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Who Elected Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene?; DHS Official's Warning Over Right-Wing Extremism Dismissed In 2009; COVID-19 Toll On Mental Health; The First Sign Of Alien Life? Aired 9-10a ET
Aired January 30, 2021 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: Georgia on my mind. I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. By now, most everyone in America knows the name Marjorie Taylor Greene, the QAnon supporting member of Congress. Her behavior before and after getting elected is a greatest hits reel of truly deplorable conduct.
Among them, before she was a candidate, agreeing that the Sandy Hook and Parkland mass shootings were staged, harassing one of the Parkland mass shooting survivors, labeling the House speaker as treasonous for which she said the punishment is death.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): How do you get avid gun owners and people that support the Second Amendment to give up their guns? Maybe you accomplish that by performing a mass shooting into a crowd. You make them scared. You make them victims and you change their mindset.
I'm an American citizen. I'm a gun owner. I have a concealed carry permit. I carry a gun for protection for myself and you are using your lobby and the money behind it and the kids to try to take away my Second Amendment rights. You don't have anything to say for yourself? You can't defend your stance?
It's a crime punishable by death is what treason is. Nancy Pelosi is guilty of treason.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
SMERCONISH: She liked a comment when someone suggested putting a bullet in Speaker Pelosi's head. This week, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is planning to meet with Greene, but will anything come of it? I want to know what you think this hour. Go to my website at Smerconish.com and answer this question. Will the Republicans reprimand Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene?
As loathsome as she is, I keep wondering if she's more a symptom then the root of the problem. After all, she just won a primary runoff and a general election. Who voted for her and what does that say about our country? Let's start with what we know about the Georgia 14th. It's in the northwest corner of the state. It's comprised of 11 counties. In 2016, Donald Trump won it with 75 percent of the vote in 2020, 73 percent of the vote. The Cook Partisan Index has it as the 10th most Republican district in the nation.
In other words, whoever is the GOP candidate is usually a shoo-in. So, when incumbent Congressman Tom Graves chose not to run again, was there competition for the vacancy? Yes, it turns out. The primary had nine candidates and the top two ended up being Greene and one doctor, John Cowan.
Who is Dr. Cowan? Well, his campaign website describes him as someone who should be pretty appealing to the base. Christian, conservative, local physician, husband, father and he pledged that he would, quote, "Stand with President Trump" on borders, pro-life, the Second Amendment, religious freedom, support the military, help bring down healthcare costs. It also mentioned that he's an elder, a deacon and a Sunday school teacher at the First Presbyterian Church of Rome.
He was endorsed by six congressmen, including Minority Whip Steve Scalise and yet in the runoff last August 11, Greene, who was supported by Representatives Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan, defeated Dr. Cowan 57.1 percent to 42.9 percent. How come? Well, who better to ask than Greene's primary runoff opponent himself, neurosurgeon Dr. John Cowan? He's also the founder of Cortex Toys and Cortex Holdings.
Dr. Cowan, thanks so much for being here. In the primary, you said, "My opponent is absolutely crazy." Did your constituents, did the voters of the 14th, not believe you?
JOHN COWAN, LOST TO MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE IN GA-14 GOP RUNOFF: Well, I don't know if you've ever run a political campaign, but it's difficult to get your message out. It costs a lot of money, we have a big district, there's lots of people and as a first-time candidate myself, I'm spending a lot of time trying to educate people on who I am. I'm well known in my county and area and people I've taken care of in the hospital, but it's a big district.
And so there's a balance between trying to promote yourself and why you would be a good servant leader, representative of constitutional values and then going on the offense against your opponent and so at the end of the day, she got more votes than I did.
SMERCONISH: From the outside looking in, though, many of us say, oh my God, look at the things that she said then, look at the things that she has said since then. Didn't they know? And as I've read in about the election, it seems they did know. In other words, this was not a mystery. This was not a Jekyll and Hyde. She is today who she was when she was your opponent which kind of raises the question of whether the constituents of the 14th Georgia district were fine with all that thinking.
COWAN: Well, they're not fine with the conspiratorial thinking. I think what they want is something that's been brewing for over 20 years in Congress and that's the lack -- the perceived lack of leadership, the perceived lack that people in Congress are actually working for the people of Northwest Georgia. We appreciate our religious freedoms, our constitutional freedoms, we enjoy our guns for hunting, we carrier ourselves with a silent strength here.
And we feel like that's been infringed on and threatened by other elements in the country and so she presented herself as a very strong fighter, outspoken and people said, you know, maybe that's the type of grenade we need up in Washington D.C.
SMERCONISH: I guess what I'm thinking is you were giving them -- right? The salve to all of those concerns without the crazy quotient. Let me ask this question. Were Republican leaders in Washington in the loop as to what she was all about? Were you telling them? I said that both Gaetz and Jordan were for her, six congressmen were for you, but do you think that the GOP national leadership knew what they had on their hands?
COWAN: You know, I'm not sure. I mean, her record was out on social media for everybody to see and again, I was trying to win the race on my own merits. I appreciate those who stood beside me, but I don't want someone to tip the scales for me.
I certainly think her endorsement from our Congressman Jordan and then Chief of Staff Meadows were very powerful for her. Those were two well respected people in our district, and I think that carried a lot of weight, particularly for the voter who didn't take time to educate themselves beneath the skin, beneath the surface.
SMERCONISH: You're a neurosurgeon, married to an anesthesiologist, the two of you met at Johns Hopkins.
SMERCONISH: In my neck of the woods, that would be an asset. Was it a liability for you?
COWAN: Well, in the sense that people do appreciate the medical work I do and I had a lot of people say, hey, we really don't want to lose you to D.C. We'd appreciate having you in town, taking care of us. So I guess in that way, but no, I mean, I think there was some perception that, gosh, a neurosurgeon's too aloof or he may be arrogant and he can't -- he's not willing to fight for us.
And I think the thing I was trying to portray is, look, I grew up on a cattle farm in Northwest Georgia. I was shooting coyotes when I was in second grade. I am Northwest Georgia despite the fact that I went on to get a fancy degree and have a fancy title. I understand the people of our district and get that and I'm willing to fight for conservative principles.
And this is the thing that's getting missed here is that we've got threats to our free market, we've got threats to our tax system, we've got threats to our foreign policy that's now in the White House that we, as the GOP, have got to come together and project that message and not let the messengers be the headlines. We need our message to be the headlines. We need our results to be the headlines and unfortunately, we're seeing that our messengers are the headline at this point.
SMERCONISH: So here's -- and thank you so much for being here. A final subject. The reason I was most eager to chat with you is that the easy part of this is to look at some of her conduct and to find it truly deplorable, but ...
SMERCONISH: ... it makes me wonder is she the problem or is she just a symptom of something more deep-seated, a kind of mindset that exists among a lot of people, a lot of good people and if so, how do we -- how do we convince them that they've accepted truth that isn't?
COWAN: Well, I think it's on the media and it's on political leaders on both sides of the aisle. We have got to tone down the rhetoric. We've got to stop this WWF mentality on TV when we see the dueling screens, people yelling at each other, going back and forth.
I mean, that feeds the people this narrative that, oh my gosh, we're literally in a war when probably, when you close the doors in the chamber of the House and the TV cameras go off, these guys are actually sitting down, being professionals and trying to get things done.
And I think we've seen two decades of that with the rise of social media, with the rise of cable TV news TV that we've seen this divisiveness play out in front of us and people are saying, oh my goodness, these guys are going to attack us like they're attacking each other, we're going to have to fight back.
And so I think it's less the people have to be, as people said de- programmed, and the media has to be de-programmed, our politicians have to be de-programmed and understand that they can influence the group psychology of this country in a very bad and disturbing way. And we -- look, we saw this January 6th.
[09:10:01] If that's not a wake-up call to people in the media, people in the Republican party and the Democratic party, we are lost as a Republic and ...
SMERCONISH: Well, I'll agree -- I'll agree with you ...
COWAN: ... I think the people of Northwest Georgia believe that (ph).
SMERCONISH: ... too many -- too many citizens and certainly too many politicians are taking direction from polarized media mouth pieces. Yes or no, final question, will you run again?
COWAN: My wife and I are considering it.
SMERCONISH: OK. Hey, doc, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it.
COWAN: God bless you. Thank you.
SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts? Tweet me @Smerconish or go to my Facebook page. I'll read some responses throughout the course of the program. What do we have, Catherine? "They won't reprimand her. They are her." Some of them are her. Some of them are her, but, Jim, as I said to the doctor, and I don't want to be repetitive, but the easy part is to condemn Marjorie Taylor Greene.
You know, I don't know what Hillary had in mind when she used the deplorable word with a broad stroke, but this This is really deplorable. That's the easy part, but what about the folks -- what about the good people of Georgia's 14th and how do we educate them in a way that they can see through this type of conspiracy? That's the hard part. Getting rid of her in an election, that should be the easy part and he seems like a good guy, by the way. I hope he does take another shot.
Go to the website at Smerconish.com. Answer this week's survey question please. Will the Republicans reprimand Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene? Kevin McCarthy's going to meet with her this week.
Up ahead, Homeland Security is warning that the extremist assault on the Capitol may not be an isolated incident. Well, if only they'd listened back in 2009 when their own analyst, Daryl Johnson, warned about domestic extremist violence. Instead, his report -- you remember this. It caused an uproar, it was retracted. Well, Daryl Johnson is here to discuss.
Plus, during COVID, in one Nevada school district, there have been 19 suicides, more than doubling the previous year. With anxiety and depression also skyrocketing, is reopening schools not happening fast enough?
SMERCONISH: The Department of Homeland Security has issued a public warning that this month's deadly rampage at the Capitol may not be an isolated episode. They report that the U.S. is facing a growing threat from violent extremists emboldened by the attack, making clear that the motivation would include anger over the presidential transition as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives.
But for one man, this warning against domestic extremism feels like Deja vu. Writing in "The Washington Post" in 2017, he said, "I warned of right-wing violence in 2009. Republicans objected. I was right." Daryl Johnson was a senior analyst for domestic terrorism at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Just a few months into President Obama's first term, his nine-page intelligence report warned that, quote, "The economic downturn and the election of the first African-American president present unique drivers for right-wing radicalization and recruitment."
It even noted that returning military members could be vulnerable to recruitment by extremist groups, quote, "Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to right-wing extremists. DHS/I&A is concerned that right-wing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities."
But this report, which was meant for law enforcement eyes only, was then leaked. You'll remember this. While the genesis of the report began under the administration of President George W. Bush, the section on veterans led to a backlash from conservatives who blamed the Obama administration for going after the military. It created a spate of headlines and Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security Secretary at the time, was forced to apologize.
The report was retracted, and an edited version was eventually reissued, yet here we are 12 years later facing the same threat that has now evolved. Napolitano now telling "The New York Times," quote, "It was an early lesson in how fraught dealing with these issues can be, but it turns out the report itself and the substance of the report was quite prescient. What we saw two weeks ago is what I think we were seeing in 2009, but it has only grown, and it seems to have exploded in the last four years."
Joining me to discuss is the author of the 2009 report, Daryl Johnson. He now owns DT Analytics, a private consulting company for state and local law enforcement, and he's the author of "Hateland: A Long, Hard Look at America's Extremist Heart." Mr. Johnson, is the 6th of January what you envisioned 12 years ago?
DARYL JOHNSON, FORMER SENIOR ANALYST FOR DOMESTIC TERRORISM, DHS: Actually it's kind of grown to the point where I never even envisioned that we would have these extremists storming our Capitol even though we did have a couple of incidents earlier last year where these same type of extremists breached security at the state capitols in Idaho and Michigan.
So, you know, we were talking more about bombings and shootings, but it's grown to such a point where we've got large groups of people that are willing to, you know, basically break the law and commit insurrection.
SMERCONISH: I remember talking about your report on radio 12 years ago. I thought it was taken out of context, but I'd much rather hear you explain. What were you saying and what were you not saying about the military back in 2009?
JOHNSON: So specifically about the military, what we were saying is that, you know, these troops returning home, you know, having suffered, you know, PTSD on the battlefield, you know, being away from their families, coming back to an economy that was depressed, not being able to reacclimate into society, not having that adrenaline rush that they get on the battlefield could be susceptible to recruitment efforts by these extremists, particularly militia groups and white supremacist groups.
And we saw the same thing bear out back in 1991 when the troops came home from the Gulf War.
SMERCONISH: In other words, you were saying that the extremists would view them as recruitment bait, you weren't casting aspersions on the military. That's what I thought at the time.
JOHNSON: Exactly. And unfortunately, one veteran group in particular, the American Legion, felt that we were painting a broad brush saying that these, you know, returning veterans would come home and be angry and actually join the groups willingly.
So that's where, you know, the disconnect happened. Fortunately, other veterans groups like Veterans of Foreign Wars understood the message and they did not take offense, but, you know, the American Legion raised enough of an issue that Janet Napolitano had to apologize for it.
SMERCONISH: Mr. Johnson, I don't know if you'll be able to see this, but very important. I want to put on the screen some video from January 6th for the audience. I wasn't familiar with the lingo "rangerphile," but it's an operating procedure for combat teams that are ready to breach a building and you actually see a number of individuals going through this march on the screen.
Keep showing it -- there it is. Keep showing it, Catherine, so that the audience sees, with a hand on one another's shoulder and in combat-like gear. I don't know if you've seen, Mr. Johnson, what I'm now showing the CNN audience, but it looks like the realization of what you wrote about.
JOHNSON: I have seen that video and actually the leader of that group has a patch on the back shoulder for a group called the Oath Keepers and this is a right-wing extremist organization that specifically targets military service members into their ranks. This is a group that believes in conspiracy theories like FEMA detention camps and chemtrails and looks at our government as being tyrannical.
So, you know, it's not surprising to me that of the 160 suspects that have been arrested by the FBI thus far, 20 percent have been military service members.
SMERCONISH: OK. So, it brings me to this. I'm holding in my hand your report from 2009 with that reference to military being susceptible to recruitment by the extremists. Now I have in my other hand the report just issued which makes no such reference and I'm left wondering if political correctness of some type is keeping out the type of warning to the recent report that you issued in 2009. What do you think?
JOHNSON: Yes. When my report was leaked and created this political firestorm, the Homeland Security Department instituted this new vetting process for its intelligence which goes against, you know, the intelligence tradecraft and the integrity of the intelligence community and it does politicize intelligence reports. They go through looking for key words and phrases that may be offensive or may, you know, draw, you know, partisan fire from one political party over the other. And, you know, this should not be part of the intelligence community's production process. We should be able to have the liberty to state the facts and to identify the threat as it is and not have to worry about this sanitization process that takes place.
SMERCONISH: If extremists are seeking to recruit law enforcement and the military, the American people need to be told that, right?
JOHNSON: Exactly. Could you imagine if ISIS or Al-Qaeda had large numbers of military, U.S. military veterans as well as police officers as part of their strategy to infiltrate our communities and our, you know, institutions of law and protection?
I mean, this is definitely something that needs to be looked at it and needs to be dealt with administratively. We need to purge these people before they get the necessary training for their jobs because they just turn around and use that training to, like I said, boost the capabilities of these violent extremist groups if they end up joining.
SMERCONISH: Thank you, Daryl Johnson. I appreciate your work.
JOHNSON: Thank you, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Let's see what you're saying on my Smerconish Twitter and Facebook pages. This comes from Twitter I believe. "What good is a warning if no action is taken? Threat, you warned us, now do what? Do we sit back and wait for another attack so Republicans can once again ignore and excuse?" Helena, Helena I guess it is, we first need to know the nature of the threat and I'm concerned, and Daryl Johnson obviously is concerned that we're not being told everything.
Look, that frog-march like ascent on the Capitol steps, I didn't fully realize it until reading in on this issue and looking at some of the "Associated Press" reporting about how upwards of 20 percent of those arrested have a law enforcement or military background.
And by the way, don't waste time castigating me for saying I'm blaming soldiers and patrolmen. I'm not. I'm saying, like the expert just said, we need to be cognizant of the fact that extremists will look at them as being ripe for recruitment. That's what I'm saying.
You know, this week, Democratic Congressman Jimmy Gomez announced that he would introduce a resolution to expel his fellow representative, Marjorie Taylor Greene, saying this in part, "Her very presence in office represents a direct threat against the elected officials and staff who serve our government."
The combination of that thinking and the upcoming meeting with Kevin McCarthy caused me to ask this at Smerconish.com, will the Republicans reprimand Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene? It's a yes or no question. Go vote.
Up ahead, we all keep seeing the grim tote boards of infections and deaths, but what about the tolls that are less visible? The anxiety, the depression, the even suicide caused by the lockdown, isolation and stress that have lasted for more than a year? We'll get to that next.
SMERCONISH: We all know the virus is killing millions around the globe, hundreds of thousands in the United States alone. We are told those figures every day and they are often posted on the side of your television screen. But what are the incalculable costs of the responses to the pandemic, the lockdowns, isolation and stress that are also taking a very heavy mental toll?
The CDC has reported a 31 percent rise in symptoms of depression, 26 percent in stress-related disorders, 13 percent in illicit drug use. It also found that compared to 2019, suicides have increased three to four times nationally. Most tragically, it's hitting kids hard.
Earlier this month the board of trustees of the Clark County, Nevada School District, fifth largest in the country, voted unanimously to reopen citing as a factor social, emotional wellness. That's because during the previous 10 months of school closure, there were more than 4,000 referrals about students' mental health episodes and 19 students died by suicide. That is more than double the number the entire previous year. The youngest student lost to suicide, only 9 years old.
This phenomenon is sadly a national one. An Illinois high school's class president whose prom and spring sports were canceled graduated last spring, killed himself in October. His mother joined several other parents at a lawsuit against the state's governor and high school association over COVID-19 restrictions. Sending them back to school full time seems the humane choice is backed up with science.
A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that school age kids are 10 times more likely to die by suicide than COVID-19. They and the rest of us have never dealt with anything quite like the long-term pandemic in our lifetimes. Many Americans are trying to deal with it.
A new survey commissioned by Vida Health found that in 2020 one in six Americans entered therapy for the first time. Joining me now is Vida's health chief clinical officer Dr. Chris Mosunic. Dr. Mosunic, thanks so much for being here.
So 31 percent of us already in therapy, one in six of us now entering therapy for the first time. How much of that if we know attributable to COVID?
CHRIS MOSUNIC, CHIEF CLINICAL OFFICER, VIDA HEALTH: So it's pretty clear that it's, I would say, close to a hundred percent attributable to COVID and the reason being is that 2019 to 2020 was a very acute year. We've never seen anything like this in the history of statistics with depression rates rising, anxiety rates rising and suicide rates rising across the globe. So it's not just America that's suffering, it's the whole globe that's suffering.
SMERCONISH: Is a silver lining to this that maybe there's a chance of getting beyond the stigma that heretofore has been associated with mental health treatment?
MOSUNIC: So one thing that's extremely new is that people are very open to therapy right now and the reason being is that about 88 percent of us are experiencing one or more depressive symptom. So we have a hyper empathy for understanding that right now people are suffering and we're suffering right alongside them, so it allows us to be able to be less stigmatic about it and people being more open to going into therapy.
Still have a lot of work to do. The stigma is not gone yet. But we've made a lot of process due to COVID with being open to going into treatment.
SMERCONISH: I read -- I read your data, 47 percent still see it as a sign of weakness that is much too high in my opinion. I'm curious as to the demographics, who are the people that still refuse to pursue a therapeutic route? Can you classify them by geography, by gender, by age?
MOSUNIC: We can. So the primary group who's least likely to go into therapy is baby boomers. Only about one quarter of baby boomers will enter into therapy. And then also men are less likely to go into therapy. And also Midwesterners are also less likely to go into therapy.
SMERCONISH: So a man from the Midwest who is older is the person who might be in need of some therapeutic treatment but most inclined not to accept it.
MOSUNIC: Yes, it's true. And the reason being is that yes the stigma and a lot of people have discomfort with going and seeking mental health services. So the stigma, it's not going anywhere anytime soon. It's still going to be with us. We've made progress. Still not going anywhere.
And because of that, you have to offer people ways to treat their mental health that aren't necessarily walking through the front door of receiving mental health, but through the side door if you will. So if a person is receiving treatment for diabetes or a physical condition, and then therapy comes up, they are much more likely to enter. So integrated health care is really the best way of accessing the people who are least likely to go into therapy.
SMERCONISH: Dr. Mosunic, the data from Nevada is jarring. When I read the Clark County number that I've already shared with the audience I didn't believe it and I thought it was a national figure. Speak to us about what you see in you research about what's going on among young Americans as it relates to COVID and mental health.
MOSUNIC: Yes, so what we're seeing across the board is the more social isolation that happens, the more depressed people become. And unfortunately, depression is an insidious disease in that when you become more socially isolated and more depressed, you're much less likely to seek help. So the data is very confusing sometimes because it will look like things are actually getting better and we're having better months, but in fact a lot of the folks who are dealing with depression are just so hurting they can't even answer a survey to be able to help themselves or let us know what is going on. So if we think about social isolation and what has happened with COVID, the people who are silently suffering right now are the ones most at risk.
SMERCONISH: I mean, obviously we need to look out for teachers and we need to look out for people who support the school system, bus drivers, cafeteria personnel, custodial support, et cetera, et cetera. But as a layperson, what I'm taking away from your data is you got to get these kids back in school and socially interacting as normal with one another. Quick final comment from you.
MOSUNIC: Yes, absolutely. So the more you can get the kids safely back to school, the more their mental health is going to improve. At the end of the day, we are all herd animals, we all socialize. And when we do that, we are able to have a high-quality life. When we socially isolate, we're going to all fall into depression even the more hermitic among us.
SMERCONISH: Dr. Mosunic, thank you so much for your time.
MOSUNIC: Thanks for having me.
SMERCONISH: Checking in on your tweets and Facebook comments. From Twitter, I think. What do we have?
Most of us have a low-grade depression. However, it sure as hell beats being dead. Death is permanent.
Marisa, I think that is true but, look, my focus is to say that it is not just the Chiron as we call it in the business on the (INAUDIBLE). Do we have one up now? We don't.
It is not just how many have died, it is not just how many have been diagnosed. To my way of thinking it's the incalculable cost on mental health all around the globe particularly among young people that I think is going to be with us for a long, long time that needs to be factored in in addition to how many died today. That is my view.
With House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy promising to meet with QAnon supporting Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene sometime this week, I am asking the following survey question at Smerconish.com. "Will the Republicans reprimand Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene?"
Still to come, it is the age-old question, are we alone? No is the answer of a Harvard astrophysicist. And he thinks we've already been visited. It happened in 2017 for 11 days by extraterrestrial life.
SMERCONISH: The ultimate question yet unanswered, are we alone in the universe? A Harvard astronomer theorizes it's possible we are not.
In his new book Harvard Professor Avi Loeb lays out his controversial theory that our solar system has been visited by a piece of extraterrestrial technology or debris from a distant alien civilization. This object was first spotted in 2017 by a telescope in Hawaii where it got its nickname, Oumuamua. Hawaiian for scout. Its unusual speed and trajectory didn't have any markings of traditional asteroids or comets stumping astronomers.
He's written several books and hundreds of academic papers on topics like the early days of the universe, black holes and the search for extraterrestrial life. He's collaborated on projects with Stephen Hawking and chaired Harvard's astronomy department for almost a decade serving longer than anyone in the department's history.
Now he is the author of "Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth." Astrophysicist and astronomer Avi Loeb joins me now to state his case. Dr. Loeb, welcome back. What happened in 2017?
AVI LOEB, ASTROPHYSICIST AND ASTRONOMER/HARVARD PROFESSOR OF SCIENCE: Well, thanks for having me. In 2017, October, we spotted an object that came from outside the solar system close to Earth, and it was really the very first one that we encountered. And at first astronomers thought it must be a comet. However, it didn't show any cometary tail. There was no gas around it and then it also exhibited an extra push away from the sun. But without a cometary tail there is no rocket effect. And the question was, what gives it this extra push?
As it was tumbling, it looked as if the object has an extreme geometry, most likely flat and much longer than it is wide at least by a factor of 10. And it also came from a very special frame, the one that is obtained by averaging the motions of all the stars near the sun. So it was just like a buoy sitting on the surface of the ocean and the solar system bumped into it. And we looked at many possible explanations for these anomalies and I concluded that it may well be an artificial object something produced by another civilization.
SMERCONISH: There are a number of images in the book which by the way I've read and enjoyed. And one of them shows an artist impression of Oumuamua as a light sail. Can we this up, Catherine? Alongside a conventional rendering of the object as an oblong cigar-shaped rock. Tell me what we're looking at in that image as we put it on the screen.
LOEB: Right, so the object exhibited an extra push away from the sun that behaved just like a light sail in the sense that the extra push declined with distance inversely as distance squared. And it's just the force of light bouncing off its surface pushing it.
In September 2020, we discovered another object that behaved just like that with no cometary tail and showing the push from -- reflecting sunlight. It turned out to be a rocket booster from a 1966 lunar lander Surveyor 2 mission. And so we know that we produced the rocket booster ourselves, it's artificially in origin. We don't know who produced Oumuamua.
SMERCONISH: You say in the book that many of your brethren disagree with you. In part you attribute that -- they think it was a comet. And you attribute their conservatism, for lack of a better word, to this idea that they need to always be discreet because otherwise the reputation of professionals could be harmed.
First of all, did I state that correctly? And second of all, what has been the impact to your image as coming out and saying hey, I think we've been visited?
LOEB: Yes, so I view science as maintaining my childhood curiosity. Basically we wonder about the world, we try to figure it out, and that implies that we should be willing to take risks and make mistakes. It's not about ourselves. It's a dialogue with nature through evidence guided by the clues that we discover. And unfortunately many of my colleagues worry about their image and also maintaining their comfort zone.
And, you know, if you were to present a cellphone to a cave man that played with rocks all of his life, the cave man would think of the cellphone as a polished shiny rock. And so it's quite natural to stick to old ideas. But I don't find it speculative at all to imagine that we are not the smartest kid on the block.
SMERCONISH: Dr. Loeb, the book is great. Thank you for writing it.
LOEB: Thank you for inviting me.
SMERCONISH: Let's check in on your tweets and Facebook comments. From the world of Twitter. What do we have?
You know it's bad when I'm praying for an alien invasion from outer space as a means to bring our country together. Hey, Michael, here's an interesting question. Do we want them to be religious?
Think about it. If there is a them, if we've been visited by some intelligent life from beyond Earth, would we want them to be people of faith? Think about that during the course of the weekend.
Still to coming more of your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments and the final results of the survey question from Smerconish.com. Will, not should, will the Republicans reprimand Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene?
SMERCONISH: Time to see how you responded to the survey question at Smerconish.com this week. Will the Republicans -- will not should -- will the Republicans reprimand Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene?
Survey says, 88 percent no. If it had been should it should have been a hundred to zero, right? But no carries it with, wow, 32,000 votes. We'll see. Kevin McCarthy has a meeting with her this week. The comments that she has made, the way that she has comported herself, completely in defensible. She deserves to be reprimanded. But we'll find out what they'd do.
What has come in, Catherine, during the course of the program? From social media we have this.
Who in the world voted for this lunatic is a bigger problem. Well, Connie, that's the -- that was my point in welcoming Dr. John Cowan to the program. He's the individual that she beat in a runoff. And he seems to check all the boxes for a district like Georgia's 14th, in that he's a Christian, he's conservative, he's a family man, he's intelligent.
He wanted to support President Trump's vision, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But I think that he put his finger on it when I pretty much asked him like, why did you lose, and the answer was that that district wanted someone who was going to be not so stayed, more of a bomb thrower, hopefully in a figurative sense.
So we look at it from a distance and we say, my God, how could they have voted for her? They were actually looking for someone with her characteristics. But hopefully he takes another shot.
What else came in? One more, I think, if I've got time.
She was selected by the voters. The voters determine who represents them, not Kevin McCarthy. Case in point, egregious words by elected officials does not matter unless a clear unlawful act -- maybe.
Michael, it's a word salad, too much for me to comprehend. She is -- it was wrong for all those who voted for Donald Trump to be painted with one broad brush. I'm using the word only for her. She really is deplorable.
Thank you for watching. I'll see you next week.