Biologist challenges Bachmann as new fact-check site launches

By Paul Schmelzer
Monday, April 27, 2009 at 9:27 am

Michele BachmannBachmann Watch,” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s new Web site for fact-checking Rep. Michele Bachmann, corrects some of the Sixth District congresswoman’s recent misstatements, including her refuted claim that Barack Obama’s cap-and-trade energy plan would raise household energy costs by $3,100 per year and her assertion, which turns out to be false, that she refused earmarks.

But it hasn’t yet tackled Bachmann’s Earth Day floor speech about the Obama administration’s plan to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. Biologist P.Z. Myers quickly debunks some of those claims, including the biggie — that because carbon dioxide is naturally occurring it’s “harmless”:

She claims that not one study has ever been produced to show that CO2 is harmful, and she goes further to claim that CO2 is a harmless gas. We could correct that in just a few minutes: give me a large tank of CO2 and a small room containing Michele Bachmann, and we’ll give her a personal experience.

Update: Bachmann is using the DCCC site to fundraise, according to MPR. She sent out an email that reads, in part:

“The Democrats are gunning for me because I refuse to shrink from a fight. With your help, I can keep fighting for your freedom, for your pocketbook, and for all that the Constitution has secured for the American people for generations.”



Comment posted April 27, 2009 @ 10:33 am

Nice of the DCCC to finally get around to acknowledging the value of watching Bachmann. Unfortunately, they’re a little late to the game, having allowed Bachmann to get elected twice to Congress while they snoozed. Most readers here already know where to go for their daily dose of Bachmannalia: The volunteers at DumpBachmann have been providing this public service since 2004. Maybe the DCCC should throw them some of Tinklenberg’s cash he sent back.

Eric Ferguson
Comment posted April 27, 2009 @ 12:40 pm

To be fair to the DCCC, she’s not the only delusional conservative in Congress, and a couple were defeated in their reelection bids last year. On the other hand, the ads they ran against her in 2006 tried to twist her voting record instead of focusing on the nuttiness she had already been showing, so they were a bit slow on the uptake. In fact, I find myself dreading DCCC attack ads because they seem to backfire more than anything else. Maybe they noticed how close Tinklenberg made it after Bachmann imploded, and they shouldn’t just rely on volunteer bloggers to retain all this. If the DCCC has realized not only that Bachmann is vulnerable, but that she’s a club to beat conservatives who won’t distance themselves from her, then I give them credit.

Comment posted April 27, 2009 @ 12:46 pm

Does anyone know if she is really stupid or is she intentionally lying in hopes of stirring up the wacko base of her party?

Comment posted April 27, 2009 @ 1:10 pm

Pure speculation of course, but Representative Bachmann seems truly earnest in her zaney views of reality, in contrast to the endlessly cynical types like Boehner and Cornyn among the Republican madhatters.

She IS the perfect embodyment of right-wing wacko. Not due to stupidity, but due quite possibly to flawed critical thinking skills

Bill Prendergast
Comment posted April 27, 2009 @ 2:36 pm

David asks: “Does anyone know if she is really stupid or is she intentionally lying in hopes of stirring up the wacko base of her party?”

I do not see the alternatives you offer as mutually exclusive.

I also think she is delusional. So in my opinion we are discussing someone who is:
1) “Stupid,” in the sense of “having poor judgment.” (Just as there are said to be a number of different types of “intelligence,” I believe there are a number of different types of “stupidity.” Poor judgment is one of them, and Rep. Bachmann has displayed that time and again. One example: even if you believe she is cynically lying to manipulate the conservative base, her judgment is deciding when to lie and when to tell the truth has sometimes retarded her otherwise meteoric advance.
2)”Intentionally lying.” That seems to go with the territory if you are a conservative. The facts go out the window when they conflict with the movement agenda, or conflict with what the base wants to believe. But Bachmann has also been caught lying about other matters pertaining directly to her own career. It’s clear that she lies easily, regularly, and often. And in many cases she tells the sort of lies that are easily debunked. But the fact that she does that goes to 1) “Stupid/Poor Judgment.”
3) “Delusional.” I’m not a psychiatrist or psychologist, but I’m going to start throwing some of terms around now because they’re the best words I know to describe mindset and worldview. When you read these, bear in mind that I’m just using the adjectives as a layman, they have not diagnostic value.

I’ve been writing on and off about Bachmann since before her election to the Minnesota State Senate, many years ago. I think she is a narcissist (which I bet is more common among politicians than laymen) which is why the opprobrium she’s gaining for the lies doesn’t bother her. She wants the attention and the applause from the conservatives who tell her she is a hero. She has succeeded in life via demagoguery and lies, and is convinced that this path is the best way to get the attention she craves and the funding she needs.

She’s also delusional, in the sense that she believes that throughout her life she has been acting on *direct* instructions from God. She claims to have talked with Him; she claims that He sent her a vision and other direct instructions (eg, “study tax law”) She’s claimed this publicly.

She’s also paranoid, seeing criticism of her as persecution and perceiving physical danger to herself where none exists.

Finally–Bachmann is part of a broader movement: the national evangelical conservative movement. She is probably being advised about her voting, her representation of the 6th District, and her career trajectory by people who belong to an organization called the Council for National Policy. They are probably advising her to say some of the things she’s saying, do many of the things she’s doing, etc., because they are grooming her for even greater things. The CNP does that, with candidates at the local, state and federal levels. I imagine that they are telling Michele to position herself at the far right of the GOP so that she will be the “go to” candidate for that part of the GOP base in years to come.

So the fact that she’s saying untrue things, a lot, is not just due to the foregoing–it’s part of a “cater to the paranoid demographic, and make them your personal base” strategy worked out by CNP advisers. That’s what I think, anyway.

Mitch Berg
Comment posted April 27, 2009 @ 3:58 pm

Untrue things…

…well, maybe not so much:

“But, the Democrats have pretty much ignored the recent retraction he made of his criticism. Just last week, Professor Reilly was reported as saying, “I made a boneheaded mistake in an excel spread sheet. I have sent a new letter to Republicans correcting my error.”

“Professor Reilly also goes on to say that the real cost to families is “the Republican estimate [$3128] plus the cost I estimate [$512].”

But hey, what’s a little irredeemably false information among a bunch of Bachmann Derangement-addled zealots?

As to Bill P’s, er, extensive “diagnosis”: I refer you to Berg’s Seventh Law of Leftyblogs: Whenever liberal pundits casually defame conservatives, they’re projecting. It’s the mote in the eye calling the kettle the beam, or whatever.

Finally, Paul: while it is literally true that PZ Meyers is a biologist, he is stepping well outside his role as a scientist to take his shots at Bachmann on Carbon (which are, by the way, only half accurate; while too much Carbon is a Bad Thing, so is too much water; it’s fairly clear Bachmann was referring to reasonable amounts of carbon). In that context, his PhD in biology is of little more value than, say, mine as a software designer. Which is of no great import, except that your hed and lede refer to him as a “Biologist”; I’d suggest “BDS-addled crank”. Reality is somewhere in between. At any rate, to lede with him as a “Biologist”, he’d need to be speaking as a scientist, not an advocate and activist who’s pulling in cherry-picked bits of science for a half-false point.

Bill Prendergast
Comment posted April 27, 2009 @ 9:43 pm


“Professor Reilly also goes on to say that the real cost to families is “the Republican estimate [$3128] plus the cost I estimate [$512].”

Actually, no he didn’t say that. You’re quoting what Bachmann says Reilly said (instead of quoting Reilly, in context.) And Bachmann is quoting Reilly out of context to mislead readers into thinking that he said something he didn’t say. Which is a form of lying. Which is what she does.

To see what Reilly actually said in context, and to see whether Bachmann or Berg can be trusted to quote people accurately–see the Dump Bachmann blog tonight or the Weekly Standard article that may have been the source for Bachmann’s quotes.

As for my “diagnosis”, I stand by it. Because anyone (not just liberal bloggers or Bachmann opponents) can look at incidents on the established record and make that “diagnosis” of paranoia, narcissism, and delusional thinking. Substituting a general smear of liberal bloggers or “Berg’s Laws’” (whatever these may be) instead of coming to conclusions based on established facts, is a grossly unsanitary habit of mind.

You can indeed try to dismiss any argument by anyone by defaming them (as you did with liberal bloggers here.) But that’s not really rebutting the argument, that’s just putting mindless graffiti on the sides of their homes. Better instead to try to find the truth, by running quotes in context and avoiding the Bachmanns of this world, who traded their credibility for a bunch of mindless angry followers.

Comment posted April 27, 2009 @ 10:28 pm

Mitch Berg says:

“But hey, what’s a little irredeemably false information among a bunch of Bachmann Derangement-addled zealots?

“As to Bill P’s, er, extensive “diagnosis”: I refer you to Berg’s Seventh Law of Leftyblogs: Whenever liberal pundits casually defame conservatives, they’re projecting. It’s the mote in the eye calling the kettle the beam, or whatever.”

By “Bachmann Derangement addled zealots” I assume you’re referring to Bachmann’s supporters and fanbase, in which case I must agree: irredeemably false information from Bachmann, that is to say her lies, does not faze the true believing Bachmann supporter.

Here’s how I construe your “law” of leftyblogs: whenever a conservative feels defamed by a liberal, it’s because they feel defamed by the truth, which the conservative confuses with falsehood and defamation because of projecting their own thoughts onto others. Your hopeless mangling of a well known metaphor from the Sermon on the Mount is the very example of projecting one’s own sin onto others. Hence Bachmann’s ridiculous description of being exposed in a lie by the DCCC as persecution.

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