Monthly Archives: October 2009

The Luncheon Society/Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope/Palio D’Asti/San Francisco/10.16.09

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Carl PopeThe Sierra Club’s Carl Pope poses the question. “Let’s say you’re canoeing down the river and it forks to the right and left. As you look one way,” he says, “you see a jarring set of rapids that travels down a treacherous route, with whitecaps that crash against the jagged rocks. However, when you look in the other direction, you see a smooth current, clear sailing, and none of the dangers found with traveling in the other direction.”

Which way do you go?

After all of the hands went up for the less rigorous route, Pope pulled a surprise. “The problem,” he said, “is that water follows gravity. The more dangerous route, while difficult, gets you to the safety. The smooth route to the right, which may appear safe at first, gets you to a waterfall. By the time you’ve discovered your error, it’s too late and you’re finished.”

In that short parable, Carl Pope underlined his concerns about the upcoming Climate Conference in Copenhagen, which will take place for two weeks in December. As the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, many hope that the Copenhagen process becomes the next framework to decrease the realities of global warming. However, as Pope looks at the process, he sees it as a global canoe trip down the smooth side of the fork, the one which leads to a lethal waterfall. Continue reading

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The Luncheon Society congratulates Jeff Bleich, the new American Ambassador-Designate to Australia.

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jeff-bleichWe may have lost temporarily a member, but we have gained an Ambassador. Our friend Jeff Bleich is the second member of The Luncheon Society to join the Ambassadorial ranks. Previously Jeff was the Special Counsel to the President in the Obama Administration.  In private practice, Jeff was a litigation partner in the San Francisco office of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, and has been recognized for the past 7 years as one of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in California by the Daily Journal.  

For those keeping score, the first Luncheon Society member to join the ranks was the Hon. Martin Uden, the former British Consulate Chief in San Francisco is now Her Majesty’s Ambassador to South Korea.

Belated congratulations, Jeff.

No doubt, we’ll have first dibs on him when he returns periodically.

The Luncheon Society/Salon.com’s Joan Walsh/Palio D’Asti/San Francisco/9.28.09

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joan_walsh_artDoes overheated rhetoric invite and incite dangerous behavior? Is there a causal relationship between the killing of Dr. George Tiller and the rhetoric that originated from the partisan talk-television prior to his death? 

Joan Walsh is troubled that she is best remembered for a 10 minute debate with Bill O’Reilly surrounding Tiller rather than three decades of writing and editorship. It says something profound about the state of basic cable news.  The rationale for CNN, plus a whole host of basic cable news outlets, was to give us more of a global viewpoint. However, we have instead seen the growth of talk television, which is modeled on the growth of talk radio. 

The mission of The Luncheon Society has been to remove the invective from either side of the debate to have far more robust conversation.  There are a number of The Luncheon Society members who I cheer on when I catch them on television.  However, when they are with us, they’re free to expand beyond confines of the “10 second answer,” and the conversations are richer for it. As I ponder this question, I think to last week’s Ken Burns elegant documentary on The National Parks System, hearing the voice of Peter Coyote and seeing Carl Pope, both who have joined us around the table on numerous occasions.  We would be a better country if our national debate mirrored that approach. Continue reading