On Saturday, as the nation paused to mark the twenty years since the terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center, former Pres. Donald Trump and his son, Don, Jr., offered color commentary on a boxing match in Florida between 44-year-old Vito Belfort and 58-year-old Evander Holyfield, the latter replacing Oscar De La Hoya, hospitalized with coronavirus. The younger Trump had promoted the surreal event with a Twitter tweet and video promising viewers that he would use the match to ask his father about Area 51 and the real U.S. government secrets about space aliens. He did not.
We also learned that both houses of Congress now have versions of bills creating a permanent office within the Pentagon to investigate UFOs. One House version, passed out of committee, also planned to explore “biological” effects of UFOs on humans, a claim that came directly out of Robert Bigelow’s Skinwalker Ranch research under Pentagon auspices. While the final language has yet to be worked out, it seems clear that there will soon be a formal bureaucratic office dedicated to UFOs, a concession, I suppose, that our government is completely broken and can manage even a modest research endeavor without creating a whole new bureaucracy that, in previous generations, existing structures managed to handle just fine.
While UFO enthusiasts cheered the effort in their ongoing love affair with big government, hallowed be its name, whose holy paperwork gives meaning to their lives, the idea of a “permanent” UFO investigation is prima facie ridiculous. If the goal is to “solve” the “mystery” of UFOs, having a perpetual bureaucracy dedicated to the task concedes before it begins that no solution is forthcoming or expected. No matter how many UFOs are eventually identified, there will always be another, which means that the “mystery” and the millions of dollars that will flow from it to the contractors and consultants who will inevitably become attached to this office will never cease.
At least they aren’t—yet anyway—investigating Angelia Lynn Johnston, who goes by Añjali. She is a former defense intelligence officer who held a sparsely attended news conference in Washington last month to announce that she is in touch with transcendently divine alien beings and was organizing an expedition to the Mojave Desert to receive their enlightenment from their underground base—all claims you’ll recognize from earlier paranormal beliefs, ranging from Theosophy to George Adamski. While her claims were obvious nonsense, George Knapp’s Mystery Wire, run by one of America’s biggest media companies, Nexstar, announced plans to provide promotional coverage of the expedition. Their initial report ran on trusted local news websites across the country owned by Nexstar.
And then on Monday, William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins, announced that it had won a bidding war to publish ex-History Channel UFO TV host and onetime Pentagon UFO reengage Lue Elizondo’s new book. HarperCollins is a division of News Corp., whose owner, Rupert Murdoch, also owns Fox News Channel, where Tucker Carlson has long promoted Elizondo and his claims.
Just stop and consider that: There was a bidding war for Elizondo’s book even though Elizondo has long insisted that his non-disclosure agreement prevents him from sharing any significant information about U.S. government UFO research. According to press materials, the book will be a memoir, not a UFO investigation, and “promises to reveal shocking never-before-shared details regarding what Elizondo has learned about UFOs and the profound implications for humanity, all of which will escalate what is already a hot topic globally.” Translation: If it’s like every other memoir, there will be a 1-2 pages of vaguely newsworthy material in a 300-page self-indulgent autobiography tinged with sob stories about his victimization at the hands of all the people whose actions led to him being paid handsomely with cash and celebrity to cry about how unfair it all is.
Note, by the way, that the “shocking” detail come from what Elizondo “has learned”—i.e., this might just be hearsay from his recent forays into speculative ufology and cable TV hucksterism, not what investigated overseeing the remains of the Bigelow boondoggle.
Collectively, these stories speak to the decline of seriousness in our culture, of the decadence of our political and media elites, and of the bread and circuses that pass for policy in our national flight into fantasy.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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