It’s hard not to have a little schadenfreude about Donald Trump, Republicans in Congress, and the far-right media now all fighting each other after the failure (so far) to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act.
Our reading of the far-right sites over the past few days (so you don't have to) reveals much outrage at Speaker of the House Paul Ryan after he and other Republican leaders pulled the replacement bill, the American Health Care Act, from consideration last week because they knew it wouldn’t pass. The bill preserved some features of the ACA, making it unpalatable to the farthest of the right, but still would have gutted the ACA to the point that millions would lose their health insurance, so it had no support from liberals or centrists.
Ryan should do what’s right for the country and his party and resign, “Trumpocrat” Bill Bova told Breitbart in an exclusive interview over the weekend. (Bova led a political action committee of — supposedly — Democrats who left their party to support Trump for president last year.)
Bova denounced “Ryan and his gang of establishment, globalist, corporatist Republicans who want the health insurance companies to charge higher and higher premiums, who want the big pharmaceutical companies to charge higher and higher prices not lower prices, who want the big insurance companies to charge a 28-year-old completely healthy male another $200 a month for his health insurance because he has to have maternity leave benefits in it.” (Maternity benefits actually cost much less than that; for an explanation of the argument that every plan should cover them, as required under the ACA, see this Guardian article.)
Arthur Schaper, a columnist on Townhall — he recently warned about violent LGBT activists — went ballistic against Ryan too, saying it’s too bad Trump can’t just tell him “You’re fired.” “Failure, thy name is (Former?) Speaker Paul Ryan,” Schaper wrote in his latest piece. “I am tired of this guy. I am tired of these old-school, make-nice lawmakers who won’t go all the way and kill Obamacare. What more do these losers need to see in order to know that doubling down and going the distance can and does work?” The ACA doesn’t need to be replaced, Schaper continued, saying, “Government intervention is not needed” in the health insurance market.
Oddly enough, though, at least one far-right commentator is actually calling for more, not less, government intervention. In a column on World Net Daily, onetime actor Chuck Norris pointed out the wealth of insurance and pharmaceutical companies, then wrote, “No government policy or law is going to correct these problems unless it directly confronts and addresses the money monopoly and dictatorship run by health-care moguls. Washington needs to work piecemeal on health-care law by first restraining the health-care juggernaut of medical insurance and Big Pharma.” Wow. That could cost Norris his conservative card, except he's been plenty right-wing in the past.
Over at Infowars, a site that’s often not just far-right but totally deranged, Alex Jones denounced Ryan too and predicted that Trump will eventually get his repeal-and replace plan through — if some elite leftist celebrity doesn’t kill him. “You see all over the news … politicians, Hollywood stars, calling for the death of Donald Trump,” Jones said in a recent video. This has come because “the establishment does not like Trump,” according to Jones, who said Trump will stand against “crony capitalism” and so-called globalists and corporatists. Hmm, pardon us if we don’t believe Trump would do anything to rein in the wealthy and powerful. (Norris, who would like to see them reined in, didn’t suggest Trump was necessarily the man for the job.)
Another Infowars contributor, Kit Daniels, has an accompanying video discussing the possibility of an assassination attempt on Trump. He noted that the attempt on President Reagan’s life came after he’d been in office about the same amount of time Trump has, and Daniels even dropped a suggestion that the Bush family was behind it. We can think of many things to criticize the Bushes for, but just no on this. Daniels also posited that Madonna’s sarcastic comment about blowing up the White House, Snoop Dogg’s staging of an assassination in a video, and even Saturday Night Live’s lampooning of Trump could inspire someone to take him out.
One more note on Infowars: A story circulating in the past few days, saying Alex Jones had claimed President Obama hired a “witch doctor” to read Trump’s mind, is actually satire. It’s not beyond belief that Jones would make such a claim, though, so it’s understandable that some readers bought the story.
A crime story from Montgomery County, Md., a suburban area just outside Washington, D.C., has brought anti-immigrant commentary out in droves. A 14-year-old girl who attends Rockville High School has accused two older students, both undocumented immigrants, of raping her in a school restroom earlier this month. Rather than simply recognize that (a) rape is a terrible crime and all accusations should be taken seriously, while (b) anyone accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, some far-right commentators are using the case to tar all immigrants, especially undocumented ones, as criminals.
“This incident has shocked the nation and exposed the dangers of open borders and lax immigration enforcement,” Jeff Crouere wrote on Townhall. “By allowing millions of illegal aliens into this country, the safety of law abiding Americans has been put at risk. Daily, tragic stories are reported of Americans being victimized by illegal aliens.”
Several other columnists, including Cal Thomas and Derek Hunter, used the case to decry policies that welcome immigrants, including Rockville’s proposal to become a sanctuary city. One problem, though: Immigrants, documented or undocumented, are not more likely to commit crimes than the native-born, and may even be less likely.
Here’s that information from a mainstream conservative, Mona Charen. “There are good and bad arguments against immigration,” she wrote in a column last week. “I am sympathetic to some restrictionist points, but smearing immigrants as out-of-control criminals is shameful. High rates of immigration, legal and illegal, are not associated with spikes in crime. In our recent history, between 1990 and 2013, the illegal immigrant population in the U.S. more than tripled to 11.2 million. Yet FBI data indicates that the violent crime rate declined by 48 percent during those years. … Some immigrants commit crimes. But as the data shows, most keep their noses clean.”
No recap of a week in the deranged portion of the right wing is complete without some anti-LGBT sentiment. The Benham brothers, David and Jason, have again suggested that the nation is on the verge of collapse because it is too accepting of LGBT people.
“When God is rejected, truth collapses in its wake,” they wrote in a column published Sunday on World Net Daily. “And truth is the bedrock upon which civil society rests. … And the collapse of truth has consequences, especially for convictional Christians who hold to biblical truth claims about human sexuality.”
They see the latest threat coming from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district in North Carolina, where until recently there were plans to use a picture book called Jacob’s New Dress in all first-grade classes. Jacob, the little boy who likes to wear dresses, doesn’t identify as gay or transgender, and the book is simply meant to discourage bullying of children who don’t conform to prescribed gender roles, say its authors, Ian and Sarah Hoffman. But some parents and politicians objected to the book, and the school district removed it from the curriculum. And to the Benhams, the book was about “pushing the LGBTQ agenda on the minds of our kids.”
“Because we have denied God, we have lost the basis for all truth,” they concluded. “As a result, we are not free to flourish as God designed. And we have completely lost our minds in this nation.”
LGBT Americans and anyone else who was ever bullied for being different would most likely see the presence of books like this as a sign of sanity, not the opposite. But such is the worldview of the Benhams.
We’ll be back next week with more reading of the far right so you don’t have to.