Thursday, September 30, 2010

P.J. O'Rourke on the Talk Show that Might Have Been

Political satirist P.J. O'Rourke visited The Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco today (September 30, 2010). He was in town to discuss his new book, Don't Vote: It Just Encourages the Bastards. Following his speech and audience question-and-answer session, he sat down with The Club's editor for an interview.

You'll be able to read portions of the interview in The Commonwealth magazine later this year, and in The Club's column in the November issue of Northside San Francisco. The interview ended with one videotaped question and answer. O'Rourke – a popular guest on such programs as Real Time with Bill Maher and Wait Wait Don't Tell Me – was asked if he had ever been approached about having his own radio or television program.

In his answer, we learn that there was such an idea being hatched by O'Rourke and his friend Christopher Buckley at one point, but alcohol intervened.

The video:

We'll post the complete video of O'Rourke's Commonwealth Club speech and Q&A as soon as it is available.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

NEW: Sec. of State Hillary Clinton at Commonwealth Club October 15

The Commonwealth Club of California announced today that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will appear at The Club on Friday evening, October 15, in San Francisco.

In what will be a much-talked-about event, Secretary Clinton will address important issues of climate change and women around the world, as well as the future of American leadership. She will be speaking at a special program of The Club's Climate One division.

With a bruised economy and developing countries on the rise, can the United States still lead the world in the 21st Century? What challenges do soaring budget deficits, globalization and an unstable climate present for U.S. national interests? Can America's tradition of innovative ideas and technology keep us ahead of the world's biggest problems? How can educating and empowering women around the world help reduce carbon emissions and raise living standards? Join us for a conversation with Secretary of State Clinton at the intersection of diplomacy, innovation and the prospects for a clean and safe future.

Tickets are certain to go fast, so order today.

Thomas Keller's Commonwealth Club Appearance on of Diablo Magazine's "Top Tickets"

Diablo magazine is including French Laundry chef Thomas Keller's September 30th appearance at The Commonwealth Club in Lafayette as one of its Top Tickets.

You can read the magazine's list here.

For tickets and details on the Keller event, visit our web site – but move quickly, because tickets are selling out fast!

The “Don’t Vote” Campaign

By Sally Schilling

It’s that time again. Midterm elections are beginning to be the talk of the nation once more. With more than a month until election day, major news stations are beginning their up-to-the-minute coverage of pre-election news.

We see the media excitement is building, and with it, the encouragment of people to get out there and vote.

One organization that is mobilizing for this election is The Rock the Vote campaign, with the goal of encouraging millions of young people to register to vote by using a sort of pop-culture marketing vibe.

Another mainstream vote-promoter is CNN. CNNPolitics online said, “U.S. midterm voters choose who makes decisions that touch millions of American lives. These issues range from taxes and national security to Social Security benefits and Medicare.”

Contrary to these conventional words of encouragement about civic duty, P. J. O’Rourke will be telling attendees at the Club on September 30, “Don’t Vote: It Just Encourages the Bastards,” which is the title of his latest book. (In a recent interview with CBS, he said that he apologizes for the vulgar language in the book, but politics is a vulgar subject.)

For those who prefer to follow politics through a more comedic medium, may not be your first choice. There is an ever-growing following of political satire. Some of the most popular contemporary satirists can be seen on liberal shows “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central. But don’t think that liberals are the only ones pumping out witty and enlightening critiques of our political system. O’Rourke is one of the conservative kings of political humorist material.

“The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop,” O’Rourke famously said.

This is not the first time O’Rourke will be visiting the Club. His past visits, which have all been popular, have covered topics such as an analyses of The Wealth of Nations or America’s cash-for-clunkers program.

This time, O’Rourke said, in a recent CBS interview, he wants to “remind Americans that we don’t vote to elect great men, we vote to throw the bastards out.”

If that sounds overly cynical, O'Rourke adds that voting isn't the be-all of solving our problems: “We cannot vote that oil away,” he said of the BP oil spill.

O’Rourke will be speaking at the Club at noon on September 30.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann on Gov. Schwarzenegger's Commonwealth Club Speech

Last night on his program, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, MSNBC's Olbermann featured extended excerpts from Monday's speech by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on the anniversary of the passage of AB32, the state's climate change law.

Speaking at The Commonwealth Club's Climate One program in Silicon Valley, Schwarzenegger took off his (rhetorical) gloves and sharply criticized the forces that have pushed a repeal or freeze of AB32. Watch the video yourself from MSNBC.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The New Issue of The Commonwealth Magazine: Foreign Policy, Culture Wars, Aghan War, & More

The newest edition of The Commonwealth, the members' magazine of The Commonwealth Club of California, is in the mail at this moment. If you're a member, watch your mailbox for the October/November 2010 issue, which is filled with interesting people and thought-provoking and even controversial ideas.

The cover story features a bipartisan duo of former U.S. secretaries of state: Madeleine Albright and George Shultz, who discuss with veteran journalist Marvin Kalb the most important issues facing our country today and tomorrow. Other articles include author and Iran expert Stephen Kinzer discussing the relationship between Iran and the United States; Anglican priest Kapya Kaoma on America's export of its culture wars to Africa; author Anna Quindlen discussing family with writer Ellen Sussman; an all-star panel (Laura Tyson, Paul Saffo, Nancy Pfund, Robert Klein, Robert Hertzberg, and Sydnie Kohara) discussing California's economic future; journalist Sebastian Junger on the ground with our troops in Afghanistan; author Nicholas Carr (in conversation with Google's director of research, Peter Norvig) talking about whether the internet is making us stupider; Commonwealth Club President & CEO Dr. Gloria Duffy on financial abuse of the elderly; and we say good-bye to a longtime friend of The Club and a giant of California's modern history, Bill Lane.

If that doesn't keep you occupied for the next month, check out the magazine's calendar of upcoming Club events and start marking your schedule for our great lineup of speakers, travel, and other opportunities in the Bay Area and beyond.

This Week at The Commonwealth Club

Roz Savage & David Kroodsma, Robert Reich, Climate Change Effects on Animal and Plant Species, Roelof van Ark, New Member Reception, Robert Sutton, P.J. O'Rourke, Pirates, More Pirates, Thomas Keller, & Frank Spinelli.

So there are no excuses for not having anything to do this week!

Join us!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mary Ellen Hannibal Heads up California Book Awards at The Commonwealth Club

The Commonwealth Club of California welcomes a new chair of its California Book Awards selection committee. Mary Ellen Hannibal is a longtime professional journalist and editor, having served as book reviews editor at Esquire and Signature magazines, authored three books, and more. She currently chairs the advocacy and communications efforts of the board for the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. Her reviews can be found online at The Readers Review.

Hannibal succeeds Roy Eisenhardt, who headed the jury for a number of years. Eisenhardt has, in addition to serving as moderator for many Commonwealth Club events over the years, served as the president of the Oakland Athletics and executive director of the California Academy of Sciences.

Hannibal has served on the California Book Awards jury for the past five years, where she says she

Monday, September 20, 2010

James Ellroy on the Hardboiled School of Language


Author James Ellroy comes to The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco Tuesday, September 21, to talk about his fascinating and surprising life. He will be in conversation with Tom Barbash, himself an author and a contributing book critic to The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.

We're sure the conversation will be interesting. In the video above, you can get a taste of Ellroy's willingness to discuss his life – even the darkest moments – and his work such as L.A. Confidential and his new The Hilliker Curse.

To whet your appetite, we would have included video excerpts of Ellroy's appearances on Conan O'Brien's talk show, but let's just say the language is a wee bit too salty for this blog. How much of that will Ellroy bring to the stage of The Commonwealth Club? Come and find out!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Schwarzenegger, AB32, and the Future of California's Environmental Commitment

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is coming to The Commonwealth Club September 27 to highlight the anniversary of AB32, the state's landmark climate-change legislation.

Schwarzenegger will be heading up a program of The Club's Climate One series, which focuses on bringing together people from across the political spectrum, from business to environmental movements and beyond, to address climate-change issues.

He has spoken at The Club for each of the past few years to mark AB32, but this year the discussion should be most poignant. The climate-change bill is the subject of withering criticism from conservative politicians who are arguing that the state should focus on jobs first, then the environment. But Schwarzenegger has been a vocal proponent of using climate-change initiatives to create green jobs and industries.

What does he think of his party's candidates in the fall election who are campaigning on plans to restrict climate-change legislation? Will they undo his legacy? What about Proposition 23?

This is a don't-miss program.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

P.J. O'Rourke, Phil Bronstein at The Commonwealth Club

When you've got a speaker as funny and interesting as political satirist P.J. O'Rourke, you want to team him up with someone who's also a strong figure. Smart, funny, controversial. So we're rather pleased that on September 30 at noon, The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco will be hosting O'Rourke, and moderating duties will be performed by our friend Phil Bronstein, executive vice president at the San Francisco Chronicle.

O'Rourke will be discussing his latest book: Don't Vote, It Just Encourages the Bastards. So come and get into the spirit of the November elections, and be prepared for a great event.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to Address The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco September 30

With the country working hard to pull out of one of the most difficult economic climates in the past century, the Obama administration's powerhouse economic team is the focus of much hope and much criticism. Are they taking the right measures? What's really happening with the economy? Just how close did the United States' economy come to going off a cliff two years ago?

On September 30, The Commonwealth Club of California is hosting a program featuring U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. The event will take place at the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco.

This is your chance to hear for yourself what the nation's top financial policymaker has to say about the current and future state of the economy.

Tickets are available for advance purchase.

UPDATE: This program was postponed. We'll keep you informed about any rescheduling.