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Culture War Roundup for the week of July 17, 2023

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Further developments on the ayy lmao front

You may recall a few weeks ago, former intelligence officer David Grusch came out with claims that the US has several alien spacecraft in its possession, and has been studying and reverse-engineering them for decades. While claims like this have floated around for decades, including from former government employees, Grusch was different because of his undeniable credentials, and because he is going through 'proper' whistleblower channels.

This was the latest act in a drama that goes back to 2017 (well, 1947, but let's not get ahead of ourselves), when Leslie Kean and Ralph Blumenthal published a piece in the New York Times disclosing the existence of a pentagon program dedicated to studying UFOs, known as AATIP (or AAWSAP, depending on when and where) led by a man called Lue Elizondo. This sparked an apparent sea change in government, and UFOs and aliens, formerly dismissed out of hand, began to be taken more seriously.

Everyone from Obama to former CIA director John Brennan started dropping hints that hey maybe aliens might possibly could be here. Some apparently very sober Navy pilots came forward and shared their apparently inexplicable experiences on 60 minutes. Lue Elizondo did the talk-show circuit.

'UFOs' were rebranded 'UAPs' since over the past few decades, 'UFO' had become synonymous with 'flying saucer.' Congress held its first UFO hearings in over fifty years. A new office, AARO, was founded to investigate and classify UAP sightings..

Well, now the latest development. Chuck Schumer has sponsored a congressional amendment with bipartisan support mandating that, if it exists, any alien biological or technological material, or any evidence of non-human intelligence (and yes the bill uses those terms) held by any private or illegal government entity be turned over to congress.

I've been pretty skeptical about this whole thing. NY Post journalist Steven Greenstreet provides an alternative narrative, where this is the result of a small but fanatical, well-financed, and well-motivated group of UFO/paranormal fanatics that has been pushing all of this stuff for years in and outside of government, without any real proof to back any of it up. He has provided evidence that AATIP started out not as a 'UFO program' but as a pet project of senator Harry Reid, who in conjunction with Robert Bigelow, another big-time paranormal fan, wanted first and foremost to conduct a study of Skinwalker Ranch, which they believe(d) to be a hot-bed of supernatural activity, including werewolves and (as Greenstreet never tires of pointing out) "dinobeavers." While the media has focused on the apparently more grounded, sober claims of mysterious craft in the sky demonstrating apparent technological superiority to any known human craft, a lot of people don't realize just how closely aliens and UFOs are tied up with werewolves, bigfoot, demons, ghosts, remote viewing, and every other kind of woo.

That said, now that Chuck Schumer is sponsoring legislation that boils down to "show me the aliens!" it's getting harder for me to believe that this is all down to a small band of committed UFO nuts taking everybody (themselves included) for a ride. I'm still skeptical, and I still don't think this is going to end with a flying saucer being wheeled in front of congress. But it seems increasingly undeniable that something is going on here. The lazy counter is "it's a psyop" but one has to ask, "a psyop to what end?" To increase government funding for the military? I don't think the military needs to put on a dog and pony show like this to squeeze some extra dollars out of congress. To "distract us"? This stuff tends to not be front-page news, actually. I don't think a lot of people have even heard about this new amendment. To fake an alien invasion and use it as a springboard for a one-world government? I kinda doubt it. To scare Russia and China? That would be the most plausible version of the "psyop" hypothesis I think, but it still doesn't ring true for me.

Another possibility is this: it is known that the government has, for ulterior motives, psyopped people into believing in UFOs and ultimately driven them insane.. It's entirely possible that this is all 'sincere' insofar as, within the tangled web that is the US federal government, there are SAPs staffed at least in part by people who believe they're studying or have studied alien spacecraft or alien bodies, even though they aren't, because they've been lied to or misled by their colleagues and superiors.

IMO at this point, that's the most likely explanation.

Or maybe it really is aliens.

As to the culture war angle, interestingly, with the exception of Kristen Gillibrand, who is not the leftiest of dems, most of the representatives and senators who have been vocal and active in pushing for UAP transparency have been republicans like Marco Rubio, Tim Burchett, Mike Gallagher, and Anna Paulina Luna. If some government official does come out and say, "yes, okay, fine we have a flying saucer in the basement" it is interesting to think that aliens might become a new culture war battlefield, with aliens-are-real being right coded and aliens-are-fake being left coded. But seeing how in-flux political alignments were in the early months of COVID, who knows?

My position is that if any of this was true, there would have been profound advances in theoretical physics during this time where the US government is capturing and studying alien technology. There haven't been. Unless all these spacecraft have been sitting in a warehouse next to the Ark of the Covenant, which is even dumber. The last claim about UFOs I heard involved "Unknown Elements." It's possible I'm being pedantic, but why is the element still unknown? Do they mean entirely new elements? (which are still going to be somewhere on the periodic table) or just previously-unknown isotopes of elements? Exotic matter? New metamaterials and wacky alloys? Details were not forthcoming, and I'm not left with any confidence these questions would even be understood by the leaker.

Show me the godsdamned Element Zero Drive or shut up.

Ugh, the "unknown elements" quote made me facepalm when I first heard it - because I can imagine how a perfectly reasonable reality got twisted into "woah aliens!" Firstly, there is absolutely research being performed on wreckage of UFOs; literally, flying objects that are unidentified. Zero implication of extra terrestrials or advanced technology. Say US Intel dredges up some scrap from the ocean floor in the vicinity of a North Korean missile test, or collects shards of metal from a Middle Eastern desert where they detected what could be an Iranian drone crash - those could easily (and correctly) be classified as "UFO wreckage". They're going to perform tests to identify what they collected, which could involve classifying what they're made out of - not because it's some mysterious wonder element, but because they want to know if NK is being provided Chinese metals, or they want to estimate how far Iran is in developing composites. Some of the material is inevitably going to be unidentifiable because tests aren't perfect - there's always a chance of false readings and the samples could be damaged beyond recognition or contaminated or many other reasons. Now imagine some bookkeeper with no context reads the report. They're going to see "TOP SECRET", "UFO", and "test inconclusive, composition unknown". They leak that to the whistleblower with aliens on the mind, and of course it's going to turn into "alien vehicles with unknown elements."