Still got Gaetz’s money, Congressman?

As Ben Cline’s CPAC buddy and benefactor Congressman Matt Gaetz drifts into neo-Nazi territory– endorsing “white replacement theory” and smearing the Anti-Defamation League, which for 108 years has stood against antisemitism and other forms of bigotry– I can’t help wondering if Cline ever returned Gaetz’s generous $2,000 campaign donation.

Cline and Gaetz are fellow members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, along with such extremists as Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert and Madison Cawthorn.

And that’s not to mention Gaetz’s other, um, problem.

Cline lies again

Congressman Cline joined every other Republican in the House to vote against the the Women’s Health Protection Act, which “would essentially codify Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision guaranteeing the right to abortion before viability, usually around 22 to 24 weeks.”

In trying to justify his vote, Cline repeated two lies:

  1. He did not stand for life. He stood for forced birth. If you want to see how rarely Cline stands for the lives of actual living people, check his voting record.
  2. The Women’s Health Protection Act does not “permit on-demand abortion until birth.” As The Washington Post reports:

Republicans have sought to cast the House measure as extreme and out of step with public opinion, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Thursday denouncing it as a “really radical bill [that] goes beyond Roe v. Wade.”

In cases where a fetus has reached viability, the legislation allows for abortion only “when, in the good-faith medical judgment of the treating health care provider, continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant patient’s life or health.”

McCarthy falsely interpreted that part of the measure as allowing “abortion on demand, up until birth.”

As did Congressman Cline, who is always willing and eager to repeat a phony Republican talking point.

Sidney who?

Remember last November when Congress Cline posted on Facebook that he was proud to support his friend, the crazed election conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell, who was too crazed even for Rudy Giuliani?

It seems Cline wants you to forget. The above post has disappeared from Cline’s campaign Facebook page. If you click the link, you get this:

So, Congressman: Is this the end of a beautiful friendship?

And don’t worry. We won’t let anyone forget.

Cline enables COVID

In a Labor Day interview on WDBJ7, Congressman Cline thought it appropriate to take a verbal shot at Buena Vista Democrats for cancelling their traditional Labor Day breakfast this year.

Local Democrats walked in the Buena Vista Labor Day parade and gathered for the speeches at Glen Maury Park. But given the continuing risks of holding large indoor events, and due to the spiking number of COVID cases in our area, they made the prudent choice to forego the breakfast.

In most localities in the Sixth Congressional District, COVID cases have been on the rise since July.

So why did Cline think the Democrats’ decision was something to scorn?

Cline made his comments at the Republican Labor Day breakfast, which went ahead indoors with no masks or social distancing, and no apparent precautions. Buena Vista is one of the localities that has seen a steady increase in COVID cases in recent months.

Now Cline has posted the following on his Facebook page after President Biden announced new vaccination mandates to finally bring COVID under control:

In announcing the mandates, Biden made the obvious point that people who refuse the safe, effective and free COVID vaccines are not just endangering their own health, but the health of all Americans. as well as putting a huge strain on hospitals and other medical services.

There’s nothing unprecedented or oppressive about vaccine mandates. Children are routinely required to be vaccinated for certain diseases before they can start school. As commander of the Continental Army, George Washington ordered mandatory smallpox inoculations for all his soldiers. He didn’t leave it up to each soldier to make the decision that was right for himself.

As for whether vaccine mandates are unconstitutional: the Supreme Court settled that 116 years ago. As Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote, “[U]pon the principle of self-defense, of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members.”

And Cline’s sudden concern for “workers’ rights” is laughable. The only right he has supported is the right of non-union workers to freeload off contracts negotiated by union workers.

What does all this tell us about how well Cline understands the law and how seriously he takes the still dangerous and deadly pandemic?

And for God’s sake, Congressman, have the simple courage, decency and respect for life to tell people to get vaccinated, not just to “make the decision that’s right for them.” The time for weasel words has passed.

My brief encounter with Ben Cline

Before the Buena Vista Labor Day parade started, I was standing on a corner wearing a Democratic t-shirt and holding this sign when the union-hating Congressman Cline walked past.

Me: “Hey, Ben, this is what it’s all about!”

Cline: “How about getting your party to support a work ethic?”

The implication being, I suppose, that Democrats are lazy welfare cheats always looking for ways to live off government handouts. (In fact it’s low-wage employers like Walmart and McDonald’s that are subsidized by the government.)

Unfortunately Cline was gone before it occurred to me to respond: “How about getting your party to support a living wage?”

So for the record, that’s my response, Congressman.

Cline celebrates repressive Texas abortion law

Congressman Cline is celebrating the passage of a Texas law that effectively outlaws legal abortion in the state (including in cases of rape and incest) to be enforced through a system of paid informants reminiscent of the Taliban and the East German Stasi.

Last May Cline revealed how phony his “pro-life” position is when he voted NO on a bill to protect pregnant workers and their unborn children.

In other words, he’s “pro-life” (or more precisely, pro-birth) as long as it doesn’t interfere with employers’ rights to treat employees as they choose.

What did Cline say at the “election integrity rally”?

What did Congressman Cline say when he spoke Friday at a Republican “election integrity rally” at Liberty University in Lynchburg?

Did he continue to suggest without evidence, as he did last November, that there were massive numbers of “illegal votes” in the 2020 election in Joe Biden’s favor? Did he again proclaim his support for his friend, the deranged election conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell?

We may never know.

Cline was scheduled to speak at the rally sponsored by the Fifth District Republican Committee along with Republican candidate for governor Glenn Youngkin and Cline’s even more awful congressional colleague Bob Good. (Good, among other things, calls the COVID pandemic “phony” and voted AGAINST awarding medals to police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol against pro-Trump terrorists on January 6.)

The rally took place despite the utter lack of evidence of widespread fraud in Virginia elections.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the event was not open to the press. Why not? Were Cline and the other participants too ashamed to put their remarks on the public record?

According to The Times-Dispatch:

The Virginia Department of Elections said in March that a risk-limiting audit of the 2020 election confirmed Virginia’s election results accurately portrayed the winners.

Former President Donald Trump made baseless claims of election fraud that preceded the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, in which many protesters sought to overturn the results of the presidential race. The former president and many other Republicans have continued to question the legitimacy of the presidential election, even though it wasn’t close and there’s no evidence of any widespread fraud.

The website for the rally had listed as featured guests Youngkin, Del. Jason Miyares, the GOP nominee for attorney general, and Winsome Sears, the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor. But Miyares and Sears opted to attend an event with a Northern Virginia candidate instead.

“Glenn, Terry McAuliffe called on you to step down from this dangerous rally and you didn’t — even as the other extreme members of the GOP ticket removed themselves,” Susan Swecker, chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia, said Friday in a call with the press.

“Just this week, we learned that Youngkin suggested the courts could reinstate Trump into office — further pedaling the GOP’s dangerous lies just three months from the November gubernatorial election.”

Although we may never know what was said at the rally, perhaps we can get an idea from what else The Times-Dispatch reported:

Two of the panelists presenting information at the rally, according to its schedule, were Phill Kline and Tim Griffin.

Kline is a former Kansas attorney general whose law license was suspended indefinitely by the Kansas Supreme Court in 2013 over what the court found was a pattern of misconduct. He is an associate professor of law at Liberty University and has assisted in lawsuits challenging the results of the presidential election, the Kansas Reflector reported.

Griffin, of Bedford, is a special counsel to the Thomas More Society and former assistant commonwealth’s attorney. Kline directs a project of the Thomas More Society involved in lawsuits over the election.

Kline recently interviewed Griffin in a video posted on Kline’s YouTube channel.

“People are saying this election was stolen,” Griffin said during the interview. “They understand that something was off.”

Kline asked Griffin what was different about the 2020 election than previous elections. Griffin said he assessed the 2020 election by observing people he came into contact with.

“Years ago I used to really pay a lot of attention just to polls and what newspapers would tell us. In recent elections I really pay attention to what’s going on on the ground,” Griffin said.

He continued, saying that in the 2020 election, “I kept my eyes open, I kept my ears open. … Republicans on the right — they were so excited. There was a parade in Arizona … of 90 miles long of cars for Donald Trump. And then we also watched what the energy was on the left. And the energy on the left was very deflated. There wasn’t a lot of excitement. There was no rallies for President Joe Biden.”

The Democratic presidential ticket largely avoided rallies because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After searing police testimony, Cline’s silence resounds

Police detail violence, injuries at Jan. 6 hearing - Chicago Sun-Times

Let’s review Congressman Cline’s response to what Washington, DC, police officer Daniel Hodges correctly called the January 6 assault on the US Capitol by pro-Trump terrorists.

As the terrorists were brutally attacking police and minutes before they entered the Capitol, Cline (or someone on his staff) posted on Facebook trying to draw a direct parallel between the objections of a few House Democrats to the result of the 2000 presidential election (for which there were reasons to object) and the objections of Cline and 146 other members of Congress to the clear and convincing election of Joe Biden in 2020.

After the terrorists had broken in and rampaged through the Capitol, Cline condemned the violence and called for those who participated to be prosecuted. But unlike some other Republicans, he did not place the blame where it ultimately belonged: on then-president Donald Trump. He then voted against certifying the election of Joe Biden as president; that is, he did what the terrorists wanted.

Cline, of course, opposed impeaching Trump for his role in inciting the January 6 insurrection, denying the evidence of Trump’s culpability.

He has never acknowledged on whose behalf the terrorists were acting. As recently as this month he attended a CPAC conference in Dallas, featuring revisionist lies about January 6, where he shamelessly referred to “our great president Donald J. Trump.”

In May Cline voted against a bipartisan commission to investigate January 6. When asked about his vote by a reporter, Cline claimed it was “not a non-partisan proposal,” even though it was the product of an agreement between Republican Congressman John Katko and Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson.

So I suppose we should not be surprised at Cline’s utter silence on the harrowing testimony of the four heroic police offers who were brutalized by the pro-Trump mob at the Capitol on January 6– especially since they were willing to call out the people who deserved to be called out.

He has posted several times on his Congressional Facebook page since Tuesday’s hearing without mentioning it. Judging from the comments posted in response, I am not the only one who noticed this.

If he is asked (and I hope someone will ask him), he will probably say what other Congressional Republicans have said: that he was too busy to watch the hearing.

Someone also needs to ask Cline if he agrees with the chair of the House Freedom Caucus (of which he is a proud member) that two of the most conservative members of Congress– Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger– deserve to be kicked out of the House Republican caucus for daring to participate in Tuesday’s hearing.

Until we do hear from Cline, we have every reason to ask him: Whose side are you on?

Please don’t try to tell us you are on the side of the brave officers who testified– who put their lives on the line to protect you– or on the side of any other law enforcement officers. Because we won’t believe you.

For you, it’s party over country (and decency) every time.

Cline’s embarrassing CPAC speech

By all accounts, the recently-concluded Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Texas, featured an appalling array of conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and lies about the deadly pro-Trump insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6– most notably from the Big Liar himself.

One of the many lowlights was a truly awful speech by Congressman Cline– awful in delivery as well as in content. Even when it comes to rousing a crowd primed to agree with him, Cline is a failure.

See for yourself and be prepared to cringe. (I almost feel embarrassed for him. But then I remember it’s Ben Cline.):

The theme of the CPAC conference was “America UnCanceled,” so Cline began by proclaiming that Virginians like Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Patrick Henry were “the original fighters against cancel culture.”

Well, maybe, although I doubt they and the other Founding Fathers saw the American Revolution in quite that way.

Moving to the present day, Cline asserted:

Virginia is controlled by a one-party liberal group, fighting to cancel freedom, to cancel liberty, to cancel those of us who are fighting each and every day for family and freedom.

If any group is trying to cancel anything in Virginia these days, it’s Republicans. The ginned-up frenzy over “critical race theory” is largely an effort to cancel teaching about the racial history of the US that might make anyone uncomfortable. The chair of the Republican Party of Virginia wants to investigate a professor at the University of Virginia for writing mean things about Donald Trump.

Meanwhile Cline and other House Republicans have done their best to cancel Congresswoman Liz Cheney– a featured speaker at CPAC 2020– for daring to speak the truth about Donald Trump and the 2020 election.

Cline congratulated Texas for delivering its votes last year “for our great president Donald J. Trump.”

Just two points, Congressman.

  1. Donald J. Trump is no longer president.
  2. Even when he was president, he wasn’t at all “great.” And he isn’t great now.

Cline then moved on to one of his favorite subjects: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the rest of the so-called “squad.”

Here is where he really took leave of reality.

We know who really calls the shots in the House of Representatives. It’s the squad. It’s the liberal agenda of AOC and the squad that we are fighting against.

Surely even Cline knows that six relatively new Democratic members of the House, none of whom are in leadership positions and who don’t always agree among themselves, do not set the agenda for the other 217 Democrats.

But he wasn’t through.

They are trying to cancel family. They are trying to cancel faith. They are even trying to cancel the American flag.

I did find a photo of one member of the squad, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, with an American flag. But it didn’t look like she was trying to cancel it.

Rep. Ilhan Omar  holding a miniature American flag smiling and clapping

And she didn’t slobber all over it in an embarrassing and phony display of patriotism.

Cline then asked his obviously bored audience: “Are you going to let them cancel our American flag?”

After a smattering of half-hearted “No”s, Cline soon ended his speech– and probably his chance to become a leading figure of an increasingly radicalized “conservative” movement.