The congressman for California's 48th district wants you to think he's a supercool surf dude who feels your pain. He's actually a Russia-loving, Trump-worshiping coward who avoids his constituents as if they carried a deadly virus. Heck, try giving him a call. You'll never hear back (Unless you're pledging a big donation).
There are many questions I woke up knowing I’d ask myself in the course of the day.
For example …
Where are my car keys?
Is LeBron really leaving Cleveland after this season?
Can the kid next door please stop playing his saxophone?
Here’s one I didn’t see coming …
Why is my congressman posing with a white supremacist?
I mean, with Dana Rohrabacher nothing truly surprises. But this one did catch me off guard. See the above photograph? See the guy in the beige jacket? That’s Dana Rohrabacher, standing on the steps of the London-based Ecuadoran embassy (aka: Yet Another Place That Isn’t Southern California). See the guy in the gray suit with the Zach Galifianakis vibe? Yeah, that guy. He’s Chuck C. Johnson—better know as Chuckie (to his cousins) and (to the rest of society) as the racist alt-right blogger who was banned from Twitter in 2015 for soliciting donations to “take out” a black activist named DeRay McKesson. Back in the aftermath of the Garland, Texas shootings, Johnson bragged (on Twitter) about crossing the police line to take pictures because “I don’t like waiting behind caution tape.” He has said there are no rape victims until a rapist is convicted. He put out this …
And this …
And this …
On Twitter he linked to both anti-Semitic and white supremacist accounts.
Again, why is Dana Rohrabacher posing with this creature?
There is this thing Dana Rohrabacher does, and he’s ridiculously good at it. I’m going to use a hypothetical example to illustrate …
Reporter Jim: “Congressman, some people have said you’re blindly loyal to Donald Trump. Is there any truth to that?”
Rohrabacher: “You know, Jim, I’ve been doing this a long time. And it will never cease to amaze me, the depth liberals will go to discredit me. But here’s the thing—while I’m working hard for the good people of Orange County, they’re always off on these wild goose chases. And people are smart enough to recognize what it is. Crazy far-left lunacy.”
It’s Rohrabacher: 101. He uses the reporter’s first name to show, hey, I’m on your level. We’re two dudes talking. He avoids answering the question. He deftly feeds his loyal followers anti-liberal red meat, while also reminding the general populous that, look, I’m just a guy trying to get things done, while the opposition is a bunch of nuts.
It sucks. But, again, he’s really, really, really, really good at it.
I bring this up because earlier today Rohrabacher was in the news again, this time for having met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Now, any human being with a head should be horrified by the above information. It doesn’t matter if you’re right, if you’re left, if you’re center—why in God’s name is Dana Rohrabacher, a California congressman, meeting with Julian Assange? And why, oh why, is he so desperate to clear Russia’s reputation—even after multiple United States intelligence agencies have confirmed the very thing (election tampering) Assange is denying?
It’s craziness. Fruit Loop craziness. And were I running against Rohrabacher, I’d want to use it 1,000 times over.
But … here’s the thing. Thanks to the Donald Trump-influenced numbing of our souls and brains, stuff like this (groundbreaking material that must horrify us all) no longer packs the punch of yesteryear. Assange? Meh, old news. Russian tampering? Yawn. I mean, sure, it’s a fine rallying point for the base. But will it sway Republicans to vote Democratic? Probably not.
Here, however, is what might.
We, the residents of Orange County’s 48th district, did not elect Dana Rohrabacher so he can be the Russian spokesperson. We didn’t elect Dana Rohrabacher to meet with Julian Assange. We did not elect him to deal with Turkey, to square off against the Ukraine, to take a trip to South Africa.
No, congressmen and congresswomen exist because we, the people of their districts, have specific needs—and they are our spokespeople. If I don’t like the way traffic flows through Main Street, I should be able to call Rohrabacher and get help. If I think the coyote population is out of control, I should be able to call Rohrabacher and get help. If I’m worried about common core, about the new mall, about social security impacting my family … on and on and on and on. I need to be able to reach out to my congressman and have my concerns eased.
At one time, perhaps that’s who Dana Rohrabacher was. But not now. The man is horrible at returning calls and e-mails. He rarely makes himself accessible to constituents. He basks in the national while ignoring the local.
It’s his 2018 Achilles heel, and it’s an enormous one.
So, were I running against him, I wouldn’t campaign on the specifics of Russia.
No. I’d campaign on the question: “Why, when my property taxes are through the roof, is my congressman visiting the Ecuadorean Embassy in London?
The silence of Dana Rohrabacher is nothing new, and those who have tried to …
A. Have him return a phone call.
B. Have him return an e-mail.
C. Have him hold an in-person town hall.
… know his willingness to engage and interact equals Jared Goff’s willingness to complete two passes in a row (Ouch. Sorry Rams fans).
When dealing with those who share his lunatic views and/or are extending huge wads of money, Rohrabacher is the Energizer Bunny. Otherwise, however, he is your typical political coward; concerned more about the upcoming election than doing the right thing.
Which leads us to Charlottesville.
In the aftermath of the ugliness, and in the aftermath of the president of the United States all but standing up for Nazis, Klansmen and their sympathizers, Dana Rohrabacher has been (wait for it … wait for it …) absolutely silent. That’s right—not a word, not a peep. His Facebook page hasn’t been updated for days. His Twitter feed—nary a peep.
Why? Because, like Donald Trump, Dana Rohrabacher does not (under any circumstances) believe in calling out racist asshole pigs. Hell, let’s go back to
As you read this, we are increasingly on the brink of some sort of nuclear confrontation with North Korea.
Now, back when I lived in New York, this would be (from a selfish standpoint) horribly, horribly, horribly upsetting news.
Here, in California, it’s all that—and then some.
See, according to most reports, North Korea already has the capabilities to reach California with a nuclear weapon. If that doesn’t freak you out, it should. A. Because Kim Jong-un is one unstable motherfucker. B. Because Donald Trump is also one unstable motherfucker.
I wish I were exaggerating those points, but I’m not. And if you need proof, just read over the news from the past few days, when the little man (Jong-un is listed at 5-9, which means he’s probably 5-5) and the little-handed man have played a which-country-will-perish first game of Who Has the Bigger Dick? Bingo.
Now, of course, Southern California is—in part—Dana Rohrabacher’s turf, and our congressman also appears (or at least brags about it) to have a close relationship with the 45th president. So one might think Rohrabacher would speak up. Or have opinions on the matter. Or, in his role as a foreign policy guy, offer vital input that might guide our nations away from confrontation.
Well … um, no.
Rohrabacher, being Rohrabacher, has uttered nary a word. And why? Because he has no game, and he’s never been a player. It’s all about perception with this guy—occasional flareups during testimony, occasional appearances at local store openings. And then …
… into hiding.
I assure you, when the bombs are falling on Huntington Beach, Dana Rohrabacher will be in a bunker, cowering in the basement and crying over the Obama plot to ruin the United States.
So I took a little break from posting here, because, well, this stuff can get pretty heavy. And in my absence I started thinking about the sad political reality of the increasingly new normal.
Here’s what I mean: A few days ago Donald Trump said the head of the Boys Scouts called and raved to him about his jamboree speech. The Scouts quickly denied this communication ever took place.
In other words, the 45th president of the United States lied.
Like, made it up.
Like, invented something that did not happen.
He actually lied again a few days ago. Alan Shipnuck, my friend and former Sports Illustrated colleague, was the one who reported on Trump calling the White House “a dump.” I’ve known Alan forever—he’s one of the best. Well, Trump said it never happened, chalked it up to #fakemedia.
Again, he lied.
Made it up.
Now here’s the messed-up part: This stuff is barely getting covered. It comes, lasts for a blink, then vanishes when different bonkers material arrives. The end result is a universal desensitization to stuff that would have doomed other political figures.
Why do I bring this up? Because in 2018, the playbook for running against Dana Rohrabacher is subject to change. Russia is an Achilles heel—but are people still interested in the subject, or numb? His oddball statements on Mars—I mean, preposterously dumb. But we’ve heard so much preposterous and dumb the past six months … will it stick?
I don’t know the answers. But a conventional game-plan won’t work.
As more and more newspapers, magazines, websites, Tweets, Facebook posts discuss Dana Rohrabacher’s increasingly obvious ties to Russia, it seems wise for those running to replace him to ask (loudly) a fair question: Does the man do anything for OC?
I’m actually being serious, because I’m drawing a blank. As a congressman, his first priority is supposed to be the district he represents. But aside from attention ribbon cuttings and floppy chicken fundraisers, when’s the last time you hear Rohrabacher actually discuss the 48th district in any meaningful way?
Answer: It’s been a long time.
So, yes, Russia is important. His loyalty to Grand Master Trump is important. His disinterest in the environment is important. His nut job statements are important. But, at its core, the upcoming election might come down to a singular pointed question: What have you done for your constituents? Then, a follow-up (after he babbles and blathers): What, specifically, have you done?
It’s an attack line without a solution; a pin to his manure-stuffed bubble. If we can show the residents of our beautiful stretch of California that their congressman is an all-talk-no-action fraud, we take his legs out from under him and change the narrative of this thing.
It’s a winning strategy.
PS: In case you missed this. Dana held a $2,700-a-head fundraiser at the home of Fariborz Maseeh. Dude can’t hold a town hall, but this … hey!
I christened this website “Crazy Dana” because I consider many of Dana Rohrabacher’s policy decisions and stances to be crazy. Yet I am but one man, and many of our fellow District 48 residents seem to disagree. They like how Dana supports Trump; how he doesn’t believe in man-influenced climate change; how he mocks liberals and digs surfing.
In short, they find him sane and reasonable.
Because of this, one of the challenges for next year’s election comes in convincing those on the fence that Rohrabacher isn’t merely misguided, but three dimes short of a dollar. That, my friends, was made considerably easier earlier today …
During a Tuesday afternoon hearing before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Rohrabacher asked a panel of space science experts (wait for it … wait for it) whether there was civilization on Mars in the past, and if life on Mars might be possible now.
I am not joking.
In particular, this was a gem:
Rohrabacher:“You have indicated that Mars had, was totally different thousands of years ago. Is it possible that there was a civilization on Mars thousands of years ago?”
Kenneth Farley, project scientist for NASA’s Mars Rover 2020 Project: “So, the evidence is that Mars was different billions of years ago, not thousands of years ago. There is no evidence that I’m aware of.”
Rohrabacher:“Would you rule that out?”
Farley: “I would say that is extremely unlikely.”
Here, take a gander …
The reaction, as one would expect, was mass ridicule on social media. Rohrabacher was mocked on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram. It became the day’s running joke, and rightly so.
And here’s the thing: We need to use this. The opposition can’t merely run on Russia, on climate change, on Trump. Those are feed-the-base issues, and while they’re important, they don’t generally relocate voters from one side of the booth to the other.
What’s powerful, though, is the (very real) idea that the man representing us (you and me!) is a buffoon; a national cartoon character making us look like a gaggle of idiots.
As you read this, we have seven people officially running to unseat Dana Rohrabacher in the 2018 congressional election.
This is far too many.
Although a good number of our liberal/Democratic peers and colleagues live in a state of odd denial, unseating Rohrabacher in the 48th Congressional district is a major uphill battle. Can it happen? Certainly. Is it likely to happen? Honestly—no. As we speak, Republicans maintain an 11-percentage point advantage in the district’s voter registration. Although that’s down from 15.5 percent four years ago, it’s still sizable. And Rohrabacher—for his 854,422,453 flaws—remains both well-funded and relatively liked.
Again, this wouldn’t be an easy win were we to offer up a singular opponent.
With seven, we’re making things particularly difficult.
I’ve been following the district closely. I’m also unaffiliated, and work for no candidate. I believe, ultimately, we’re best served by a thinned-down roster of candidates. The more isn’t the merrier, but the messier.
Were I to rank the entrants thus far, on best-to-worst odds of pulling off the upset, it’d go thusly …
• 1. Harley Rouda: Definitely the most organized thus far, and he’s raised a chunky wad of cash. Is conservative enough to pull from Rohrabacher, but liberal enough to maintain the Democratic base. That said, there are a good number of grumblings about his past support of John Kasich, and his YouTube ads (while well done) aren’t being seen by many people. A mere 210 views here, a mere 810 views here.
• 2. Hans Keirstead: He’s a pioneering stem cell and multimillionaire businessman (aka: can fund his own campaign—a huge plus). He also knows more about health care than all the other candidates combined. That said, he A. Was born and raised in Canada; B. Is heavily science oriented in a race that probably won’t be won and lost on said issues; C. Has surprisingly low name recognition for a man who’s been here a long time.
• 3. Laura Oatman: Smart, savvy Laguna Beach-based architect. This is going to sound shallow and dumb, but there’s a weakness here that troubles me: To quote from her website bio—”I had started eating plant-based to regain my health naturally. When I saw my results, I wanted to help others, so I went back to school at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and California College of Ayurveda. I wrote the Amazon bestseller, Whole Earth Diet, and started my second business, Whole Earth Wellness, helping people across the country to help them get well and stay well naturally.”
Now, as a liberal and as a healthy eater, I love this. But—and it’s a big but in the world of perception politics—to win this election, our candidate will have to sell himself/herself to non-liberals; to folks who generally view us as climate-nutty, afraid-to-hurt-any-feelings granola “snowflakes” (a word I hate, for the record). Is it crap? Sure. Does it suck? Absolutely. Is it our regrettable reality in 2018 within a conservative district? Yes. And I’m not entirely sure that Laura’s bio (impressive as it is) flies across the spectrum.
• 4. Omar Siddiqui: The latest entrant has an interesting resume (attorney; son of Pakistani immigrants; Fullerton native) and it’s actually somewhat easy to imagine Rohrabacher uttering xenophobic slurs his way during debates (it’s a Dana speciality, and would probably help Siddiqui). That said, he’s REALLY conservative, and stands out (negatively) as a guy insisting the Democrats need to work with Donald Trump. I’ll give him points for originality, but anyone in favor of/sympathetic toward the 45th president is likely voting for Rohrabacher.
• 5. Tony Zardakes: He’s an American Airlines pilot and a former marine. Those make him very interesting. But (and, again, this probably sounds overly simplistic) his website is a WiX site, which one creates for free with a simple template. There’s a nonsensical photo gallery, including one image of Tony holding what appears to be a rifle and a dead duck. I’m not trying to be a jerk—but it just feels like a Class A ballplayer trying to break into the Majors.
• 6. Brandon Reiser: He’s actually running as a Libertarian, but his positions lean hard liberal. I just don’t see the traction here, and it’s not merely the 102 Twitter followers. If you’re going to make a dent as a third party candidate, you have to somehow leap off the page. I’m not sure he does.
• 7. Boyd Roberts: Your crazy uncle comes over for Christmas and says, “Guess what! I’m dating Halle Berry!” Everyone nods and returns to their lamb and potatoes.
By now everyone reading this is aware of Donald Trump’s Twitter assault on MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski. It was the news of the day, and his sexist, grotesque verbal barf bag was repudiated by dozens upon dozens of political leaders from both sides of the aisle.
And here, in his exact language, is what our congressman, the honorable Dana Rohrabacher, said:
Yes, that’s correct. He said nothing. Not one word. Not one grunt. Not one murmur. Nothing.
Know why? Because Dana Rohrabacher never, ever, ever stands up to Donald Trump, or stands up for what’s right if it means opposing his party. There are no stands based upon courage; no powerful righteous moments.
Dana Rohrabacher stayed quiet because that’s what he does.
Like you, I want Dana Rohrabacher to lose his job.
Like you, I find the man embarrassing, repulsive, sad, bitter, petty.
Like you, I am offended by his history with Russia; his limited interest in civil rights; his blind obedience to Donald Trump.
That all being said, I fear we anti-Dana activists are starting to trap ourselves in a hole that, come 2018, will be hard to escape from. Here’s what I mean …
We keep repeating the same things. Russia. No town halls. Loves Trump. Russia. No town halls. Loves Trump. Russia. No town halls. Loves Trump. Russia. No town halls. Loves Trump. Russia. No town halls. Loves Trump. Russia. No town halls. Loves Trump. And, yes, they excited/enrage us.
But I don’t actually think they’re enough to move the needle. Dana has his loyal supporters and Dana has his bitter detractors. In the middle there’s this enormous blob of District 48 voters who just … don’t … pay … that … much … attention. They’re dependable voters who come out and pull the lever the same way every single time.
Sadly, more of those folks vote for Dana than against him.
So here’s what we really need to do between not and Election Day 2018: Register young voters, and more young voters, and more young voters. I don’t exactly know how to go about this in a grand scale, but someone does, and he/she might wind up being the difference between another two years of Rohrabacher and a fresh progressive face.
We have to simultaneously increase our numbers and pump out the messages that make winning possible.