- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 15, 2015

An interesting cultural moment, even for the nation’s capital. Outgoing White House adviser John Podesta tweeted 10 regrets about leaving his position, and this was the last entry on the list: “Finally, my biggest failure of 2014: Once again not securing the #disclosure of the UFO files.”

Mr. Podesta sent a copy of this missive to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, though he didn’t need to seek publicity; the message was retweeted 1,200-plus times. And the disclosure reference? Mr. Podesta is referring to a well-organized advocacy effort that continues to urge the federal government to reveal what it knows about the presence of extraterrestrials on or around the planet over the decades. The former chief of staff for Bill Clinton, Mr. Podesta is expected to join Hillary Rodham Clinton’s undeclared presidential campaign. But his UFO interest has been a personal cause for some time.

Mr. Podesta publicly called for the release of the material during a speeches at the National Press Club before the Coalition for Freedom of Information in 2002 and 2003.

“I think it’s time to open the books on questions that have remained in the dark, about government investigations of UFOs,” he told his audience. “It’s time to find out what the truth really is that’s out there. We ought to do it because it’s right and because the American people can handle the truth. And we ought to do it because it’s the law.”

Meanwhile, registered lobbyist Stephen Bassett continues to be the pointman in the quest for some disclosure; he seeks a congressional hearing on the “truth embargo,” and now says he has a variety of military and political witnesses “of rank and station” ready to testify. Mr. Bassett also has filed several public petitions demanding disclosure through the White House’s “We the People” project, and founded X-PPAC — the Extraterrestrial Phenomena Political Action Committee.

While the FBI and U.S. Air Force have released some material, disclosure fans point out that the national agencies in Britain, Australia, Canada, Denmark and even Russia have declassified UFO records. Mr. Bassett tells Inside the Beltway that Mr. Podesta’s call for the release of documents is greatly appreciated — but limited.

“What he has not done is acknowledge the Rockefeller Initiative, his role in that initiative and the role of his employer Hillary Clinton and other members of the Clinton administration including President Clinton and Leon Panetta,” Mr. Bassett continues. “It is time for the Clintons and their advisers to tell the American people of Laurance Rockefeller’s effort to end the extraterrestrial truth embargo in 1993 and have President Bill Clinton be the ‘disclosure’ president.” The late Rockefeller was a venture capitalist, philanthropist and the son of John D. Rockefeller.

EASTWOOD’S BLOCKBUSTER

For those following the continuing trajectory of “American Sniper,” the Clint Eastwood-directed film continues to make “cinema history,” accruing $300 million at the domestic box offices and $86 million overseas, according to Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros. Pictures. It is now the top-grossing war movie of all time and has earned six Academy Award nominations. The film, incidentally, cost $12 million to make.

WHERE’S THE PRESIDENT?

For those curious about complicated itineraries, here’s where President Obama has been this weekend, with a return to the nation’s capital scheduled for Monday evening. On Friday, the president attended a cybersecurity summit in San Francisco and a private Democratic National Committee fundraiser, checked in to The Fairmont Hotel, then had dinner at Spruce, a tony restaurant in Presidio Heights where the fare is “organic, ethically-grown, hyper-seasonal.” His dinner companion was Tesla CEO Elon Musk — this according to KPIX, a CBS affiliate in San Francisco.

On Saturday, Mr. Obama flew aboard Air Force One to Palm Springs and “went straight to the golf course” at the expansive Sunnylands estate in nearby Rancho Mirage, accompanied by old friends Bobby Titcomb, Greg Orme, and Marty Nesbitt. After the game, Mr. Obama “retired to the nearby home of interior designer Michael Smith,” his home away from home throughout the weekend.

“Smith redecorated the Oval Office for Obama. Smith’s partner, James Costos, is the U.S. ambassador to Spain,” said an account by the Associated Press, which also noted that the president played golf Sunday at Porcupine Creek, owned by billionaire Larry Ellison. The president did sign a presidential memorandum, however, regulating federal agency use of drones; he also had phone calls with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

“The timing of Obama’s golf vacation couldn’t have been better. He stepped off of Air Force One into 80-degree, blue-sky weather as the District of Columbia region endured a Valentine’s Day blast of bitter cold air, powerful winds and snow. Obama traveled to Southern California without his wife, Michelle, or their daughters, Malia and Sasha,” the AP reported.

“I know what you’re thinking. Should he really be doing this given that the economy is just so-so and the world is in crisis? But look, it’s been six weeks since he had a vacation. I mean, give the guy a break,” quips Keith Koffler, founder of the White House Dossier, a news site.

ON PRESS PATROL

Stories continue to accumulate about the past lives of likely Republican hopefuls. Time magazine joined the bandwagon by publishing a story about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s high school science teacher’s criticism of him for not answering a question about evolution recently. Or something like that. This new journalistic genre consists of lengthy investigations that have so far plumbed the high school and/or college days of Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, and of course Mr. Walker. But there is a now a press patrol at the ready.

Gail Collins, a columnist for the New York Times, wrote a hit piece on Scott Walker, the centerpiece of which was the claim that Walker was to blame for teacher layoffs in Wisconsin in 2010. Oops. Walker didn’t take office until 2011,” writes Powerline.com columnist John Hinderaker of the article, which ran Friday.

“Within hours after Collins’ column appeared, her blunder was all over Twitter. Now, two days later, she has failed to make any apology or respond in any way. The Times has not yet corrected Collins’s column,” says Mr. Hinderaker, adding, “That’s where it sits as of this moment. The battle over the 2016 election is well underway, and the Democratic Party press is pulling no punches. My guess is that over the next 21 months, we will see open warfare against the Republican Party and its candidates, to an even greater degree than in the past.”

SOMEBODY ACTUALLY DOES SOMETHING

A serious gathering to address veteran’s health care is rapidly drawing big names. The “Fixing Veterans Health Care Summit” at month’s end now counts Sens. John McCain and Marco Rubio plus Newt Gingrich on its speaker’s roster. Organized by Concerned Veterans of America, the free, one-day event on Feb. 26 initially filled up, but has since moved to a larger event site to accommodate those interested in “a veteran-centric, expert-driven set of realistic policy proposals meant to dramatically improve health care delivery for veterans.” Yes, a formal report of their ideas will be released.

Also weighing in: Republican Reps. Jeff Miller of Florida, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs; House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California; former Rep. Jim Marshall, Georgia Democrat; former Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee; Mike Kussman, undersecretary of health for the Veterans Affairs Department; Manhattan Institute fellow Avik Roy; plus task force leader Darin Selnick and Pete Hegseth, chairman of the nonprofit, nonpartisan veterans’ group. Find them here at CV4A.org

POLL DU JOUR

84 percent of Americans say “Islamic militants commonly known as ISIS” are a critical threat to the U.S.; 12 percent call ISIS an important threat.

84 percent say international terrorism is a critical threat, 13 percent call it an important threat.

77 percent say the development of nuclear weapons by Iran is a critical threat, 16 percent say it is an important threat.

64 percent say the military power of North Korea is a critical threat, 26 percent call it an important threat.

49 percent say the military power of Russia is a critical threat, 41 percent call it an important threat.

44 percent say conflict between Russia and Ukraine is a critical threat, 45 percent call it an important threat.

Source: A Gallup poll of 837 U.S, adults conducted Feb. 8-11.

Sterling comments, churlish remarks to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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