Cline versus democracy

Shamelessly doing his part to erode American democracy, Congressman Cline has proclaimed his support for conspiracy theorist extraordinaire Sidney Powell, an attorney for Donald Trump, in her delusional effort to overturn the results of the 2020 Presidential election.

According to an AP News Fact Check:

Trump attorney Sidney Powell spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez” — the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. She also said Trump beat Democrat Joe Biden “by a landslide,” which he decidedly didn’t — Biden was the clear winner.

Powell’s claims are so absurd that even reliable Trump supporters like Fox News’s Tucker Carlson are calling her out.

Carlson said he repeatedly reached out to Powell for evidence of her claim and invited her on the show. He said her claim “could amount to the single greatest crime in American history” if it were true.

“When we kept pressing, she got angry and told us to stop contacting her,” Carlson said. “When we checked with others around the Trump campaign, people in positions of authority, they told us Powell has never given any evidence either. Nor did she provide any today.”

But Powell insists: “The entire election, frankly, in all the swing states should be overturned and the legislatures should make sure that the electors are selected for Trump”

Cline’s willingness to follow Powell down this particular rabbit hole tells you all you need to know about his dead-end loyalty to Donald Trump– who, for his information, will no longer be President as of 12:01 p.m. on January 20, 2021.

Cline spouts utter nonsense

Speaking at a pro-Trump rally in Staunton with other Republican dead-enders, Congressman Cline groveled to Donald Trump and tried to impugn the results of the 2020 election– a clear victory for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris– by suggesting with no evidence that there were massive numbers of “illegal votes” in the Democrats’ favor. I’d like to believe he knows better, but he makes it hard.

And he’s wrong about a lot of other stuff too.

Cline versus reality

As Congressman Cline continues to refuse to accept the fact that Joe Biden won the 2020 Presidential election, he has launched a new front in the war against reality.

The latest assault came after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam imposed new restrictions to contain rising numbers of COVID-19 illnesses and deaths in the Commonwealth.

Cline posted this on his campaign Facebook page:

Emma North of WRIC in Richmond reports:

Under the new restrictions, public and private gatherings will be limited to 25 individuals instead of the current 250 person cap. According to the governor’s press secretary Alena Yarmosky, the cap does not apply to religious services, employment or schools. The rule will only limit things such as parties, celebrations and social events.

But Cline insists on portraying the most modest and common-sense restrictions as a tyrannical attack on personal freedom instead of what they are: a means to combat the virus and allow as soon as possible for a safe return to more normal conditions.

Cline may think the right to endanger the health of his fellow Virginians outweighs the need for temporary measures to bring the virus under control. But I doubt most of his constituents agree.

How about now, Congressman?

Coming off his reelection Tuesday, Congressman Cline has not offered a word publicly about the deluded and dangerous efforts of President Trump to subvert the clear democratic will of the majority.

As readers of this website know, Cline has spent his first two years in Congress toadying to Trump and refusing to call out his most egregious lies and reckless behavior.

So will Cline finally find the courage to call on Trump to accept the inevitable?

Don’t count on it.

Update: No surprise. Buying into Trump’s phony claims of widespread “irregularities,” Cline continues to grovel on his behalf.

See this excellent post by Jayne Seminare Docherty.

The type of leadership we need

While I wish President and Mrs. Trump a full and speedy recovery, I want to note that Congressman Cline’s Facebook post of June 18 did not age well.

As I wrote at the time:

In fact Biden appears regularly online and will speak to the Virginia Democratic Convention on Saturday. He traveled to Houston last week to meet with George Floyd’s family. But of course Cline can’t acknowledge a simple fact: that Biden, unlike Trump, is being careful not to endanger the public during the COVID-19 emergency, and this is to his credit.

And Trump himself has repeatedly mocked Biden for wearing a face mask in public and other precautions.

So I have to disagree with Cline; Biden’s prudence during the pandemic is precisely the type of leadership America needs.

Cline on the first debate

Since his Congressional office appears to be a shrine to Donald Trump, it’s no surprise that Ben Cline couldn’t bring himself to say anything directly critical about Trump’s disgusting and disruptive behavior at Tuesday’s debate with Joe Biden.

Of course the questions posted by the journalist were hardly challenging. But while mildly complaining that “the viewers lost out” because of all the yelling, Cline singled out Biden for criticism while ignoring the fact that Trump’s strategy was essentially to trash the whole proceedings.

Most disturbing, Cline has had nothing to say about Trump using the debate to tell a group of violent far-right extremists to await instructions from him. It’s essential that at least one local journalist ask him about it.

Congressman Cline’s recent votes

While it’s good that Congressman Cline supported the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act in the House of Representatives, two of his other recent votes are disturbing.

–While 160 Republicans joined all Democrats to approve the Ensuring Children and Child Care Workers Are Safe Act, Cline was one of only 32 Republicans to vote no.

This bill provides federal support to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) in child care provider settings during the period of community spread of the virus.

Specifically, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) must (1) provide technical assistance to states, Indian tribes, and tribal organizations regarding the acquisition and use of protective equipment and training related to COVID-19 transmission prevention, among other things; and (2) publish specified information and facilitate the sharing of best practices related to the safe operation of child care providers. HHS may also make grants for the designated lead agency in a state to provide assistance and guidance to child care providers.

–Cline joined all but 14 Republicans to vote against a resolution condemning all forms of anti-Asian sentiment as related to COVID-19.

This resolution calls on all public officials to condemn and denounce anti-Asian sentiment, racism, discrimination, and religious intolerance related to COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019), and to call on federal law enforcement officials, working with state and local officials, to take specified steps.

It calls on federal officials to expeditiously investigate and document all credible reports of hate crimes and incidents and threats against the Asian-American community and prosecute perpetrators.

The resolution recommits U.S. leadership to (1) prioritize language access and inclusivity in communication practices, and (2) combat misinformation and discrimination that put Asian Americans at risk.

The resolution notes that “the use of anti-Asian terminology and rhetoric related to COVID-19, such as the ‘Chinese Virus’, ‘Wuhan Virus’, and ‘Kung-flu’ have perpetuated anti-Asian stigma.” President Trump has used all of those terms.

Why did Cline vote this way? Ask him.

Note to media: time for tough questions

It’s nice that local media have covered Congressman Cline’s recent efforts at bipartisanship with a Democratic colleague on some issues of government reform.

But almost every time Cline is covered by local newspapers, radio or TV, he is given an opportunity to says whatever he wants on subjects he prefers.

Almost never is he challenged in ways that might make him uncomfortable. (Why did he vote against the Great American Outdoors Act? What did he mean when he suggested that the former Stonewall Jackson Cemetery in Lexington might be renamed “Future Democrat Voter Quarry”? Etc., etc.)

But as Cline continues to heap praise on the increasingly deranged and dangerous Donald Trump (“He has done great things for this country”) and enthusiastically support his reelection, it’s urgent that the Sixth District media take their basic journalistic responsibilities seriously.

For example, how about asking Cline if he thinks someone who talks like this is fit to serve in any responsible position, let alone President of the United States:

The president offered up the vague and unsupported theory during an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who asked Trump who is “pulling Biden’s strings.”

“People that you’ve never heard of. People that are in the dark shadows,” Trump responded.

“What does that mean? That sounds like a conspiracy theory,” Ingraham interjected.

“They’re people that are on the streets, they’re people that are controlling the streets,” Trump responded.

He then cited a case of an unnamed individual getting on a plane “from a certain city” over the weekend. The plane, Trump claimed, was “loaded with thugs” in dark uniforms who planned to do “big damage.”

Pressed for further details, Trump only said the matter was “under investigation.”

Or perhaps Cline, an attorney, could offer an opinion on the legality of voting twice in the same election– or encouraging others to do so, as Trump has done.

Cline can’t be allowed to have it both ways– proclaiming his support for Trump while avoiding tough questions about the wildly irresponsible and conspiracy-obsessed man he insists is the one to lead our country over the next four years.