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Reading the Far Right: They Really Hate Women

Reading the Far Right: Hating Health Care, Hillary, and Empowered Women

Mixed in with glee at a step toward repealing Obamacare are some denunciations of Hillary Clinton and a really bizarre take on sexual harassment.

trudestress

This week in our reading of far-right media outlets: hating on Obamacare, hating on Hillary, some truly weird and offensive gender politics, and plenty of conspiracy theories.

Yes, that sounds like business as usual -- but the details do change each week, and since the devil is in the details, we read keep on reading these sites so you don't have to.

Last week Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives took their second stab at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, and they managed to pass a bill by a narrow 217-213 margin. All 217 of the yes votes were Republicans, but 20 GOPers joined 193 Democrats in voting against the bill, and one Republican member was absent.

Mainstream media outlets highlighted the negative effects the new bill, the American Health Care Act, would have on many Americans if it passes the Senate in its current form -- that's a big if -- and is signed into law by Donald Trump. It would roll back Medicaid expansion, resulting in coverage for 14 million fewer people over the next decade, The Washington Post reports. It would repeal the mandate for employers over a certain size to provide health insurance and repeal the tax penalty for self-employed or unemployed individuals who don't take out a plan, offering tax credits instead -- a move that is likely to result in fewer healthy people buying individual plans, so sick people would see an increase in cost. It would allow states to opt out of requiring that plans cover preexisting conditions. And it would significantly reduce funding to Planned Parenthood, at least temporarily.

But according to commentators on the extreme right, the AHCA is either just dandy or doesn't go far enough in removing the provisions of the ACA, a.k.a. Obamacare, which they consider a major failure even though it reduced the ranks of the uninsured by 20 million.

"It is simply a lie to say that the AHCA guts protections for people with pre-existing conditions," Guy Benson wrote at Townhall. He went on to detail several "layers of protection" that will be available if the bill becomes law in its present form. And Breitbart quoted Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho calling the mainstream media's reporting on the matter "pretty shameful."

But we'll turn back to one of those dreaded mainstream media outlets to parse what the bill means for preexisting conditions. "It protects people with preexisting conditions much as starving people may be welcome at a restaurant, but only if they order the most expensive dishes on the menu," Los Angeles Times columnist David Lazarus wrote.

An amendment to the bill authored by Rep. John MacArthur of New Jersey "would empower states to waive protections for those with preexisting conditions as long as they come up with some alternative way of making insurance available," Lazarus explained. "The catch, however, is that the amendment would not require insurers to charge the same rates that healthy people enjoy. That's why the likes of the American Medical Assn. and AARP have warned that, under the Republican plan, sick people could face rates so high that they'd be unaffordable for any but the wealthy."

That, however, isn't keeping the far right from lauding the AHCA, or at least some if its aspects. "Of course 'Trumpcare' is far from perfect, and it actually does very little to fix our rapidly failing healthcare system, but the reason why this is the best thing that Trump has done so far is because this bill would greatly reduce federal funding for Planned Parenthood," wrote Michael Snyder at Infowars, the site run by noted conspiracy theorist Alex Jones (more about Jones later).

Chuck Norris, the semiretired actor whose column is carried on World Net Daily, praised the expected demise of the ACA as well, apparently forgetting that just a few weeks ago he called for "restraining the health-care juggernaut of medical insurance and Big Pharma" -- something the ACA was designed, to some extent, to accomplish. Norris's most recent column also commended Trump's "religious freedom" executive order, something on which the right is divided.

And by the way, Barack Obama is "desperate to save his legacy from Donald Trump," according to a Breitbart headline. The former president defended the ACA in his speech accepting the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award Sunday. The Breitbart article was fairly straightforward except for the headline, and further noted, "it's clear that the president has no intention of staying out of the public spotlight." Obviously the extreme right wishes he would just go away, but a lot of the rest of us are grateful he's speaking out.

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Another Democratic politician back in the public spotlight is Hillary Clinton. The 2016 presidential nominee spoke to journalist Christiane Amanpour in front of an audience at a Women for Women International event last week in New York City. While Clinton said that as the nominee, she takes full responsibility for her loss (but let us not forget, she got 3 million more votes than Trump), she mentioned some factors that contributed: the letter from FBI director James Comey, about new information in the investigation of her use of a private email server while secretary of State (the new info amounted to nothing) and the possibility that Russian hackers sought to throw the election to Trump. She also said misogyny played a role.

This led the far-right media to label her a whiner. "Obviously, Hillary Clinton prefers fantasy to the harsh political reality of her disastrous campaign," wrote Townhall contributor Jeff Crouere. "She said, 'I was on the way to winning' until these supposedly disastrous circumstances united to derail her candidacy. It is quite convenient for Hillary to blame everyone else but herself."

Another Townhall columnist, Steve Sheldon, put in his two cents' worth as well: "She, along with her groupies, have blamed misogynist male voters, James Comey, and even the Russians, but yet fail to look closely at the candidate herself."

No, actually, she did shoulder the blame, saying, "I take absolute personal responsibility. I was the candidate. I was the person who was on the ballot." But she was correct to note that those other factors couldn't be ignored.

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Speaking of gender politics, Suzanne Fields, whose syndicated column is carried by Townhall in addition to more mainstream outlets, had a truly bizarre take on sexual harassment last week. She linked Bill O'Reilly, ousted from Fox News over accusations that he had sexually harassed several women (well, ousted mostly because the accusations were costing Fox money, in the form of legal settlements and lost advertising) and the sexually liberated protagonists of the HBO series Girls, in a column that came dangerously close to victim-blaming.

"They're bookends for the ways men and women relate to each other," Fields wrote. O'Reilly, she said, "was the alpha male who made it big in the media, playing by old rules overturned by a new sexual revolution." The characters played by Lena Dunham and her Girls castmates, according to Fields, are emblematic of that revolution: "Today, girls call themselves sluts, write 'Vagina Monologues' to demystify their anatomy, play the man as a boy toy and make vulgarity an equal-opportunity expletive. But they're on the winning side in the war between the sexes. The male is disarmed (for now). ... Women can cry rape, sometimes for real and sometimes for wolf, and ruin the innocent man along with the guilty."

So, women taking control of their sexuality is somehow equivalent to a man seeking to control them by valuing them based only on their potential to gratify him sexually? Upside down and backwards. And Fields ignores the fact that some men still get very light sentences for sexual assault or have very lucrative, successful careers despite accusations of assault or harassment. Her column is not that far from this assertion by the late, unlamented antifeminist Phyllis Schlafly: "Sexual harassment on the job is not a problem for virtuous women, except in the rarest of cases."

For good measure, Fields tossed in a bit of fat-shaming, saying Dunham "exposed her plump body from all angles, including full-frontal nudity, in an episode of 'Girls.'" Um, outside the world of actresses and models, Dunham could never be considered plump, even before her recent weight loss. She has an average-size body, and it's a safe bet she hasn't shopped in plus-size stores. But Fields would probably be appalled that women who do wear plus sizes even show themselves in public.

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And because no look at the extreme right would be complete without a dose of Alex Jones, who is much farther out there than the rest, here are some bits from him.

Most of the far-right sites haven't offered commentary on Marine Le Pen's loss to Emmanuel Macron in France's presidential election yet; it's pretty soon for them to do so, as the election just happened Sunday. But Infowars is on the case.

In a Sunday broadcast, after asserting (wrongly) about World War II that "there wasn't a French resistance till the last year or so of the war," Jones said, "Either France has just sold out to Germany again ... or, as the poll numbers show, there was massive election fraud." Jones had touted the xenophobic, anti-LGBT right-winger Le Pen as the better alternative to centrist Macron, a "globalist" in Jones's playbook. According to Jones, Macron will join forces with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is "letting Europe be captured by Islam."

Jones also recently hosted pal Roger Stone, a fellow conspiracy theorist and sometime adviser to Donald Trump. There are plots to overthrow Trump from within his administration, Stone said, as with some emanating from the State Department, which is full of employees recommended by that dangerous radical ... Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush's national security adviser and, later, secretary of State. Not that most of us liked how Rice promoted Bush's Iraq invasion, but she still seems rather reasonable compared to the Trumpers. Stone cited Rice's across-party-lines friendship with longtime Democratic strategist Donna Brazile as a sign she wants to undermine Trump.

Trump is "besieged by hyenas," Stone told Jones. "He's a giant surrounded by midgets. Many, many of the people who work for him, Alex, still don't understand him, don't understand his genius."

His genius. On that note we'll close, but we'll be back next week with more from the fringes of the right, which we read so you don't have to.

trudestress
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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.