Sunday, October 31, 2010

Theodore Sorensen, JFK's Speechwriter, Passes Away

Ted Sorensen, author of some of the most famous presidential speeches of the mid-20th century, died today at the age of 82.

You can listen to the audio of his May 17, 2010, Commonwealth Club program here, or you can watch the video of the event below:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Video of Secretary of State HIllary Rodham Clinton

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed Climate One at The Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco on Friday, October 15, 2010. Here's the video:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Condoleezza Rice Photo Slideshow, 10-18-10 at The Commonwealth Club

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited The Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco yesterday, speaking about her new book Extraordinary Ordinary People. Photos by Ed Ritger.

Hillary Clinton Photo Slideshow, from 10-15-10 at The Commonwealth Club

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's visit to a Climate One program of The Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco last Friday is presented in photos in the slideshow below. Photos by Ed Ritger and Sonya Abrams.

Timothy Geithner on Recession, Recovery -- ABC7 News Video


Photo Slideshow: Timothy Geithner at Commonwealth Club 10-18-2010

Below are photos, by John Zipperer and William F. Adams, from the program in Silicon Valley yesterday featuring U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner. The program was moderated by Sequoia Capital's Michael Moritz.

Friday, October 15, 2010

If You Missed Hillary Clinton Tonight at The Commonwealth Club ...

Then you missed a great program. Secretary of State Clinton addressed a sold-out audience of 1,400 people in downtown San Francisco this evening, talking about everything from Mexico's drug war to environmental needs; but the underpinning of her speech and conversation with Climate One Director Greg Dalton was the need for the United States to be engaged with the world's problems and to approach challenges intelligently, using all of the tools in the country's toolkit.

Stay tuned to this blog, as well as The Commonwealth Club's radio, podcast, television and online video networks. We'll be uploading audio, video, and still photos from this event in the near future.
Photo by Sonya Abrams.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Condoleezza Rice Establishes Peace with Jon Stewart

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night to discuss her new book, Extraordinary Ordinary People. Despite their differing political beliefs, Rice and the host clearly got along well, with Stewart noting that he had been charmed when he had seen her discuss her book at a book fair.

They spent most of the two segments on the program discussing Rice's childhood and family, which is the subject of her book.

Bay Area residents will get their opportunity to see Rice themselves on October 18, when she makes a noontime appearance at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco.

Part one:
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Condoleezza Rice Pt. 1
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

Part two:
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Condoleezza Rice Pt. 2
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Timothy Geithner Addresses the Top "Five Myths About TARP"

U.S.Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner took to The Washington Post opinion pages this past Sunday to address what he calls five myths about the Troubled Assets Relief Program, known by its acronym TARP.

TARP has become broadly unpopular in the country, but Geithner and other Obama administration leaders have been working lately to get out the news that TARP will ultimately result in a much smaller cost to taxpayers than is popularly believed:
[T]he cost of the TARP, which succeeded in reducing the overall economic damage, will be considerably lower than once feared. In fact, the direct budget cost of the program and our full investment in the insurer AIG is likely to come in well under $50 billion -- $300 billion less than estimated by the Congressional Budget Office last year. And taxpayers are likely to receive an impressive return (totaling tens of billions) on the investments made under the TARP outside the housing market.

Even looking beyond the TARP to the losses associated with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's pre-crisis mistakes, the direct costs of the government's overall rescue strategy are likely to be less than 1 percent of GDP. By comparison, the much less severe savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s cost 2 1/2 times that as a share of our economy.
In the article, Geithner addresses other concerns of critiques, such as that TARP helped Wall Street and not Main Street, that it led to greater presidential control over the economy, and other claims.

Read his entire article here.

Bring your own questions for the Treasury secretary when you see Timothy Geithner live at The Commonwealth Club of California this Monday, October 18, in Palo Alto for a 1:00 p.m. program. Details and ticket information are now available.

Monday, October 11, 2010

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to Speak at Commonwealth Club Silicon Valley

Over the weekend, The Commonwealth Club of California announced that U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will be speaking to the Club on Monday, October 18, in Silicon Valley.

Secretary Geithner will address the Obama administration’s proposals to help get more Americans back to work and help reinforce long-term growth at home as well as efforts to build a more stable financial system and to strengthen the global economy.

Don't miss this chance to get up close and personal with one of the most important figures entrusted with getting the nation’s economy back on track.

Generation Know

By Sally Schilling

Generation Me, Generation Y, Generation Q, iGeneration, Echo Boomers, Millenials, etc…

If you were born between the years 1980 and 2000, you belong to a generation that has been very difficult to define.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has labeled this generation Generation Q, the “Quiet Americans.” Friedman argued that while students are increasingly engaged in service programs like Teach For America, they are not getting loud about our current crises.

Condoleezza Rice on TV This Week

Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. secretary of state, will be on nationwide TV this week, appearing on at least three big shows:
  • Tuesday, October 12: The Today Show
  • Tuesday, October 12: Live with Regis and Kelly
  • Wednesday, October 13: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
That should whet your appetite for her appearance in San Francisco at The Commonwealth Club on Monday, October 18 at noon. Tickets are going fast, so reserve yours today.

Rice is professor of business and political science at Stanford University, a senior fellow at Hoover Institution, and author of the new book, Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family. In addition, she is a member of The Commonwealth Club Board of Governors.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Campaign Finance - The Current Hot Topic


Campaign finance is a hot topic right now! Not to mention a very relevant one as we head towards November.

The New York Times published an article yesterday stating that the amount of money spent on television campaign advertisements by outside interest groups has more than doubled from what was spent in 2006. The article points not only to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling as a main reason for the more lax campaign finance regulations, but also to an array of other legal developments that have led to less regulation and less restriction regarding campaign financing.

NPR’s Fresh Air devoted Thursday’s show to the discussion of the new world of campaign finance that has been created as a result of the Citizens United decision. Terry Gross interviewed Peter Stone, of The Center for Public Integrity, Kenneth Vogel of Politico and Lee Fang of the liberal-leaning ThinkProgress to discuss new organizations that have been created since the ruling in order to finance advertisements for campaigns across the country.

The Oakland mayoral race recently had its own campaign finance drama. Oakland mayoral candidates Jean Quan and Rebecca Kaplan were denied their request to tighten rules on campaign finance spending before the Nov. 2 election. The two Oakland City Council members made this request to the Oakland City Council after the Sacramento-based Coalition for a Safer California announced it had exceeded the spending threshold of $95,000 allowed for an independent expenditure committee, in support of an Oakland mayoral candidate. Quan and Kaplan have alleged that Oakland mayoral candidate Don Perata worked with the coalition to get the spending cap broken. Perata has denied this allegation, but admitted on Thursday to exceeding the spending ceiling. Perata says that City Attorney John Russo told him that the spending cap had already been broken. Russo denies having said this. Once the spending cap is broken, mayoral candidates are free to spend more than the voluntary spending limit of $379,000. Read the complete story from the Oakland Tribune.

Join The Club and panelists Bob Edgar, Lawrence McQuillan and Jesse Choper to discuss this polemic topic, delving into the political controversies and the widely unpopular Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. This program will take place on Monday, October 11 at 6PM at The Club’s SF office.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Condoleezza Rice Remembers German Reunification

This month, Germany is celebrating 20 years since the reunification of East and West Germany.

Unlike British and French leaders at the time, the American administration of President George H.W. Bush encouraged the reunification of East and West Germany two decades ago, even if it wasn't sure how the details would all work out, says former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

In an interview with German news magazine Der Spiegel, Rice says there was only a short window of opportunity when "the Soviet Union had to be strong enough to sign away its powers and rights but not strong enough to stop it." As a result, when the opportunity presented itself and West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl went full speed ahead with plans for bringing together the two parts of the nation separated by the Cold War, the Bush administration supported his fast-track approach.

In fact, there was apparently only one moment of disconnect between the White House and the chancellor's office, when Kohl didn't consult with his American counterparts before he presented a list of 10 points to guide the reunification process. But that speed bump was soon left behind, and Kohl and his plans remained in good standing with Washington.

Read the full Spiegel article for more on Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's surprising role, the Bush team's worries about Kohl's re-election chances, the centrality of NATO to American comfort about German reunification, and more.

Condoleezza Rice will speak about her life, work, and family in a special event at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on Monday, October 18.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Free Speech for Organizations, or Purchasing Congress? Big Money in Big Campaigns

By Camille Koué

Yesterday, the first Monday in October, the Supreme Court started a new session. The court will be hearing an array of fascinating and controversial cases, and everyone will be interested to see how the most female Supreme Court of all time will vote on such heavy matters at lethal injection and lifetime prison sentences for juveniles.

But before such matters could even be considered, a letter was delivered to the United States Congress on Monday asking that one of the court's most controversial rulings of this year, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, be overturned with an amendment to the constitution.

The letter was submitted to Congress by, a campaign devoted to the cause of reversing the ruling via a constitutional amendment.

The Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission 5-4 ruling permits corporations and unions to promote and finance the campaigns of electoral candidates up until election day. The ruling overturned longstanding campaign finance rules and regulations, and it elicited outrage in many and applause from many others, dividing the country largely along party lines.

The idea of “corporate personhood” was protested across the country by liberal think tanks and politicians. President Obama called the ruling “a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.”

Conservative think tanks and politicians applauded the court for overturning what they saw as years of unconstitutional obstruction to free speech. Mitch McConnell, Senate minority leader at the time, stated, “For too long, some in this country have been deprived of full participation in the political process. With today's monumental decision, the Supreme Court took an important step in the direction of restoring the First Amendment rights of these groups...”

This was the first Supreme Court case heard by Justice Sonia Sotomayer and the first Supreme Court case argued by then-solicitor general and now Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. So the issues of this ruling touch even the newest on the court.

On Monday, October 11 The Commonwealth Club will have its own debate on this topic. The superb panel of Bob Edgar, president and CEO of Common Cause, Lawrence McQuillan, director of business and economic studies at the Pacific Research Institute, and constitutional law expert Jesse Choper, Earl Warren Professor of Public Law at UC Berkeley, will take on the question of the constitutionality of the recent ruling and discuss what is really electing our political leaders, money or merit?

Friday, October 1, 2010

C-Street Confidential: Which Family Is Real?

By Camille Koue

The recent New Yorker article on The Family by Peter J. Boyer paints a much different picture than that of the dictator-obsessed, wage-war-with-prayer Family portrait described by author and journalist Jeff Sharlet in his new book C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy. It’s Boyer’s good natured, supportive brotherhood, frat house made up of a well-intentioned, though sometimes naive, network of good-ol-boys, compared to Sharlet’s no-holds-barred, violent, win-or-die-trying secret bunker housing opportunistic, pulpit spewing religious fundamentalists.

The two images look very different and that is what makes Sharlet’s appearance at The Club on Oct 13 so interesting.