Pres. PETER began with a timeless quote from a timeless man - "Yes, we did produce a near-perfect Republic, but will they keep it?" From Thomas Jefferson, who went on to remind us that "Material abundance, without character, is the path of destruction." His caution, expressed so long ago, still applies today, and we need to be reminded in the midst of our busy pursuits. KEVIN KOMATSU led us in the Pledge, followed - twice - by LENNY FRIEDMAN! Actually, LENNY had two separate tasks, first pairing with PP JIM DOWNIE on the song, and then providing the Invocation. Each had its moments, with PP JIM asking, prior to the song, if LENNY was dead meat? This, of course, was in reference to last week's piteous plea by LENNY for some more pianists, in which JACK HARRIS wanted to know if that meant HE was dead meat. My records do not provide a truly verifiable answer, but you can see from this interplay that those who play, and those who lead, are both trying to establish their true worth in the overall spectrum of WVRC.

Anyway, after a spirited rendition of You're a Grand Old Flag, LENNY then proceeded to the Podium, mounted a raised step - and thus silenced those who constantly suggest that he "Stand Up". GEORGE COX was heard to ask, plaintively, if he and TONY MARRONE could have this now-famous step, all this amid some merriment over LENNY'S changed height circumstances. Anyway, LENNY, possibly savoring his new commanding viewpoint, then allowed as how we could all be seated before he began. This is always welcome news, and LENNY then provided "Perhaps the thread of truth." He began by mourning the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense. One of the thus-lost precepts is, "Adults, not kids, are in charge" As Common Sense continued to decline, he finally lost the will to live, once he realized that prisoners received better treatment than the citizens who put him there. Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust, and sad to say, not many attended his funeral, since most didn't realize that he was gone. Good stuff, LENNY - keep it up!

As LENNY dismounted from the extra step, Pres. PETER (who has surprised YOE by his alacrity and quick wit), noted, "LENNY, we know you stand tall all the time". This comment was greeted by appreciative sotto voce comments, and then BILL MICHAELS was unable to report any Visiting Rotarians. We did, however, have a number of guests.
PDG ANDY ANDERSON noted he was accompanied by Pat, and Shirley was there in support of PETER. Program Chair CHRIS BRADFORD introduced his wife, Sharon, aided by ELLIOTT TURNER, who was at her table. ELLIOTT spoke about his friend, Florence Sampson, who also doubles as Business Manager for our Speaker, Bill Whitaker. KEVIN KOMATSU once again brought his Special Guest, Gordon Fell. who is a CPA.

Our last guest was Duncan Shaw, who was brought to the meeting by SALY BRANT. Duncan, who is a retired Marine Crops Colonel, is the Chairman of Devil Pups, Inc. This is an organization, started in 1954, which hosts two groups of 300 kids each for ten days at Camp Pendleton. These kids, aged 14 to 17, go through a rugged training regimen;, including a race from sea level to 3500 feet, and they all become Marine Corps fans. These 'recruits' come from all over our area - California, Nevada and Arizona, and they have about 2500 applicants, of whom just 600 can be chosen. The program has graduated 44,000 of them so far! Patriotism, plus espirit de corps, is stressed, and currently they have about the same percentage of male/female kids as actually are in the active Marine Corps. That means 8% female, and the rest are boys. It costs about $270 per person for this experience, and Devil Pups is a registered 501 (3) c charitable organization. They can be reached at (805) 497-9810, and your help would certainly be appreciated. The outcome of this training is really wonderful to behold. SALLY, thanks for bringing Duncan Shaw to tell us about the Devil Pups.

Some dates to note, please: The annual Golf Tournament at Los Angeles Country Club is set for October 13th - you will recall that SUNNY JIM SUMNER chaired this event, and the announcement this time was by CLARK McQUAY, with PP STEVE SCHERER as Co-Chair. Everyone is invited, and your handicap doesn't matter - they have contests for all skill levels, and of course the winners are feted at the meeting just following the Tournament. See CLARK or PP STEVE for details, and SAVE THE DATE! PDG ANDY ANDERSON announced the resumption of our very successful Wine Tastings. This event will raise money for the Global Neuro Rescue team, led by Dr. Jorge Lazareff, who you will recall was the lead surgeon on the team that separated the con-joined twins from Nicaragua. Dr. Lazareff's surgical techniques are being taught to local physicians on his every foreign visit - a recent recipient of the surgery thanked Dr. Lazareff because "he could now move his hands to wipe away the flies from his face…" The date of the Wine Tasting is Sunday, February 29th, at UCLA - details will follow. Meanwhile our first general Committee meeting will be this Tuesday, August 19th - 0730 at Delores Restaurant in WLA, and ALL are invited to join us that early morning. And while we are on dates - SLOSS VIAU reminds us that the Salvation Army Transitional Housing unit on Sepulveda is hoping for our help once again in their drive for donations. They need men, women's, and children's clothing, bedding, toys - almost anything, and SLOSS will have his car here ready to receive your donations on the last Thursday of August - that's the 28th - and the first Thursday of Sept, the 4th . This is a hands-on way to help a wonderful program, so start setting things aside right away, OK? The Bel Air Hotel has a new chef, and Pres. PETER conducted a brief survey to find out our food preferences. Those choosing beef or fish were about even, and YOE is pleased to report that those who prefer salad to dessert is a dwindling band…

We then applauded, long and loud, for the wonderful Luau hosted by the LEO TSENG'S this past Saturday evening at their lovely home. During this event, Marian TSENG reminded us that LEO was about to celebrate FIFTY YEARS with Merrill Lynch! In turn, Pres. PETER noted that the DOW was at 270 when LEO started, and is now about 9200 - that's an increase of 8920 points, and the obvious outcome was to fine LEO for all this growth. Audience participation was sought in determining an appropriate fine, with suggestions ranging from a dollar a point down to a penny a point. Pres. PETER exercised his Executive Privilege and decreed it would cost LEO ten cents a point. This comes out to eight hundred and ninety clams - and Pres. PETER allowed a five hundred clam credit for the wonderful party the TSENG'S had just hosted. This brought the cash down to a mere $390 bucks - and then LEO stepped forward to say he wanted to donate that five hundred dollar credit to our Foundation, pointing out that Foundation means permanent, and that's where he wants his donation to go, in perpetuity. LEO, thanks for your generosity, and again, our thanks to you and Marian for the wonderful Luau.

CHRIS BRADFORD introduced our Speaker, Bill Whitaker. Bill has been a CBS TV reporter stationed in Los Angeles since 1992. Following his graduation in the 1970's, he began his TV reporting career in 1979, and his last assignment before being stationed in LA was in Tokyo from 1989 to '92.He has covered stories all over the world, and was the lead correspondent on the OJ Simpson trials in LA , for example. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Bill began his talk by wondering why TV reporters are sometimes not well thought of - in his experience they are competent, hard-working and honest individuals. He told the sad story of the hero dog in Sacramento, and asked, rhetorically, how we would have reported to our superior that we had managed to run over the hero dog. He acknowledged the presence of Florence Sampson, alerting her to some forthcoming expense account bills which he would soon be submitting. He summarized our unfortunate recall election campaign by pointing out that the present Governor became unpopular while acting almost as a robot, and now we have an actor trying to replace him who acts the part of the robot.

Bill has been the lead reporter on the last two Presidential campaigns, but remembers his visits to China particularly vividly, since he was arrested three times while there. During the first Gulf War, he was visiting some wounded men at a military hospital in Germany, and found that while they didn't approve of what we were doing, they were still willing to give their lives if called upon - speaks well for the character of our service people. He compared the center of Kabul, in Afghanistan, to Dresden after WWII - it is still all in ruins. However, there is progress - both boys and girls are back in school, some of the women have emerged from their burkas, and some are even running for office.

In what used to be called Siam, he observed a dramatic counting of the ballots, which was monitored very closely by the citizens who had just voted. The results showed that 80% of the ballots were cast against the generals then in charge - and, in the glare of publicity, they agreed to change their ways. However, once the media left, nothing DID change, which is a sad commentary about totally ignoring the will of the populace. He was deeply moved by the South African election, in which Nelson Mandela preached forgiveness, even after his long incarceration. People waited in line for over 24 hours - one woman told him her goal was to vote, just once. And in our own Presidential campaigns, people all over the world who watch, would love to be able to choose, as we do. His final note was that we must remember that citizens are more important than Presidents.

Q&A - GEORGE COX, Can you describe the procedure you go through to get your report to the desk of the Anchor, who will use it? After gathering the story, Bill then has to fight with the editor in NY for how much time he will be allowed to tell the story.

The max is 2 l/2 minutes, usually just a couple of minutes. But once he gives it to the anchor, Bill's words are used. BOB FLICK, Will Iraq be our next Vietnam? While Bill has not yet been to Iraq this time, he reminded us that rebuilding a country is a truly enormous task - one that will take years, and lots of money - AND one that we cannot afford to pull out of. ELLIOTT TURNER, Is there a liberal bias in the media? Not taking talk radio as an example, Bill feels that the media reporting does not tend to be one-sided. War protests, for example, are reported just as they occur - but he also notes that the arm waving and outraged shouts were not happening until his camera started to roll. PP MIKE NEWMAN, Why not expand the coverage now, with cable being available? It isn't all that easy, and most of what would result would be simply repackaging what is already being shown. RALPH BEASOM, Are the demonstrations that we see on TV orchestrated, just for TV? You have to be aware of what they may be trying to do - it's a constant battle to present a balanced picture. Bill Whitaker, thank you for bringing us your experience in this most fascinating subject.

YOE, Ernie Wolfe