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Inside Politics

- The Washington Times - Monday, December 1, 2008

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jennifer Harper is writing this column while Greg Pierce is on vacation.

Obama, phone home

And now for something completely different.

The Extraterrestrial Phenomenon Political Action Committee has called on President-Elect Barack Obama to "end the six-decade truth embargo regarding an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race."

The Maryland group wants the incoming president to insist on a "full briefing from military services and intelligence agencies regarding what they know" and to open congressional hearings "to take testimony from scores of government witnesses who have already come forward with extraordinary evidence and are prepared to testify under oath."

The campaigners think Mr. Obama could lend a sympathetic ear to their plea for other-worldly transparency because of two people: John Podesta and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Mr. Podesta - former chief of staff in the Clinton White House and now chief of Mr. Obama's transition team - once led a project to declassify 800 million pages of intelligence documents. Mr. Richardson, who has contributed to a book on UFO sightings within his state, might also provide some sway.

Stephen Bassett, director of "X-PPAC," hopes to have 40,000 signatures from supporters ready for Mr. Obama by Inauguration Day.

"The truth embargo is now at the end of the line. The release of documents in Britain and France has put huge pressure on the U.S. It makes the government here look pretty stupid," he told the Sunday Daily Telegraph.

"I think we are seeing the Democrats moving towards disclosure. John Podesta has outed himself as an enthusiast. He thinks the American public can handle the truth. Bill Richardson thinks there was a cover-up."

Reawakening insurgent

Sen. Saxby Chambliss' fight to retain his Senate seat Tuesday has set off the old spirit of competition in a Republican campaign veteran: Sen. John McCain.

"I'm asking you to go into battle one more time for our Party ... . The eyes of the country and the world will be on the state of Georgia," Mr. McCain said in an e-mail message to Republicans.

"If we lose, the Senate Democrats could reach 60 seats in the U.S. Senate. This would give them the power to enact an agenda out of touch with our values and beliefs and the ability to confirm activist judges and liberal Administration appointees with little to no open debate.

"As Americans we must continue fighting for our shared values. We must fight for our men and women in uniform, we must fight for energy independence, we must fight to create better jobs and a better economy, and we must fight to keep our taxes low," Mr. McCain said.

"Our Party is joining together to stop the liberals from railroading their misguided tax hikes and military funding cuts through the U.S. Senate."

Patriot's roundup

Seventy-seven percent say children should say the Pledge of Allegiance in school every morning. That number is 91 percent among Republicans and 67 percent among Democrats.

Eighty-two percent overall say the words "under God" should remain in the pledge. That number is 93 percent among Republicans and 74 percent among Democrats.

Seventy-two percent overall say people are "too worried about being politically correct." That number is 81 percent among conservatives and 56 percent among liberals.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted Nov. 22-23 with a margin of error of three percentage points.

Voter angst

A Roman Catholic priest has some suggestions for Catholics who voted for President-elect Barack Obama, knowing that he supports "the Freedom of Choice Act" which would grant unlimited access to abortion in all 50 states.

In a Nov. 21 letter to 15,000 parishioners, the Rev. Joseph Illo of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Modesto, Calif., pointed out that many Catholics voted for pro-abortion candidates because they agreed with their positions on other issues.

"One thing is clear and certain: We can never vote for a candidate who promises to promote abortion ... . This is a civil rights issue. We have to speak for those who have no voice."

Father Illo continued, "If you are one of the 54 percent of Catholics who voted for a pro-abortion candidate, you were clear on his position, and you knew the gravity of the question. I urge you to go to confession before receiving Communion."

On Sunday, parishioners appear to favor the pastor's opinions by 8-1, according to their e-mails, Father Illo said. The entire letter can viewed here.

Dear leader

Pundits have argued over whether President-elect Barack Obama is the "new" Ronald Reagan for almost a year, much of the discussion prompted by the incoming president's open admiration for the former president.

"Despite the election's progressive mandate, Obama is not what Ronald Reagan was to conservatives - he is not as much the product of a movement as he is a movement unto himself. He figured out that because many 'progressive' institutions are merely Democratic Party appendages and not ideological movement forces, he could build his own movement," writes David Sirota of Salon.com "He succeeded in that endeavor thanks to the nation's Bush-inspired desire for change, his own skills and a celebrity-obsessed culture."

Mr. Sirota continues, "Though many Obama supporters feel strongly about particular issues, and though polling shows the country moving left, the Obama movement undeniably revolves around the president-elect's individual stardom - and specifically, the faith that he will make good decisions, whatever those decisions are. With that kind of following, Obama likely feels little obligation to hire staff intimately involved in non-Obama movements - especially those who might challenge a Washington ruling class he may not want to antagonize.

"This is the mythic 'independence' we're supposed to crave - a czar who doesn't owe anyone. It is the foreseeable result of the Dear Leader-ism prevalent in foreign autocracies but never paramount in America until now - and it will have its benefits and drawbacks."

• E-mail Jennifer Harper or 202/636-3085.