Seems obvious, I know. I knew somebody who is a compulsive liar who committed criminal fraud a few times. He’s slick though, never paid a fine, never even been dragged into court. He’s reasonably good at his grift and, especially, at playing on people’s sympathies to convince them he had no choice whenever he did something indefensible. He could still be right about what he read in a book, something he saw, of course, but I used to take everything he said with the proverbial pood of salt. If you know somebody has a bias, take it into consideration when you assess what they have told you. It is quite easy today to find out if somebody taking a public position is being paid for their political bias, it takes a few clicks.
Of course, today, in public life, bias is no vice, neither is lying to achieve a morally higher goal. Transactional is what “win at all costs” is called today.
I was sickened by the recent Supreme Court dead of night summary decision, on party lines (the “moderate” corporatist John Roberts betrayed his own) that stripped millions of Texas women of the right to choice guaranteed by Roe v. Wade. The inventive new law allows a muscular minority in the great state of Texas to deputize citizen vigilantes to run to court to stop abortions and make some good money doing it — at absolutely no risk to themselves. The majority (60% appointed by Trump) wrote that the law’s scheme is so novel and complex that nobody can easily tell if it is unconstitutional, since it doesn’t empower government but private citizens to enforce an unconstitutional new law, and therefore, it’s hands off until ten more states do the same thing and the case winds up on the actual docket of the Supreme Court. We don’t even get to the issue of constitutionality, say the right wing majority, because the law to prevent abortions was done so creatively.
Then, in Jeff Bezos’s Washington Post, opinion columnist Henry Olsen ran a column called The Supreme Court had no reason to block Texas’s abortion law. It is a short, forceful piece arguing that the court could not have “legally” acted any differently than the five right wing zealots did. Here’s a slice:
Most legislatures that have sought to limit legal abortion contrary to Roe v. Wade have run afoul of this because the laws they passed made the state the agent of enforcement. The state could thus be enjoined by a court from enforcing the law given its presumptive unconstitutionality. The Texas law, however, avoids this by placing the exclusive authority to enforce the law in the hands of private citizens who could sue abortion providers in civil actions. Therefore, there are no governmental defendants who have the power to harm.
The point is not whether Olsen is right or wrong in his opinion. The question is who is this dispassionate observer? Here you go:
Henry Olsen is a Washington Post columnist and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
Ethics and Public Policy Center:
The Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC) is a conservative Washington, D.C.-based think tank and advocacy group. Founded in 1976, the group describes itself as “dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy”, and advocacy of founding principles such as the rule of law. The EPPC is active in a number of ways, including hosting lectures and conferences, publishing written work from the group’s scholars, and running programs intended to explore areas of public concern and interest.
EPPC’s current president is Ryan T. Anderson, who previously worked as the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. On February 1, 2021, he succeeded Edward Whelan, who now serves as EPPC’s vice president and holds the title of distinguished senior fellow and Antonin Scalia Chair in Constitutional Studies. George Weigel, Catholic theologian and papal biographer, is also a distinguished senior fellow.
We also learn, without any details, that EPPC founder was deemed too controversial for government work during the Reagan administration:
EPPC was founded in 1976 by Ernest W. Lefever, an American political theorist. He was nominated in 1981 for a US State Department position by US President Ronald Reagan before ultimately being rejected for the opportunity for his controversial background. He served as president of EPPC until 1989 and continued to write scholarly articles for EPPC until his death in 2009. Lefever said upon founding the institute that “a small ethically oriented center” should “respond directly to ideological critics who insist the corporation is fundamentally unjust.”
As far as American persecution of the corporations being a crime against Judeo-Christian ethics, Mr. Lefever wrote:
The Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC, “is one of several [organizations] devoted to improving public appreciation of the role of business in what it terms a ‘moral society.’ It was founded by Ernest Lefever, who expressed his concern that ‘U.S. domestic and multinational firms find themselves increasingly under siege at home and abroad. They are accused of producing shoddy and unsafe products, fouling the environment, robbing future generations, wielding enormous power, repressing peoples in the third world, and generally being insensitive to human needs. We as a small and ethnically oriented center are in a position to respond more directly to ideological critics who insist the corporation is fundamentally unjust.'”
According to the EPPC website the organisation was “established in 1976 to clarify and reinforce the bond between the Judeo-Christian moral tradition and the public debate over domestic and foreign policy issues.” source
Or, in other words:
Tom Barry has this to say about EPPC:Created in 1976, EPPC was the first neocon institute to break ground in the frontal attack on the secular humanists. For nearly three decades, EPPC has functioned as the cutting edge of the neoconservative-driven culture war against progressive theology and secularism, and the associated effort to ensure right-wing control of the Republican Party. It explicitly sought to unify the Christian right with the neoconservative religious right, which was mostly made up of agnostics back then. A central part of its political project was to “clarify and reinforce the bond between the Judeo-Christian moral tradition and the public debate over domestic and foreign policy.” Directed by Elliott Abrams from 1996-2001, EPPC counts among its board members well connected figures in the neocon matrix including Jeane Kirkpatrick, Richard Neuhaus, and Mary Ann Glendon.source
It is, like the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the Institute for Humane Studies (Charles Koch’s favorite charity) funded by right wing billionaires and their charitable trusts. You can read all about it in a minute here. My point is, take the known bias of the writer into account when deciding how much credence to give his legal, moral or justice analysis. It is quite possible that EPPC and many groups like it had a hand in thinking up the innovative new anti-abortion Texas bounty hunter law. Former fellows and resident conservative scholars include Rick Santorum and pardoned felon, former president of the highly moral Judeo-Christian EPPC, Elliott Abrams .
In any case, it’s pretty clear why Henry Olsen supports the Supreme Court’s unappealable refusal to intervene. In fact, Olsen’s op-ed is probably also displayed prominently on the website of his main gig, scholar and senior fellow at the venerable right wing “think tank” (yep, it sure is). One of the great innovations of the Koch network is the seamless blending of “fact” and “fiction,” done in ideological hot houses called “think tanks”, slanted opinion that emerges as somber, considered influential news and other public opinion shaping forms, like op eds in prominent mass media.
This presentation by Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) lays out the judicial part of the doggedly field-tested, effective (and handsomely funded) right wing strategy to dominate democracy, though they represent a minute, infuriated minority galvanized into political action by the Warren Court’s 9-0 1954 decision that segregation in public schools is unconstitutional. Fury at “activist” judges led them to form a network dedicated to ensuring their activist judges became the majority on the federal bench. This rightwing network kicked into high gear when the death of Scalia gave “illegitimate” Obama the opportunity to shift the 5-4 court with the addition of the truly moderate Merrick Garland, an outcome to be prevented at all costs (and financed to the tune of tens of millions of dark dollars). Whitehouse lays bare a large swath of the “vast right wing conspiracy” that Hillary Clinton was mocked and vilified for talking about. The first rule of fight club is shut the fuck up about fight club!
Abrams was heavily involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. In 1991, Abrams was indicted by the Iran-Contra special prosecutor for giving false testimony before Congress in 1987 about his role in illicitly raising money for the Nicaraguan Contras. He pleaded guilty to two lesser offenses of withholding information to Congress in order to avoid a trial and a possible jail term.source