Stoking those ol’ War of Northern Aggression blues: Nostalgic sesquicentennial reenactment of the Battle of Bentonville, N.C.
Historians have long argued the USA was, from its inception, destined for explosive showdowns over the size and role of government. Maybe not on the scale of the Civil War, but certainly clamorous schisms, bound to depart from gentlemanly decorum in the collision of political philosophies. What they didn’t necessarily anticipate were the foundational support beams splintering over objective truths, like mathematics, like scientific data, like certified vote counts. Even the southern slave states acknowledged that arch-villain Abraham Lincoln won the election of 1860.
But over the last quarter century, the U.S. has accommodated unprecedented seismic fissures between objective reality and full-throated national psychosis. And nothing has slung more toxic sludge into the breach than Fox News. Yet, the Fox accelerant is less about politics and more about a billionaire’s deep appreciation of addictive human behaviors, and the potential for generating insane profits by waging a rim-to-rim blitz of fear and loathing.
The operation’s genius is its capacity for identifying non-issues or obscure particles – from graduate-level critical race theory courses to the works of Dr. Seuss – and inflating them into zeppelin-sized flying machines that scare the shit out of viewers whose very identities are threatened by the future (where the prospects are always tenuous). Town halls and school board meetings are swamped by the shrieking afflicted, dragging vaccine policies into spittle-lubed showdowns between good and evil. Even the mob’s reality-show hero, upon watching his followers ransack the Capitol on J6, was astonished by the furious pageantry. As Michael Wolff reported in Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency, #45 related to the crowd through the analogy he knew best, blurting: “It’s like ‘Let’s Make a Deal.’”
No pressure point, no asterisk, no traditional threads of normalcy or accord, are too granular or trivial to escape the politicization of Fox’s marketing strategists. So imagine what their outrage machinery could manufacture if and when it gets a serious grip on the one high-profile issue Dems and Republicans agreed on last year – the need for a UFO research office in the Pentagon. We saw what might’ve been a sneak preview just last month with Fox prime-time superstar, Tucker Carlson.
Until the NY Times 12/17 coup properly recast the UFO challenge, its subculture was too declasse to even rate as a wedge issue. Roswell alien-costume parades, the Heaven’s Gate suicide cult, garish vendors’ booths at UFO conventions, self-appointed emissaries and prophets – the mainstream media was too distracted by the sideshows to invest serious resources into the complexity of the mystery. And that included Fox News. But not Tucker Carlson.
Even before 12/17, white victimhood’s point guard would make occasional and informed detours into the high-strangeness realm, a counterintuitive and truly bold independent streak that news-starved UFO freaks (me) found refreshing. The segments were only a few minutes long, but getting any airtime at all from a major opinion-shaper was huge; in fact, those riffs actually tempered his otherwise predictable rants with a little prestige. And after the Times expose shook the world four years ago, Carlson was all in.
Researchers formerly relegated to the mainstream skank heap were frequent guests, and Carlson’s famous scowl – the one usually reserved for the libtards upon whom he empties endless jugs of rhetorical whup-ass – was warranted. Because yeah, the enduring government clampdown on UFO data is outrageous. Maybe even criminal. And he wasn’t afraid to say so. In 2018, he even managed to coax a few meaningless words from Trump on the government connection to the phenomenon: “I don’t really wanna get into it too much … I don’t necessarily believe it … nowadays you can believe anything, right?”
By then, everyone was piling on – “60 Minutes,” The New Yorker, CNN, etc. Until finally, last month, Congress itself bought in and extended bipartisan approval to what the Defense Department insists on calling AOIMSG (the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group). Less than a week before the floor vote, however, Carlson made a curious observation.*
He was setting up a Q&A with Pentagon whistleblower Luis Elizondo, the scrupulously apolitical catalyst for the reinvigorated UFO debates. And during the introduction, Carlson said this:
“Now we know, since we’ve established that UFOs are real – we’re not quite sure what they are, but they exist – the Biden administration is trying to shut down the public’s right to know what the government knows about this. That’s bizarre. We’ll find out a lot more in just a minute.”
Huh. So Biden’s behind the stonewall. Can’t wait to see what that old geezer’s got up his sleeve. After the break, before bringing on Elizondo, Carlson offered a recap of what the AOIMSG is, as well as a summary of the pending congressional legislation: “So the question here is, why is the government, after promising not to do this repeatedly, still hiding information on something that’s very much in the public interest, which is, what are these things, these UFOs …?”
In the ensuing chat, however, the White House never once came up. Elizondo’s beef was with the military intelligence bureaucracy, and he questioned the logic of assigning responsibility for AOIMSG to the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence – “my old office … which is an oversight capability, not an operational capability. And plus, there are still some of the old elements in that organization that really didn’t do us much favors when I was running the program four years ago.” In fact, Elizondo explained, the new NDAA bill is structured to demand answers from the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Defense. No mention of Joe. At all.
Hey, I’m all for getting the White House on record. The last time the press corps questioned Biden about UFOs, back in May, he got all squirrely, said go ask Obama, and took off. That’s lame. However: Fourteen presidential administrations – evenly split between the GOP and Dems – have all followed the UFO trail to nowhere. Ever since 1947. The gatekeepers are lifers. Chief execs? Rubberneckers.
Jimmy Kimmel reminded George W. Bush last year that Clinton (Bill) had once told him that if he (Bill) had seen UFO evidence, he would’ve gone public. When Kimmel asked if Bush would’ve done the same thing, the first Electoral College tragedy of the 21st century managed a terse “No.” Period. The audience laughed. The same way captive MDA Telethon audiences used to laugh at Jerry Lewis because he’s Jerry Lewis. Kimmel was obliged to chortle as well. That’s what good hosts do.
In fact, Bush had just dodged a bullet. In January 2008, radar data painted a UFO – a whopper, according to eyewitnesses – as it apparently flew over his Texas ranch, without protective F-16s anywhere in the vicinity. And without air cover, the “Western White House” stood wide open to whatever might’ve decided to touch down. And if anybody was gonna pop the Stephenville question to him, it would’ve been Jimmy Kimmel.
Sensing victory, escape, Bush egged the crowd on with more relieved avuncular chuckles. “I’m afraid,” he followed up, “I’m afraid it might spin ya into orbit!” The man was on fire, and he killed it. Laughter brought what was left of the house down.
Obama? Forget Obama. He conceded last year that UFOs were “real,” but he doesn’t volunteer beans about what he already knows. At least he didn’t try standup. Jimmy Carter filed his own sighting report long before he ran for the White House. Fat lotta good being president did.
Now, two possibilities for Tucker Carlson: 1) He’s been doing UFOs for awhile, right. He may not have any idea of who’s driving this truck, but he knows it ain’t the Oval Office. To reiterate, he knows that. Or 2) The man doesn’t have a serious clue about the federal bureaucracies’ 75-year struggle with the UAP/UFO thing, or their equally long and likely illegal abuse of compartmented information in service of perpetuating public ignorance. If that’s the case, lazy research never bothered the fan club before, so what.
If 1) is true, however, then the AOIMSG kumbaya moment probably has a dangerously short fuse. How long might it take for America’s favorite most pissed-off major network television talking head to break away from an increasingly crowded field? How about goosing the coverage with something like an AOIMSG-is-a-covert-New Age-brainwashing-op-to-undermine-freedom angle? Keep an eye on this guy. A $6 million (a year) brand doesn’t have to know everything, and it can invent whatever kind of reality it wants.
* Thanks again, Giuliano — you rock.