The Bilderberg Conspiracy

Did any of you get your invitation?

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, naturally, isn’t attending this year, and his likely successor Christine Lagarde is in China, but the Bilderberg Conference which kicks off in the Swiss resort of St. Moritz on Thursday retains its conspiratorial chic and pulling power.

The attendee list of Bilderberg is still pretty much the only thing that is not a closely guarded secret, as 120 of the world’s richest and most powerful people meet behind closed doors, this time at the Suvretta House hotel in Switzerland, a venue which not only boasts a “fairytale castle” design, but also its own “Teddy World.” . . .

The first Bilderberg meeting in 1954 was an attempt to stamp out post-war anti-Americanism in Europe, bringing together senior U.S. and European figures to meet and discuss the international challenges of the day.

Since then, the rich and powerful have continued to meet. The 2010 event, in Sitges, Spain, included on its agenda “The Growing Influence of Cyber Technology,” “Security in a Proliferated World,” “Promises of Medical Science,” and “Can We Feed the World.” according to its official website.

Its secrecy only serves to add fuel to the innumerate conspiracy theories that circulate around the event, with Internet message boards often channelling Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown and putting the “club” in the same bracket as the Freemasons and “Illuminati.”

The 120 participants attend in a private capacity and, officially, they do not forge agreements over global economic policy.

“Bilderberg is a small, flexible, informal and off-the-record international forum in which different viewpoints can be expressed and mutual understanding enhanced. Bilderberg’s only activity is its annual conference. At the meetings, no resolutions are proposed, no votes taken, and no policy statements issued,” the official Bilderberg website says.

In which case, you might ask, what is the point of Bilderberg?

Andrew Kakabadse is professor of international management development at Cranfield University. For his recent book “Bilderberg People,” co-authored with Nada Kakabadse and Ian Richardson, Kakabadse interviewed a number of past attendees in order to understand how the network of global influence works.

“It’s a meeting. It’s not an organization. It’s not an official summit,” he told CNBC.com. “It’s basically a meeting of friends.

“The Bilderbergs are probably the most influential global network of all time. It’s an honor to be invited, it’s a tremendous honor. Part of it is recognition for work done and part of it is for contribution to enabling world affairs.

“The people we talked to are quite genuine. Mostly they don’t understand the conspiracy bit, because they say when you go there what you find is people of all sorts of varying views. But the fact that they’ve been invited is indicative of the position that they’ve reached in life,” he saidNevertheless, Bilderberg is where ideas are shared and a transatlantic, capitalist consensus view of the world comes together.

“You do get the impression that what is happening is a shaping of ideas and the shaping of a way forward does take place,” Kakabadse said.

“The name we’d put to this is smart power or shaping, but it is definitely not doing something definite, like ‘we’re going to go and make that investment or conspire against them.’ It’s more about getting a consensus around a position that then infiltrates itself into society.”

via Friends in High Places: Bilderberg 2011 Kicks Off – CNBC.

I can see the Left saying, “See!  The world is being run by the big corporations!”  And I can see the Right saying, “See!  The world is being run by a secret cabal!”  But is this more likely  just a pretentious social club?  Isn’t the world too complicated for anyone to, you know, run it?

Here is the attendance list. Sounds like the same old Trilateral Commission to me.

HT:  Grace

Pentecost questions

Yesterday was Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Church.  In celebration and contemplation of the day and the new season of the church year that we will be in for awhile, I would like to pose a couple questions:

(1)  At the first Pentecost, those upon whom the Holy Spirit descended spoke in tongues.  But why is this associated with the charismatic practice of glossolalia?  Wasn’t what the disciples did the opposite of that?  The whole point is that their languages were understood.   People from every nation, speaking many different languages, were all hearing the apostles preach “the mighty works of God” in their own language.  Isn’t Pentecost fulfilled even today as people all over the world are hearing the apostolic testimony recorded in the Word of God, which has been translated into so many of the world’s languages?

Speaking in  tongues that no one can understand is referred to in the epistles to the Corinthians, so I’m not totally discounting the phenomenon.  But I’m just saying that the Pentecost account is describing something very different.

(2)  Some theological traditions think of the Holy Spirit as coming to us from the outside (for example, through God’s Word); others as coming from the inside (inspiring us through inner voices or impulses).  And yet both perspectives speak of the Holy Spirit guiding us.  Is that just a matter of reading the Bible to see what the Holy Spirit tells us?  Or do you think–and I’m especially addressing those who stress the external work of the Holy Spirit–that He guides us in other ways?  If so, how does that work?  For those of you who stress the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, how can you discern what inner senses are  from the Spirit and what isn’t?

I don’t particularly want to provoke a bitter theological debate about the charismatic movement.  I’d just like to hear from different people on how they perceive the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Is ending a bad program a tax increase?

Senator Tom Coburn, who represents my natal state of Oklahoma, is probably the biggest deficit hawk in Congress.  He’s a deficit eagle, as fiscally responsible and economically conservative as they come.  But he’s taking flack from conservative activist Grover Norquist and others for violating the no new taxes pledge that most Republican lawmakers have taken.  Why?  Because Sen. Coburn is spearheading an effort to drop ethanol subsidies, which include a tax credit for that industry.

Most conservatives consider the ethanol subsidies to be a huge waste of money, an outdated concession to environmentalists, though farmers like that industry because it buys up so much of the corn crop, sending prices sky-high.  It sends the price for other commodities sky high too, since many farmers are cutting back the production of wheat and other crops in order to plant more corn, which cuts the supply of those other commodities.  But liberals also consider them a waste of money, a payoff to big corporations.  And there is a consensus that the subsidies cause actual harm to poor countries, since turning food into fuel and the consequent high food prices means more hunger for the poorest of the poor.  And even environmentalists now oppose the ethanol option, since it burns more fossil fuels to produce it–all of those tractors in cornfields–than it replaces.  And in this time of economic travail and crippling federal deficits, the subsidies are costing taxpayers $6 billion per year.

So why not kill the beast?  Because part of the subsidy is in the form of a tax credit, so repealing it would be a tax increase, and 95% of Republican lawmakers have promised not to vote for a tax increase.

See Coburn prompts Senate vote on ethanol subsidies – The Washington Post.

Once again, in politics as in religion,  we see the spirit of legalism, which violates the spirit of the law in order to keep the letter.

Can common sense be restored to our government?  Can this country even be governed in today’s political climate?

Feeding frenzy over Sarah Palin’s e-mails

The state of Alaska, following a freedom of information request, has released some 24,000 e-mails from Sarah Palin.  Apparently giddy yet overwhelmed with so much information, the Washington Post is putting them online and asking its own readers to rummage around in them and help them look for dirt.  The  New York Times and the British newspaper the Guardian is doing something similar.  See Read the Palin e-mails – The Fix – The Washington Post.

Doesn’t this strike you as unseemly?  First, why this obsession over Sarah Palin?  The journalists look down on her, and yet they hang on her every word and  lavish more attention on her than they give the war in Libya.  Second, to turn this trove of private messages over to the public just seems wrong.  A journalistic request was legally granted, so let a professional journalist sift through all of the messages to see if they record any wrongdoing.  But for journalists to just efface their role as reporters to turn private correspondence over to the public seems highly unprofessional.   Do your job and don’t make your readers do it!  Am I missing something?

But here is the irony. What has emerged so far from the e-mails is that Palin comes off as a pretty good governor. From a finally sober article in the Washington Post:

Often blunt and frequently impatient, Palin derided “old school” politicians and bureaucrats and acted as a champion of populist interests on issues ranging from energy policy to women’s rights, the e-mails show. Her relations with fellow politicians, including many Republicans, were often strained, and she relied heavily on her husband, Todd, and a close-knit group of aides to help cope with crises and shape policies.

Palin felt passionately about issues of importance to her state, the documents show, and she waged battle with foes large and small. That included detractors on obscure government commissions as well as multinational conglomerates seeking access to Alaska’s vast oil and gas reserves. She twice refers to one major oil executive with a derogatory nickname and complains that phone calls with him did not go well.

And read this amazed account from Politico.com!

Concubines

Alan Wisdom has a brilliant article in Salvo, bringing back a word we need again and showing how different “just living together” and marriage really are:

In ancient times, there was an option for a man who desired a regular sex partner but did not wish to marry her. He could take a low-status woman as a concubine. He could enjoy her company as long as it pleased him, and he could dismiss her at any time. The man made no promises and signed no contract; consequently, the concubine had few legal protections. Any children that she bore would have an inferior legal status.

The early Church fought long and hard against concubinage. It insisted that such a sexual relationship, without the permanent and total commitment expressed in marriage vows, was immoral and unjust. Over the course of a thousand years, concubinage retreated into the shadows of social disapproval.

In the past 40 years, it seems, concubinage has come to light again under a different name. Like ancient concubinage, contemporary cohabitation is a deliberately ambiguous relationship. The partners make no promises and have no legal obligations to one another. The arrangement has no specified duration and can be terminated at a moment’s notice. Those who cohabit tend to be of lower social status. Their children, on average, do not fare as well as children born to married couples.

Defenders of cohabitation portray it as just a more flexible form of marriage. The love is the same as in marriage, they say; all that is missing is “a piece of paper,” the marriage certificate. Some see cohabitation as a “trial marriage.” They assume that living together will confirm a couple’s compatibility and reduce the odds that a subsequent marriage might end in divorce.

Social science does not support any of these assertions. By every measure, cohabitation is a very different relationship from marriage. Marriages are formed by a series of decisive, publicly announced events: A proposal is made, it is accepted, an engagement is announced, friends and family gather for a wedding, vows and rings are exchanged, and two formerly single persons are declared to be married. By contrast, many couples quietly drift into cohabitation. They gradually spend more time together, one moves his or her possessions piece by piece into the other’s residence, one allows his or her lease to expire, and eventually they realize that they are living together full-time.

The two relationships differ dramatically in durability. The average marriage lasts several decades; the average cohabitation, only 15 months. Because their time horizons are longer, married people are much more likely to invest in one another. Husbands and wives almost always pool their assets. They have a single household budget that does not separate “his” and “her” money. They take responsibility for each other’s debts and inherit each other’s estates.

via Salvo Magazine: Cohabitation: Marriage Lite or the New Concubinage? – Salvo 15.

Read the rest of it, the differences between concubinage and marriage go on and on.  Pity the poor concubine.  Once again we see ourselves progressing at breakneck speed back to primitivism.

UPDATE:  Of course there are differences between the ancient practice of concubinage and today’s “living together,” but the point of similarity is that both are a type of “marriage lite.”  Having or being a concubine bears some similarity to marriage and  exists parallel to that institution but is easily dissolvable.

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Newt Gingrich’s whole staff resigns–for Perry?

Twelve of GOP candidate Newt Gingrich, every one of his top campaign staff, walked out on him!  That doesn’t auger well.  The speculation is that they are going over to Texas Governor Rick Perry.  Do you think he might be the cowboy on the white horse who could ride in and save the Republicans?

I’d like to hear from Texans about this guy, since he’s been governor for longer than anyone and I assume you must see something in him.

Newt Gingrich advisers resign en masse – Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman – POLITICO.com.

Gingrich Staff Quits: Is the Republican Nomination Perry’s to Lose? – Roger L. Simon


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