Who would be the better commander-in-chief to have presiding over our army of drones in the event of an alien invasion? This is a not-real question that we are not-really asking ourselves all the time these days.
But, given the fact that we now celebrate President Abraham Lincoln as the original vampire slayer and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now asked to account for its strategies for a zombie rampage, it seems natural that the folks at the National Geographic Channel would poll Americans on their feelings about extraterrestrial enemies ahead of the debut of their new "Chasing UFOs."
(Premiering this Friday, "Chasing UFOs" follows three UFO hunters, proving once again how extraordinary the United States is, considering that in a period of economic downturn, three people can still do UFO chasing as their actual job.)
What have National Geographic's polling exploits discovered? First of all, lots of people believe in extraterrestrial life: "More than 80 million Americans are certain that UFOs exist." What's more is that most of these citizens are predisposed to believe that the aliens mean us no harm, despite the fact that Stephen Hawking has warned that this is not likely.
According to National Geographic, "most citizens would not mind a minor alien invasion, because they expect these space-age visitors to be friendly -- like the lovable character depicted in Steven Spielberg's popular film 'E.T.'"
What is a "minor invasion," anyway? Probably the interplanetary version of the Iraq war, in which Lrrr of the planet Omicron Persei Eight tells his people that conquering Earth will be a cakewalk, only to discover how easy it is to get bogged down in all the ensuing sectarian violence. Don't worry, Lrrr! "Counterinsurgency strategy" will probably prove to be feasible, one of these days!
The poll also found good news for President Barack Obama, I guess!
In regards to national security, nearly two-thirds (65%) of Americans think Barack Obama would be better suited than fellow presidential candidate Mitt Romney to handle an alien invasion. In fact, more than two in three (68%) women say that Obama would be more adept at dealing with an alien invasion than Romney, vs. 61 percent of men. And more younger citizens, ages 18 to 64 years, than those aged 65+ (68% vs. 50%) think Romney would not be as well-suited as Obama to handle an alien invasion.
It's interesting that the male-female "gender gap" in most of 2012's polling doesn't show up as strongly in the event of an alien invasion, so perhaps this could be the inspiration for the most awesome "October surprise" in the history of the country.
The topic of alien life doesn't often come up during the presidential cycle, but it's worth recalling that during the 2008 campaign, Congressman Dennis Kucinich was forced to answer questions about a claim he made about seeing a UFO while in the company of Shirley MacLaine. That question was put to Kucinich at a presidential debate by Tim Russert, a celebrated professional journalist.
(The "UFO Lobby," which is a thing that exists in America, told our own Sam Stein that it preferred a Hillary Clinton-Bill Richardson presidential ticket, despite Kucinich's vital experience with their issues.)
On "The Daily Show," John Oliver asked former presidential contender Herman Cain to "role-play" what he would say to the American people if he, as president, had to address the populace from "the smouldering remains of what used to be the Oval Office." Cain was really, really good!
Cain responds to the aliens question at the 4:58 mark.
National Geographic also learned that in the event of an alien invasion, the poll's respondents would probably seek assistance from the Hulk, instead of Batman or Spiderman. This demonstrates that the simplicity of the Hulk's messaging ("Smash!") has broader populist appeal than that of the rest of the Avengers, who largely approach national security emergencies by having a lengthy, internecine debate over leadership and the nature of power sharing.
What would happen if friendly aliens arrived, bearing the gift of universal health care? This is not something that National Geographic polled, but I think it's pretty certain that should that scenario arise, powerful health care lobbies would team up and murder all of the ETs.
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Number 11: J. Edgar Hoover's FBI Took UFOs Seriously
In early April, the FBI created a new website, <a href="http://www.aolnews.com/2011/04/20/j-edgar-hoovers-fbi-took-ufos-seriously-documents-suggest/" target="_hplink">The Vault</a>, which gives the public an opportunity to view documents in an online "electronic reading room." Some of the 2,000-plus documents are about UFOs. While the U.S. government has always maintained UFOs don't warrant any serious investigation, documents from the late 1940s indicate FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover's interest in UFOs. Pictured is a 1947 document sent by a Wisconsin agent to Hoover, concerning a small, disc-shaped object found at a fairground that contained a photoelectric cell, electric motor and a propeller. While agents felt it was "made by some juvenile," it's noteworthy that they felt it important enough to inform Hoover about it.
Number 10: The JFK-UFO Connection
While researching materials for his 2011 book, "A Celebration of Freedom: JFK and the New Frontier," Atlanta history teacher William Lester used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain some previously classified documents that other investigators had also tracked down. He included documents in his book showing how the late President John F. Kennedy was not only interested in UFOs, but he wrote <a href="http://www.aolnews.com/2011/04/18/the-jfk-ufo-connection-bogus-documents-or-unanswered-questions/" target="_hplink">two intriguing memos</a>: one asked the CIA for all UFO files and the other one was sent to NASA expressing a desire to cooperate with the Soviet Union on outer space activities. Both memos were written on Nov. 12, 1963 -- 10 days before Kennedy's assassination. Pictured is the memo JFK sent to the CIA.
Number 9: Betty & Barney Hill Official NH Highway Marker
In July, the state of New Hampshire erected an official highway marker commemorating the 1961 UFO sighting experienced by <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/25/betty-and-barney-hill-ufo-experience_n_907770.html" target="_hplink">Betty and Barney Hill</a>. The marker was placed near the site of where they claimed, under hypnosis, they had been kidnapped onto a strange circular craft in the White Mountains and physically examined by gray-skinned creatures. Theirs was the first such story in the U.S. against which all other UFO abduction tales have been measured.
Number 8: History Channel Examines Strong UFO Evidence
On Aug. 25, The History Channel presented a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/23/ufo-evidence-revealed-his_n_934229.html#s129374&title=The_Remaining_Incidents " target="_hplink">provocative UFO special</a> based on the best-selling book "UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go On The Record," by Leslie Kean. The program featured a Federal Aviation Administration executive who revealed how the CIA warned him not to talk about UFOs because the public might panic from the truth. And former Arizona Governor Fife Symington described his own dramatic UFO sighting and he apologized for lying to the media and the public. Pictured is a disc-shaped object photographed over Costa Rica in 1971 by a government mapping aircraft.
Number 7: UK Releases UFO Documents
March saw the release of 8,500 pages of previously classified <a href="http://www.aolnews.com/2011/03/07/classified-docs-reveal-uk-tried-to-stop-worldwide-ufo-investigat/" target="_hplink">UFO files by Great Britain</a>. One set of key documents detailed the UK's attempt in 1978 to derail the country of Grenada's plan to convince the United Nations to form a special UFO study committee. That milestone UFO UN presentation was produced by current Huffington Post writer Lee Speigel (pictured here on the right, counter-clockwise, third person in), who organized a preliminary meeting with UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim and military, scientific and psychological experts on July 14, 1978.
Number 6: Ex-British UFO Chief Apologizes For 'Spin and Dirty Tricks'
As more UFO documents were released by the UK in August, former Ministry of Defense UFO project chief Nick Pope <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/17/uk-releases-ufo-files_n_927351.html" target="_hplink">revealed exclusively to The Huffington Post</a> that he was part of an official British policy of ridiculing UFO reports and the people who reported them. Pope said he used "a combination of spin and dirty tricks" to downplay the reports, a policy that he now regrets being a part of.
Number 5: Jerusalem UFO Videos - Real Or Hoax?
At the end of January, several videos went viral on the Internet, allegedly taken by different people from different angles showing <a href="http://www.aolnews.com/2011/02/07/jerusalem-ufo-another-video-surfaces-to-spark-debate/ " target="_hplink">a UFO that descended from the sky</a> to hover over the Dome of the Rock Islamic shrine in Jerusalem. After several seconds, the glowing white light shot straight up in the air, reportedly to join with other unexplained lights in the sky. At least one of the videos is considered a hoax because it used the same soundtrack as another one and it appears to have been videotaped from a still photograph on a television screen.
Number 4a: Air Force Changes UFO Reporting Rules After HuffPost Inquiry
In 1969, the U.S. Air Force officially and publicly closed the books on its investigation of UFOs. At the beginning of September 2011, HuffPost writer Lee Speigel contacted the Pentagon to inquire why <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/19/air-force-deletes-ufo-rep_n_982128.html" target="_hplink">UFOs were included in a 2008 Air Force procedure manual</a>. Four days later, the Air Force released an updated manual with UFO references deleted. Coincidence? The image above shows the top portions of both the 2008 and 2011 Air Force manuals. See the next slide to view a 1975 document, describing military jets attempting to intercept UFOs.
Number 4b: Documents Reveal Military Still Interested In UFOs
While the Air Force maintains that it ended its UFO investigations in 1969, according to the above 1975 document (and many other similar ones), a significant number of incidents have involved UFOs (with correlating radar reports) and military jets scrambled to try and intercept the unknown objects with no success.
Number 3: The Alleged Soviet-Nazi UFO Connection
Did former Soviet leader Josef Stalin recruit Josef Mengele, the Nazi "Angel of Death," to surgically alter children to look like aliens in 1947 as part of a plan to crash a disc-shaped craft outside of Roswell, N.M.? A new, explosive book in 2011 by Annie Jacobsen about the top secret Nevada <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/23/area-51-ufos-ets-cold-war-annie-jacobsen_n_864243.html " target="_hplink">military installation known as Area 51</a> suggested this Soviet-Nazi UFO connection to the legendary Roswell UFO crash. While it's generally known that the secret base has been used to develop spy planes and other secret hardware, the UFO lore surrounding the place still captures the imagination of the public.
Number 2: 'We The People' White House UFO Petitions
In September, the White House created "We the People," a site where citizens can petition the Obama administration to respond to many issues of concern to the country. After the first two UFO-related petitions were submitted and raised the required number of signatures (to warrant an official response), UFO believers weren't happy when the White House said there was no evidence of alien life visiting Earth and no evidence that any information is being hidden from the public. In what will certainly be an ongoing saga, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/06/new-round-of-ufo-white-house-fight_n_1125873.html" target="_hplink">more recent UFO petitions</a> hope to result in an eventual official acknowledgement that UFOs are a real, mysterious phenomenon.
Number 1a: New Orleans UFO Mystery Solved
An October NBC broadcast of a football game between the Colts and Saints offered viewers something extra. Coming out of a commercial break, a 30-second video spotlighted the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, including <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/09/ufos-new-orleans_n_1083058.html?ref=weird-news " target="_hplink">something streaking through the sky</a> behind the church. When the video was slowed down, striking, elongated objects were seen, prompting speculation they were meteors, insects (flying close to the camera lens), or UFOs. See the next slide for the answer.
Number 1b: New Orleans UFO Mystery Solved
When the New Orleans video was slowed down, frame-by-frame viewing revealed this <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/09/ufos-new-orleans_n_1083058.html " target="_hplink">rod-shaped object </a>flying behind the cathedral, causing wild speculation on the Internet as to what it could be. Until NBC cameraman R.D. Willis contacted Huffington Post writer Lee Speigel to announce that he had taken the video using a special time lapse photography camera rig, which gives the appearance of objects moving much faster than they are. The UFOs in question, he said, were merely airplanes passing behind the cathedral. But the long shutter exposure of his camera made the planes seem more out-of-this-world. Despite this correct explanation for the short-lived UFOs, some readers have accused Speigel of making it all up and being part of a larger debunking and ridiculing policy. And this recurring UFO theme is what makes the New Orleans story the number one UFO story of 2011.