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Democrats No Strangers to UFOs

New debate topic: what's that in the sky? (French National Center for Space Studies).

When Dennis Kucinich was confronted last night with his alleged history as a flying saucer enthusiast -- wait, that sounds too harsh, so let's just say his history of hearing directions beamed into his brain from a UFO hovering silently over Shirley MacLaine's house (yes, that's what MacLaine says in her new book) -- he ritually sought political cover from Jimmy Carter. Carter famously saw a UFO in 1969 and, when he became president, asked his aides to open up any and all files on possible extraterrestrial visitors.

But Kucinich might have added another name to the discussion: Bill Clinton. His UFO enthusiasm is less well known.

First, let's review the tape from last night.

Tim Russert: The godmother of your daughter, Shirley MacLaine, writes in her new book that you sighted a UFO over her home in Washington state, that you found the encounter extremely moving, that it was a "triangular craft, silent and hovering," that you "felt a connection to your heart and heard directions in your mind." Now, did you see a UFO?

Kucinich: I did. And the rest of the account -- I didn't -- it was an unidentified flying object, OK? It's, like, it's unidentified. I saw something. Now, to answer your question, I'm moving my -- it's -- and I'm also going to move my campaign office to Roswell, New Mexico, and another one in Exeter, New Hampshire, OK? And also, you have to keep in mind that more -- that Jimmy Carter saw a UFO and also that more people in this country have seen UFOs than I think approve of George Bush's presidency.

Good zinger at the end to add humor to the sudden eruption of weirdness.

We should parse the references. Roswell is, of course, a tourist destination for flying saucer enthusiasts. You probably know the backstory, but I'll summarize it by saying that, in the summer of 1947, just weeks after an initial report on flying saucers and amid a national uproar over the possibility that we were being buzzed by alien spacecraft, a balloon carrying a sensor (part of a military progam called Project Mogul, according to the Air Force) crashed on someone's ranch near Roswell. Cascading misapprehensions and media hype led some people to conclude that it was one of them dang saucers.

Soon the story evolved into a more elaborate tale involving actual alien bodies (or EBEs, for "extraterrestrial biological entities"), reverse engineering of the spacecraft, a secret war against the alien invaders, and so on. (When a documentary purported to show an autopsy of one of the aliens, many ufologists said it was clearly a hoax, since the alien on the slab had six fingers per hand and everyone knows the real Roswell aliens had only four fingers.)

Exeter, meanwhile, was where several people saw a UFO in September 1965. Kucinich's knowledge of this more obscure UFO event is a sign that he's familiar with the literature (excellent briefing work by the campaign staff!).

What never got much attention was Bill Clinton's UFO interest. After Clinton won the 1992 election, he told Webster Hubbell, his close friend and a newly appointed associate Attorney General, to find out two things when he went to work at the Justice Department: 'One, who killed JFK? And two, Are there UFOs?' "

Hubbell mentioned this in his memoir, "Friends in High Places," and discussed it with me in an interview when I reported my fabulously reviewed but worst-selling book "Captured By Aliens."

Presidents and presidential candidates are like everyone else: They know they live in a universe with billions of galaxies, and that there are funny lights in the sky, and it is perfectly reasonable to wonder if someone from way out yonder is checking us out.

Russert mentioned that 14 percent of Americans have reported seeing a UFO. What he didn't say is that fully 34 percent, according to a recent AP-Ipsos poll, "believe in UFOs," whatever that means. Single men are most likely to see a UFO.

But how many get "directions" from the UFO?

Follow-up question for candidate Kucinich from Achenbach: What kind of directions? Is this why you want to cut the Pentagon budget by 15 percent? TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR THEM TO INVADE???

--Joel Achenbach

By Post Editor  |  October 31, 2007; 4:20 PM ET
Categories:  A_Blog , Dennis Kucinich , Joel's Two Cents  
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Both Democrats and Republicans have been involved in the UFO situation.

Former Arizona governor Symington says he saw the "Phoenix Lights" triangle-shaped UFO.

Forgive if me if I have squat enthusiasm for all the "Presidential UFO" crapola knocking around. It is, quite simply, the pet "issue" of wide-eyed provincial hobbits; its first and foremost value is as a study in the sociology of conspiracy theorism, and/or the diffusion of comic book themes into political subculture.

Inflating this [non]issue of American politicians seeing UFOs is, I think, a kind of roundabout appeal to authority, as if being an American politician somehow invests one with observational skills above and beyond the average person. The above-cited Carter "UFO sighting" being a case in point - and it is still being paraded around by the previously mentioned wide-eyed hobbits. Apparently including Kucinich, since he so ignorantly invoked it in "defense" of his own UFO sighting.

But don't think I'm doing a smear on Kucinich. I'm exceedingly liberal, and in principle I agree with much of his platform. On the other hand, I'm also pragmatic, and he's so polarized to the left that he's drawing in...well, people who have a lot of social conscience and who make great three-bean chili with griddle cakes, but who also have a propensity to indulge in pop conspiracy-theorism, colo-rectal cleansing, and other brain-pap.

Posted by: rigilkent | November 4, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Both Democrats and Republicans have been involved in the UFO situation.

Former Arizona governor Symington says he saw the "Phoenix Lights" triangle-shaped UFO.

On the same day as the recent Dem presidential debate, an alleged 1981 briefing to President Reagan was posted on the Web.

For more information, see the two articles:

Alleged briefing to President Reagan on UFOs posted online
November 2, 2007

- - -

Presidential debate brings UFO issue to the surface
November 1, 2007

Posted by: SteveHammons | November 3, 2007 6:00 PM | Report abuse

A salient detail Mr. Achenbach has failed to mention (btw, I enjoyed "Captured By Aliens," even if I did get it out of the bargain bin) is that Jimmy Carter's UFO sighting, still knocking around as an "enigma," was most probably a sighting of Venus, as Robert Sheaffer of CSICOP has shown (which I'm pretty sure you're aware of).


Posted by: rigilkent | November 3, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Um...Joel...Republicans are also not strangers to UFOs:

From the LA Times:
"Ronald Reagan believed he had seen UFOs at least twice -- once on the coast while driving to Hollywood with his wife, Nancy, and once, as governor of California, while flying on a plane near Bakersfield. In "Landslide," their 1988 book about Reagan's second term, journalists Doyle McManus, The Times' Washington bureau chief, and Jane Mayer, now of the New Yorker, wrote that Reagan's staff worked hard to keep the UFO sighting stories under wraps."

Wow. That Ronald Reagan fellow must have been crazy, y'kow?And who in their right mind would have ever elected him to be President!?

Posted by: al_hidalgo | November 1, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Thank you wamland. This bears quoting and repeating. Such a state of suspended rationality this country lives in.

"You think he's weird.......Bush believes that :

The universe was created by an all-powerful all-knowing being who came down to us in the form of a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father who can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree."

Posted by: B2O2 | November 1, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

This phrase "believe in UFOs" has long been among my top ten most annoying phrases. Can we examine the acronym for a moment, people?

Unidentified: Has not been named or described, its nature and origins are still unclear to you.

Flying: In the air, and moving - unless it is simply plunging straight toward the earth, in which case it is "falling".

Object: A thing, spatially distinguishable from the air around it.

Okay, so now kids, put those words together and what do you have? Something moving in the air that you cannot name.

Result: Anyone who claims they have NEVER seen an "Unidentified Flying Object" is either misunderstanding the English language, lying, or a rare individual with both a PhD in ornithology AND a huge aircraft enthusiast.

A small black thing fluttering around in the air, darting to and fro? Could be either a mammal (some species of bat) or a bird, maybe a starling. UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECT.

Something high up, metallic, moving fast and glinting in the sun when it hits certain angles? Could be a civilian or military jet, of our government's or some other's, OR it could be something from beyond our planet (who knows). UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECT.

Debris floating twenty floors above a street in a busy city full of skyscrapers? Could be just about anything. UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECT.

We ALL believe in UFOs. Every last one of us who has looked up, ever. No exceptions.

Moral: Learn how to use the English language to express what you REALLY mean. Please. So annoying.

Posted by: B2O2 | November 1, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

My mom has finally come around to supporting Kucinich, stating, "You've just got to admire the guy, he's so damn honest." I agree. And an online issues survey shows that Kucinich is the first choice of more people than all other candidates combined. Don't believe it? Take the survey yourself:
The media assigns reporters to cover the campaigns of those who advertise with them, and Kucinich has always refused all corporate support, so he has no money for ads and hence gets very little coverage other than rude and slanted sensationalism like this blog. Too bad, since he's the only true peace candidate, don't you think? Oh, but no worries, if Kucinich doesn't make it, we'll hear all sorts of after-the-fact laments from the brilliant editors at the Post, so what if another million or more die. But if you want the truth now, throw away your newspapers and come to

Posted by: un-scared | November 1, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

"The Church says the earth is flat. But I have seen the shadow on the moon." Magellan

Because my scholarly research has to do with consciousness and cultural change, it examines evidence of the tremendous worldview/scientific paradigm shift which is now well underway in our world. I heard about this Kucinich flap because, for a couple of years, I have had a Google alert set for news stories which mention UFOs.

These posts collectively offer an interesting set of evidence, from my perspective, not only that we are in the midst of a "global change of mind" (to paraphrase Willis Harmon) about the nature of reality and existence; but about the nature of the shift.

Posted by: lsgordon | November 1, 2007 1:18 AM | Report abuse

Joel, I have "Captured By Aliens" (a fantastic book to those that haven't read it) in hardback... does this mean I'm sitting on a gold mine? I have been worried about how to fund my retirement...

Posted by: kshertz | October 31, 2007 9:53 PM | Report abuse

My husband and i and our next door neighbor seen something in the sky right over another neighbors house while we were loading our truck with belongings as we were in the process of moving to another house in 1984 in pensacola fla. I cant say what it was but it seemed to be some kind of weird lights there was four oblong allmost see through lights going slowly in a circle then all the lights would suddenly rush to the center of the circle and bounce out again and start moving in the other direction the circle being about twelve or fifteen ft and the lights were clear not colored.My neighbor wanted to walk closer to it and i was scared but we walked allmost right under it it being about twenty ft above us but it continued the same and nothing happened so we left to go take our things to the other house and all the way there we could see it but it was way up in the sky so small and at the other house about fifteen miles away while unloading our things it was still in the sky and am i willing to say it was a u.f.o?I have no idea what it was but it was something because we all seen it but no i cant say it was a u.f.o.

Posted by: smorrow | October 31, 2007 9:46 PM | Report abuse

There are hundreds of billions of galaxies, which means that the likelihood of other forms of life should be considered very good. The idea that any of these forms of life would care to visit mother earth, however, is a stretch, a big one. Yet, we all look out at a summer sky and wonder how we could be here on this blue marble all alone, with no neighbors and no visitors. The thought that we are alone is too scary for some to consider, or that we are so very far away from any neighbors that it would be almost impossible for anyone to visit. Think of this, sports fans: the closest star, beyond our sun, is 4.5 light years away. That means it takes light, traveling at 186,000 MPS (miles per second) 4.5 years to get here. (That's traveling at 670 million miles per hour for four and a half years.) How long would it take in a rocket traveling at 25,000 MPH? A very long time. No one would be alive who watched it take off when it reached its destination.

Still, aliens and alien visitors make up one of the most persistent human ideas. If they do visit, they are darn clever, are they not?, at hiding in between sightings.

Posted by: DougTerryterryreportcom | October 31, 2007 9:28 PM | Report abuse

It is fairly obvious that the media has decided to support Clinton.

Posted by: jdan1001 | October 31, 2007 9:14 PM | Report abuse

I do take offense to this headline. There are a number of people in all walks of life with varying political ideology who believe in UFOs. I think it is a waste of time and that there are many issues that we know about that merit our concern, but it is anybody's right to believe as they see fit. Your headline infers that democrats are likely to believe in UFOs. Well I am and I don't nor do most of my family or friends who are dems.

Posted by: gordon7 | October 31, 2007 9:08 PM | Report abuse

And the kicker

"And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time!

But He loves you. "

Posted by: wamland | October 31, 2007 8:25 PM | Report abuse

You think he's weird.......Bush believes that :
"The universe was created by an all-powerful all-knowing being who came down to us in the form of a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father who can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree."

Now that's F'd up!

Posted by: wamland | October 31, 2007 8:23 PM | Report abuse

The sad part is that this still more press than anything Ron Paul has or ever will see from the Washington Post. Keep the fluff coming while ignoring serious issues.

Posted by: Tirade1 | October 31, 2007 8:09 PM | Report abuse

the most irrelevant stuff is getting the most attention--where have we gone even in the elite press? Kucinich is certainly not a mainstream candidate--not in the American setting although he would be in western Europe but he has a hell of a lot sensible policy preferences.
I know that he cannot win and thus will not waste my vote on him. But I also refuse to be guided by media insiders who are bored to death in this overly long campaign and are eager to initiate and magnify any intra-partisan fights.
In the meantime, the more important aspect of the presidential race are ignored or minimized.

Posted by: bn1123 | October 31, 2007 7:56 PM | Report abuse

I am so tired of the press's double standard. So it's something for you to make fun of if a candidate claims to have seen a UFO, but when the president claims he talks to God and God talks back, you treat THAT with breathless reverence.

There is way more evidence that UFOs exist than that God does. The politicians who claim God is on their side are the true crackpots. I suggest you start questioning THEIR sanity, starting with Bush.

Posted by: ccatmoon | October 31, 2007 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Ron and Nancy were expected at a casual dinner party with friends in Hollywood. Except for the Reagans, all the guests had arrived. Ron and Nancy showed up a half hour later quite upset. They stated that they had seen a UFO coming down the coast.

Lucille Ball in her book "Lucy in the Afternoon" also described the event. In her account of the event she stated, "After he elected President, I kept thinking about that event, and wondered if he still would have won if he told everyone that he saw a flying saucer."

The second sighting occurred in 1974 while Reagan was still Governor. One week after the sighting, Reagan related the story to Norman C. Millar, then Washington Bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal, later the editor of the Los Angeles Times. Reagan told Millar:

"I was in a plane last week when I looked out the window and saw this white light. It was zigzagging around. I went up to the pilot and said, 'Have you seen anything like that before?' He was shocked and said, 'Nope.' And I said to him: 'Let's follow it!'

We followed it for several minutes. It was a bright white light. We followed it to Bakersfield, and all of a sudden to our utter amazement it went straight up into the heavens. When we got off the plane, I told Nancy all about it.'

Posted by: nadiagoodenu | October 31, 2007 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Or Democrats who see UFOs do so because they actually notice what's going on.

There are people who would walk past an extinct dodo squawking and preening alive as can be and not even notice there was a bird. I bet you're one of them.

An UFO means simply an unidentified flying object. There can be a lot of hard-to-identify objects in the sky because of the lights bouncing off the clouds from airport searchlights, sun dogs, ball lightning, etc. And there are a lot of unusual aircraft out there, too.

I know a Republican who worked for NASA who believes UFOs are real-- and they are actually a secret military aircraft project. It sounds plausible to me.

Now if Kucnich said he had been kidnapped by aliens from his bed, that's getting into UFO nuttery.

Big difference, but not one I might expect you to grasp the nuances of, since you think all Democrats are alike.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 31, 2007 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Democrats see a lot of UFOs because there are a lot of crackpots in that party, with emphasis on the pot.

Posted by: mhr614 | October 31, 2007 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Reposted from the Achenblog:

"'fyi, I'm going to do a Trail item about UFOs...'

Good, Joel. Feel free to credit me with the idea for "Captured by Democrats" from 9:14 AM [10/31/07].

'The Search for Leadership and Truth in a Very Large Field of Candidates.'

[I initially wrote 'Candudates there. I kinda like it, FWIW.]"

For the next Democratic Presidential candidate debate, I'd like to ask the nominees if they would grant Drivers' Licenses to the illegal Aliens driving that UFO Kucinich saw.


Posted by: -bc- | October 31, 2007 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Not really. My number one priority is to be sure that America is ripped away from the sweaty hands of all associated with the Bush Administration.

Kucnich has been very consistent on his anti-Bush message and I believe he would accomplish that task if elected. It is possible that any other Democractic nominee will accomplish that as well.

However, I remain to be fully convinced.

I would vote for him today if I was completely sure that there wasn't enough doubt he would win that Ohio and Florida could be, say, rigged enough to put the results in doubt.

That would defeat the purpose of voting for him if we had a repeat of 2000.

I can love the guy, but remain in doubt. I want him in this campaign, though, because I think he has the correct focus so far.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 31, 2007 5:48 PM | Report abuse

I've got my grip. Whether or not the post was meant in jest is beside the point. What's telling it that it's the only post about Kucinich in this blog.

"BTW, I would totally vote for Kucinich if I thought he had a shot at the presidency."

BTW, that's totally illogical and self-defeating. Either you campaign and vote for him - which gives him a shot - or you don't campaign and vote for him - which gives the shot to someone else.

Posted by: djmagaro | October 31, 2007 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Get a grip. Joel has an extremely professional interest in UFO lore, and also in poking fun at people.

I also think the military-industrial complex is out of control, and I'm not taking umbrage.

BTW, I would totally vote for Kuchnich if I thought he had a shot at the presidency. He is a joy to read about.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 31, 2007 5:28 PM | Report abuse

That link is:

Posted by: djmagaro | October 31, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

You. Are. ***** Kidding. Me.

He's not even my candidate, but come on!

The ONE and ONLY post about Kucinich in this blog is about Kucinich having seen a UFO (and because there isn't much to write about really, we're also treated to an oh-so-important-and-necessary history of UFOs and the Presidents that love'em).

Why does Kucinich want to cut 15% from the Pentagon budget? Because it's a colossal waste of money! [See:]

I guess it's easier to snark on Kucinich and his UFO than it is to mount a coherent, researched critique on the Three P's (Performance, Policies, Positions).

This a pathetic.

Posted by: djmagaro | October 31, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

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