Hush, Hush & On the QT: Aspen is Center of the Universe

Well, at least for this week.

The who, what, when, where and why of world issues are being discussed in Aspen. Read more below as Hush, Hush does a little name dropping in the mountains….The Aspen Ideas Festival, hosted by the Aspen Institute through July 8, has brought in the Who’s Who in the world to talk about politics, media, government, education and the like. Let’s throw out a few names: Bruce Babbitt, Former US Secretary of the Interior; Joan Blades, Co-founder, MoveOn.org; Jim Lehrer, Executive editor and anchor, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, PBS; Bill H. Gates, Sr., Co-chair, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Gen. Colin L. Powell, Former US Secretary of State, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Karl Rove, Assistant to President George W. Bush; Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak, Minister of Defense of Afghanistan and others.

Those of us in the range of the NPR radio station KJAX have been lucky to hear a few of the discussions because tickets to the event have been long sold out-in fact, the 2008 tickets are almost gone.

Yesterday, former Colorado Senator Gary Hart  was part of a panel discussion on oil. From the Aspen Daily News:

Former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colorado) described America’s energy policy in more certain terms.

“It is the policy of the United States of America to continue to depend on foreign supplies of oil for upwards of two thirds of our energy consumption to fuel insufficient vehicles and to sacrifice the lives of our sons and daughters to protect those supplies.”

Oil is a valuable commodity now but 200 years ago, before the invention of refrigeration, so was salt, said R. James Woolsey, a former director of the CIA and current vice president of the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

“People fought wars over salt mines. It was very valuable back in its day,” he said. “Then toward the end of the 19th century, electricity and refrigeration destroyed salt as a means of preserving meat. Most of the developed world is totally dependent on oil for transportation like people in the early 19th century depended on salt to preserve meat.”

Does that mean that when the world runs out of oil, we will go back to a salt economy?

On Monday, Colorado’s own Sen. Ken Salazar was part of an Aspen Ideas Festival discussion about fuels for the future along with local energy expert Amory Lovins.

Hush, Hush forgot to mention that one of the guest speakers to the Aspen Ideas Festival on Saturday will be former President Bill Clinton and Hillary is coming with him. Again from the Aspen Daily News:

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton will join husband and former President Bill Clinton in Aspen this Saturday.

Hillary Clinton will attend two fundraising events on Saturday evening. The first is a cocktail hour at Matsuhisa restaurant and the second is a party at Belly Up. Michael Goldberg, who owns both establishments, is hosting the events and said Aspen is a good stop “because it’s not your typical 6,000-resident town.”

If you have an extra $1,000 or two, there’s still room for you to rub shoulders with Hillary!

However, Senator Clinton isn’t the only one with Aspen tie$. Presidential Sen. Barack Obama  of Illinois has got a good connection in Aspen through one of his key Chicago fundraisers– James S. Crown, who happens to own, along with his influential Chicago family, the Aspen Skiing Co. and The Little Nell hotel.

One notable missing from the Aspen Ideas line-up is former Vice President Al Gore. But don’t despair! Gore is coming to Aspen in two weeks. He will be a featured speaker at a special public event during the upcoming Greentech Innovation Network summit at the Aspen Institute. And you can still buy tickets for only $10.

For every Ying in Aspen, there’s a Yang in the Vail area.

Last week, AEI World Forum, a gathering of political and business leaders was held in Beaver Creek. The forum was hosted by the Vail Valley Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute and participants included former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, presidential candidate Mitt Romney, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, former Dell Chief Executive Officer Kevin Rollins  and Shell Oil President David Sexton. Oh! Even Vice President Dick Cheney snuck in for a chat.

The events in Aspen are open to the public-with tickets. But in Vail, all events were (surprise, surprise) closed to the public.

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