Coffee with Laura Oatman

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So a few minutes ago I wrapped up an hour-long coffee chat with Laura Oatman here at the Starbucks in Laguna Niguel.

Laura, for those who might not know, is running for the 48th congressional seat. By the relatively meaningless rankings of likely Democrats to unseat the awful Dana Rohrabacher, she’s hanging a strong third, behind (but not all that far behind) Hans Keirstead and Harley Rouda.

Were I breaking it down (which I suppose I’m about to do), it’d go something like this:


• The only serious Democratic candidate who has lived her entire life in Southern California. If I’m Oatman, I milk that and milk that and milk that. It matters. It’s what representation is supposed to be about. This isn’t a gig for the person with the most dough. It’s a gig for the person with the most love and interest in his/her community. Harley isn’t from here. Hans isn’t from here. Laura is from here. This is her turf. She raised her kids here. Built a business here. She can make that pitch—convincingly.

• Self-made businesswoman who, after losing her architecture job during the economic downturn of the mid-2000s, started her own firm from scratch. Which she still runs. Generally speaking, people relate with the “self-made” designation. As they should.

Extremely personable. And that’s not code for “She’s a woman” or “Only female candidate.” Laura has a natural warmth to her that shines in one-on-one conversation. It’s easy to see her owning a room. It’s easy to see her as a striking contrast to the ornery, awkward, somewhat-senile-and-odd Rohrabacher.

• Very strong on environmental issues.

• Seems willing to slug it out with Dana Rohrabacher, need be. This is a major weakness for Keirstead, who seems reserved and a bit guarded. Oatman projects a certain toughness. Not a “fuck you” toughness, but a “I don’t need to take your shit” toughness.


• Dough. Or lack thereof. Which doesn’t mean Laura hasn’t succeeded in raising campaign money. No—it means she’s not as independently wealthy as Keirstead or Rouda. And while it sucks that this is a factor, well, it’s a factor. Races that once cost $75,000-to-$100,000 to run now cost (bare minimum) $750,000-to-$1 million. Can Laura raise that? Certainly possible. But it does help to know certain folks already have it in pocket.

• Very strong on environmental issues: Weird, right? Because I just listed this as a pro. But here’s the thing—environmental issues are the ultimate double-edged sword. To win the 48th a candidate will have to (100% have to) steal Republican/right-leaning votes. And, generally, Republican voters focus on business before trees, air, water. So while one can be pro-environment, she/he also has to be pro-business and sound pro-business. There’s an awkward crossover there.

• Vegan: Laura is vegan. Which I applaud. And this might sound like a dumb criticism. But there’s an imagery Democrats have to overcome, especially in right-leaning areas. And it’s the whole granola, “Free to be You and Me,” let’s-all-hold-hands-and-hug mojo that (stupidly) causes some Republicans to say, “Uhg, enough with this touchy-feely shit.” I’m not sure if I’m being clear here, but it’s true. What Dana Rohrabacher does well is speak plainly, boldly, Republican-ly. “We need to stop immigrants! We need to build up the military! Force! Bluster! Bluster! Force!” It’s maddening, but the simplicity of message and tone resonates. So … there’s a line to walk.


My conclusion: Right now, Laura Oatman is the Ross Perot (circa 1992) of the Democratic field. Would I bet my house on her win? No. Would I feel comfortable betting my house that she doesn’t win? Also no.

She’s a potentially strong candidate whose local ties stand out. She has yet to break through.

But I think she might.

And can.


Dana and Nazi sympathizers

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A symbol that doesn’t much seem to bother our congressman

Crazy—and true—new report from

Dana Rohrabacher, the same man who attended a Huntington Beach march with Neo Nazis, recently brought Charles C. Johnson, a well-known Holocaust denier, to a meeting with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.

This, from the article:

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To be clear: I don’t take Nazi symbolism lightly. I would never throw it around, use it to exaggerate, pretend someone has leanings they don’t. For example, I think Donald Trump is a crumb and a nightmare. Do I think he admires Nazis? No.

This, however, is different.

This is Dana Rohrabacher.

There are things worth using in 2018.

Repeated associations with Nazi sympathizers is one of them.

A big one.

Dana Rohrabacher on health coverage

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Marvin Hagler (right) treated Tommy Hearns like Dems need to treat Dana on health care

Now that Donald Trump has gone all in into dismantling Obamacare, it’s time for people to pay attention—close attention—to Dana Rohrabacher on the issue.

For the most part, ol’ Dana has stayed out of the debate. He talks tons about Russia and  surfing and surfing and Russia, but few are the statements from our congressman that concern overturning the health care law.

Why? Simple. Because, for him, it’s a big loser. The vast majority of Californians like Obamacare. Poll after poll shows this. So the worst thing Rohrabacher can do is dive headfirst into a debate he loses.

Which is why we need—need need need—to force his hand.

There are winning issues and losing issues in the 2018 election. Dana Rohrabacher stays in office if we make it about town halls. Why? Because the vast majority of denizens don’t really care. Dana Rohrabacher stays in office if we make it about Donald Trump’s personality. Why? Because while most people don’t enjoy Trump’s in-your-face antics, that (in and of itself) has little to do with Dana Rohrabacher. Dana Rohrabacher stays in office if we make it about taxes. Why? Because he’ll just brag about tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts. And people like the language, even if the implementation stinks.

So where are the vulnerabilities? Well, there’s certainly his lack of bills. There’s certainly his weird obsession with Russia. There’s certainly his kooky and erratic behavior. There’s certainly his stupidity over the environment.

And there’s health coverage.

As people start to lose protections, Rohrabacher will stammer and shrug and try to distance himself from the fray. Well, that can’t happen. In boxing (to use a sports metaphor), you don’t let an opponent breathe. You hit him, you charge forward, you hit him again. You slug the ribs, then the gut, then the ribs again. You don’t let him regain his footing.

That’s Dana Rohrabacher. Health care is a slippery slope.

Push him.

I don’t feel great about Hans Keirstead

Earlier tonight I attended a meeting of the Laguna Beach Democratic Club. It was my first time at their gathering, and the scene was fantastic. Mostly filled seats, free snacks and an uplifting optimism in the error era of Donald Trump.

What had most of the attendees jazzed was a scheduled appearance from Hans Keitstead, considered by many to be the person who will offer the greatest challenge to Dana Rohrabacher in next year’s District 48 congressional race. Keitstead is a smart, successful, handsome scientist who is known to many as one of the world’s leading innovators in stem cell research. His bio is impressive; his individual wealth important. Even though there are nearly a dozen men and women running to snag Rohrabacher’s seat, the Democratic National Committee had already deemed Keitstead its brightest hope. That’s why they are putting a good chunk of money behind his candidacy—and none behind any of his opponents.

I digress.

Keitstead had to cancel a live showing tonight because he’s in Washington, D.C. So he Skyped in, apologized and spoke to the assembled folk for, oh, 20 minutes.

And he was bright.

And he was devoted.

And he was overflowing with conviction.

And he was …


… so boring and uninspired.

I know. I know. This sounds awful, and we need to support our own. But Hans Keitstead was making a first impression to most of us in the room, and it was dry as toast; dull as cardboard; flat as Velveeta. After introducing himself, he spoke at length about the value of health insurance, and told the inspiring story of someone who can now walk after being certain he never would. The tale was plenty fantastic, but (again, being honest) I kept thinking, “What the hell does this have to do with winning my vote?” I can’t speak for everyone, but a whole bunch of folks looked to be paying more attention to their phones than Keitstead. No good.

This is a big problem, because to overcome Rohrabacher (a man as cagey as he is nutso) one must come armed with more than an inspiring story and a smooth stump speech. Nope—he must arrive with a sword. A big sword. He must be willing to chop Rohrabacher to bits; to show (repeatedly) that our congressman is equal parts crazy and unaccomplished; batshit loco and callously indifferent. It sucks, but we won’t win this thing solely on the basis of better ideas. No, no, no. We need better ideas mixed with nonstop reminders that Rohrabacher belongs inside a straight jacket.

Hans Keitsetad struck me as polite and kind. Those are virtues I want in a friend, in a relative, in a representative. But, in a candidate in 2018, I need more.

Much more.

Right now, I’m not convinced he has it.

Dana Rohrabacher had ONE thing going for him

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“Mr. President, it’s Rohrabacher again …”

Say what you want about Dana Rohrabacher, but he had one thing going for him, and it was a biggie: President Trump seemed to like and respect him.

I know … I know—yuck. Trump. I agree. But whether you like or loathe a commander in chief, it’s certainly not a bad thing for your local representative to be on good terms with someone with so much power. Especially here, in California, a state the president barely seems to know exist. Heck, the argument can be made that of all the elected officials in the Golden State, Dana Rohrabacher most had the president’s attention.

That, if nothing else, was something our man could hang his hat on!


Eh, right?

Um … hello? Cleveland?

As it turns out, the White House wants nothing to do with Dana Rohrabacher. Which, oddly, speaks well of the White House.

According to Business Insider, John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, is actively blocking Rohrabacher from meeting with Trump. And, wonderfully, the source of this information is … Dana Rohrabacher.

Here, take a gander …

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So, let’s think about this. When Dana Rohrabacher runs for office, he always—like, always, always, always—cites his foreign policy credentials. Hell, that’s his go-to mojo. Yet now, the president of the United States will not grant him an audience. Think about that: A fellow Republican will have nothing to do with Dana Rohrabacher.

If I’m someone running against Rohrabacher in 2018, that’s not merely something I evoke on the stump.

It’s a chunk of my platform.

Thoughts, prayers, Dana Rohrabacher

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I am not devoting today to thoughts and prayers.

I am not kneeling and thinking about the victims.

I am not kneeling and praying for the victims.

Fifty-eight victims have died.

They are gone.

Lost to time

Invisible to existence.

Today, kids have lost mothers.

Mothers have lost kids.

Brothers have lost brothers.

Grandchildren have lost grandparents.

Friends have lost friends.

Fiances have lost fiances.

There are children who, until last night, were destined to be born. Grandchildren. Generations of families, eternally wiped out before they could ever arrive, plant seeds and thrive.

I will not insult them by kneeling and praying and thinking.


Today, I will stare down our congressman, Mr. Dana Rohrabacher, who has repeatedly turned a blind eye to gun violence (while gladly taking NRA dough) and I will say, “What the fuck will it take?”

Have you not received enough NRA coin?

Is your A rating from the NRA not enough?

Was your vote to block gun registrations in Washington, D.C. not enough?

Was your vote to decrease the waiting period not enough?

Was Columbine not enough?

Was Sandy Hook not enough?


San Bernardino?

You insult me by offering thoughts and prayers. Thoughts and prayers do not stop weapons like the one used last night. Thoughts and prayers do not help society prevent future catastrophes.

Thoughts and prayers are your mental laziness … your political cowardice.

I know you will do nothing. So go think and pray.

Go think and pray.

Dana XVI: Even Crazier

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Vote for me: I’m crazy.

Sooooo … earlier today the San Francisco Chronicle published a profile of Dana Rohrabacher.

And …

Eh …

Ah …

He’s insane.

Here’s the link. Trust me—read it. This is new level stuff; the sort of material that, in the pre-Trump world, would serve to eliminate a candidate from any future public office. Back in the old days of, um, 2015, a human couldn’t be this outspokenly batshit insane and thrive in the political world.

But here we are, in September 2017, facing the potential 16th term of a man who …

A. Is convinced the violence in Charlottesville was caused by a former “Hillary and Bernie supporter” who got Civil War re-enactors to gather violently while pretending they were angry about a Robert E. Lee statue. “It was a setup for these dumb Civil War re-enactors,” Rohrabacher told Joe Garofoli, the writer. “It was left-wingers who were manipulating them in order to have this confrontation” and to “put our president on the spot.”

B. Thinks Russia had nothing—absolutely nothing—to do with our 2016 presidential election. “That story,” he said, “is a total fabrication in order to do one thing: To prevent Donald Trump from exercising the legitimate authority he was given by the voters in the last election.”

C. Is itching to cut a deal with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who he visited this past summer at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

This goes on and on and on.

Trust me.



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As predicted, Dana Rohrabacher has 100-percent supported Donald Trump’s DACA movement. This is from the Orange County Register

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I’m not sure if Russia is, in and of itself, a winning issue against Rohrabacher.

I’m not sure if a refusal to hold town halls is a winning issue, either.

This, however, is.

It shows heartlessness, cruelty, indifference. It paints the happy surfer grandpa in a truthful light.

We need to us it.

Dana’s silence on DACA

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Is there’s one thing we’ve learned about Dana Rohrabacher since the inauguration of Donald Trump, it’s that he’s terrified of Daddy.

Rohrabacher won’t criticize Donald Trump.

He won’t speak up on issues that are important to Donald Trump.

He certainly won’t oppose Donald Trump.

That means, when the president officially announces tomorrow that he plans on ending DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), Dana Rohrabacher won’t utter a peep. He won’t complain, he won’t gripe, he won’t rip, he won’t bemoan.

He’ll stay silent.

It’s fantastic.

Why “fantastic”? Because, with the exception of his beloved Huntington Beach-based skinheads and wanna-be Nazis, most everyone in Southern California has empathy and understanding for people who were brought here as children. I’m being serious about this—I know many Republicans, but I know (literally) zero Republicans who think we should deport people who arrived (with no say) as children; who have never actually lived in the nations they’ll be deported to.

It’s a mean, vicious thing the president is about the do, and Dana Rohrabacher will—100-percent guaranteed—sit back and grimace.

No words.

No anger.

Just grimace.

Well, that grimace is a poster. It’s a commercial.

It’s the stuff that loses elections.

Why is Dana Rohrabacher posing with a white supremacist?

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Johnson-Rohrabacher: Two white guys with free time and bad outfits

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 …

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And this …

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And this …

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On Twitter he linked to both anti-Semitic and white supremacist accounts.

Again, why is Dana Rohrabacher posing with this creature?