Health Care Reform Is Worse Than Terrorism? You Could Not Make This Stuff Up

Jodi Jacobson

Far, far right television and radio talk show hosts provide an echo chamber for a very far out statement by Republican Congresswoman Virginia Foxx that health reform is more dangerous than terrorism.

Media Matters reports that the far right media echo chamber is now repeating comments on Monday by Republican Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) that we "have more to
fear from the potential of that [health reform] bill passing than we do from any
terrorist right now in any country."

Let’s see…..more to fear…not from terrorism, not from climate change, not from security concerns of failed states, and not from an economy being buried under the weight of health care costs, but from a piece of legislation that seeks to expand access to health care among both the currently insured and uninsured alike.

I don’t know, but it seems to me this is further evidence that the Republican party has in fact been taken over by aliens (of the outer-space kind). Or perhaps she is just being visited by the spirit of Jesse Helms.

Whatever type of invaders are at play, they’ve strategically spread themselves out through the system.

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Foxx, speaking on the House floor on Monday, November 2nd said:

Thank you, Madame Speaker. Everywhere I go in my district, people tell me they
are frightened. They are frightened about what is happening in this country.
They fear for the future of our country. What they’re talking about is that they
fear for our freedoms, and they fear for the principles that formed this country
and have always been the basis on which we’ve operated. I share that fear, and I
believe they should be fearful. And I believe the greatest fear that we all
should have to our freedom comes from this room, this very room, and what may
happen later this week in terms of a tax increase bill masquerading as a health
care bill. I believe we have more to fear from the potential of that bill
passing than we do from any terrorist right now in any
country.

Media Matters notes that:

Following Foxx’s statement, Fox
News’ Glenn Beck compared health care reform to 9-11, and talk radio
host Neal Boortz and the Fox Nation promoted Foxx’s attack.

Beck stated that fighting health care reform like "stand[ing] in line and tak[ing] our shoes off
before the plane actually hits the tower."

Beck drew
other parallels
between health care reform and
9-11:

BECK:
Conservatives are awake — 9-12ers are willing to do the hard things. We know
what this means. We’re taking time out of our busy lives, taking time away from
their families. They’re attending town hall meetings. Do you think they want to
do that?

They
are calling their representatives. How many times do we have to be yelled at by
your people in Washington? They are reading 2,000-page health care bills on the
weekend. The 9-12ers are willing to stand in line and take our shoes off before
the plane actually hits the tower.

Talk radio host Neil Boortz stated that:
"Rep. Virginia Foxx has it right." In a
November 3 update
to his Twitter page, Boortz wrote: "Va. [sic] Rep. Virginia
Foxx has it right. ObamaCare does present a greater threat than Islamic
terrorism."

And on November 3, Fox Nation linked
to a video of Foxx’s comments under the headline: "Rep. Foxx Fears ‘Obamacare’
More Than Terrorist Attack."

Considering that many of the conservative right often appear to be vying for the position of "Taliban in America," it seems we have more to fear from them than from health care insurance to make sure your kids can get dental care.

Roundups Politics

Hello From Iowa: Three Things You Should Know About Monday’s Caucus (Updated)

Ally Boguhn

Monday’s Iowa caucus marked the first votes of the primary season, signaling that the race for the White House is truly underway.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article included reference to an unverified claim about vote counts in one Iowa precinct originally posted on C-Span by an “anonymous user” and reported elsewhere in the press. We do not consider the claim to be credible and have removed the reference to it in this piece. We deeply regret this error and are taking steps to prevent further such errors in the future.

Monday’s Iowa caucus marked the first votes of the primary season, signaling that the race for the White House is truly underway.

The night brought its fair share of surprises, including a too-close to call showing from the Democrats, the dropouts of several candidates, and the allocation of delegates, who will help decide the party’s nominee for president, quite literally left up to a coin toss.

Here are the night’s need-to-know details:

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In Some Precincts, the Difference Between a Clinton and Sanders Win Was Literally a Coin Toss

The allocation of some Democratic delegates was quite literally left up to a coin toss in many Iowa caucus locations in an otherwise extremely tight race between Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) is taken into account.

By the end of Monday night, Democratic presidential rivals Clinton and Sanders found themselves in a virtual tie with caucus results too close to call. Although Clinton has now been declared the winner, a statement from the Iowa Democratic Party called the race historically close, noting that some outstanding results remained to be accounted for last night, prolonging the final tally:

The results tonight are the closest in Iowa Democratic caucus history. Hillary Clinton has been awarded 700.59 state delegate equivalents, Bernie Sanders has been awarded 696.82 state delegate equivalents, Martin O’Malley has been awarded 7.61 state delegate equivalents and uncommitted has been awarded .46 state delegate equivalents.

As the Des Moines Register reported, several precincts left the final decision on delegate allocation up to a coin toss. There were at least six instances where, under the advisement of party leaders, Democrats decided winners in disputed cases based on flipping a coin—and Clinton was the winner each time. The coin toss is a longstanding method of deciding ties in the Iowa caucuses.

Ted Cruz’s Pandering to Evangelicals Paid Off Big

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has spent months building up his repertoire of ultra-conservative talking points and campaign promises, and Monday night it finally paid off, as the presidential candidate clinched a Republican victory in Iowa.

Cruz took home nearly 28 percent of the night’s votes, Donald Trump came in second with 24 percent, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) ranked third with 23 percent.

The Wall Street Journal attributed Cruz’s win in no small part to a “surge of evangelical Christians, along with support from the Republican Party’s most conservative voters,” no doubt stirred up by his extreme viewpoints.

“Mr. Cruz built his campaign on opposition to abortion, gay marriage and compromise by Republican leaders in Congress. That message produced a distinct uptick in evangelicals and other social conservatives attending Monday’s caucuses,” the Journal explained, noting that evangelical Christians made up 64 percent of GOP caucus attendees, up from 57 percent in 2007.

Cruz has spent months courting these voters, seizing on every opportunity that came his way to demonstrate his extreme opposition to abortion and LGBTQ equality.

Last week, Cruz announced the creation of an anti-choice coalition called “Pro-Lifers for Cruz,” tapping noted extremists such as Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman and the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins to help lead the group.  

Cruz’s affiliation with these extremists followed months of endorsements from similarly notorious figures and organizations, including the anti-marriage equality organization National Organization for Marriage and Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, who recently called same-sex marriage “evil” during a Cruz rally.

We Finally Say Goodbye to O’Malley and Huckabee

Only shortly after he said “Hello,” Mike Huckabee decided to say goodbye to his hopes of winning the White House in 2016, bowing out of the presidential race as the results showed him toward the bottom of the pack on caucus night.

The former Arkansas governor announced the suspension of his campaign in a Monday night tweet thanking his supporters. Although he will no longer have the benefit of the national campaign spotlight, representatives of Huckabee’s campaign promised he would continue to address the issues he ran on.

“He is going to continue to push for the issues he believes, but right now this is about thanking his staff and supporters and being with his friends and families and see what doors will open next,” Huckabee spokesman Hogan Gidley said, according to CNN.

Despite his consistent anti-choice rhetoric, Huckabee failed to build the same following in the 2016 race that helped him win the Republican Iowa caucus in 2008, as Cruz captured the key evangelical voting bloc instead.  

But that wasn’t for lack of trying. Huckabee used the campaign trail to tout his stringently anti-choice platform, going as far as to suggest that should he be elected president, he may use federal troops to stop abortion. The former presidential candidate also was a vocal proponent of using fetal “personhood” measures in order to outlaw abortion in the United States.

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley also decided to formally suspend his campaign amid disappointing caucus-night results, which earned him less than 1 percent of the votes.

“I want to thank everyone who came out to our events, and lent me their ear. Everyone who went out to caucus for me tonight, and lent me their voice. I give you my deepest gratitude,” O’Malley wrote in an email to supporters announcing the end of his campaign. “Together we all stood up for working people, for new Americans, for the future of the Earth and the safety of our children. We put these issues at the front of our party’s agenda—these are the issues that serve the best interests of our nation.”

O’Malley’s decision to end his White House run comes as news has broken that his campaign was struggling to remain afloat financially: His campaign’s latest Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings revealed he had taken out a loan to finance his run and still was unable to pay many of his staffers.

The former Maryland governor’s presidential platform had included calling for universal access to reproductive health care, instituting federal paid family leave, and providing a “living wage” by raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Commentary Violence

The Price of Our Blood: Why Ferguson Is a Reproductive Justice Issue

Katherine Cross

There can be no reproductive justice for all until the state-sanctioned murder of Black youth in this country is addressed.

Read more of our coverage related to recent events in Ferguson here.

The events that have unfolded in Ferguson, Missouri, in recent weeks have revealed many tragedies, among them the fact that the death of so many youth of color in this country is still debatable in its status as a vaunted “feminist issue.” But it is, and the expansive definition of reproductive justice, which reaches into the universe of conditions necessary to create and sustain life, shows us how.

As Rewire Senior Legal Analyst Imani Gandy put it so well in a recent tweet:

The resonance of the phrase “my body, my choice” owes much to its essential simplicity. But that same simplicity leaves out a great deal. A number of writers, like Dani McClain, Hannah Giorgis, Tara Culp-Ressler, and Emma Akpan, have written about a much broader idea, whose standard has been borne mostly by women of color for the last 20 years: The death of Michael Brown, and the systematic terror it induces, is a reproductive justice issue.

Put another way, there can be no reproductive justice for all until the state-sanctioned murder of Black youth in this country is addressed.

Bodily control neither begins nor ends with reproductive health care—that was only ever one battleground, albeit an important one. When one’s choice of whether or not to have a child is coerced by a terror inflicted on you and others like you, one’s reproductive rights are also being trampled upon. The word “terror” is not hyperbole as Hannah Giorgis revealed when she wrote of her reaction to Brown’s murder:

When I heard Sunday night that 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot dead by police in Ferguson, Missouri, my heart sank. My skin pulled tight around my hands, my stomach churned itself into knots. My mind raced, visions of my brothers’ faces collaged into the painfully familiar sight of yet another innocent Black boy breathing — and bleeding — for the last time.

She shares this waking nightmare with countless other Black mothers who live in fear of their children falling to the vengeful divinity of the state. “Any force that systematically and unapologetically turns unconsenting Black wombs into graveyards,” she says, “is a reproductive justice issue.”

For one’s children to be random, unwitting blood sacrifices to the prejudice of faceless others is not freedom. To have reproductive freedom means, among many other things, that your choice to raise a family will not be revenged upon by collectivized prejudice wielding batons and handguns.

Children of Color as Crisis

A theme of the protests in Ferguson has been the fact that our much-cherished rights evaporated at just the moment when they were most needed.

Michael Brown’s right to due process was hardly in evidence. And for the protesters, much the same was true: Their First Amendment rights were stripped, as were those of many of the journalists trying to cover the historic events as they unfolded. The Fourth and Fifth Amendments fluttered away. Suddenly, even police regulations about providing names and badge numbers no longer applied. On and on, rights were butchered in the charnel house of Ferguson’s streets.

But equally glaring and shocking was the fact that Michael Brown’s mother was denied her right to a family she could raise in safety.

Far from being a “separate issue,” as some would like to imagine, what happened to Michael Brown is as much a profound indictment of our lack of reproductive justice as it is our lack of racial and economic justice.

If reproductive choice is about deciding whether or not one can have a family, or how large one wants her family to be, then structural violence imposed on a community is a constraint upon that freedom. If a woman like Marissa Alexander, for instance, cannot defend her own life and her children from an abusive parent, that too is a violation of reproductive freedom.

The issue is not only the tragic loss of a child, or an unjustly incarcerated mother. It’s the fact that for the entire Black community in our society, there is a calculus to be made about one’s children that’s not prevalent among whites. It’s the knowledge that your child might be stolen away by the very people who should be protecting him or her, and the knowledge that they will die a second death as a bloodthirsty press seeks to retroactively justify the atrocity by holding up their whole life for scrutiny and debate, as if anything revealed by such remorseless vulture-picking could ever excuse such a killing.

It is here where the question of “Whose lives are valued?” enters into the picture, for how cheap must a life be if millions of onlookers can think that stolen cigars justify a murder? Can we have reproductive justice if the children of some are considered inherently less valuable by several orders of magnitude? If the life of a child or a young man or woman is so cheap that misunderstandings, small mistakes, or false accusations justify their deaths, what can then be said about the rights they enjoyed in life and how valuable they turned out to be?

For First Nations and Native American peoples this, too, is a pressing question. The disproportionate murders of their children, particularly young women, is an appalling atrocity that has only unfolded quietly because such lives are undervalued. Writing about the death of Tina Fontaine, a 15-year-old girl whose body was found in a river, Dr. Sarah Hunt, a researcher on violence against Indigenous people, concluded her piece by saying, “Treating our deaths as unremarkable is a form of violence that needs to stop along with the murders themselves. Taking steps to end the violence now is the only route to justice.”

A similar debauching occurs with the lives of Latino/a children in this country, especially immigrants. They are treated by the rest of society as a virus infecting the state, and their deaths—whether in the United States or in the countries to which they may be deported—are treated as both seemly and unremarkable. Amid all this violence and chaos, Latina mothers are condemned as being threats themselves for bearing these children—their decision to have a family, and any decision they make about saving that family (such as making the unarguably difficult choice to send your child over the border alone), are subject to a dehumanizing scorn in the press.

The great moral crime is that the deaths of all these people are treated as the seemly garnish to an otherwise just and progressive world.

It’s why Renisha McBride was killed—her part in the white suburban slasher drama that depicts all Black people as inherently dangerous was decided for her long before she staggered up to Theodore Wafer’s front door. It’s why Islan Nettles’ murder has not been properly investigated, despite the fact that it occurred next to a police station. It’s why Trayvon Martin’s death ignited controversy rather than universal condemnation. It’s why CeCe MacDonald went to prison for defending herself against a man who wanted her to pay with her life for the crime of her very existence. It’s why far too many other men and women have been slain.

The reproductive justice perspective is a simple one: All lives must be valued as equal. There can be no reproductive justice without racial justice. This means that the families of people of color must be seen as having equal value. It means that a child’s real or perceived imperfections should never be seen as an excuse for murder. And it means that the decisions of Black, Latino/a, or Native people to have children should not be constructed as a crisis. Rather, we should see the equal and just care of these children as a shared responsibility—a challenge, yes, but no more a challenge than raising one’s own family should be.

Children of color are not a crisis.

A Militarized Public

Much has been made of the militarization of the police in this country, and that must be addressed without delay. But we are making a tremendous mistake if we believe that taking the police’s tanks and assault rifles away will make things better.

The militarization of the mind is what we must fight with vigor. Police have merely clad themselves in the armor that fits their timeless pretensions. They were always a paramilitary force in word and deed—now they simply have the means to clothe themselves like it.

But this militant mind was never limited to the police. It leads to the terrifying fantasies that George Zimmerman and Theodore Wafer acted out when they committed their murders. It has made monsters of people’s children; it has cut a swathe through people’s families. It’s the same violent reflex that has taken the lives of countless transgender women of color, people whose very right to exist is being fought for on the furthest frontier of reproductive justice politics.

The militarized mind dehumanizes, and then justifies the treatment that accrues to the inhuman.

It is easy to see a logical extension between angry Facebook users posting memes about “welfare cheats” and “anchor babies” and those who try to justify the slaughter of a young person of color. You see the broad arc here: Dehumanize, then kill, then slay their memory. The kids are cast as spongers, or invading immigrants who will rape and kill, or talentless gang-bangers—all of whom are “stealing” hardworking (white) Americans’ money while constituting an existential threat to the nation as a whole. Inevitably, someone is killed, and just as inevitably people try to justify the death.

Armies of children are reduced to caricatures.

The real question is, how is this not about reproductive justice? How could anyone think otherwise?

The answer lies in the same dehumanization that leads to this weeping list of crimes, and it infects feminism as well. Ferguson is a moment for all of us who call ourselves feminists to refuse the seductions of racism; we must refuse to fail. It’s also a moment for all of us non-Black people of color to recognize that although we cannot lay total claim to the issue of police violence visited on Black children and Black parents, we are inextricably bound up in all of this and cannot afford to be silent.

There’s a movement in there somewhere. And we would all do well to answer its call at last.