Rachel and the Teabagger

Last night, Rachel Maddow interviewed GOP-teabagger congressional candidate Art Robinson, who’s running against 12-term Democratic Congressman Pete DeFazio.  There were several issues up for discussion, one being the fact that Robinson’s campaign has had $150,000 dumped into it by Persons Unknown, and some truly nutty things he’s said in the past.  Perfectly legit interview fodder, right?  Haha.    Engage VERBAL CAPS LOCK:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Okay, stop grinding your teeth, it’s bad for you.

Now picture about 10 or 20 of those in the US Congress.   Where they, you know, make decisions about things.  Things that affect real people, not imaginary aliens from the Planet Mongo.  Hey, don’t laugh: supposedly 35% of the electorate supports this whackadoo, who in spite of his claims to be a “scientist”, is anything but.  In any sane universe, that is terrifying.

Apart from that, you have to admire Rachel’s restraint.  My question for Mr. Robinson would have been:  “Do the words ‘Shut your fucking mouth’ mean anything to you???’

UPDATE: I watched this video again, and it occurred to me that this interview is such a perfect metaphor for the generational evolution that’s going on in politics and society right now… and not just in the States, but everywhere.  A lot of angry old people confronting their younger successors, and rather than working with them, being bitter and twisted that they are no longer calling the shots.

20 Responses to “Rachel and the Teabagger”


  1. 1 Howard Friday, October 8, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Rachel banging her head on the desk summed up all there is to know about this so-called scientist.

  2. 2 JJ Friday, October 8, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Howard – I can’t believe she got through that entire interview without screaming “STFU!!!” I kept waiting for her to say “Cut his mike” like O’Reilly 😆

  3. 3 Howard Friday, October 8, 2010 at 10:21 am

    LOL @JJ

    Art owes not only Rachel an apology for ignorant behavior, but an apology to the scientific community.

    Many Americans have never actually met a scientist, but now they have a breathtaking representation. (The extent of his recognition in the scientific community is another matter altogether)

    Surely even reasonable evangelicals will label Art as a “cranky, ignorant old racist hypocrite Republican candidate, adroitly manipulated by the big business establishment.” But then … we understand the extent of this twisted generation as our moderator has profoundly pointed out.

  4. 4 J. A. Baker Friday, October 8, 2010 at 11:39 am

    I would’ve asked him, “Are you sure you shouldn’t be running for the Senate instead of the House? Because you’re doing a wonderful job of filibustering!”

  5. 5 Torontonian Friday, October 8, 2010 at 11:47 am

    He overtalks like Pierre Poilievre.

    Did you notice on his website the references to
    George Beverly Shea–the gospel singer associated
    to the Billy Graham people? From the website:

    http://www.oism.org/

    look down and find Related Sites.

    I also noted that most of his children have
    biblical names. Hmmmmmm, curious isn’t it?

    He’s maddeningly obfuscatory and defensive
    and filled with self-righteousness. Oh well,
    come the Rapture he’ll be gone along with all
    the other like-minded people and we’ll have
    little to complain about since the reasonable
    and sensible people will take over the earth.

    Peace will at last prevail.

    ——

    Rachel Maddow is a wonderful journalist who
    does her homework and should be better recognised
    for her labours–if not for her patience and
    good humored nature. The fourth estate needs
    more like her.

  6. 6 Brian Friday, October 8, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    You know, Robinson didn’t say that AIDS was a government conspiracy, he said, essentially, that the numbers of people affected were being artificially inflated. To say that something is being inflated is not the same as saying that it is fabricated.

    I went and looked up hormesis, and apparently it is a legitimate area of study. It holds that there are some things which, though toxic in larger doses, have the opposite effect in smaller doses. I don’t know if it is true or useful, but from the write-up at Wiki, it appears that it is not a through-and-through quack job.

    Humans virtually cannot create radioactivity. We can make some adaptations of existing radioactivity, sometimes leading to more dangerous elements, but virtually all radiation comes from radioactive stuff that has been dug up. I myself have pondered this, and wondered whether spreading radioactive waste far enough and wide enough might be a viable disposal means. We are exposed to radiation all the time. Radon is the most talked about, but there is naturally occurring strontium, and so on. The ocean has a lot of volume — no really, it does. You could put beau coup stuff in it and have that insertion be completely undetectable. Concentrated radioactivity, such as is found at a radioactive waste dump is pretty dangerous. But widely dispersed in the ocean? I would actually like to see an analysis of that.

    It is absolutely true that there are a lot of reputable scientists who doubt the anthropogenic component of global warming. Being in that group does not signify that you are a crackpot. Those holding that global warming has an anthropogenic component want to assert that the debate is over; how convenient for them. Except quashing debate is largely antithetical to the warp and woof of science.

    I thought that Robinson made a pretty good point (repeatedly) when he said that a better interview might be one on topics that the campaign might actually encounter.

    I find it questionable that Robinson has been helped to the tune of $150,000 (though that is not a very large sum). But it does not say anything about Robinson himself. That is, not unless some connection can be made between him and the donor. Remember, a lack of evidence does not constitute proof of anything. It is not good that this donation is anonymous, but the anonymity establishes exactly nothing. It raises suspicions, but establishes nothing.

    I had not heard of Robinson prior to this thread being posted, but having seen his ability to avoid being pushed into a specially prepared corner, and wanting to actually address things like taxes, spending, government size, and so on, I am inclined to see him in a pretty good light.

    He established a facility as a partner with Linus Pauling decades ago. When he eventually came to conclusions differing from Pauling, Pauling assassinated Robinson’s character. Robinson got a half million dollar settlement out of that. Scientific quacks don’t usually get the opportunity to establish enterprises with the likes of Linus Pauling.

    I just think that there is a lot more positive about Robinson that the Maddow interview would let on.

    And I am so tired of Democrats’ disaster making, I would vote for really, a pretty bad Republican to eject the Democrats, both locally and nationally. But Robinson, from this interview, does not appear to me to be a “pretty bad Republican,” but actually a pretty good one, who can stand his ground while facing a pretty hostile interviewer, without resorting to name calling, and while doing a pretty good job of trying to steer the conversation to the actual campaign.

    As I learn more I might change my mind — as I said, I just found out about him here — but for now, I am inclined to like him for office.

  7. 7 Brian Friday, October 8, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Did you notice on his website the references to
    George Beverly Shea—the gospel singer associated
    to the Billy Graham people?

    I don’t see the significance of listing this particular observation.   Billy Graham has been friend & adviser to presidents from Carter to Reagan, Bush to Clinton.   Perhaps if you fleshed your problem with this out so I could see what you’re saying, that would be helpful — and I might even agree.

    When you follow the link on oism.org, it takes you to

    Our family [the Robinsons] has been very greatly blessed by our complete record collection of George Beverly Shea, which was assembled by Arynne Robinson.   We have published these CD-ROMs so that many other people can be similarly blessed.

    I cannot see how the music Robinson likes is germane…

     

    I also noted that most of his children have
    biblical names.   Hmmmmmm, curious isn’t it?

    Not really.   It is very common for Christians to give their children names out of the Bible — devout Christians as well as those who do not believe, but are only cultural Christians.   It is somewhat common for non-Christians who grew up in a culturally Christian home to follow this tradition.   So it doesn’t seem curious to me.   In fact, finding it curious seems like reaching to me.

  8. 8 Brian Friday, October 8, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    … since the reasonable and sensible people will take over the earth.

    Yeah: the reasonable, the sensible, the lost…

    Fortunately for the lost who remain behind, they will still have the ability to exercise faith in the payment that has been made on their behalf, and so ultimately be saved.   Indeed, some time later, 100% of the ancestral Jews living at that time will become Christians — Jewish Christians in the same way that I am a Norwegian Christian (they will still be Jews, in other words).

    So, the situation will be sad, but not irredeemable.

  9. 9 Cornelius T. Zen Saturday, October 9, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Good morrow, all!
    Brian: at what precise dose is plutonium no longer toxic? At what level is alpha, beta and gamma radiation no longer damaging to tissue? How much strontium-90 is okay to breathe in or drink up? How much cancerous tissue is considered not life threatening? At what level of white cell destruction do you draw the line? How much mutation and birth deformities should society accept without question? If you have the facts and figures, please share them. If not, do not be surprised if your credibility in this respect suffers.
    If God is our Father, the Earth is our Mother, and it is the height of misogyny to abuse one’s mother, is it not?
    “The land does not belong to us. We belong to the land.” – Chief Seattle.
    May your God go with you – CTZen

  10. 10 The Arbourist Saturday, October 9, 2010 at 9:38 am

    But Robinson, from this interview, does not appear to me to be a “pretty bad Republican,” but actually a pretty good one, who can stand his ground while facing a pretty hostile interviewer, without resorting to name calling, and while doing a pretty good job of trying to steer the conversation to the actual campaign

    It would seem that your judgment like Mr.Robinson’s is somewhat clouded when it comes to the criteria of what makes a good interview.

    He did not answer any question of the questions posed to him, he talked over the interviewer and make accusations that were baseless and would not respond intelligibly, even when asked a simple yes/no question.

    Full marks though for the impromptu stump speech while avoiding answering questions though.

    This is a far cry from anything resembling a “pretty good interview” when evaluated from reasonable point of view. Perhaps a more partisan point of view is necessary to really understand how this might be construed as a “good interview”.

  11. 11 Brian Saturday, October 9, 2010 at 11:10 am

    CTZen,

    No amount of plutonium is safe. So plutonium should never be dispersed into the environment. Strontium 90 is used in as a radioactive tracer in medicine, so I would have to assume that small amounts of it are not alarming, which is not the case with plutonium.

    Alpha particles are a highly ionizing form of particle radiation, and (when resulting from radioactive alpha decay) have low penetration depth; they can be stopped by a few centimeters of air, or by the skin. Alpha radiation is not all that scary, unlike plutonium.

    Beta radiation has medium penetrating power and medium ionising power, both lieing somewhere between those valuse for alpha and gamma radiation. Although the beta particles given off by different radioactive materials vary in energy, most beta particles can be stopped by a few millimeters of aluminum. Being composed of charged particles, beta radiation is more strongly ionising than gamma radiation. When passing through matter, a beta particle is decelerated by electromagnetic interactions.

    Because gamma rays (gamma radiation is not the emission of particles, as is alph and beta radiation) are a form of ionizing radiation, gamma rays can cause serious damage when absorbed by living tissue, and are therefore a health hazard. The effect of gamma and other ionizing radiation on living tissue is more closely related to the amount of energy deposited. The most biologically damaging forms of gamma radiation occur in the “gamma ray window,” between 3 and 10 MeV.

    So the answer to your question, how much alpha radiation, how much beta radiation, and how much gamma radiation is no longer damaging to tissue cannot be answered until the energy level of the radiation is taken into consideration.

    So perhaps a study of the likely effects would be a good starting point, rather than shocked outrage at the whole proposition.

    Frankly, I don’t know what the outcome of such a study might be.

    I have long thought it odd to stockpile nuclear waste. As I understand it, all nuclear matter is warm due to decay. It just seems that there would be use for that heat, even if it is low-level. Things such as preheating fuel before it is used in industrial furnaces, preheating boiler water for steam plants, preheating combustion air for furnaces, and so on.

    Now, in answer to the rest of your peevish questions, I would guess that a small level of white blood cell destruction is probably inconsequential. Some get destroyed routinely in engaging bacteria in battle, and some die of old age. (I don’t know what the life time of a white blood cell is, but I know that platelets have a lifetime of around 7 days. Blood components are regularly being replenished, so a small loss would not be problematic. I don’t know what the level is where it becomes detectable or significant, but I doubt the implication of your question that “one white blood cell lost is one too many” holds merit.

    I don’t know how much cancerous tissue is too much, but I suspect that, with some cancers, it is similar to bacterial invasion. One or two bacteria get vanquished by the immune system. Teeming hordes of the same bacterium cause the illness associated with that species. I believe some cancerous cess are vanquished by the immune system (and that only in regard to some types), but once an actual tumor gets established the body cannot win the fight alone. Naturally, reducing the occurrence of cancer should be the top priority.

    But you are implying that dispersing highly dilute radioactive waste of any type whatsoever increases the occurrence of cancer, and I do not believe that it is as universal as that.

    It is the same case with mutations and birth defects. None are acceptable, but the proposition does not necessarily spell out an increase in either.

    Perhaps a study would show that there are no wastes which can be handled this way without risks. But it seems the study should at least be undertaken.

    If God is our Father, then the earth is no more our mother than my house is my mother. If God is our Father, then He created the earth as our home.

    It is not misogyny in any sense to abuse the earth. That does not imply that abusing the earth is not bad, only that it is bad in other categories than misogyny.

    But see here: Radiation came form the earth. Would it be abusing the planet to have left the radioactive material where it was found? If not, then it seems putting some of it back would be similar to the act of not removing it in the first place. (That was an intentional play on words, the “act of not acting.”)

    Yes, Chief Sealth (not Chief Seattle) said “The land does not belong to us. We belong to the land.” But he was not aware of how the universe came into being, so it is understandable that he would make that mistake. You, having read the Bible, have better data than he had.

    May you sooner or later finally go with God — Brian

  12. 12 Brian Saturday, October 9, 2010 at 11:42 am

    The Arbourist,

          It is true that Robinson did not answer any questions posed to him.   But that does not necessarily provide that he did a bad job of being interviewed, only that he did not follow Rachael Maddow’s lead.

          It would be similar if he had, for instance, answered “how long ago did you stop be4ating your wife?” with “That question is just designed to plant an image in people’s minds of me as a wife beater.”   That isn’t actually answering the question, to be sure.   But answering that question would always be a trap.

          His accusations were not baseless.   One of the quotes she produced certainly sounded to me like it was referencing a proposal that had been fleshed out earlier in the document, and so would have been specifying a position with respect to that specific proposition.   If such a statement is then excised from the document and quoted as if it is a universal, then the quote is de facto a quote that the person never made (having never made such a universal statement).

          If someone “produces” a quote like that, saying that you stand by what you said (the contextual application of the statement), you sound like you support the statement in a universal way, but if you say “i do not support that” you appear to be a waffler.   It is appropriate to call out the person doing that to you rather than get down in the mud with them.

          Yeah, he talked over Rachel, and she talked over him, to be sure.   I wish both of them had behaved more like interviews go on public broadcasting — a good 30 seconds to a minute, uninterrupted, to ask questions, and to answer them.

          There is a logical fallacy, called “poisoning all the wells,” in which, before it is brought up, you try to seal off your opponent going down a certain path.   You say things like, “And of course, no reasonable person would ever yada yada yada…”   The proper response is to overtly call out what the person has done, then reject it, if you do indeed want to make the point the person tried to seal off.

          Also, there is a logical fallacy called a false dilemma.   When confronted with that, the proper defense is to stop discussing, and shine the light of exposure on the false dilemma.

    For instance, suppose someone asks, “Are you going to get into the car an go to the store, or are you just going to sit there and starve to death?!?”, when there is a week’s supply of food in the fridge. If you say no, you’re trapped by the question, and if you say yes, you’re trapped by the question. But you should say, “I don’t have to either go to the store right now nor starve if I don’t: I have food in the fridge.”   Of course, you aren’t answering the question…

          Some debate (or interview) “techniques” are properly engaged by boldly refusing to play.   It is a dangerous path to follow, because it does open you to the charge of refusing to answer questions.   But if the questions are designed to cast you in a bad light before you even open your mouth, and if the questions encourage you to take a current stand on something that you never actually said, then it is probably a good idea to plunge ahead, and take that risk.

          I have seen politicians stand up, take off the microphone, and walk out.   That looks bad, too…

          So anyway, I did not mean a good interview as in it being really informative (I don’t think that Rachael would have allowed it to be so, irrespective of what he said), but good as in standing up effectively to an attempt to be cast in an inaccurate light.   More like a good fight.

          Now, you say:

    This is a far cry from anything resembling a “pretty good interview” when evaluated from reasonable point of view.

    and I guess that’s true enough, when compared against more informative interviews.   But if you’re going to apply the standard, “a reasonable point of view,” then you also have to say that he was not being presented with a “pretty good interview” when evaluated from reasonable point of view.

          It appeared pretty clear to me that she had decided that Robinson was “bad,” and that her interview should be the vehicle to prove that.   Naturally, most interviewers do have pre-judgments of their “guests,” but that pre-interview position ought not to be apparent to the viewer, if the interview is a good one — from a reasonable point of view, that is.

  13. 13 JJ Saturday, October 9, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Howard

    (The extent of his recognition in the scientific community is another matter altogether)

    I think he’s having delusions of grandeur, along with all the other delusions, at least if the scientific blogging community is any indication.

  14. 14 JJ Saturday, October 9, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    JAB 😆 😆 It’s almost unbelievable. If I didn’t know what crazies were running in this year’s midterms, I would think MSNBC put this on.

  15. 15 JJ Saturday, October 9, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Torontonian

    He’s maddeningly obfuscatory and defensive
    and filled with self-righteousness.

    Seriously! I felt like biting a chunk out of my desk while I was watching that!

  16. 16 JJ Saturday, October 9, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Brian

    You know, Robinson didn’t say that AIDS was a government conspiracy, he said, essentially, that the numbers of people affected were being artificially inflated. To say that something is being inflated is not the same as saying that it is fabricated.

    As some kind of government conspiracy! 😯 😆 Oh please… the numbers are a matter of public record.

    The real government conspiracy was the conspiracy of the Reagan administration to IGNORE AIDS and let thousands of people die from it for 10 years before taking any action 👿

    I find it questionable that Robinson has been helped to the tune of $150,000 (though that is not a very large sum). But it does not say anything about Robinson himself.

    It might be a large sum in that particular district, which is a small rural district. The fact that Robinson would not be quizzical about it does say something about him, it says that he doesn’t really care where money comes from as long as it’s going toward supporting him. That’s a pretty slack attitude: if somebody started depositing money in my bank account, I would want to know who and why before I spent any. Running an anonymous campaign to help get this guy elected is the same thing as putting money in his bank account, but worse because it means someone is trying to circumvent the democratic process.

    But Robinson, from this interview, does not appear to me to be a “pretty bad Republican,” but actually a pretty good one

    Come on Bri-guy. I expect you to be contrarian, but not psychotic.

  17. 17 JJ Saturday, October 9, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    CTZen

    If you have the facts and figures, please share them.

    Good luck with that 😆 😆

  18. 18 JJ Saturday, October 9, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Arbourist

    This is a far cry from anything resembling a “pretty good interview” when evaluated from reasonable point of view.

    😆 It was probably one of the worst interviews I’ve ever seen, and not because of the interviewer. It must have been like trying to interview the guy standing on the street corner screaming that the End is Nigh.

  19. 19 Brian Sunday, October 10, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    … the numbers are a matter of public record.

    Well, of course.  But that doesn;t actually address the allegation, that the published, public-record numbers are inflated.  And I really don’t have a position on this.

    I’m only saying that Robinson did not say that AIDS was a government conspiracy, but that the numbers were inflated by the government.  Whether that is an accurate allegation is a separate issue from the fact (apparently) that he was accused of doing “B” while he was doing “A.”

     

    The real government conspiracy was the conspiracy of the Reagan administration to IGNORE AIDS and let thousands of people die from it for 10 years before taking any action.

    I recognize that this was found to be really bad (sinister, homophobic, evil, choose your characterization, but “really bad” by whatever characterization.

    But, as I recall, he wasn’t the only person who was unconvinced at that point about this previously-unheard-of disease. I mean, it was being called “gay cancer” just a few years before that, because a common result of acquiring this immunodeficiency syndrome was developing certain forms of otherwise-rare cancer.

    But even beyond that, the federal government really has no authority to be involved in recognizing or not recognizing this disease or that.  Reagan stayed closer to the Constitution than other presidents have in the last 70 or 80 years.

     

    … it says that he doesn’t really care where money comes from as long as it’s going toward supporting him.   yhat’s a pretty slack attitude…

    Yeah, maybe, I suppose.  It sure doesn’t set him apart, though.  Think of how many countless times we have heard of politicians — of every stripe — saying to reporters that they are giving back money from this or that source.  It sure doesn’t seem like the sort of thing to lead an interview with — unless the source has been revealed, and found to be outrageous.  And the implication seemed to me to be that it does set him apart.

     

    … if somebody started depositing money in my bank account, I would want to know who and why before I spent any.

    I am quite sure that your position would be different if you were running for office.  (And if anyone wants to put $150K into my account — US or Canadian — I want you to feel free.  Let me know, and I’ll give you the number!)

    First of all, donations would be made to the campaign, not to your bank account.  Second, you probably wouldn’t be aware of the donations to your campaign — you would’ve hired someone to handle that kind of administrative task. And finally, Robinson might have been trying all along to find out where this came from, and has not yet succeeded.

    But I got the impression that this was not even a campaign contribution per se, but was money spent by others to further his campaign.  Maddow said, “… and someone else. Someone else who is anonymous and who is spending a ton of money on this race.”  That sounds like other than into his bank account.

     

    Running an anonymous campaign to help get this guy elected is the same thing as putting money in his bank account, but worse because it means someone is trying to circumvent the democratic process.

    I don’t really see it as the same, and neither do the courts…  There are similarities between the 2 actions, to be sure, but enough of them to call the two virtually the same thing.

    But that notwithstanding, spending money on a campaign doesn’t circumvent the democratic process.  Padding the vote count does (don’t have anyone in particular in mind);  Black Panthers (or anyone else) intimidating voters does;  paying people for their vote, as in a direct bribe, does (don’t have anyone in particular in mind).

    Spending money on a race has been ruled to be a form of speech by courts at a variety of levels.  One person speaking more than another — even if they speak way more than another — doesn’t circumvent the democratic process.

    The representative process is circumvented if money spent on a race is later treated as a favor to be repaid through voting the payer’s way, but no one is making that allegation at this point, in this case.

    A LOT of hay is made out of who donates to a campaign these days. vThose issues routinely swamp any discussion of the actual issues in play in the campaign.  I’m not very surprised that a donor would want to be anonymous, in this political environment.

    Let’s say it was Rush Limbaugh that was making this donation. If that were to be the case, and that was made public, nothing Robinson has to say on any issue in the campaign would any longer get even the slightest traction.  If Rush lived in Robinson’s district, and really believed Robinson was the best candidate, what could he do but remain anonymous if he rendered any aid?

     

    Come on Bri-guy. I expect you to be contrarian, but not psychotic.

    What: I don’t get to be psycho once in a while? I thought that was one of our God-given, unalienable rights?

  20. 20 Howard Sunday, October 10, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    @Brian

    You make a sufficient number of fine points in your arguments that sound relatively convincing. But I believe this issue is more about what Art missed in the opportunity offered than what he did with that opportunity. He need not have responded in such a belligerent and unpleasant manner even if he was being cornered into an vulnerable position. He could have preferred to be congenial, calm and evenhanded, and make his points clearly, coolly and softly. Instead, he came across as a furious cantankerous quarrelsome visitor, who was not about to gently correct Rachel and astutely circumvent the “traps” you suggest she was laying for him. In the end, the voters will resolve whether he has embellished or tarnished his name, and affected his odds in the polls. Perhaps we can continue this discussion following the outcome. If I was a betting man, I’d say Art made a fool out of himself.


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