Fringe Factor

12.08.13

Fringe Factor: Obamacare, A Modern-Day Apartheid

The Fringe is back from Thanksgiving break with more enlightened views: the GOP is just like Mandela; gays shouldn’t be elected to Congress; women should have to buy special insurance if they’re raped; and more.

The GOP’s Fight Against Obamacare? Just Like Mandela

Thursday was a sad day, with both the loss of Nelson Mandela and the instant rush by everyone with a microphone, Twitter account or other type of platform to say the most profound, insightful or even controversial thing about the late, great South African hero. While interviewing former Senator and one-time presidential candidate Rick Santorum on his Fox News show Thursday, Bill O’Reilly declared—several times—that Mandela was a communist. Santorum, on the other hand, proceeded to compare the Republican Party to the anti-apartheid hero, likening the struggle against racial injustice to the GOP’s struggle against big government and, namely, Obamacare. Worse than the fact that Santorum would compare one man’s fight against racism and inequality to the battle that his buddies in Congress are waging against affordable health care for all Americans, Think Progress noted that Santorum was clearly not aware that after Mandela ended apartheid, he also created a government-funded healthcare system and made a fundamental right to health care part of South Africa’s new constitution.

Making Employers Cover Birth Control Is Like Forcing Jewish Delis to Sell Pork

The Supreme Court won’t rule on whether employers can be required, under the constitution, to provide coverage for their employees contraception until this spring, but evangelical pastor Rick Warren is already made up his mind. “I don’t have a problem personally with contraception but I support anybody’s right to not have to pay for it if they don’t believe in it,” Warren told HuffPost Live. “That’s what I support. That’s called the freedom of speech.” Not surprising, but the following analogy might  be a bit of a stretch. “In other words, if all of a sudden they made a law that said every Jewish deli in Manhattan has to start selling pork, I would be out there with the rabbis protesting that,” he said. “Why? I don’t have a problem with pork, but I believe in your right to not have to sell pork if it’s not in your faith.” While this is a nice attempt by Warren to prove that his convictions aren’t strictly Christian-centric, it’s a bit misguided. The ACA’s contraception mandate does not target religious institutions specifically; in fact, the Obama Administration has already let religious organizations off the hook with regards to complying with the contraception rule. The question the Supreme Court will consider is whether regular a business, such as Hobby Lobby, has the right to deprive their female employees of insurance plans that cover birth control because of the religious beliefs of its owners.

Rep. Campaigns Against Gay Candidates

Since Rep. Randy Forbes of Virginia was elected in 2001 he’s taken on some crucial assignments, such as serving as chairman of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. But now the senior House Republican is throwing his weight behind a crusade of his own: to keep gay candidates out of Congress. Forbes is reportedly lobbying his colleagues as well as the higher-ups at the National Republican Congressional Committee to deny financial backing to gay candidates. This campaign of Forbes’s is controversial even within the strongly conservative House GOP, as two of its most promising 2014 candidates looking to take Democratically held seats—Richard Tisei of Northern Massachusetts and San Diego’s Carl DeMaio—are openly gay. House Speaker John Boehner himself has encouraged his party members to support gay Republicans. The NRCC is partially able to back congressional campaigns with tens of millions of dollars worth of dues paid by House Republicans. Forbes is opposed to House members being asked to contribute to gay candidates’ campaigns, which is critical as his name has been floated to replace House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon if he retires. It’s a title that comes with access to a lot of money from the military sector, money that could be contributed to the NRCC to help elect more Republican candidates.

California GOP Drives Traffic Away from Obamacare With Trick Website

One might think that with all of its own internal problems, the Affordable Care Act has done a fine job sabotaging itself so far. But the California Republican Assembly couldn’t resist helping out. Critics say the Golden State’s GOP is deliberately driving Californians away from signing up for Obamacare with a misleading website. The Assembly GOP Caucus says that CoveringHealthCareCA.com—easily confused with CoveredCA.com, the state’s official insurance exchange site—is meant to inform Californians about the ins and outs of the complex health care law. But its critics say that the GOP site highlights only the costs involved in ACA and argue that CoveringHealthCareCA.com is just another one of the many fake insurance websites that have popped up since Obamacare was implemented.

Rape Is Like a Car Accident: It Requires Extra Insurance

Michigan lawmakers are debating whether or not to pass a citizen-proposed bill requiring women to purchase separate insurance plans for abortions—even in cases of rape, incest, or where the mother’s health is at risk. A virtually identical bill was actually vetoed last year by Republican governor Rick Snyder because it requires rape victims to pay the full cost of their abortion unless, of course, they’d planned ahead and bought separate abortion insurance just in case they got raped. But anti-abortion activists in the state gathered enough signatures to bring the initiative back. Earlier this year, Right to Life of Michigan president Barbara Listing argued on behalf of the initiative by comparing rape and incest to car accidents and floods. “Nobody plans to have an accident in a car accident, nobody plans to have their homes flooded. You have to buy extra insurance for those,” she said.

If You Can’t Negotiate with Them, Nuke Them

Rep. Duncan Hunter of California hopes the U.S. doesn’t have to go to war with Iran, but if we do, it better be nuclear. “I think a ground war in Iran with American boots on the ground would be a horrible thing and I think people like to toss around the fact that we have to stop them in some way from gaining this nuclear capability,” Hunter said on C-Span this week. “I don’t think it’s inevitable but I think if you have to hit Iran, you don’t put boots on the ground, you do it with tactical nuclear devices and you set them back a decade or two or three. I think that’s the way to do it with a massive aerial bombardment campaign.” A spokesman for the non-profit Center for Arms Control and Non-proliferation responded to Hunter’s comments in Defense News. Such an attack “would a devastating impact on U.S. national security and dismember U.S. power and standing in the world,” Kingston Reif said. “That a senior Republican member of the House Armed Services Committee is even suggesting such a possible course of action is the height of reckless irresponsibility and so far out of bounds it is astonishing.”