriage is not a fundamental right for some people. So we said, Let’s look at how that right is applied. First, is there any harm that comes from depriving gay and lesbian citizens of the right to marry? After all, they’ve got domestic partnerships. Why do they need the right to marry? First of all, we brought in lots of experts who testified about the importance of marriage and the stability and the social acceptance that it brings to people’s lives. We brought in people who testified about the adverse effects that occur with children who are brought up in households where their parents can’t marry, so that you have not only the harm to gay and lesbian couples, but you’ve got the harm to their children. One of the things that was interesting is that in cross-examination, even the witnesses that the defendants chose ended up admitting that depriving gay and lesbian citizens of the right to marry seriously harmed them and seriously harmed their children. Yesterday, the court found that as a fact. We also brought in experts to prove the third point, which is that there isn’t any

basis to believe that allowing gay and lesbian marriage is in any way going to hurt heterosexual marriage. We brought in experts who testified about that and testified about the experience in which you have countries [and] states that for a number of years now have permitted gay and lesbian marriages [with] no adverse effect. In fact, to the extent there’s any effect at all, it increased the stability in relationships, something that the people who advocate so-called family values say they are in favor of. What we ended up doing, however, is not just proving this through our witnesses. Cross-examination is a wonderful thing. It’s easy to go around and give speeches, it’s easy to go around and make pronouncements; but to get up on the witness stand under oath and have to answer question after question after question is a powerful crucible for truth. Even the defendants’ own chosen experts admitted that they had no evidence that allowing gay and lesbian marriage harms the institution of marriage. Yesterday, the court found that as a fact. People are always asking me if I could take the other side of this case, the other side of that case. Usually the answer is yes. A lot

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Photo by Beth Byrne

that no state can establish a religion. No state can favor one religion or one religious belief over others. No state can say because a number of our citizens believe for religious grounds that marriage should be between a man and a woman, that’s what we are going to legislate. Religion does not have a place in American legislation. There simply is not a legitimate argument in favor of continuing this discrimination. The other side doesn’t have any precedent, doesn’t have any facts, doesn’t really have any experts; they’ve got a bumper sticker, and that bumper sticker says, Marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s not the answer, that’s the question, and when you look at the judge’s opinion yesterday, you will see a resounding, clear, well-supported answer to that question, which says this country has moved away from inequality. It used to be African-Americans couldn’t even marry each other under slavery; then it was African-Americans and whites can’t marry; now it’s gays and lesbians can’t marry. All of “The doesn’t have any those restrictions ; are vestiges of infacts, doesn’t really have equality and discrimination of the .” they’ve got a past, and yesterday we took a really big of the cases that I do are cases in which there step in moving past that as a country. are good arguments on both sides. But there One of the things that I asked their are some cases in which there simply is not expert witness, who was a chief expert witanother side, and this is one of those cases. ness by the name of David Blankenhorn, This isn’t balancing safety and order against was whether he believed in the American individual liberty. This isn’t balancing one culture of equality, and he said he did. I set of facts against another set of facts. This said, Isn’t it inconsistent with that to say isn’t balancing benefits to one group against that gays and lesbians can’t get married? harm to another. This is a situation in which Interestingly, he agreed with that. I asked people are being seriously harmed, daily, by him whether it wasn’t true that America this discrimination, and no one is benefit- would, by the criteria that we judge, be more ting except people who want to keep some American the day we permitted gay and people separated out, discriminated against, lesbian marriage than it was the day before. classified as not equal. Much to the surprise of some of the people The First Amendment has two parts. It on both sides, he agreed it would. That’s behas a free exercise part that says Congress cause when you’re up on the witness stand, can make no law – that includes no state eventually there’s no place to hide, and can make any law – that prohibits the free when you can’t hide, discrimination falls. exercise of religion. But the second part says Discrimination, bias, prejudice can survive

other side

any experts bumper sticker



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in the darkness, it can survive unchallenged, but can’t survive the marketplace of ideas, and it can’t survive when it has to face that kind of cross-examination. Question & answer session with Pam Karlan, Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law, Stanford

KARLAN: Why didn’t the other side put on a better case? BOIES: This was not a case where they had bad lawyers. They had good lawyers. The problem is there wasn’t a case to present; it wasn’t that they didn’t try. They had six or eight expert witnesses that they recruited. We then took their depositions and it turned out that they couldn’t sustain under crossexamination the propositions that they had been hired to advance. In fact, two of their witnesses gave us testimony that we liked well enough that we played their videotapes in our case, and the judge quotes them in his opinion. You can have the best lawyers in the world, but if you don’t have any evidence, you really can’t survive in the courtroom. KARLAN: The defendants in the case, the people who defended Proposition 8, were the ballot proponents. The state itself really did a lay-down. The attorney general said he thought the amendment was outright unconstitutional, and the state refused to mount any defense; indeed, in their answers to requests for admission that you all filed, they agreed with you on every central point. What bearing does that have on the case? BOIES: There is an interesting legal question. There is real doubt as to whether nonofficial defendants – that is, people who are not the state – have the right to appeal. They have a right to intervene at the trial court level and have their views considered, but there is jurisprudence, including from the United States Supreme Court, indicating that they don’t have the standing under Article III of the Constitution to actually pursue an appeal. It is one that I think the court is going to grapple with, because it is a serious argument that they don’t have standing to appeal. It will be interesting to see how that all comes out. Ω This program was made possible by the generous support of the Charles Geschke Family.

Photo by Igor Dutina /

Capturing the Flavors The “Top Chef” winner lifts the lid on what makes him cook. Excerpt from “Rick Bayless,” August 17, 2010. Rick Bayless Chef-Restaurateur; Co-founder, Frontera Farmer

Foundation; Author, Fiesta at Rick’s

in conversation with joey altman Chef; Restaurateur ALTMAN: I noticed that you promote avocados quite a bit, and I’m really proud of our California avocados. So many people I know buy an avocado, but when they get home, they cut it open and it’s not beautiful inside. BAYLESS: The thing about avocados is they don’t ripen on the tree. It’s one of the few fruits in the world that will stay hard on the tree. When it falls off naturally or is picked off and kept at room temperature, it will immediately start to ripen, or you can cool it down and it will be put into a state of suspended animation. If you want it to go to ripeness, you bring it up to room temperature again. One of the problems is that you can force-ripen an avocado. And in lesser hands that often happens where they will put it into a room that’s too warm – 85 degrees rather than 70 degrees. Sometimes they will pump that room full of ethylene gas, which is something that

an avocado will naturally emit as it goes through the ripening stage. Unfortunately, if you put it in a hot room and pump in a lot of ethylene gas, it will ripen very unevenly. The ripening process in avocados is as important as the growing process, so always buy them in a place that’s going to turn over a lot of avocados. Go to the Mexican grocery store. They’re usually cheaper and they’re more carefully ripened there, because they’re going through so many and they’ll always have ones that are ripe. The bulbous end is the part that will ripen the last, so you need to be able to press, have a little bit of give, because that will ripen first. It will hold in your refrigerator for about three days or so, if you put it in the warmest section. ALTMAN: Tell us about your experience on Bravo’s “Top Chef ” and what made you rise above?

BAYLESS: I was totally foolish to just go out and do that. It was really hard and about halfway through the first “quick-fire challenge,” I realized I had a lot to lose. If you’re one of the young bucks that’s coming up through the regular “Top Chef,” nobody knows who you are, you have no reputation, you’re trying to get your name out there and show people that you know what you’re doing. On “Top Chef Masters,” of course, everyone already came with a reputation and a lot of years of experience. So you get in the middle of it, and you realize there are so many ways you could look like a fool on this show. This competition required something that had nothing really that much to do with cooking. It had to do with playing this game and how could you approach doing the challenge that they gave you in this tiny bit of time. It was all about thinking outside the box, which as chefs we have to do from time to time. Being a chef of a restaurant is very much like being on stage for a live performance; things go wrong all the time, but the audience never should know. You cover it over, you change things, you come up with something on the spot, just like that. That’s what I think got me through “Top Chef

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Photos by Sonya Abrams

Joey Altman shares with Rick Bayless his homemade dip made according to Bayless’ recipe. It passed muster with the Top Chef.

Masters”: I had a really strong background in catering, so I was used to working on the spot, and I liked playing the game. Now, of course you had to be a good chef, you had to have techniques that you could employ. The most critical thing: Since people were going to eat the food, it actually had to taste good, and they were going to judge on taste. So many chefs fell down because they did everything but taste their food. They were so worried about getting it on the plate that they didn’t ever stop to taste it. They made beautiful plates but they didn’t come to the final step, which was to give it that beautiful flavor that they were supposedly well known for. ALTMAN: It seems like it’s a great time to be a chef right now; the quality of ingredients, the availability of great ingredients, the availability and quantity of cooks who are enthusiastic and sometimes really talented, and also a dining public that seems insatiable for great food. How do you see the culinary landscape? BAYLESS: It’s very different than it was 23 years ago when we opened Frontera. I started off at that time in the history of dining in the United States when we had sort of come to this new realization that something was missing. We had gone through the era of pre-World War II, where the food was much more regional. People cooked at home all the time, lots of people had gardens,



they made simple food that they canned, they preserved, they did all this different stuff. World War II came, and everything changed, and we started shipping food around. Everybody wanted a big deepfreeze so that they could just pack it full of all kinds of stuff that they bought already frozen. I

“[‘Top Chef’ judges were] going to judge


taste. So many chefs fell down because they did [not]

taste their food.” was a kid of the ’50s and it was so cool, we thought, to have those TV dinners on those little foil trays – it goes against everything I stand for now. All of a sudden, we lost our way in this country. It wasn’t really until the ’70s that there was a bit of a backlash, and then into the ’80s we were all starting to turn back and say we’ve really gone the wrong way with food in the United States. We need to reclaim that, but we lost a generation or two of people who didn’t understand what good food was. They hadn’t tasted a lot of

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good food, and they didn’t know how to make good food. I think it’s taking us now well into the 21st century to have established an eating public that understands what really good food is. I tell you, it’s a real pleasure now to be able to put together a menu in our restaurant, put it out in front of our guests and have them go, This is fabulous, you are taking us down that path – the next step and the next step and the next step. And we feel that we are now not just offering good fresh food, but good fresh food that has a real perspective to it. ALTMAN: Do you find that it’s somewhat ironic that as the level of consciousness of food quality and history is growing exponentially, at the same time there’s also this epidemic of childhood obesity, and fast food and junk food? BAYLESS: We are going down dual paths, and I think we all know that. We need to do what we can to bring the system into balance, meaning that we have to step away from calling ketchup a vegetable for schoolkids. We also have to support the people that are helping to put good food out in front of the public, because we need to work on both sides at one time. I know that it’s very easy for people to look at what I do in my restaurant and say it’s elitist food because it’s made with really carefully raised ingredients that are

carefully crafted and we charge the right price for that kind of thing. So people go, Well, it’s just food for the well-to-do. But without that we have no touchstones. We have nothing that we can say is the benchmark that we can bring everybody else to. We all know that the more really good food that’s out there, the more competition there is for getting that food to people at a more reasonable price. We have to work on both sides of the good food equation at one time. ALTMAN: There have been a number of chefs who have been vocal about how some chefs, especially in the Bay Area, use the incredible farm produce as the end-all, beall and don’t tend to manipulate food quite enough to make it special. In one instance they were called out for serving a plate of figs as a dessert. I know a lot of your food is pretty straightforward, very simple, but then it also becomes quite complex. So where do you find yourself in that whole realm of molecular gastronomy versus what you were just talking about how corn can be a meal? BAYLESS: I like it all. I can see that we can embrace food in all different ways. There’s this really interesting thing that happened that I like to point out to people in the history of flavor. There was a time during the Middle Ages when the seed of great knowledge in the Western world was in Spain. But Spain was not part of Europe at that time, Spain was part of the whole Arab world. Then in 1492, all the Arabs were expelled from Spain. They gave up the Alhambra, which was the place where that great seed of knowledge was. During the Middle Ages, all of the kings and queens of Europe would send their kids to the Alhambra for finishing school, because that’s where the greatest sophistication was. During the Middle Ages, Europe wasn’t a really great place to live, but the cuisine of Spain – Spain was under Arab domination for eight centuries – was that complex spice cuisine that we all associate with all of North Africa, going over into the Middle East, and certainly, all through Southeast Asia; that all comes from the Arab world. They were all into alchemy. They thought that if you could create a new flavor out of simple flavors you put together, that you had done the greatest thing a cook could ever do. During the height of the Arab world, espe-

cially the Spanish section of the Arab world there, the kings were all great cooks. One of the things after the expulsion of the Arabs was to look at that alchemical approach to cooking as a travesty, an awful thing to do, and that we should really be putting a few herbs – not spices, herbs – into our food, and everything should taste super simple. That change just swept all over Europe, and it was a way of throwing out all of that Arab influence that had sort of crept into the cooking of Europe. That is still prevalent in this country as to what good food is. That takes me to this whole notion of kind of ethnic cooking. When you say

“When you say ethnic versus non-ethnic

cooking, all we’re saying is

Third World versus First World food.” ethnic cooking versus non-ethnic cooking, really basically all we’re saying is Third World food versus First World food. Just think about Italy. At one point in time, Italy went from being a Third World country to being a First World country, and it’s probably in most of our lifetimes that we have seen that transformation happen. Italian food went from being ethnic food to being great food, the stuff that we all want to eat. So there’s this whole strong political component that is all tied up in what we eat and what we look at. So to go back to what you said about serving a plate of figs as a dessert, it’s the epitome of: We are not going to mess with our food and we are going to consider that to be the absolute best thing that we can do as cooks – that’s total restraint in that – versus what you find all through the Arab world, which is: We have to transform these basic ingredients into something that takes on a completely new life, and if it hasn’t taken on a new life, then we haven’t done our jobs as cooks. The unfortunate thing is that that last thing I said is always associated with ethnic cooking or Third World cooking,

not with First World cooking. It’s sort of political, but more than that, it’s sociological. I think sometimes we just don’t see that. We don’t see that our approach to the food is really one of what are our biases in our lives, what are our prejudices in our lives about what food can be good and what food is good. ALTMAN: What’s your favorite ingredient? BAYLESS: I don’t choose favorites, but maybe chipotle chilies in the can, because I can do a whole lot of fast things with them, so I always have them on the pantry shelf at home. They can add a little spice, they can add smoke, you can doctor things up, you can make a glaze with it, you can use it to season a salad dressing, you can do all different kinds of things. It’s probably the most versatile ingredient. ALTMAN: Least favorite ingredient? BAYLESS: Celery. [laughs] I don’t know why anybody would grow it or use it. I have no relationship to that stuff at all. I don’t get it. They say it takes more calories to process it through your body than it actually provides you, so it’s a great diet food. ALTMAN: You can just put all your peanut butter or blue cheese on it, or dip it in ranch. BAYLESS: You can’t even cover its flavor with enough blue cheese, ok? ALTMAN: Favorite station to work in your kitchen? BAYLESS: I’m a line cook. I get too distracted being a prep cook. For years I had to do both of those things. I’d be in the middle of making mole and get distracted with something else, and you can’t get distracted when you’re making mole. When we did that state dinner in the White House, I spent seven hours glued to the stove because, I said, I have to concentrate here – I’m the guy who goes off and takes pictures of beautiful stuff. So I am a line cook, and again it’s because of the game of being a line cook – those tickets start coming out and you have to coordinate all the dishes for a table coming up together. It’s all about team playing, etc., and I love being a line cook, the hot line, not cooking the meat. I like to be the guy that’s funneling everything together, getting the plates set up, putting the vegetable garnishes on the plates. Ω This program was made possible by the generous support of Chevron.

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InSight The Art of the Possible Dr. Gloria C. Duffy Photo courtesy of Gloria Duffy

President and C.E.O.


an Francisco’s down- of square feet of empty commercial office space that is now availtown is a jewel of our able throughout the Bay Area, some of it in industrial parks away region, a magnet for from residential neighborhoods. Why couldn’t San Francisco and tourists, conventions and those private non-profits rent some of this space, or simply give building seeking good food and lively owners a tax deduction to use their facilities, and set up services arts. Keeping this special place for the homeless and needy population? A shuttle from downtown clean and pleasant for locals and visitors is in the interest of our could even be provided for those who congregate on the streets, to regional economy as well as good for our self-esteem. where they can obtain the services they need. Yet the streets of downtown San Francisco are often beset by This wouldn’t address the problem that some of the indigent the homeless and destitute, which creates problems for merchants, would still seek to be in the downtown center of San Francisco residents, workers and visitors. Wikipedia notes that “San Francisco because of its panhandling opportunities. Mayor Newsom said is often considered the homelessness capital of the United States,” at the Los Altos gathering that many of the panhandlers come with a homeless population of 7,000-10,000. The problem is not from outside San Francisco and go back mainly to the East Bay at just that downtown can be difficult to navigate or unattractive. night. San Francisco’s new “sit-lie” law will make panhandling in The homeless are among the most vulnerable people in our society, downtown more difficult by criminalizing the behavior associated often suffering from mental illness or substance addiction, and it is with it. But if panhandlers are mainly coming from the East Bay, incumbent on us to care effectively then a better strategy would be for for our neediest citizens. So often we know what would move San Francisco to work with East Bay Prior to the November election, cities on better care of the indigent us toward solution of a problem, I attended a campaign fundraiser in their own cities. but we just can’t implement it. for Gavin Newsom, in his race to The point here is not that these become lieutenant governor of Calimay be exactly the right solutions fornia. In the backyard of a Los Altos home, one of the attendees to the problem of the safety and appeal of downtown San Francisco asked Mayor Newsom what could be done about the problem of streets or caring for the homeless. But this is the type of thinking homelessness on the streets of San Francisco. we need pursue. So often we know what would move us toward Newsom answered that there was one sure way to address the solution of a problem, but we just can’t implement it. Old ways problem of homelessness. He said the presence of the multiple agen- of thinking about problems, lack of vision, bureaucratic barriers, cies serving the indigent is what draws them to the downtown area. and lack of strong leadership impede the changes that would make If those offices – presumably including offices such as the California an impact. Department of Social Services, the San Francisco Family Service A mayoral election is coming up in San Francisco. Mayors with Agency and private non-profits providing social services – were vision and strong and relentless leadership can change their cities for not in central San Francisco, Newsom said, then those they serve the better. One of my favorites was San José Mayor Tom McEnery. would not congregate nearby. A strong personality with clear vision, in the 1980s he not only This is logical, and if it is true, this may be another example of invigorated downtown San José, but with a key insight expanded problems to which we know the solution, but can’t seem to imple- the city limits to include the North San José area that is now home ment an obvious fix. So why don’t we move social services out of to such technology giants as Cisco Systems. This has expanded San downtown San Francisco? There would be concerns, of course, from José’s tax base mightily. other neighborhoods that would be unhappy about playing host to One of the first things Tom McEnery did after being elected was the homeless or others who use these services. strengthen the role of the mayor in San José, giving the mayor the But perhaps there are places such as empty land outside the power to take bolder steps to solve problems. He wrote about his downtown area where the public functions of all the different social strategies in a book, The New City State. San Francisco’s next mayor services could be set up in one location, including temporary shelter needs to be strong and able to break through barriers to solve the and food service. Another possibility would be some of the millions city’s thorniest problems. Ω



d ecem be r 2010/Jan ua ry 2011

TRAVEL WITH THE CLUB IN 2011 From international journeys in India, France and the Galápagos, to domestic explorations in America’s national parks, or weekend getaways discovering new places in our own state of California – there are so many ways to engage with the world through The Commonwealth Club. South Africa & Namibia by Sea

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October 17-23

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Lost Cities of Libya From Tripoli to Apollonia

Journey to Northern India

September (dates TBA)

Culture, Economy, & the Pushkar Camel Fair

approximately $5,440

November 1-15

Legacy of the Silk Road Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan

National Parks


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A Bay Gourmet Adventure in France

September 23-October 2

$4,795 Yellowstone & the Grand Tetons

Burgundy’s Food & Wine

October 10-24


Commonwealth Club Travel Informed Travel for the Discerning Mind

CST# 2096889-40 Prices above are per person, based on double occupancy

Commonwealth Club Travel Commonwealth Club Travel Informed Travel for the Discerning Mind

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Alaska’s Wild Lands

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The Commonwealth Dec-Jan 2011  

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton headlines our issue this month, and she's joined by her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, as well as Pr...

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