Art Robinson calls out Peter DeFazio
(see full letter below)
July, 18, 2012
Congressman Peter DeFazio
P.O. Box 1316
Springfield, OR 97477
Dear Congressman DeFazio,
Your recent “reply” to my debate challenge is just more of the same sort of falsehoods and cowardice that we have come to expect from you during the past two years. You are apparently unable to tell the truth even long enough to arrange debate events with your opponent.
On June 7, 2012 on the floor of the U. S. House of Representatives, you yelled and pointed at a Marine Corps veteran, Congressman Paul Broun, and claimed to all listeners that he hates his country. When this Marine challenged your claim, you compounded your lie with yet another lie in a failed attempt to escape from the truth. Afterward, you refused to apologize to him and branded the other concerned congressmen as “idiots.” (See www.politico.com, June 8, 2012)
I know how this Marine must feel. For two years you have told one lie after another about my family and about me in your attempt to ruin our personal and professional reputations. In my book Common Sense in 2012 (which is now in the homes of a majority of District 4 voters and which you claim to have read), I list 15 specific falsehoods that you have told about us during your ongoing smear campaign – and I provide answers to your claims.
Also, of course, you continually misrepresent political issues, too. The truth, when known and understood by a majority of the voters, will end your political career.
Consider just three examples.
Gasoline prices. I would like to ask you about your co-sponsorship in Congress of H.R. 1683 on April 2, 2009. This bill would amend the IRS code to gradually raise taxes on motor fuels in the United States, through a permit system, until the use of motor fuels by Americans is reduced by 80% – reduced to one fifth of the fuel used now. How are Americans going to adapt to a one-fifth ration of motor fuel?
This tax would cause the cost of gasoline to skyrocket to more than $10 per gallon and possibly as high as $20 per gallon. Yet, simultaneously with cosponsoring this bill, you loudly complain that gasoline prices are too high and claim that you are working to reduce those prices. How does H. R. 1683 reduce prices?
Education. I would like to ask you about your “no” vote against amending H.R. 2556 on September 5, 2003, to provide school vouchers for Washington, D.C.’s mostly African American students? Parents want these vouchers so that their children can attend the better schools. Fortunately, the bill passed over your “no” vote, and, as a result, the high school graduation rate of these mostly poor and disadvantaged minority students increased and the cost of educating them decreased. Yet, when the voucher program was up for renewal under H.R. 471, you again voted “no” on March 30, 2011 in another failed attempt to kill this program. Why do you still oppose this successful education program for D.C. students?
You have also voted against merit pay for teachers, teacher testing, tenure reform, charter schools, education savings accounts, and state waivers from federal rules. Why do you (and the big education monopoly you pander to) oppose these attempts to improve American schools?
During my lifetime in education at the K through 12, college undergraduate, and university graduate school levels, I have taught many thousands of students. So far as I know, you have never taught a single student. Yet, you constantly claim that I am anti-education and that you are pro-education. (You buttress your claims about me by word-searching the large amount I have written during a lifetime in education and pulling out of context tiny bits and pieces, while ignoring the rest.) In a free discussion about education between the two of us, your duplicity would be immediately apparent.
Wall Street. I would like to ask you about your many campaign advertisements and fund raising letters in which you continually claim to be “targeted” for defeat by Wall Street and paint me as a Wall Street shill.
During your campaigns against me, you have received (as of April 2012) $264,499 in campaign contributions from 45 Wall Street listed corporations; $254,100 from 67 other corporate and industry groups; and a great many large “individual” contributions from Wall Street CEOs (the exact numbers are uncertain because many of these are disguisable under FEC rules). My contributions from these sources total only $3,000. (You also complain that independent expenditures favor me, but neglect to mention your own extensive independent expenditure help.)
The only Wall Street targeting of you that I see is the hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign cash that you receive from Wall Street in return for your misuse of taxpayer money and congressional power to do favors for these corporations and special interests.
If you ever face me in real debate – a prospect that apparently frightens you, you will be asked about your lies and smears of my family and me. And, you will be called to account for your real record in Congress and your poor representation of Oregon voters. The three issues listed above are just examples of many more, of which you are well aware.
You simply do not have the courage to face my questions and to question me in a format where we both can freely and completely respond.
During this year’s primary election, you even refused to face a 24-year-old OSU graduate student, Matthew Robinson, in one-on-one open public debate. Instead, you spent more than $100,000 smearing his reputation, including arranging the filing with the Oregon Secretary of State and nationwide publication of false claims about him and his family during the primary voting – lies that were, of course, disproved (and rejected by the Secretary of State) after the voting was over.
There should have been not one, but 10 or more students challenging you in that primary. There should have been so many students on the primary ballot that voters would have had trouble finding your name. Your policies in Washington are seriously damaging the future prospects of all of the students at OSU.
The public already knows, Peter, that you are a liar. Do you really want to be known as a coward, too? Why don’t you stand up and debate me in events in which we ask each other questions and the public – freely admitted to the event – evaluates our answers? If you can overcome your fear; if you can face me man to man in actual timed, back and forth debates of the real political issues – rather than continuing to hide yourself behind “moderators” and “forums” where rules made by you and your friends protect you from your opponent, you might at least rise to the level of a courageous liar – a level considerably higher than your current situation.
In my debate challenge to you this year (appended below and posted on our campaign web site at www.ArtForCongress.com), I tried to make this easier for you. I offered to attend one of the “forums” staged by your friends for each real debate you participate in with me. I suggested that you choose four event sponsors and I choose four (one in each of the seven District 4 counties and one in Portland).
You could continue to read your pre-prepared answers to softball questions selected by your friends in the “safe” environment that you prefer – at half of the events. In the other half, you would need to summon the courage to face your opponent one-on-one in real debate and without the protection of your friends.
Your recent “answer” to my challenge is typical.
You gripe about “partisan” sponsors and refuse my challenge. Yet, in your letter, you list five sponsors that you prefer, at least four of which are partisan. You say that you have accepted these five events. Apparently you are in planning discussions with these people. Three of them have not contacted me.
Let’s simplify this.
You choose one sponsor Mr. DeFazio – any sponsor, any format, any place, any time. I will be there. I will also choose one sponsor and one format. We will agree to attend both. If you have the courage to face me more than twice, we’ll each pick another set of sponsors.
In the case of your pick, you can have it any way you wish (so long as the public is not prevented from freely observing the event – as you did in one event in 2010) – designer questions, rules against discussions of topics not satisfactory to you and your sponsors, rules against standing while speaking, excessive time spent with candidates of "minor" political parties who favor your views, etc., etc. You can have it all.
In the case of my pick, you will probably find yourself in open debate of the issues between yourself and your opponent – fairly timed so that each of the two candidates has equal time to question his opponent and answer questions put to him. You will not be able to hide behind a moderator. After that formal debate – an American custom that dates back at least 200 years and is today participated in by high school and college debaters throughout our country, we can both respond to audience questions (again timed to be fair to both of us).
And, if I may suggest, try something new. Try to tell the truth. Your recent letter says that my proposal “deprives residents of the 4th congressional district of . . . audience questions” and that “voters should be able to ask questions.” You imply that I want to avoid audience questions. Yet, my challenge to you suggested that the formal debate “be followed by questions from the audience alternated and timed to be fair to both of us.”
You letter misrepresents my challenge in several additional ways. You apparently hope that the public will read your letter (and not mine, reproduced below) which you, of course, have published widely.
You also complain about my suggestion that you accept Lars Larson’s challenge to both of us (which I have already accepted). You have no problem with Lars. You have appeared on his program many times. He treats you fairly and charitably. Your problem is that he has offered you and me three full hours of radio airtime to debate our differences. It is me you fear, not Lars. You are absolutely afraid to appear in free and open debate with me, and you know that Lars will likely permit that debate.
One of your five proposed sponsors is KOBI television, a well-known partisan media outlet that is favorable to your side of the political issues. Fine, Mr. DeFazio, let’s go unedited (just the two of us) on live KOBI television – providing that we accept Lars Larson’s offer of a live radio program, too.
You, Mr. DeFazio, still have many supporters in Oregon. Many of them seem to prefer your policies of over-taxation, over-regulation, and over-indebtedness in Washington. They may prefer the big government socialism that you represent. Most of them, however, do not really know your views and do not fully understand the effects of your actions on their personal lives.
Most Americans have, on the other hand, a visceral dislike of liars and cowards. These are not personal characteristics that they want to see in their congressional representatives.
In 2010, you managed to avoid the real political issues by means of a million dollar media campaign of lies about your opponent and his family. This strategy against a new, publically unknown opponent was unprincipled but partially successful. You won the election, but lost – for the first time in your 24 years in Congress – in four counties (Josephine, Curry, Douglas, and Linn) and approximately tied in Coos County. You came closer to losing your office than in any other election in your 25 years as a career Washington politician – and your approval rating among the voters dropped precipitately.
This time, in 2012, you need to debate the issues. If you continue your 2010 campaign of smears and falsehoods (as your advertisements so far indicate you plan to do), it is your own personal lack of character that will become the primary issue.
Stand up with courage, Mr. DeFazio. Debate the real issues one-on-one with your opponent. Why not give Oregon District 4 voters a gift of honesty and openness this time, rather than hiding behind just another false advertising campaign?
Appended Robinson original challenge to DeFazio:
To: Peter DeFazio May 17, 2012
Debates between the candidates are very important in giving the opportunity for the voters to see the candidates and evaluate them. The voters deserve in-depth debate between the candidates that involves a detailed discussion of the issues with more than just sound-bites and bullet points.
During 2010, I repeatedly urged that you and I schedule real debates – one in each of the seven counties of Oregon District 4. You refused and eventually arranged for four “forums” sponsored by organizations of your choice – which we ultimately attended.
For 2012, it would be much better to hold real debates. A format similar to the one I suggested last time would be ideal, in which we alternate speaking in intervals with only a time keeper. This could be followed by questions from the audience alternated and timed to be fair to both of us. One debate in each of the seven counties would be ideal and give every voter a chance to attend. Choice of a time keeper, exact details of the debate, as well as scheduling would be easy to work out between our campaigns.
If you want to hold “forum” events in addition to these, I would, of course, be happy to attend as long as they are open to the public.
If, however, you still refuse to hold real debates yourself, then I suggest our events be arranged as follows to be fair to both campaigns.
1) The DeFazio and Robinson campaigns cooperate in working out a joint event schedule for these appearances.
We plan eight appearances – one in each of the seven counties in the District and one in Portland.
The Portland event be the one that Lars Larson has already proposed. (Given his stature, neither campaign can afford to turn him down.)
Each side chooses the sponsors for four events. (One of our four can be Lars.) So, you would be choosing four sponsors and we would choose three plus Lars.
We simply alternate. You choose one sponsor in one county; we go next; and so on. Each choice must be from the counties not yet scheduled. You go first. We alternate until seven are chosen.
2) The format etc. of each event be entirely up to the sponsor. Some may be more “forum” like and some may be more “debate” like. This is up to the sponsors. They set the rules. (We assume that the campaigns will be talking with their sponsor choices about this and probably advising them. That is OK with us.)
All events be freely open to the public and held in large enough rooms to accommodate the crowds that are likely to come. Judging from 2010 and allowing for the increased interest now, we would expect between 500 and 1,000 at each event. Rooms that seat 600 to 800 and have room for a substantial standing overflow should suffice. (This should be no problem except in the case of Lars, whose facility is smaller. In his case, the radio broadcast suffices.) We should work out a plan so that the seating arrangements do not favor either side.
It be recognized that these are “campaign” events. Campaigning, handing out literature, etc. before and after you and I are engaged and speaking will be welcomed, but no audible distractions will be permitted during the speaking. (The usual admonitions to hold ordinary applause, etc. will likely be made – and fail as usual.)
The events be about 2 hours long.
Seating near the speakers be arranged so that it has approximately equal numbers of partisans from each side.
The events be a week or so apart, with alternation of the seven sponsors in an order agreed to by the campaigns. Lars fits his event in whenever it is convenient for him.