Another bizarre and out-of-touch Facebook post from Congressman Cline.
Everyone– students, teachers and parents– wants schools to reopen as soon as possible. The sticking point– which Cline and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos seem to ignore– is whether it can be done safely.
It’s absurd to suggest that the challenge of reopening schools is comparable to reopening stores and restaurants. As one commenter to Cline’s Facebook post pointed out, “Going to a restaurant is a choice, attending public school is required.”
Spending an hour or less at a time in a store or restaurant is a lot different from spending six hours a day, five days a week in a classroom.
Congressman: Due to the coronavirus, many public school systems in the Sixth District are starved for funds, which would make reopening difficult even if COVID were to magically disappear. Are you and the other Republicans in Congress prepared to provide sufficient federal resources to help schools reopen safely?
Your vote against the HEROES Act in Congress– which would have provided billions of dollars to help stressed local school districts– suggests otherwise.
Instead you throw in your lot with Secretary DeVos, who is always looking for reasons to undermine public education.
Once again, your devotion to the whims of the Trump administration overrides any concern for the students, teachers and parents you purport to represent.
Judging from some of Congressman Cline’s recent posts on his campaign Facebook page, he has decided to throw in his lot with President Trump’s racially-divisive culture war.
Don’t expect any more statements (however weak and selective) calling for justice and supporting peaceful protests in the wake of the George Floyd murder. Instead, look for more posts like this, linking with approval to an article by Ben Domenech, rightwing publisher of The Federalist, complaining that Republican officeholders aren’t doing enough to challenge “anti-American leftists and their enablers in the Democratic Party.”
Domenech writes: “The thirst among Republican voters isn’t even for policy. It’s for seeing the politicians they elected join the fray.”
So, according to Domenech, Republican officeholders should stop caring about secondary stuff like policy– the ostensible reason they ran for office. Instead they should enlist in the battle to protect American history and heritage from Democrats who want the coming election to be a choice “between a party that loves this country and one that views its history with disgust, as racist and irredeemable.”
Excuse me, to which Democrats is he referring? Those who think Confederate generals– traitors to the United States who fought for the cause of keeping human beings in bondage– do not deserve public honor?
Is there room for a nuanced discussion of which monuments and symbols are obsolete relics of another era and which should be preserved despite the flaws of the people they honor?
Apparently taking Domenech’s advice to “join the fray,” Cline posted this about the Lexington City Council’s unanimous vote to change the name of city-owned Stonewall Jackson Cemetery:
Congressman, you can’t simultaneously enslave Black people, as Jackson did, and “bridge racial divisions.” It doesn’t work that way.
After revealing his contempt for Lexington (which voted heavily against him in the 2018 Congressional election), Cline speculates sarcastically about the cemetery’s new name.
I suppose they’ll rename it something like “Lexington Cemetery: Now with Surprise Inside!” Or if they want to be more accurate, something like “Future Democrat Voter Quarry.”
“Future Democrat Voter Quarry?” What are you saying here, Congressman? That Stonewall Jackson and others interred at the cemetery will rise from their graves and vote Democratic? That local Democrats will cheat in future elections by voting on behalf of the people buried there?
Hilarious stuff, Congressman. But not exactly in keeping with your pious recent letter calling for civil discourse and the need to find common ground with our political opponents.
Is a year-and-a-half of non-stop sycophancy to Donald Trump starting to take a toll on Congressman Cline?
At a moment when the COVID-19 cases are increasing in 40 of 50 states– when states like Texas which ignored warnings and reopened too early are reversing course and imposing restrictions– Cline has approvingly posted on Facebook a report from April about Attorney General Barr’s order to US attorneys to “consider legal action against governors if their efforts to stop the spread of the new coronavirus infringe on Americans’ civil rights.”
In a two-page memo, Mr. Barr directed all U.S. attorneys to “be on the lookout” for local and state directives that could violate religious, free speech or economic rights under the Constitution.
The clear purpose of the order (which as far as I can tell has never resulted in action against any state) was to pander to the small minority of Americans who opposed sensible measures (like mandatory facemasks in public) and to try to intimidate governors whom Trump believed were acting too aggressively to control the virus. Fortunately most of the states that did act aggressively months ago have been able to bring the virus under control and start to reopen responsibly.
Congressman Cline was a guest this week on the radio show of Charlottesville-based right-winger Rob Schilling.
No tough questions, of course. Just some invitations to talk about how allegedly awful a candidate Joe Biden is (including the obligatory reference to “sleepy Joe”).
According to Cline, Biden is “gonna be led by the Left, by the antifas of the world.” (“Antifa” is the latest Republican scare word, deployed even more often than “Pelosi.”)
Schilling actually suggested that Democrats are desperate to ditch Biden as their candidate for president– perhaps having failed to notice that Biden is currently leading Donald Trump by about 10 points in the national polls and by substantial margins in many of the “swing” states.
Cline seemed to agree, saying incongruously, “There are always those who want to see democracy replaced with dictatorship rule.”
Cline writes that “Joe Biden has been nowhere to be seen for months – that is not the type of leadership America needs.”
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.
Here’s the latest from the orange-skinned candidate Cline enthusiastically supports:
In non-response to my recent message to Congressman Cline about President Trump’s increasingly deranged and dangerous Twitter posts, I received the following form letter:
Frankly, Congressman, given your sycophantic support for Trump– regardless of his indefensible statements and actions– it is hard to assume “good intentions” by you. And if, as you claim, you have encouraged civil discourse from Trump, I haven’t seen the evidence.
This was Cline’s pathetic reply to Ken Smith, a Lynchburg Army veteran, who complained at a January town meeting about Trump’s insulting comments about the late Sen. John McCain, as well as other remarks aimed at top military leaders:
“Some of his rhetoric is that of a New York businessman,” Cline said in response to remarks Smith pointed to. “I am neither a New Yorker nor a businessman.”
Until Cline provides details of his supposed efforts to encourage more decent behavior by Trump, how can we take anything he says about civil discourse seriously?
Before Cline and other Republicans pop the champagne corks, they should be aware that according to the latest jobs report:
— Many people who have hung onto their jobs in the current crisis have seen their hours cut. The number of workers who want full-time hours but are working part-time because their employer doesn’t have enough work for them has more than tripled, from 2.7 million in February to 9.4 million in May.
— Roughly a fifth (6.6 million) of those out of work because of the virus are being counted as having dropped out of the labor force. This is because jobless people are only counted as unemployed if they are actively seeking work, which remains impossible for many.
— If all the 32.5 million workers who are out of work as a result of the virus had shown up as unemployed, the unemployment rate would have been 19.7% in May instead of 13.3%.
Food banks and other anti-hunger advocates have been pleading with Congress to increase food stamp benefits to make it easier for households to buy groceries, arguing it’s a much more efficient way to get food to the hungry while cutting down on the stress and stigma of waiting in food lines. But the program has become so partisan the idea of expanding it has been almost a nonstarter, even as Washington has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on other forms of aid like unemployment insurance and stimulus checks.
The gridlock comes as data increasingly shows the country is experiencing some of the highest food insecurity numbers on record, even with all of the aid Congress has doled out in recent weeks.
And of course the stock market is not the real economy, especially as it affects tens of millions of working people. That was true even before the COVID pandemic, and it will be true afterwards.
It seems that if you want to talk about anything with Congressman Cline these days, you need to make an appointment. I suspect that if it’s a matter he’d rather not discuss– such as the forcible dispersal of peaceful protesters so Donald Trump could have a photo op– an appointment is even more necessary (and harder to get).
Congressman Cline has issued a statement on the protests following the killing by a police officer of George Floyd last week in Minneapolis:
When are you going to call out Trump on his deranged and incendiary reactions to the protests– and about any number of subjects? That’s your necessary first step. Until you do that, everything else you say is beside the point
You express your respect and appreciation to those who protested peacefully. But you have nothing to say about the use of tear gas to disperse peaceful protesters outside the White House so Trump could have a photo op holding a Bible he has never read in front of a church where he was not invited. Or about the many other instances of unnecessary or excessive force by police. Until you can manage that, your denunciation of violence rings hollow.
You may want consider the the opinion of Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, one of only two African-American Republicans in Congress.
“But obviously, if your question is, should you use tear gas to clear a path so the president can go have a photo-op, the answer is no.”
Can’t you even acknowledge that?
Finally: It’s all very well to quote the Floyd family. I agree with them, as I hope most Americans do. I hope you will take a few minutes to watch a powerful statement by George Floyd’s younger brother Terrence.
The meaning of his words are clear enough. Not only is the Floyd family committed non-violence; it is committed to voting people like you and the president you so dutifully support out of office.
President Trump and the White House on Tuesday continued to promote a baseless conspiracy theory about a woman’s 2001 death, ignoring her grieving widower’s plea for peace and putting renewed pressure on social media companies about the president’s toxic use of their platforms. ….. “I’m asking you to intervene in this instance because the President of the United States has taken something that does not belong him — the memory of my dead wife and perverted it for perceived political gain,” Timothy Klausutis wrote last week in a letter to Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey. “My wife deserves better.” ….. One Republican congressman, Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), urged Trump to “stop creating paranoia,” adding that the divisive political strategy “will destroy us.” But most Republican lawmakers said nothing…
Unfortunately, but all too predictably, you are among the vast majority of Republican lawmakers saying nothing.
Congressman Cline, as the author the the Cline Watch website, I have had very little positive to say about you and your record in Congress. But I believe that– unlike the current occupant of the White House– you are not emotionally crippled. I know how rough politics can be, but you must understand at some level the horror of what President Trump is doing by needlessly inflicting pain on a grieving widower.
If that isn’t bad enough, Trump then retweeted a video of a Republican in New Mexico proclaiming to cheers: “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.” Although the speaker claimed he wasn’t being “literal,” what possible reason could Trump have for sending out that hateful message to his tens of millions of Twitter followers? Do I need to ask how you would have reacted if President Obama had retweeted a video of someone saying: “The only good Republican is a dead Republican”?
Of course, as even you might acknowledge, Obama would never have done that.
Trump doesn’t care what I and my fellow Democrats say about him. But it just might get his attention if you and more than a brave handful of Republicans like Congressman Kinzinger spoke out for simple human decency– even at the risk of some flak from the pro-Trump “base.”
Has Congressman Cline ever shown any interest in the working conditions of employees of poultry processing plants in the Shenandoah Valley portion of his district?
After this report in The Harrisonburg Daily News-Record, I’m still wondering:
On May 20, 317 COVID-19 cases were Shenandoah Valley poultry workers, according to an email from a state health official to a local activist and obtained by the Daily News-Record on Tuesday.
The email was sent by Dr. Laura Kornegay, director of the Central Shenandoah Health District, to Michael Snell-Feikema, a local activist and member of Community Solidarity with the Poultry Workers, on Saturday night.
In previous interviews, Hobey Bauhan, the president of the Virginia Poultry Federation, said that plants have made moves to protect their employees from the virus and every plant wants to keep its workforce safe.
[Rockingham County Administrator Stephen] King said the measures have been working.
“I do not think we have a problem with people contracting this virus in the workplace in that particular industry. I can say that with a high degree of certainty,” King said.
Snell-Feikema said he has continued to hear from poultry workers who express concerns about working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. One example he provided is that when on the line, poultry workers stand in such close proximity that social distancing is not possible.
Poultry workers have also spoken to the Daily News-Record, but declined to go on the record, or even speak on condition of anonymity, about their concerns about safety measures at poultry plants in the Valley.
On his Congressional Facebook page, Cline frequently posts advice and information about COVID-19. But not once has he mentioned the outbreak among the mostly Hispanic workers at the Valley’s poultry plants– part of the largest COVID-19 outbreak in his district.
Has he made the effort to talk with any of these workers?
As the representative of these workers in Washington, shouldn’t he want to find out what is causing it (working conditions, living conditions or both), and what can be done to stop it?
Or would doing this raise too many inconvenient questions about the poultry processors who generously support his political campaigns?