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Published: Monday, October 22, 2007
By Mark Naymik, The Plain Dealer
Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich has seen a UFO, writes Shirley MacLaine in her new book, "Sage-Ing While Age-Ing."
Kucinich, she writes on page143-144 of the book, "had a close sighting over my home in Graham, Washington, when I lived there. Dennis found his encounter extremely moving. The smell of roses drew him out to my balcony where, when he looked up, he saw a gigantic triangular craft, silent, and observing him. It hovered, soundless, for ten minutes or so, and sped away with a speed he couldn't comprehend. He said he felt a connection in his heart and heard directions in his mind."
Representatives of Kucinich's presidential campaign and congressional office have not responded to calls and e-mail asking whether the Cleveland Democratic congressman in fact saw a UFO or if there is another explanation for MacLaine's recollection.
MacLaine is a well-known believer of UFOs and reincarnation. And she's been close to Kucinich for decades. MacLaine is the godmother of Kucinich's daughter and attended Kucinich's 2005 Cleveland wedding to third wife, Elizabeth, who's often campaigning by his side.
MacLaine also recommended in the 1980s that Kucinich visit New Mexico spiritual adviser Chris Griscom, whom MacLaine featured in her then-best-selling book, "Dancing in the Light," describing how Griscom helped her communicate with trees. (Kucinich has insisted that Griscom was not his spiritual adviser but a "teacher and a very good friend.")
MacLaine, who shares Kucinich's opposition to using weapons in space, doesn't shed any more light in her book on Kucinich's close encounter, including when it happened. But to read more about MacLaine's beliefs, pick up a copy of the book. It goes on sale next month -- on Election Day.
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Published: Monday, March 12, 2003
By Mark Naymik, The Plain Dealer
Some of Dennis Kucinich's politics are a long way from polka, bowling and kielbasa. Kucinich, now in his fourth term in the U.S. House, has added a constituency - one likely to appreciate crystals and incense more than the ethnic icons he frequently cites to highlight the character of his hometown.
Known for crusades to keep open local steel mills and hospitals and to improve safety near railroad crossings, Kucinich remains rooted in a pro-labor populist social agenda.
But he also can claim the support of a network of peace activists and New Age gurus, from those who practice meditation to those who embrace alternative religions. They are attracted to his message of spirituality and peace. He is relying on this cultivated network - even at risk of being tagged the "Moonbeam Congressman" - to help him win the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination.
Kucinich, a strict vegetarian whose friends include a New Mexico spiritual adviser, has won converts specifically with his legislation to ban the use of weapons in space and to create a U.S. Department of Peace.
The legislation itself has garnered little support from his congressional colleagues, but it has become Kucinich's calling card, remaining at the center of his anti-war campaign and speeches about the need to view the world "in a way that is interconnected."
He took that message to a Malibu, Calif., home last year, for instance, where about 250 people - including futurist and author Barbara Marx Hubbard, former astronaut and lecturer Brian O'Leary and "Bionic Woman" actress Lindsay Wagner - turned out to meet him.
"We are here tonight to talk about a dream, a vision, which we can make a reality, to create for ourselves a world of peace by making sure that the heavens themselves are never going to be marred by weapons," he said.
Carol Rosin, a peace activist who runs the Institute for Cooperation in Space, sponsored the event. In 1997, Rosin helped arrange to send the cremated remains of her friend - LSD guru Timothy Leary - into space, fulfilling his final wish. Today, she's just as dedicated to Kucinich's cause. "I am out working for him, day and night, and I'm not getting paid," she said. "I'm doing everything I can because I think he is the only chance we have got to enter into a new paradigm, or otherwise we are all going to die."
She sells videotapes of Kucinich's Malibu speech and of one he gave at the Agape International Spiritual Center in Culver City, Calif., one of nation's largest multicultural churches. The tapes, which include Kucinich's Web site information, cost $40. The money benefits the space institute, which heavily promotes Kucinich's peace-related activities.
Disciples of peace
Kucinich said Rosin is just one of thousands of "enthusiastic supporters" and insisted his politics are "mainstream." "I don't start at the margins," he said. "I started in the ward clubs of Cleveland, and I don't forget that. My politics come from the neighborhoods of the city."
Kucinich also has forged a relationship with self-help and pop-religion author Marianne Williamson, whose books frequently top the bestseller lists. "She's an amazingly gifted person" whose talent is reaching out to people, he said.
Williamson has her own peace organization, Global Renaissance Alliance, through which she promotes her books - and Kucinich's effort to create a Department of Peace. She advertises a lobbying boot camp for peace activists that will feature an appearance by Kucinich next month in Arlington, Va. "Train in the principles of deep democracy, then lobby your congressperson and senators to create a Cabinet-level Department of Peace," reads her promotion for the event, which costs $225.
The workshop coincides with Kucinich's plans to reintroduce legislation to create the department.
In an event this month billed as "Imagine America," Williamson and healthy living author John Robbins will join Kucinich in Kentucky to discuss how to create a better America. The rally will cost $5.
Kucinich cites a number of other authors and lecturers as confidants, including Chris Griscom, whom he described as a close friend and adviser. Griscom is a well-known spiritual adviser whose Web site describes her institute as an "enchanting center for spiritual healing and multi-incarnational exploration."
Kucinich traveled to Galisteo, N.M., to meet her in the mid-1980s, a time when he was an unemployed politician.
The MacLaine factor
Kucinich's friend Shirley MacLaine, who is also the godmother of Kucinich's daughter, recommended he visit Griscom. MacLaine had featured Griscom in her then-best-selling book, "Dancing in the Light," describing how Griscom helped her communicate with trees. At the time, Kucinich insisted that Griscom was not his spiritual adviser but a "teacher and a very good friend."
Kucinich also has built a relationship with John Hagelin, a Harvard-trained physicist and the Natural Law Party's 2000 presidential candidate. Hagelin, who follows the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the leader of the transcendental meditation movement, attended Kucinich's presidential campaign stop last month in Fairfield, Iowa, home of the Maharishi University of Management. Hagelin said Kucinich can count on getting volunteers from Fairfield.
"He's got a lot of natural silence, and an open and clear mind," said Hagelin. "A lot of members of both parties get this. Dennis Kucinich is a little bit more expressive, bolder and less political."
Hagelin is director of the Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy at Maharishi University, whose Web site also promotes Kucinich's Department of Peace legislation. The institute also claims it helped Kucinich draft legislation aimed at providing a possible solution to terrorism, following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The legislation - an amendment to a military appropriations bill - called for spending $60 million to train military personnel how to meditate and utilize other stress-relieving techniques backed by scientific studies, Hagelin said. Hagelin believes that mass meditation can reduce conflict worldwide.
Kucinich said he never had any direct involvement with the proposed amendment, which was never accepted and submitted. "There was a discussion at a staff level that occurred," he said. "I get hundreds of requests for amendments."
Kucinich, however, said he welcomes the Natural Law Party's support under his umbrella. He said the Democratic Party created the third parties "by running to the middle."
"What I'm trying to do is go back to the big tent so that everyone who felt alienated . . . could come back through my candidacy."
Embracing the New Age
Kucinich clearly has targeted alternative audiences by speaking at New Age conventions and giving interviews to non-mainstream publications.
Kucinich, for instance, appears on the August 2002 cover of Whole Life Times, billed as a "Journal of the Holistic Lifestyle," which is published in Malibu.
In it, he also responds to the question of whether he supports "full disclosure by the government of information on UFOs and other anomalous space sightings?"
"I'm in favor of expanding opportunities for people to have a deeper understanding of the universe. . . . I don't think we could ever discount the possibility of other intelligent life in the universe," he said.
Kucinich's willingness to listen to non-mainstream groups has created some controversy. For instance, in his original 2001 bill to ban the use of weapons in space, Kucinich listed a series of weapons that should be outlawed. The list went beyond the interceptor missiles and subatomic particle beams often associated with government's "Star Wars" programs. His bill banned "other energies" directed at individuals or targeted groups for the purpose of "mood management or mind control."
It also banned "chemtrails." The term chemtrails is part of a conspiracy theory that has been at the center of lively Internet chat room debates and radio talk shows. Its supporters believe the white streaks jets leave in the sky - known as contrails, which are formed by condensed water vapors - are actually toxic substances the government is spraying on people.
After being questioned about the bill last year, Kucinich rewrote it, removing the controversial language. "I'm not into that," he insisted. "Understand me. When I found out that was in there, I said, 'Look, I'm not interested in going there.' "
Kucinich said that whether he is talking to auto workers or patrons of a New Age expo, his message is the same and never far from home. "We cannot repair our communities, for health care and retirement securities, if we are going to spend money on a war," he said. "Peace is the path toward rebuilding America."
Plain Dealer reporter Tom Diemer and news researcher Jo Ellen Corrigan contributed to this story.
© 2003 The Plain Dealer.