Sean Hannity of Fox News Goes Off on ‘The Apocalyptic Left’ in Defense of Trump Nominee

On Monday night Donald Trump unveiled his second Supreme Court nominee in as many years. He did it in a splashy primetime ceremony that was wholly out of proportion to any actual news value. The fact that TV networks continue to cater to Trump’s insatiable appetite for attention is one of the most troubling failings of the media in the Trump era.

Fox News, Sean Hannity

The unveiling of Judge Brett Kavanaugh went off as expected, so long as you were expecting a rose granting ceremony on the finale of The Bachelor. Trump gave a speech that could have been written by a computer programmed to emulate Republican talking points. And Kavanuagh’s address could have been copied verbatim from “Right-Wing Judicial Nomination Speeches for Dummies.” The whole event was a predictably partisan political sham that wasted everybody’s time.

Well, except for Fox News. The reason that Trump requested this primetime slot was solely to boost his favorite cable news network and, not coincidentally, right during the time period of Sean Hannity’s show. It worked. The ratings for the Trump infomercial spiked for Fox News with 6.6 million glassy-eyed Deplorables glued to their sets.

Following the announcement, Hannity returned to surprise no one with his unreserved praise and adulation for Trump’s selection (video below). But he had more on his mind than the alleged qualifications of Kavanaugh. Hannity actually spent far more time attacking Democratic critics of Kavanaugh than he did applauding him. And he held nothing back in his assault on the liberal demons set on destroying America. He began by asserting that the left’s attacks were “bordering on insanity.” He continued saying that:

“You have the left, the Democrats, and their friends in the media, their echo chamber, always conducting what is a malicious campaign to impugn the character of good people. The track record of good people. Frankly anybody that President Trump would have nominated to the Supreme Court. The language gets downright apocalyptic, and this time is no different.”

Coming from someone who is casting Democrats as the harbingers of the apocalypse, it’s hard for a rational person to take Hannity seriously. Likewise, the accusation by someone on Fox News that Democrats are employing an echo chamber is hysterical. But he was just getting started. He went on to play some clips from CNN and MSNBC of people with criticisms of Trump and his potential nominees. The striking thing about these clips is that none of them were remotely apocalyptic or insane. Each one exhibited a rational – and truthful – argument against Trump’s shortlist of Supreme Court candidates. And while Hannity blasted these criticisms in the most hostile terms, he never offered a single substantive rebuttal to any one of them.

Following that intellectually vacant harangue, Hannity reminded his viewers of the confirmation fights that occurred during the nominations of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas. He felt that it was important to show how committed Democrats were in opposition to such strident and extremist conservatives. Funny thing though, Hannity didn’t bother to show any examples of Republicans viciously maligning – and lying about – the nominees of Democratic presidents.

In short, this televised tantrum was fairly typical of Hannity’s nightly bluster. He was even kind enough to provide a summary of what makes the GOP so offensive and out of touch with most Americans. In an attempt to dismiss liberal critics, Hannity noted that criticisms of Kavanaugh would fit the mold wherein his rulings would “lead to dirty air, dirty water, the rise of racism, sexism, misogynism, etc.” Exactly. Thanks for that succinct rundown of the Republican agenda and what we can reasonably expect from Kavanaugh if he is confirmed.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Trump’s Supreme Court Pageant is a Fake News Farce that the Media Should Not Cover

For several days now Donald Trump has been hyping the announcement of his choice to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. He has been rolling it out like a new episode of Celebrity Apprentice. The trivialization of this process is typical of a president whose only prior experience was hosting a reality TV game show. However, the nation’s press ought to know better than to be taken in by such flagrant self-promotion.

Donald Trump

Trump has asked the major television networks for a primetime spot on Monday night. It’s the sort of thing that is generally reserved for declarations of war or death notices for prominent government officials. Clearly this doesn’t meet that high standard. Trump’s potential nominee short list has been widely reported, and the names on it have been analyzed in great detail. So the urgency for a primetime preemption of American Ninja Warrior and The Bachelorette is hardly justified. Nevertheless, Trump’s Twitter feed has been firing up the unveiling of his nominee for over a week:

It’s curious that the President is impressed by having “long heard” of the Supreme Court’s importance. It isn’t common knowledge to him, but more like a rumor that’s been going around. And all of the mystery and suspense of his already anti-climatic decision is about to blow up. All that’s missing from this charade is the advertising sponsorship notice that “This event is being brought to you by Capital One: Who’s in your pocket?”

At this point there is absolutely nothing newsworthy about this brazen hypesterism. There is no reason that the American television viewer can’t wait until their local news program to learn which Trump flunky got a rose. There will still be be weeks or months of confirmation hearings and the Court doesn’t reconvene until October. So why the rush to put Trump on TV to conduct what will be just another of his partisan rallies? We all know what he’ll say:

“My nominee for the Supreme Court is a tremendous person. Everyone says so. He will rule according to the original interpretation of the Constitution as defined by Founding Fathers like Antonin Scalia, that I can tell you. He will be strong on taxes and the border and national security, and he loves the military. He will respect the right to life and the values that all Deplorable Americans share. Believe me. The enemy of the American people, the media, who are broadcasting this (so dishonest), will try to tear him down. But they are going out business in a couple of years so that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you, my people, will love and support this nominee because I said so. Thank you for listening. Good night, and God bless my nominee, the Supreme Court, and the United Soviet Soc… I mean the United States of America.”

There you go, media. Now you don’t have to air Trump’s speech. Why bother when it will just be an extension of the revival meetings he has been holding around the country instead of, you know, doing the work of the president. If the press does air this propaganda it will be they who doing the work of this president, and that isn’t the media’s job. They should decline Trump’s request for time, and then report on anything newsworthy that comes from it after the fact.

For anyone who simply can’t wait, there is always State TV (aka Fox News), who will air virtually everything that Trump says like the obedient hype machine that they are. And Fox will follow their coverage of the announcement with a couple of hours of “analysis” explaining why Trump’s choice was so brilliant. However, the rest of the media should have more integrity. They should shun this undeserved demand for attention. Unfortunately, as of Monday morning, they all seem to be falling in line with the wannabe dictator in the White House. #SAD!

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Supreme Court Ruling On Trump’s Muslim Ban Makes No Friggin’ Sense At All

Monday morning the Supreme Court announced that they will allow a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States to go into effect. The ban was part of an Executive Order by Donald Trump that was blocked by lower courts, rewritten, and blocked again. In the Supreme Court’s decision the ban will be partially reinstated until the the full court considers it in October.

Donald Trump

For the record, the Court did not side with Trump on the constitutionality of the ban. They only reversed the lower court decision to suspend the Order pending a final ruling. But there is a more important reason why the whole matter is absurd. In order to understand what’s wrong with this decision we need to look at what the Order originally called for. Which was this:

“I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order. […] The Secretary of State shall suspend the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days.”

Trump’s attempts to ban immigrants and refugees were limited in scope to 90 and 120 days respectively. That ban was was ordered on January 27, 2017. So it is has already been 150 days since the order was effective. His reason for imposing the ban was to review the processes and procedures related to immigration and the security considerations thereof. There was nothing stopping him from conducting that review for the past 150 days. Had he done so it would have been completed by now and the ban would be moot.

Why didn’t Trump conduct those reviews that he was so insistent were critical to national security? Why isn’t he conducting them now? If he really cared about the safety of the American people he would have done that while the courts were hashing out the Executive Order. This exposes the lie in his statement celebrating the Supreme Court’s temporary ruling. He said that “My number one responsibility as Commander-in-Chief is to keep the American people safe.” Obviously that wasn’t true. Because instead of fulfilling that responsibility, he did nothing at all. And that is pretty much the story for his entire short presidency.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Fox News Celebrates Supreme Court Decision Upholding Christian Theocracy

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America includes a stipulation that the government “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” The legal interpretation of that clause, with more than 200 years of precedence, holds that proceedings of official bodies of government may not engage in sectarian religious activity as it puts the imprimatur of the state on the particular spiritual practice.

Nevertheless, the Supreme Court just ruled in favor of the town council of Greece, N.Y, to offer prayers in the opening of their council meetings. The Court explicitly stated that they regarded these prayers as permissible even though they were predominantly Christian. The justification for the ruling was based on the absurd notion that the prayers were merely ceremonial and not religious.

“As a practice that has long endured, legislative prayer has become part of our heritage and tradition, part of our expressive idiom, similar to the Pledge of Allegiance.”

And joining the celebration of what is ostensibly ceremonial is Fox News, who cheered the decision with a joyful declaration that it was “A Win For Religion.”

Fox News Theocracy

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The language that Fox News used to report this decision demonstrates that it was indeed a matter of faith. After all, they didn’t declare it to be a “A Win For Ceremony.” The ceremonial argument is a thinly veiled excuse to permit proselytizing for Christianity. What’s more, the argument that reciting exclusively Christian prayers does not violate the establishment clause of the Constitution is a gross misunderstanding of the law. Such activity blatantly favors a specific belief and excludes all others with differing beliefs. To illustrate the point, just imagine the reaction if the town council decided to offer a Muslim prayer at the opening of the session. It would create a deafening outcry from Christians insisting they were offended by the invocation.

For evidence of that, take the example of a recent event in Colorado. The students at Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins were led by another student in the Pledge of Allegiance with the words “under God” replaced by the words “under Allah.” This was met with harsh criticism by Christianists in the community and the media, including Fox’s own resident religious bigot, Todd Starnes.

First of all it should be noted that Allah is the Arabic (not Islamic) word for God, and both Muslims and Arab Christians use it. Secondly, why would it be offensive for Muslim-Americans to pledge their allegiance to the American flag? Isn’t that something we should encourage, or are we only open to recognizing Muslims who hate us? More to the point, the criticism reveals the true intent of the religious extremists who aspire to force their religion onto everyone else through the use of official forums in government and schools. That is precisely the behavior that the conservatives on the Supreme Court sanctioned today.

For Fox News to report this decision with a headline that describes it as “A Win For Religion” is further evidence that they regard the issue as one of faith, despite their denials and those of the Court. Their own words betray their not-very-hidden motives.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts: Koch Brothers = Flag Burning Nazis

The recent decision by the Supreme Court to permit unlimited contributions to political candidates and committees represents a further degradation of democracy as an experiment in self-rule. Along with the Citizen’s United case, this ruling puts more power into the hands of an elite minority of wealthy plutocrats whose only interest is in feathering their own already luxurious nests.

The decision impacts about five hundred people whose political contributions have reached the previous limits. That leaves the rest of the 350 million Americans who don’t have private fortunes to struggle for recognition from politicians who feast off of money. It is incomprehensible that five legally trained justices can plausibly deny the fact that big donors are able to extract favors from congressmen and senators, and that such favoritism corrupts the electoral system.

The reasoning articulated by Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the decision, defies logic. It is evidence that he and his conservative comrades on the Court were more interested in producing a desired result than in interpreting the Constitution. Here is the key argument presented by Roberts:

“Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects. If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests and Nazi parades – despite the profound offense such spectacles cause – it surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opinion.”

John Roberts Political Speech

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The problem with this argument is that it confuses the content of political speech with the manner of it. Everyone would agree that content, regardless of its popularity or lack thereof, is protected speech. But this case had nothing whatsoever to do with content. The plaintiff was contesting campaign laws that put limits on the amount of aggregate contributions any individual may make to candidates and/or political action committees. These laws were intended to prevent the sort of manipulation and influence peddling that existed prior to their enactment. The laws in no way prohibit free expression and the plaintiff never alleged that they did so.

The manner, or process, in which speech is made, however, is constitutionally subject to regulation. Everybody knows the legally justified consequences of shouting “fire” in a crowded theater when there is no fire. In addition, you cannot slander or libel someone; you cannot claim that your pomegranate smoothie cures liver cancer; you cannot spray-paint your message onto a citizen waiting for a bus; you cannot hack the satellite feed of a television network and broadcast your speech instead of American Idol; and, until this week, you could not spend unlimited sums of money to buy an election and a candidate or candidates.

The statement above by Chief Justice Roberts illustrates the faulty logic of content vs. process. Flag burning is an example of the content of speech. But contribution limits are an example of process. The process can be regulated without ever affecting any content, opinion, or exercise of free expression. Not being able to continue making donations after you have reached a proscribed limit does not prohibit you from continuing to speak. Put up a billboard. Publish an editorial. Call into the Rush Limbaugh radio show. Buy yourself a half hour of primetime television. Your rights are obviously still in effect. But it is perfectly reasonable for legislatures to enact contribution limits that protect the democratic process from being co-opted by wealthy special interests.

The right to donate unlimited sums of cash to a candidate exists nowhere in the Constitution. This court has invented a right on the shaky premise that it is tied to free speech. However, if I can’t stand in front of Donald Trump’s mansion with a bullhorn day and night, I still have other means of expressing myself. The same is true for the Koch brothers if they are not allowed to pour unlimited funds into the bank account of GOP hack who will do their bidding.

However, the irony of Roberts invoking free speech in his decision delivers a rather appropriate juxtaposition of ideas. By trying to conflate process with content, Roberts produced an example that puts extravagant campaign spending in the same category as repugnant behavior like flag burning, funeral protests, and Nazi parades. On that measure, I’m gonna have to agree with him.

This is How Hobby Lobby Practices Their Allegedly ‘Christian’ Values

This week the Supreme Court heard a case brought by the arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby. The company seeks an exemption from the mandate in the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) that requires employers to offer insurance plans that include coverage for contraceptives. The basis for their request is that they are a “Christian” enterprise and that they believe that certain methods of contraception are de facto abortion.

The problem with their legal argument is that science does not regard contraception as abortion, so the belief of the company’s owners is factually false. What’s more, they are asserting that a corporation can have a religious affiliation just like a person. That’s a strained proposition unless you believe that a corporation also has a soul, is capable of sin, and is subject to divine judgement. Do good corporations go to Heaven?

However, even if we were to accept their assertion of a religious objection to the mandate, Hobby Lobby can cannot seriously claim to have a spiritual conflict with the law as regards contraception, or even abortion. That’s because, despite the company’s owner saying that “Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions,” their business does engage in practices that violate their professed beliefs.

Hobby Lobby

Hobby Lobby pays millions of dollars to stock their shelves with cheap products made in China, a country where abortion is legal and is even provided by the government for free – when they aren’t forcing it on women who want their babies. It is impossible to accept that the company is unconditionally opposed to a voluntary form of preventive health care that obviates the need for an abortion, while supporting a system that encourages abortion outright. If Hobby Lobby can do business with China when the profit motive compels them to, they cannot simultaneously pretend that an American woman having access to an insurance policy that includes coverage for contraception is some sort of abomination against their Lord.

Hobby Lobby’s hypocrisy, of course, is not the only reason they should lose this case. It would be frightening if the Supreme Court ruled that a corporation can have a religious belief. That would set the stage for any business to discriminate against employees for anything from race or sexual orientation to facial hair or consumption of pork. It would enable some companies to seek an exemption to ObamaCare if they believe that only faith healing is in accordance with their religion.

For Republicans, and their PR division, Fox News, to cheer on the Hobby Lobby case represents a severe departure from their professed principles. While they falsely allege that ObamaCare allows the government to come between the patient and the doctor (in fact, the government is merely attempting to prevent insurance companies from doing so), they are embracing a ruling that would give that power to every corporation.

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Permitting businesses to dictate what sort of health care their employees can have is not an expression of the individual liberties that conservatives pretend to favor. And it’s even more offensive when corporate high priests impose their religious beliefs on the people who work for them. Especially when those beliefs are discarded in order to increase profits.

DOMA vs. Voting Rights: Justice Scalia’s Jaw-Dropping Hypocrisy

The rulings today from the Supreme Court will undoubtedly dominate the part of the news cycle that isn’t filled with testimony from the George Zimmerman trial.

The decision on California’s Prop 8 was essentially a punt wherein the Court ruled that the plaintiff did not have standing to bring the case. The result is that the lower court ruling that struck down Prop 8 remains in effect and gay marriages will resume shortly in California.

The decision on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was the more profound ruling as it struck down the legislation congress had passed in an attempt to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Consequently, the federal government is now prohibited from discriminating against same-sex couples with regard to marriage.

Not surprisingly, the media has pounced on these events with analysis, interviews, and opinions from across the political spectrum. However, one fairly obvious observation seems to have been ignored by many in the mainstream press. And that is the rank hypocrisy of Justice Scalia when you juxtapose his opinion from yesterdays ruling on the Voting Rights Act (VRA) with today’s dissent on the DOMA case. On DOMA Scalia complained that…

“We have no power to decide this case. And even if we did, we have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation […] That is jaw-dropping. It is an assertion of judicial supremacy over the people’s Representatives in Congress and the Executive.”

But just the day before Scalia had signed on to the Court’s majority decision to strike down the Voting Rights Act – which, of course, was democratically adopted legislation by the people’s representatives. In fact, the law was just reauthorized by congress in 2006 with a vote in the senate of 98-0 and in the House by 390-33. The reauthorization was signed by then-President George W. Bush who effusively praised the bill.

Nevertheless, Scalia condemned the VRA previously despite its broadly bi-partisan approval in congress. He belittled it as a “racial entitlement” that was somehow immune to the “normal political process.” He even noted the huge majority vote it received, but portrayed that with derision as if it were a defect.

“And this last enactment – not a single vote in the Senate against it. And the House is pretty much the same. Now, I don’t think that’s attributable to the fact that it is so much clearer now that we need this. […It is] a phenomenon that is called ‘perpetuation of racial entitlement.’ Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political process.”

So on one day Scalia takes a position that congress is incapable of making valid decisions on behalf of the people and, consequently, the Supreme Court must step in to make the decisions for them. That was his justification for striking down the VRA. However, the very next day Scalia bitterly castigates his colleagues for taking action to invalidate a law that had been enacted by the people’s representatives, and he repudiated the notion that it is the Court’s role to second guess the congress. That was the gist of his dissent on DOMA.

Literally overnight, Scalia went from asserting the Court’s authority over congressional actions, to asserting that the Court had no such authority. So the question is: Is that just Scalia being a hypocritical jerk, or is the 77 year old jurist suffering from a cognitive disorder?

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Antonin Scalia

Gutting Voting Rights: Supreme Court Gives Racist Republicans Just What They Wanted

This morning the Supreme Court issued their decision on one of the most highly anticipated cases of the year. The Court ruled that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, that provides for review of potentially discriminatory practices in jurisdictions with a history of voter suppression, is no longer necessary.

The Court justified the decision by citing the provision’s effectiveness. The logic there is peculiar, to say the least. It’s an argument for eliminating those things in the law that work best. Would the Justices signing onto this decision ever suggest that, since laws prohibiting murder resulted in a noticeable decline in victim deaths, that those laws are unnecessary and should be dispensed with?

The Voting Rights Act has been doing precisely what it was intended to do for nearly fifty years. It was reauthorized in 2006 with overwhelming support in congress (98-0 in the senate, 390-33 in the House) and signed by George W. Bush. For the Court to overturn the will of the people in this regard tags them as just the sort of activist jurists that right-wingers usually assail. The Act’s usefulness was demonstrated just last year when numerous localities tried, but failed, to implement voter suppression schemes. Here are a few of the cases that were struck down:

Unfortunately, many other examples exist of racist legislation prevailing within states that have dominant GOP representation. The fact that so many attempts to sideline citizens, whether successful or not, have taken place is evidence of the continuing need for vigilance. Initiatives that inhibit registration, reduce voting opportunities, or require extraordinary measures to exercise the right to vote, are still in place or are being pursued.

War on Voting
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The GOP has been surprisingly open about their desire to limit voting to predominantly white, conservative constituencies. Here is what some of their leading lights have had to say on the subject:

John Stossel (Fox News): “Let’s stop saying everyone should vote.”
Rush Limbaugh: “If people cannot even feed and clothe themselves, should they be allowed to vote?”
Roger Vadum: “Registering [the poor] to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals. It is profoundly antisocial and un-American.”
Judson Phillips (Tea Party Nation): “If you’re not a property owner, I’m sorry, but property owners have a little bit more of a vested stake in the community than not property owners do.”
Steve Doocy (Fox News): “With 47% of Americans not paying taxes – 47% – should those who don’t pay be allowed to vote?”

It is also notable that coverage on Fox News of the Court’s decision didn’t run until 20 minutes into their 11:00am (et) broadcast and lasted for about one minute. It followed stories about Edward Snowden, the IRS, George Zimmerman, Benghazi, the Massachusetts senate race, and Snowden again. Obviously Fox needed some time to determine how they were going to spin this news. So they simply announced that the decision was handed down and then waited for further instructions from Roger Ailes or other opinion czars at the network.

While technically this decision throws much of the responsibility for future voting rights back to congress, the reality is that congress in its current form is such a dysfunctional heap of failure, that any reasonable attempts to remedy the damage done to democracy by the Court’s action are doomed to suffer from the same partisan obstructionism that has plagued Washington ever since the GOP decided that its top priority was to destroy President Obama. The only hope would be for the people to rise up and return control of the House to Democrats in 2014. That’s tall order, but one worth pursuing.

Obamacare Upheld: Will Bill O’Reilly Keep His Promise To Apologize For Being An Idiot?

The Supreme Court today upheld the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) today and there will be abundant coverage of this historic decision for the remainder of the day, of the week, and of this election year. Partisans from across the political spectrum will be parsing the decision for ways to portray it as either a victory or an incentive to motivate their followers.

But there is something that occurred in the months preceding this decision that deserves renewed attention. On March 26, 2012, Bill O’Reilly debated the healthcare act with Caroline Fredrickson, President of the American Constitution Society. After a tumultuous exchange that mainly exhibited O’Reilly’s arrogantly thuggish personality (transcript below), O’Reilly concluded by saying this:

“Ms. Frederickson, you’re going to lose, and your argument is specious. We appreciate you coming on. But this is absolutely a mandate. It’s absolutely a force. It’s absolutely police powers from the federal government, and it’s going to be 5 to 4. And if I’m wrong I will come on, and I will play — I will play your clip. And I will apologize for being an idiot. But I think you’re desperately wrong.”

Bill O'Reilly on ObamacareWill O’Reilly keep that promise? Although there are incidents far too numerous to mention wherein O’Reilly proves that he’s an idiot, there are few times that he’s committed to admitting it himself. In addition to his debate with Fredrickson, O’Reilly also did a Talking Points Memo segment asserting with absolute certainty that the mandate would be ruled unconstitutional. He should not be allowed to forget his mistakes and his promises. Email him here to ask him to keep his word.

On a side note: After the long awaited decision was announced, Fox News cut away from their coverage to air an interview of News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch by his sycophantic lackey, Neil Cavuto. There was nothing particularly newsworthy disclosed in the segment. It appeared to be simply a distraction from the Supreme Court’s far more consequential news. That will likely be the tactical approach that Fox takes for the remainder of the day. They will attempt to downplay an event that they previously trumpeted as the most important Supreme Court decision in decades. They will dodge and weave and misconstrue as they plaster the air with dissenting views from Republican politicians and pundits. The headline, for the time being, will be “Obama’s health care tax increase survives.” And as soon as the House vote on holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of congress occurs, that will become the headline.

Here is the transcript of the O’Reilly Factor interview with Caroline Frederickson. Note how precisely she predicted the Court’s decision that the act would be upheld under the taxing authority of the Congress. Note also O’Reilly’s brutish incivility as he threatens to cut off the interview if she didn’t comply with his demands to answer questions the way he wanted her to.

O’REILLY: Name one thing, one thing that the federal government forces you to buy. One.

FREDRICKSON: Well, let me first correct that —

O’REILLY: Ms. Frederickson.

FREDRICKSON: No, no. I want to correct you.

O’REILLY: Look, my — my opinion is my opinion. Your opinion is yours. I don’t want to be corrected. Ms. Frederickson please answer the simple question. We don’t have all night.

FREDRICKSON: The legislation — you have to let me answer.

O’REILLY: Are you going to answer this question or not? If you’re not going to answer, I’ll abort the segment right now.

FREDRICKSON: The legislation does not require people to buy health insurance.

O’REILLY: Of course it does.

FREDRICKSON: It imposes a penalty for those who don’t.

O’REILLY: You want to play the semantic game?

FREDRICKSON: Forces people to buy in the form of a tax.

O’REILLY: That’s a police power, OK? To impose any penalty is a police power.

FREDRICKSON: Tax power. And it’s designed completely within the rational scope of the legislation —

O’REILLY: No. Ms. Frederickson. This is not —

FREDRICKSON: — to encourage people to buy health insurance.

O’REILLY: This is becoming absurd. It’s police power if you punish someone for not doing anything. Sounds absurd.

FREDRICKSON: Now, you’ve got to let me talk if you’re going to invite me on your show.

O’REILLY: No, I don’t have to let you talk if you’re not answering the question. Because you’re dodging the question. I’ll go back.

FREDRICKSON: No. It’s actually —

O’REILLY: Name one thing the federal government compels you to buy. One thing.

FREDRICKSON: Well, let me say that under the Militia Act of 1792, people were compelled to buy muskets and powder.

O’REILLY: What act was that?

FREDRICKSON: This doesn’t require — The Militia Act. This doesn’t actually require people to buy health insurance. And I think it would be good if you read the legislation.

O’REILLY: I did read the legislation.

FREDRICKSON: It imposes a penalty. And a penalty is different from – –

O’REILLY: That’s compelling something to do something if you’re going to punish them for not doing it.

FREDRICKSON: No. It’s a tax. Essentially, people have to pay a very modest amount — it’s about $95 a year — if they choose not to buy health insurance.

But it’s part of a scheme in which Congress rationally chose to build a national market for health insurance and cover the uninsured.

O’REILLY: Ms. Frederickson, you’re going to lose, and your argument is specious. We appreciate you coming on. But this is absolutely a mandate. It’s absolutely a force. It’s absolutely police powers from the federal government, and it’s going to be 5 to 4.

And if I’m wrong I will come on, and I will play — I will play your clip. And I will apologize for being an idiot. But I think you’re desperately wrong.

FREDRICKSON: All right. Well, I look forward to it.

She was right, Billo. What say you?

{Update] This evening on the O’Reilly Factor, Laura Ingraham was in at the anchor desk because Bill O’Reilly was on vacation. Well, that would have been the perfect dodge for O’Reilly to avoid keeping his word and hoping that by Monday everybody would have forgotten.

However, Ingraham immediately announced that O’Reilly was on the phone from North Carolina to comment on this momentous news event. He spent ten minutes of his precious vacation time bashing the decision, the President and, on another subject, Attorney General Eric Holder. But he never mentioned that he is an idiot. Somehow, the fact that he is an idiot slipped his idiotic mind. I’m shocked!

Remember When Conservatives Were Against Unelected Judges And Judicial Activism?

In another brazen exercise in hypocrisy, conservatives have launched a coordinated attack on President Obama for remarks that were entirely reasonable and uncontroversial. The President was asked by a reporter how he would respond if the health care reform bill currently being debated by the Supreme Court were to be ruled unconstitutional. His response said in part…

“I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress. And I’d just remind conservative commentators that for years what we’ve heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint — that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law. Well, this is a good example. And I’m pretty confident that this Court will recognize that and not take that step.”

This has set off a round of panic attacks in right-wing circles as knee-jerk contrarians accuse Obama of undermining the constitution, subverting democracy, and even threatening the Supreme Court. Where any objective person can find the presence of a threat in the President’s remarks is beyond incomprehensible. It’s Obama Derangement Syndrome in action. Conservatives assert that these comments were intended by the President to be a warning for the justices deliberating the case. Never mind that Obama in no way implied that there would be consequences if the justices did not arrive at a particular ruling, only that he was confidant of a favorable outcome. That’s pretty much the position taken by anyone interested in a pending judicial proceeding. And as the President said explicitly, he was just reminding conservatives of their own long-held views on judicial activism.

The Right-Wing Noise Machine has been spinning feverishly to push this issue in order to damage the President and cast him as opposed to constitutional principles. Rush Limbaugh and Karl Rove called Obama a thug. Mark Levin said that he declared war on the Court. Fox Nation currently has at least eleven articles on this subject. And Fox News has been running numerous segments including one this morning that featured three former George W. Bush staffers to assert that what Obama said was unprecedented and nothing like anything that Bush ever said (see below).

Among the complaints being hurled by the right-wing, extremist opponents of the administration is that Obama’s use of the phrase “unelected judges” amounts to a form of tyranny and is an affront to judicial independence. But it is Republicans who have been more often associated with that phrase over the years as they brandish it every time a court rules against whatever pet litigation they are pushing – especially when it concerns reproductive rights or gay marriage. For example, here are a few instances when the very people lambasting Obama today used identical language when it served their purposes:

  • Mitt Romney: Today, unelected judges cast aside the will of the people of California who voted to protect traditional marriage.
  • Mitt Romney: The ruling in Iowa today is another example of an activist court and unelected judges trying to redefine marriage and disregard the will of the people as expressed through Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act.
  • Rick Santorum: 7M Californians had their rights stripped away by activist 9th Circuit judges.
  • Newt Gingrich: Court of Appeals overturning CA’s Prop 8 another example of an out of control judiciary. Let’s end judicial supremacy
  • Speaker John Boehner: This latest FISA proposal from House Majority leaders is dead on arrival. It would outsource critical national security decisions to unelected judges and trial lawyers.
  • Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO): Today, the decision of unelected judges to overturn the will of the people of California on the question of same-sex marriage demonstrates the lengths that unelected judges will go to substitute their own worldview for the wisdom of the American people.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions: This ‘Washington-knows-best’ mentality is evident in all branches of government, but is especially troublesome in the judiciary, where unelected judges have twisted the words of our Constitution to advance their own political, economic, and social agendas.
  • Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL): I’m appalled that unelected judges have irresponsibly decided to legislate from the bench and overturn the will of the people.
  • George W. Bush: This concept of a “living Constitution” gives unelected judges wide latitude in creating new laws and policies without accountability to the people.
  • Thomas Sowell: Unelected judges can cut the voters out of the loop and decree liberal dogma as the law of the land.
  • Laura Ingraham: We don’t want to be micromanaged by some unelected judge or some unelected bureaucrat on the international or national level.
  • Gov. Rick Perry: [The American people are] fed up with unelected judges telling them when and where they can pray or observe the Ten Commandments.
  • Pat Robertson: We are under the tyranny of a nonelected oligarchy. Just think, five unelected men and women who serve for life can change the moral fabric of our nation and take away the protections which our elected legislators have wisely put in place.
  • Robert Bork: We are increasingly governed not by law or elected representatives but by an unelected, unrepresentative, unaccountable committee of lawyers applying no will but their own.
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch: A small minority and their judicial activist allies are seeking to usurp the will of the people and impose same-sex marriage on all of the states. Ultimately, the American people, not unelected judges, should decide policy on critical social issues such as this one.
  • Steve Forbes: You have judicial activism, where unelected Supreme Court justices are trying to impose a state income tax.
  • Glenn Beck: Even if you agree that the role of government is to take wealth from one to another, should it be the role of unelected judges and justices that do this?
  • Sen. John McCain: We would nominate judges of a different kind […] And the people of America – voters in both parties whose wishes and convictions are so often disregarded by unelected judges – are entitled to know what those differences are.
  • Justice Antonin Scalia: Value-laden decisions such as that should be made by an entire society … not by nine unelected judges.

If the conservatives quoted above were to be consistent, they would now be pleading with the court not to overturn the health care reform bill that was passed by super-majorities in both houses of congress. Instead, the right is aghast that a Democratic president would deign to remind them of their own principles and is clamoring for a judicial resolution. It has already been demonstrated that Republicans have no problem switching positions once Obama has agreed to them. Cap and trade and insurance mandates were both originally proposed by Republicans, but as soon as Obama announced support for the concepts the GOP reconsidered and insisted they were the socialist ideas of an aspiring dictator.

Now that one of the GOP’s favorite attack lines, judicial activism, has been usurped by the President, conservatives are crawling out of the woodwork to characterize it as an assault on the judiciary. Republicans have always defined judicial activism as the act of judges ruling against them. When judges rule in favor of the conservative position they regard it as following the constitution. So hypocrisy is not a particularly surprising development in this matter. But the degree to which it is demonstrated here may set new records for shamelessness.


Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the University of California Irvine Law School, wrote in his book, “The Conservative Assault on the Constitution” that…

Although there is no precise definition of judicial activism – it often seems to be a label people use for the decisions they don’t like – it seems reasonable to say that a court is activist if it overturns the actions of the democratically elected branches of government and if it overrules precedent. In fact, conservatives, including on the Supreme Court, often have labeled decisions striking down the will of popularly elected legislatures as ‘activist.'”

Activism is in the eye of the beholder, but there is no doubt that conservatives have been at the forefront of scolding courts for ruling against them. Taking that to the extreme is Newt Gingrich who recently told Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation that he advocated arresting judges to force them to defend unpopular decisions before Congressional hearings. If that isn’t a threat against the judiciary, what is?

The right has very little problem with violating the constitution when it comes to separation of powers. Just this week a conservative judge on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals gave a Department of Justice attorney an unusual homework assignment. In a case unrelated to the one before the Supreme Court, Judge Jerry Smith wondered whether Obama was suggesting “that it is somehow inappropriate for what he termed ‘unelected’ judges to strike acts of Congress.” Then Smith ordered the attorney to produce a three page letter “stating specifically and in detail in reference to those statements what the authority is of the federal courts in this regard in terms of judicial review. That letter needs to be at least three pages single spaced.”

It is difficult to imagine on what basis this judge has assumed authority to issue such an order. It is a blatantly political and petulant demand that can only be intended to insult and embarrass the DOJ and the President, and has no bearing on the case before him. The President never said that the Supreme Court could not overturn an unconstitutional law. He just said that he didn’t believe that this law was unconstitutional and therefore, in his view, and that of many legal experts, should not be overturned. Judge Smith is a bald-faced partisan and would be more at home on Fox News than on the bench.

The question is, what will Republicans say if the Court upholds the health care reform bill? Would that be an act of judicial tyranny against the will of the people (never mind that the bill was passed by the people’s representatives in congress with super-majorities in both houses)? And how can Republicans continue to rail against Roe v. Wade as the ultimate example of an activist judiciary now that they have established that such a charge is tantamount to tyranny and regarded as a threat?

The answer, of course, is that conservatives will do what they always do: pretend that their prior assertions never existed or don’t apply. They will trudge forward with blindfolds over their eyes and plugs in their ears, unimpeded by anything they said previously, no matter how badly it contradicts what they are saying now. It’s hypocrisy at its best and the Republican way of life.