Now will you denounce him, Congressman?

Now that Donald Trump has hosted the notorious Jew-hater Kanye West and the notorious Holocaust-denying white nationalist Nick Fuentes at Mar-a-Lago, will Ben Cline– who called Trump “our great president” six months after his term ended, who boasted about his endorsement from Trump in his 2022 reelection campaign and included it in his campaign advertising, who accepted a $5,000 campaign donation from Trump’s “Save America” PAC– summon the courage to speak even a word of disapproval?

Based on Cline’s tolerance for Trump’s long history of outrageous conduct, I suppose the answer will be “no.”

Buy maybe he’ll surprise us this time. I’m sure he’ll be eager to discuss it at his town hall meetings next week.

Cline resumes in-person town halls

After almost a year, Congressman Cline will resume in-person town hall meetings in the Sixth District on Monday November 28 and Tuesday November 29.

Unfortunately, as in previous years, they are scheduled at times that are inconvenient for most working people

The schedule is as follows:

• In Rockbridge County, November 28, 8 a.m to 9:30 a.m., Natural Bridge Vol. Fire Department, 5705 S. Lee Hwy, Natural Bridge. (Register here.)

• In Waynesboro, November 28, 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m., Elks Lodge, 1700 Harvard Road, Waynesboro. (Register here.)

• In Rockingham County, November 29, 8 a.m to 9:30 a.m., VFW Post 8644, 118 N. River Road, Bridgewater. (Register here.)

• In Shenandoah County, November 29, 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m., Mt. Jackson Moose Lodge, 269 Dutch Lane, Mt. Jackson. (Register here.)

Residents of each location will be given priority regarding comments.

I hope the congressman is eager to hear opinions and answer questions from all of his constituents.

Feel free to use Cline Watch as a resource.

Interesting omission

I noticed something interesting about the video that Congressman Cline posted on his campaign Facebook page this week.

Not that it’s a silly video. (How can you be for LESS government and MORE government-funded police resources?) I noticed that when he first released the video last May during his primary election campaign.

Rather, it’s the omission from the earlier version of the ENDORSED BY PRESIDENT TRUMP tagline at the end.

This was an endorsement that Cline was proud to proclaim. And even though it was for the June primary, I assume it still holds good.

As best I can figure, Cline decided that a Trump endorsement would assure a primary victory among the largely hardcore pro-Trump Republican base. But for a general election in which he will need support from other segments of the electorate– not so much.

But don’t worry, Congressman. We won’t let anyone forget. Trump’s endorsement still stands– whether you like it or not.

Ben Cline and Lara Logan on Newsmax

Congressman Cline went on the far-Right channel Newsmax to claim without evidence that an excessively “woke” U.S. military is undermining unit cohesion and national security.

Now that the notoriously un-“woke” Russian army (which once dazzled Republican Senator Ted Cruz) is suffering multiple defeats and humiliations in Ukraine, perhaps Cline should reconsider.

And Congressman: It doesn’t do wonders for your credibility when you appear on the same channel that lends credence to the sadly delusional Lara Logan.

Ben Cline and Lara Logan may not be equally deluded. But they are both wrong.

Cline’s revealing campaign finance report

Some interesting highlights from Congressman Cline’s Third Quarter Campaign Finance Report, including the contributions his campaign received from corporate and political PACs between July 1 and September 30, 2022:

• Smith & Wesson Brands: $1,000

• National Rifle Association: $1,000

Cline’s position on “gun rights” is so extreme (more extreme than most gun owners) that when he was in the House of Delegates, he bragged about his endorsement by the Virginia Citizens Defense League— which believes the National Rifle Association is too soft.

He consistently votes NO on even the most modest and common-sense gun regulations.

As a member of the General Assembly, he actually opposed issuing a new Virginia license plate with the message: “Stop Gun Violence.”

• Abbott Laboratories: $1,000

Abbott is one of the nation’s biggest prescription drug manufacturers, with net earnings of more than $7 billion in 2021.

Cline voted NO on a bill to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and offer new benefits for seniors. The bill was strongly opposed by Abbott and other Big Pharma companies. He has also voted NO on bills to make generic drugs cheaper and capping monthly insulin costs at $35 for millions of diabetic Americans.

• Altria Group: $2,500

All you need to know about Altria is that this appears on the home page of its website:

Although Altria (formerly Philip Morris) claims to be “moving beyond smoking,” it is one of the world’s largest producers and marketers of tobacco products, from which it earns 88 percent of its revenue.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, smoking kills more than 480,000 American annually. But Cline has no qualms about accepting this blood money.

• The Walt Disney Company: $1,000

While many Republicans bash Disney for being excessively “woke,” Cline is pleased to accept the company’s largesse. Perhaps Disney isn’t as culturally enlightened as some would like to believe.

• Toyota Motor North America: $1,000

This one is fascinating and mysterious.

Before the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, Cline had been a regular recipient of donations from Toyota.

After the insurrection, and after Cline and 146 other Congressional Republicans voted against certifying all of the Presidential election results, Toyota said it was reviewing its ts campaign contribution policies: “Given the recent events and the horrific attack on the U.S. Capitol, we are assessing our future PAC criteria.”

The review concluded with a decision by Toyota to resume contributions to some of the members of Congress who opposed certification.

Toyota Motor Corp., which had been reviewing its political contributions since January, said it “supports candidates based on their position on issues that are important to the auto industry and the company.”

“We do not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification,” the Japanese automaker said in a statement. “However, we have decided against giving to some members who — through their statements and actions — undermine the legitimacy of our elections and institutions.”

For whatever reason, Toyota decided that Cline cleared that bar and so contributed $1,000 to his campaign in March 2021.

But that wasn’t the end of it. In July 2021 Toyota announced it had reversed its policy and “we have decided to stop contributing to those Members of Congress who contested the certification of certain states in the 2020 election.”

That statement remains on Toyota’s website. I have found no reports that the company changed its corporate mind since then.

So what’s with the $1,000 that Toyota gave to Cline on September 14, 2022?

• Koch Industries: $5,000

No surprise.

Save America: $5,000

This is Donald Trump’s personal PAC. So of course.

Cline versus the Postal Service

In February Congress approved and President Biden signed the Postal Reform Act to financially strengthen and secure the U.S. Postal Service while protecting the jobs of the people who provide this essential service.

Even though the Postal Service is a critical connection to the outside world for rural parts of the Sixth District, Congressman Cline was among a minority of Republicans who voted NO.

Now we learn that Cline has raised the possibility of privatizing the Postal Service.

“The Postal Service, just like several other federal agencies, is an inefficient bureaucracy that can’t innovate and keep up with the times,” Cline said in an interview Friday with the John Solomon Reports podcast. “And rather than just continue to reward them with more and bigger budgets, we need to start demanding results. And, you know, put in some triggers, where you incentivize these bureaucrats to actually cut costs.

“Or then they either have part of their business outsourced or, you know, the British have just finished privatizing their postal service. So I think we’ve got some catching up to do. And I think that  a new Republican majority has just the opportunity to explore those options.”

But what kind of cost-cutting does Cline have in mind? What guarantee is there that privatizing the Postal Service would not result in reduced service to the thousands of small communities that depend on it? After all, serving many of these areas is not profitable. It costs more money than it brings in. But that’s exactly why the Postal Service needs to remain a public service.

Cline likes to prove his devotion to the Constitution by pulling out a copy of it from his coat pocket at every opportunity. But Article I, Section 8 gives Congress the power “To establish Post Offices and post Roads” and “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper” for executing this task. Unlike Cline, the Founders considered postal services to be a core responsibility of government. It still is.

Cline lies again

Speaking to an audience in Clifton Forge on October 5 for about 20 minutes, Congressman Cline couldn’t restrain himself from a number of dubious and outright false assertions.

Discussing asylum seekers at the southern border who are allowed into the United States and assigned dates for hearings, Cline claimed, “Most of them disappear.”

In fact:

A study published last year in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review found that “88% of all immigrants in immigration court with completed or pending removal cases over the past eleven years attended all of their court hearings.” The analysis of government data also revealed that 95% of nondetained individuals who filed for asylum or other forms of relief from removal attended all of their court hearings over the same time period from 2008 to 2018, the authors said.

Referring to the fentanyl crisis in alarmist terms, Cline said, “Fentanyl is killing children, literally… I’m not trying to create any kind of uh, uh, uh, just fever, but I am worried about Halloween because the fentanyl is showing up in multi-colors looking like candy. It’s scary stuff.”

Fentanyl is a serious problem. But even Fox News debunked that one:

Dr. Sheila Vakharia, who is the head of the Drug Policy Alliance, said dealers use the colors to “distinguish their product from other products on the street.”

Other experts questioned why dealers would be motivated to target children, arguing that kids lack the financial resources to be consistent customers and that penalties for dealing drugs to children are much more severe.

Joseph Palamar, an associate professor in the Department of Population Health at New York University Langone Medical Center, told Fox News Digital last week that the drugs are also likely too expensive to give away.

“I’ve always found this concern to be exaggerated. I’m sure this does happen sometimes, but it is unlikely. Even if fentanyl pills were only a few dollars each, most people would likely find them too expensive to give to kids on Halloween as a sick joke,” Palamar told Fox News Digital last week.

On the topic of energy, Cline insisted, “The Biden administration is putting a lid on any new [oil] exploration, any new approval of leases [on federal land].”

But while the Biden administration did pause new oil leases on public lands and water in 2022, the oil industry was awash in unused permits.

Combined, the oil and gas industry holds leases to more than 25 million acres of publicly-owned minerals, roughly half of which sit unused. Companies now hold more than 9,000 approved, but unused, drilling permits on national public lands, all of which could be put to use today. Further, oil production on public lands is near all time highs, despite industry claims that the Biden administration has suppressed domestic production.

The Inflation Reduction Act, which Cline and every other Republican in Congress opposed, opens more federal land to oil and gas projects as a tradeoff for solar and wind projects getting access to federal land.

Discussing inflation, Cline said, “I was told by an economist that one of the signs of a recession is when folks switch from hot dog buns to white bread. I was mocked by my opponents for making that point.”

Inflation is certainly a hardship for low-income families. And there may be people who have had to make that switch. But the savings would surely be minimal even for financially-stressed families. And it would be interesting to know the name of the economist who told that to Cline.

I looked for other evidence of people making the switch from hot dog buns to white bread, and the only other reference I found were these tweets from Natalie Allison, a reporter for Politico, who covered a speech at a CPAC conference last summer by JD Vance, Republican candidate for US Senate from Ohio:

Ben Cline was at the same conference. Did he hear Vance’s remarks and mistake him for an economist?

January 6 again

I’ve posted most of this information before, but after Thursday’s hearing of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol– demonstrating beyond a doubt Donald Trump’s central role in instigating the brutal attack and his inexcusable delay in putting an end to it– I think it’s worth repeating.

Just after the November 2020 election– a clear and convincing victory for Joe Biden over Donald Trump— our Sixth District Republican Congressman Ben Cline began enabling lies about massive fraud and illegal voting. (The committee presented evidence that Trump was told repeatedly by the attorney general, his staff and campaign officials that he had lost. Trump knew, but Cline either didn’t know or pretended he didn’t know.)

These lies—boosted endlessly by Cline and other Trump supporters in Congress—helped incite the bloody insurrection by a pro-Trump mob at the United State Capitol on January 6, 2021.

  • On November 14, 2020, at a pro-Trump rally in Staunton, Cline suggested with no evidence that there were massive numbers of “illegal votes” in Biden’s favor.
  • On November 20, Cline posted on Facebook a photo of him with the deranged pro-Trump conspiracy-monger Sidney Powell. He wrote: “Proud to support my friend Sidney Powell in her fight to count every legal vote for President Donald Trump!” (The post has since been deleted. Does this mean they are no longer friends?)
  • Cline continued to prove his pathetic loyalty to Trump by joining more than 100 other Congressional Republicans to sign a brief supporting Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s frivolous lawsuit aimed at overturning the results of the election. (The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected the lawsuit.)

As the terrorists were brutally attacking police and minutes before they entered the Capitol, Cline 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.

Where was Cline when he sent his Facebook post? Was he aware of what was happening when he sent it? I’m sorry that no journalist has yet asked him.

Later in the day Cline condemned the actions of the insurrectionists and called on them to be prosecuted. But unlike more responsible Republicans, Cline never acknowledged Trump’s incitement of the mob or that the insurrectionists were acting on Trump’s behalf. He hasn’t done so to this day.

  • After the mob was cleared from the building, Cline voted against certifying the election of Joe Biden as president; that is, he did what the insurrectionists wanted.
  • As recently as July 2021 Cline attended a Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas where he shamelessly referred to “our great president Donald J. Trump.”
  • In May 2021 Cline voted against a bipartisan commission to investigate January 6. Cline claimed it was “not a non-partisan proposal,” even though it was the product of an agreement between Republican and Democratic congressmen.
  • Cline then opposed creation of a House Select Committee to investigate the events surrounding January 6.

Cline has been utterly silent on the harrowing testimony in July 2021 of the four heroic police officers who appeared before that committee. They were among the scores of officers brutalized by the pro-Trump mob at the Capitol on January 6. And they were willing to call out Trump and the Republicans in Congress they held responsible.

He has since dismissed the committee’s hearings as “an echo chamber designed by Nancy Pelosi.”

And does anyone doubt that he will vote NO on holding Trump in contempt if he refuses to comply with the committee’s subpoena?

We have every reason to ask Cline: Whose side is he on?

Congressman: 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 truth and accountability for the awful events of Janurary 6, 2021. For you, it’s party (and Trump) over country (and decency) every time.

Cline’s fact-challenged performance in Winchester

At the candidate forum in Winchester on Saturday, Congressman Cline tried to present himself as a champion of reason and bipartisanship (standing in line for lunch with Democrats in Richmond, brewing beer with a Democratic colleague, etc.) while somehow forgetting to mention that he is a proud member (along with some of the most extreme members of Congress) of the far-right House Freedom Caucus and the proud recipient of a campaign endorsement from Donald Trump.

Cline is more interested in posing as bipartisan in front of certain audiences than he is in being bipartisan.

He proceeded to to call for more resources for law enforcement, even though he voted NO on the American Rescue Plan, which actually funds the police.

He also repeated his frequent claim that the United States is no longer “energy independent” as it supposedly was under Trump’s administration, and asserted that this was a leading cause of inflation. But according to FactCheck.org:

When politicians say that the United States was “energy independent” under former President Donald Trump, some people may get the false impression that the U.S. was 100% self-sufficient. The country still relied on foreign sources of energy, including oil.

To help meet domestic demand, the U.S. has imported oil and other forms of energy from abroad, including from Russia, for many years. And to some energy analysts, a scenario in which the U.S. relies only on the energy it produces is not likely to happen anytime soon.

Instead, those who tout this so-called “energy independence” may be referring to the fact that, on net, the country either produced more energy than it consumed, exported more energy than it imported, or, more specifically, had a greater number of exports than imports of petroleum, which includes crude oil and refined products from crude oil, such as gasoline and various fuels.

However, by any of those definitions, the U.S. was still “energy independent” in 2021 under President Joe Biden — contrary to claims made by Republicans who have suggested otherwise.

Sorry, Congressman. Those are the facts.

Is Cline embarrassed?

On Saturday Congressman Cline participated in a candidate forum in Winchester with his Democratic opponent Jennifer Lewis.

You can perhaps gauge their performances by the fact that Lewis features the forum on her campaign Facebook page (you can view it here, starting at 14:30) while Cline (so far) hasn’t even mentioned it.

If you take the time to watch it, you’ll understand.