Monday, November 12, 2007

What does it mean to see a UFO?

Since Tim Russert attacked Dennis Kucinich with the UFO question in the debates, the media have refused to take on Russert for his spurious hit-man tactics. If Russert had even an iota of seriousness to his question he would have been prepared with a second question: "What did you see?" But of course Russert was not interested in anything serious or any real issues in the election. He was only interested in a gotcha moment attack, not in what is the significance of a candidate who has the courage and honesty to share the fact that he once saw a UFO. Isn't this a candidate whose integrity and honesty is to be depended upon rather than the other candidates who would belittle an honest person?

Dave Lindorff's column below is a welcome divergence from the media prejudice around UFOs. Lindorff has the courage to put the real issue on the table: "There are more things under heaven, Tim Russert,than are contemplated by your philosophy."

The wackos in the media like Russert and those in both the Republican and Democrat parties are people who like to twist the UFO question into the X Files. Seeing something "unidentified" in the sky is just that, nothing more. Seeing a UFO does not mean seeing "little green men" or "alien shapeshifters" or even "spaceships."
Very many credible and average people have seen UFOs including military and civilian aircraft pilots, policemen, firemen, astronauts, utility company linemen, etc.
But when someone like Tim Russert and Chris Wallace make an issue about UFOs without actually doing any research or questioning about what was seen, then you know they are not acting as "reporters" but as media hit men.

Also Lindorff makes an excellent point about the strange and irrational beliefs of religion that go unquestioned while a reasonable and rational and truthful comment about seeing something unidentified in the sky is ridiculed. It is an irrational belief to say a man was killed on a cross and rose physically and literally from the dead. That is far more wacko than UFOs. Rising from the dead is a wonderful mythic metaphor found in many religions, including Buddhism which has several stories of bodily resurrection, but to believe that it happened literally, and then in additions to only one man in the entire history of the earth is really wacko. It equals Pat Robertson's comments about 9/11 which are wacko yet the media and Russert continue to treat Robertson as someone who deserves the time of day in news reports.

When Democrats who support Kucinich's rival candidates twist and spin a vanilla flavored UFO sighting into a belief in alien shapeshifters and little green men, then you know that they are as immature and childish as any neo-con Republican and that the Democrat Party is in deep trouble, perhaps irreparable trouble, as a Party that looks like it will never support a progressive candidate and will use any stupid prejudice to undermine progressive issues.

Also the Democrats who use this against Kucinich are clearly misinforming the public about this issue. That deserves to be spoken about. The taboo of ridicule on talking about UFOs is like taboo on talking about domestic battery used to be with people acting it never happened and afraid to talk about it for fear of social stigma. It is not until people talk openly about it that we can make informed decisions as a body politic. That is the basis of democracy and the taboo of ridicule enforced by Russert is an example of the despicable bias of the mainstream media hit-men.

I Saw a UFO, Too By Dave Lindorff

DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based investigative reporter and journalist. His latest book, co-authored by Barbara Olshansky, is "The Case for Impeachment" (St. Martin's Press, 2006 and now in paperback). His work is available at

Mon, 11/12/2007 - 17:42 — dlindorff

It was predictable that just as people in the Democratic primary states are starting to notice that of all the candidates running for the party's nomination, it is Dennis Kucinich who stands solidly for everything that they care about--ending the war, impeaching the president and vice president, establishing universal government-funded health care (with the blood-sucking insurance industry out of the picture), ending trade agreements like NAFTA that just ship US jobs overseas, respecting international law, restoring the Constitution, insuring the unfettered right to abortion on demand, etc.--the media would attempt to label him a wacko.

Tim Russert played the hitman, asking Kucinich in the last debate whether he'd ever seen a UFO, and then cutting him off so he could only answer yes without any real explanation.

Well, let me join Dennis and say that I too have seen a UFO. Two actually, though the first one was explained later.

The first, which I saw when I was in high school, appeared as a bright light in the sky, then rapidly expanded into big green circle, which then faded away. There were two more of these events. I was awestruck. So were thousands of people who began calling police departments to report them. It turned out, as we read in the paper the next day, that NASA had fired three rockets from Wallops Island off Virginia, up some 60 miles into space, where they exploded, releasing some kind of green gas. So it was a UFO for a day. Then it was an IFO-- an identified flying object.

The other sighting remains a UFO. It happened back around 1970. I was travelling in the late afternoon, right around sunset, down Route 9 from Middletown, CT to Old Saybrook. As I was driving, I noticed a small shiny object up in the sky flying parallel to the ground in the same direction as I was, but at a remarkably high rate of speed. The sun was glinting off of it, making it especially bright. It caught my attention because it was flying much faster than a commercial jet, and was leaving no contrail. There was no apparent shape to it. That is, I couldn't see wings or a tail, but it was pretty far off.

I was just speculating as to whether it might be a supersonic military jet when suddenly the thing made an abrupt right angle turn, way beyond the capabilities of any airplane--and so fast that anyone sitting inside it would have been killed by the G-forces--and then shot straight up into the sky, much faster than before, and just disappeared.

Now that was bizarre!

I still don't know what to make of it.

There may be an explanation somewhere that would make this an IFO, but for me, it remains a UFO.

So does that preclude me from being taken seriously if I write about plans to restore the draft, or about the impeachable crimes of the Bush/Cheney administration?

Of course not.

I'm a major skeptic when it comes to UFO's. It seems to me highly unlikely that any civilization technologically advanced enough to have mastered interstellar flight would have any interest in our pathetically primitive activities here on earth, if they even knew we were here, plus the odds of there being such a highly advanced civilization anywhere within a thousand lightyears of the earth are incredibly small.

Still, some rather credible people--airline pilots and police officers--have reported seeing some very strange things over the years, and the galaxy (not to mention the universe), is a mighty big place.

It would be wacky to simply assert that extraterrestrial life does not exist. And it would be wrong to say that there are not UFOs. Indeed, it seems to me it is far more likely that there are aliens in this universe and even that they visit us occasionally, than that there is some omnipotent god who is running the show, or that, if he/she/it exists, that god would give a rat's ass about us here on Earth.

Neither Dennis Kucinich nor I are saying we saw aliens. I don't know what Kucinich saw, but I know what I saw, and it wasn't something that could be easily explained away as a plane or a rocket.

So I'm calling it a UFO.

And I feel much more comfortable voting for someone for president who admits to having seen a UFO like I have, than for someone who says god talks to him, or who says she won't preclude dropping a nuclear weapon on Afghanistan, and who cannot envision herself absolutely committing to having all US troops out of Iraq five years (!) from now!

Thanks Dave Lindroff, for having the courage to talk about this issue.


Here's an interesting report that provides a context for Russert's hit-man ridicule tactics in favor of stigma as a poltical weapon.

National Press Club: Pilots To Tell Their UFO Stories
posted on Thursday, November 08, 2007

November 1, 2007 Press Release

Original Link (pdf)

UFO Close Encounters
The Reality as Seen by Former High Level Government and Military Officials

Pilots to Tell Their UFO Stories for the First Time

November 12th Group to call on US Government to Re-Open its Investigation

WHEN: Monday, November 12, 2007 11:00 AM

WHERE: National Press Club Ballroom Event open to credentialed media and Congressional staff only

The American public is not alone when it comes to sighting what the US Air Force has labeled Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs). So too have former governors, high level military and government officials, highly trained airplane pilots and aviation experts. The phenomenon is real. It happens worldwide. No one is sure about its nature. Experts from seven countries will divulge what they have discovered about UFOs at a November 12 panel discussion moderated by former Arizona Governor Fife Symington (R) at the National Press Club.

Just one year ago, pilots, mechanics and managers from United Airlines witnessed a metallic disc-shaped object hovering over the United Airlines Terminal at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. The clearly observed object shot straight up leaving a hole through the clouds. Despite the clear aviation safety issues involved, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) never investigated the incident and dismissed it as weather. This head-in-the-clouds refusal to investigate stands in sharp contrast to efforts by governments of other countries to understand these incidents.

"I believe that our government should take an active role in investigating this very real phenomenon," said Symington, who was a witness to the famed 'Phoenix Lights" incident seen by hundreds in Arizona while he was governor. "This panel consists of some of the most qualified people in the world with direct experience in dealing with this issue, and they will bring incredible, irrefutable evidence, some never presented before, that we simply cannot dismiss or ignore," he said.

The group, using previously classified documents, will discuss many well-documented cases, including two investigated by the US government. The first involves a Peruvian Air Force pilot who fired many rounds at a UFO which was not affected. The second was an Iranian Air Force pilot's attempt to fire at a UFO, but whose control panel became inoperable. "This case is a classic that meets all the necessary conditions for a legitimate study of the UFO phenomenon," stated the US Defense Intelligence Agency document on the Tehran incident. Both pilots will come forward to speak about these events publicly for the first time.

WHO: Fife Symington, Former Arizona Governor, Moderator
Ray Bowyer, Captain, Aurigny Air Services, Channel Islands
Rodrigo Bravo, Captain and Pilot for the Aviation Army of Chile
General Wilfried De Brouwer, former Deputy Chief of Staff, Belgian Air Force (Ret.)
John Callahan, Chief of Accidents and Investigations for the FAA, 1980's (Ret.) Dr. Anthony Choy, founder, 2001, OIFAA, Peruvian Air Force
Jean-Claude Duboc, Captain, Air France (Ret.)
Charles I. Halt, Col. USAF (Ret.), Former Director, Inspections Directorate, DOD I.G.
General Parviz Jafari, Iranian Air Force (Ret.)
Jim Penniston, TSgt USAF (Ret.)
Dr. Claude Poher, Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, founder, French GEPAN
Nick Pope, Ministry of Defence, UK, 1985-2006
Dr. Jean-Claude Ribes, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France, 1963-98
Comandante Oscar Santa Maria, Peruvian Air Force (Ret.)

WHAT: Former Arizona Governor Fife Symington will moderate a distinguished panel of former high-ranking government, aviation, and military officials from seven countries to discuss close encounters with what the US Air Force describes as Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs). Representatives from France, England, Belgium, Chile, Peru, Iran and the US will call for the US Government to join in an international dialogue and re-open its investigation -- which the Air Force shut down over 30 years ago -- in cooperation with other governments currently dealing with this unusual and controversial phenomenon. While on active duty, the panelists have either witnessed a UFO incident or have conducted an official investigation into UFO cases relevant to aviation safety and national security.

WHEN: Monday, November 12, 2007, 11:00 AM

WHERE: National Press Club Ballroom
Event open to credentialed media and Congressional staff only

CONTACT: James Fox, documentary filmmaker; director of the acclaimed film “Out of the Blue” (415) 519-9631

Leslie Kean, investigative journalist with the Coalition for Freedom of Information (415) 250-9791

Friday, November 09, 2007

Who's Really Burning the Flag?

As a fan of The Young Turks, I peruse their website and today producer Jayar Jackson (nicknamed "The Reverend") posted a good blog titled Voyeristic Voting Leads to Presumed Patriotism.

Jayar was responding to the right-wing nuts who are criticizing Barack Obama for holding his hands in front of himself while listening to the National Anthem instead of having his hand over his heart. He conncected this latest outrageous attack of false patriotism to the previous attacks on Obama for not wearing an American flag lapel pin.

Logic should scream that Barack Obama shouldn't have to tell you that his grandfather taught him the Pledge of Allegiance when he was 2 years old. Common sense should prevail when you wonder if his missing American flag lapel pin allowed over 3,800 U.S. soldiers to be killed in Iraq on false pretenses. Questioning if he will restore habeas corpus, privacy, and civil rights to all American citizens, including ones that have sex in their own homes differently than him is a nice place to look first. Will the healthcare puzzle that many other countries figured out be solved? How about whether or not our troops that the Republican Party claims as their own will begin to be treated with the dignity, respect, and basic treatment that they deserve when/if they return home? Do our third world-like cities such as New Orleans have the capabilities to survive another Hurricane Katrina? Will it take over two more years of filth, disease, and random violence to begin to revive our lost city? What steps will he take to stop the terrorist-recruiting and anti-American practice of torture that yields false information? Is the candidate going to threaten another sovereign country with unprovoked attacks because of what their leader likes to say about others?

If you think the answers to these questions lie in his American flag pin, whether or not he places his hands on his chest, butt, crotch, or stomach during the national anthem, or if his name comically sounds similar to that of a Muslim, then have fun in your fantasy world called the Matrix. When you see an agent, run, Neo, run!

At the end of his blog, the first comment from reader named acroso notes, "Obama supports flag burning too." with the link to a 2006 statement why Obama supports legislation to make flag burning illegal but not a Constitutional Amendment.

"And when I became a Senator, I swore an oath to protect the Constitution. Under that oath, my first allegiance is not to a political party, or to an ideology, or to a president, or even to popular opinion, but to the Constitution and to the rule of law.

"The Framers made it difficult to amend the Constitution because our founding document should not be changed just because of political concerns or temporary problems. And even the strongest supporters of this amendment are hard-pressed to find more than a few instances of flag burning each year. Those problems were left to be solved through legislation, and I support legislation introduced by Senator Durbin that makes it illegal to burn the flag without changing the Constitution. The Constitution has only been amended 27 times. These amendments include guarantees of our most basic freedoms, the freedom of religion, the right to a trial by jury, the protection against cruel punishment."

After reading the statement of Obama in the light of Jayar's comments, I posted this response.


Reverend Jayar, you can write. I hope this was written before Screen Writers Guild strike so the conservatives won't accuse you of being a scab.

If anyone, soldiers included, thinks that our soldiers are fighting a war to protect our flag, then they are greatly mistaken. The flag is a cloth symbol for our national fabric that is woven from the Constitution. It is the Constitution that needs protecting, not the flag.

Though Barack Obama says flag burning is a rare event, he is only talking of literal flags and flames. But in truth flag burning is a daily event. Today it is the conservatives and neo-cons who are "burning" the meaning of the flag every day at the very time they are holding it aloft, because they are waving the flag in order to tear out pages of the Constitution that they don't like, not to protect the Consitution and our AMerican freedoms. Every single neo-con and right-wing reactionary who wears a flag on his or her lapel is burning the flag with the flames of their false patiotism.

Here are some of my favorite quotes on the difference between true and false patriotism:

"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship ...Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger."
- Hermann Goering, Luftwaffe Commander, Nuremberg Trials 1946
- from "Nuremberg Diary" by G M Gilbert (Signet, New York, 1947)

"There is an important difference between being patriotic and chauvinistic. The patriot places his country within the context of international conflicts; the chauvinist is a "vain country bumpkin" who believes that the world ends within his country's borders."
~ Marginal Notes on the Crime" by Celia Hart (August 25, 2004)

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else." -~Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US President (1858-1919)

"Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it "
--George Bernard Shaw

"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons."
--Bertrand Russell

"A politician will do anything to keep his job even become a patriot."
--William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951) US newspaper publisher, Recalled on his death 14 Aug 1951

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."
Author: Samuel Johnson
Source: Boswell's Life of Johnson

"In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary, patriotism is defined as the last refuge of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer, I beg to submit that it is the first."
~Author: Ambrose Bierce

"This heroism at command, this senseless violence, this accursed bombast of patriotism--how intensely I despise them!"
~Author: Albert Einstein

"One of the great attractions of patriotism - it fulfils our worst wishes. In the person of our nation we are able, vicariously, to bully and cheat. Bully and cheat, what's more, with a feeling that we are profoundly virtuous."
- Aldous Huxley

"Patriotism has become a mere national self assertion, a sentimentality of flag-cheering with no constructive duties."
~Author: H.G. Wells (Herbert George Wells)
Source: Future in America

"True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else."
- Clarence Darrow

Lastly, here's one to consider for the those false patriots who support the occupation of Iraq. It was said during the time of our Revolutionary War by an Englishman responding to questions from his fellow Lords about why the American insurgents continued to attack the English Redcoats:

"If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country I never would lay down my arms,--never! never! never!"
~Author: William Pitt, Earl of Chatham
Source: in a speech 1777