THE OLSON SALON:
A CASE STUDY OF THE
MACHINATIONS OF THE
RELIGIOUS RIGHT (PART 1)

A Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

September 24, 1998
Written By S.R. Shearer

"WE HAS MET THE ENEMY, AND THEY IS US" - POGO

INTRODUCTION

As we indicated in the introduction to our Anthology: Selected Articles from Three Years of Religion in Politics:

"Today a vast and extraordinarily complex religo-political system has emerged in the United States - a keiretsu-like network of conservative religious and political organizations with interlocking boards of directors, similar sources of funding and 'cross-over' memberships - which aims at taking over the country. The actual number of organizations which are a part of this system is mind-boggling; so intertwined have these organizations become that it is difficult any longer to separate out the secular component from the religious component. Sadly, it is into this 'right-wing web' that countless numbers of Christians are being drawn - a web which historically has been permeated with racist, anti-Semitic and fascist ideas. Most Christians, of course, will deny that they are being affected at all by such thinking; but in the end, the only people they may be kidding are themselves.

"Our network of associations with one another - whether civic, religious, social, or personal - forms an integrated system of arteries down through which notions of all sort journey - sometimes to our benefit, and sometimes to our detriment. By such means, ideas become infectious; uplifting us on the one hand, and corrupting us on the other. It is in this way that we can properly speak of the contagion of evil; if left unchecked within a community, evil, like a vicious cancer, has a treacherous way of using the network of our social, political and religious relationships to spread it's venom throughout the entire body; of using the bands which connect us together as channels of corruption. By such means evil can demolish not only the individual Christian, but the entire Christian community. The Bible says,

'A little leaven leavens the whole lump.' (Gal. 5:9)

"And just how far the interconnection between far-right ideologues and the Christian community has progressed can be easily demonstrated. To pick just a few examples, take Robert Grant. Grant is considered a 'big hitter' in the Christian Right and is associated with Christian Voice, a publication which receives financial backing from the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, a group which teaches that Christ failed in His effort to save us, and that He had sex with the women who surrounded Him. Grant told Christianity Today that it was necessary for Christians to form political ties with 'philosophical allies' from other communities in order to build up an effective political alliance strong enough to 'take the country back for Christ and the church.'

"Take the country back for Christ and the church using the Rev. Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church? - more than anything else, such statements reveal the spiritual bankruptcy of many of the Christian leaders who today are leading the struggle against secular humanism. Jumping from secular humanism into the hands of such leaders is really a case of jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Grant's attitude here is the very attitude which - if not checked - will lead the church down a path of compromise from which there may be no turning back.

"Then there's Tom Ellis who several years ago succeeded well-known evangelical leader Tim LaHaye as president of the Council on National Policy (CNP), one of the principal coordinating agencies between the secular right and the religious right, and who was then succeeded himself by Pat Robertson. Ellis was a director of the Pioneer Fund, a foundation which finances efforts to prove that African-Americans are genetically inferior to whites (Please see our article on the Pioneer Fund. Ellis has said, 'The eventual goal of this movement (i.e., integration) is racial intermarriage ...' by which he means the disappearance of the 'white race.' Recipients of Pioneer grants have included William Schockley, Arthur Jensen, and Roger Pearson - the same Roger Pearson which has written that 'inferior races' should be 'exterminated.' (Please see our article on the Bell Curve ) Again, the question might fairly be asked, what are avowed Christian evangelicals doing cavorting with people who advocate - explicitly or even implicitly - such things? What does that say about Tim LaHaye and Pat Robertson?

"Ellis claims to have disavowed these beliefs, and many Christians believe that they are under an obligation to take at face value such disavowals. But Christians should also remember that those who repent are under an obligation to 'bring forth fruits worthy of repentance' - in other words, more is involved in repentance than saying 'I'm sorry.' It calls for a change in lifestyle. Where is Ellis' change in lifestyle when he continues to involve himself with such groups as the Pioneer Fund? Words in the absence of deeds are meaningless. The Book of James declares that faith not backed up by works is dead. (James 2:17)

"Of course, there are those who would say that such thinking implies 'guilt by association' - and to a certain extent, that's true! But the plain fact of the matter is, the relationships we keep, the fellowships we sustain, and the institutional associations we support - especially our religious and political ones - do indeed go a long way in defining us as persons. The truth is, the idea of 'community' implies a certain commonalty - a commonalty in beliefs, heritage, interests, etc. As a result - and more often than we care to admit - these relationships imply 'acceptance,' 'acceptance' not only of the people with whom we affiliate, but more often than not, of their thoughts as well. As we have already indicated, ideas are infectious and while good ideas can ennoble us, bad ideas pollute everything they touch. This is why the Lord warns us against 'mixture' - the mixing of the 'profane' with the 'holy.' It leads to a condition where 'the good' is mixed with 'the bad' - a condition which the Bible indicates NEVER works out in favor of 'the good' (again, 'a little leaven leavens the whole lump'):

'Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:
'But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:
'Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;
'And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods. (Ex. 34:12, 13,15-16)

"Surely those on the Secular or even Religious Right should have no argument with this - i.e., with the notion of 'guilt by association.' Their old McCarthy era friends took this concept to its extreme in their efforts to ferret out 'communists' and 'communist sympathizers' during the 'Great Communist Scare' of 1946-1954 - and they found nothing wrong with this concept at that time. Why should they find anything wrong with it now? McCarthy era demagogues had a name for those whom they deemed 'guilty by association:' they were called 'fellow travelers' - people who 'traveled' in the same circles as communists and avowed communist sympathizers. In the McCarthyite lexicon, nothing could be as damning as that epitaph. They understood that association more often than not implied agreement.

"This was true during the McCarthy era, and it's true today. As the evangelical Christian community has been ever more drawn into the 'right-wing matrix,' it has been deeply affected by its new found 'friends' and 'associations.'"

CONSPIRACY THEORIES

Take, for example, what's been happening to President Clinton. There are, of course, many Christians who are probably elated at what's occurring to the President. "He's getting what he deserves," is the cry from most evangelicals. The charge by the President's wife, Hillary, that the current sex scandal against her husband is part of "a vast right-wing conspiracy" that has targeted them is dismissed as nonsense. Indeed, she has been widely criticized - and crudely psychoanalyzed - for uttering the dreaded "C" word (i.e., "Conspiracy") and by doing so, aligning herself with "paranoid conspiracy theorists." What makes this all so amusing, however, is that many of the people who are criticizing her now for using the "C" word are themselves full-time believers in the "Illuminist Conspiracy" - for example, Pat Robertson and Tim LaHaye. It's evidently "OK" for the right to believe in conspiracies, but not for the left.

Nonetheless, there may be more to Hillary's charge than what first meets the eye. The fact is, there are some very strange connections between Starr and the right-wing - connections which are very, very suspicious - indeed, much more so than most evangelical Christians would like to admit.

Now, in saying this, we don't mean to condone what Bill Clinton has done; nor do we approve of his left-wing social agenda or his alliance with elements (i.e., homosexuals, radical feminists, militant atheists, etc) with whom most Christians justifiably feel uneasy. Nor are we saying (or even implying) that Clinton is not necessarily guilty of the charges that have been leveled against him - not only the sex charges, but many of the other charges dealing with "Filegate," Whitewater, etc. That's not the point here. What we are discussing is Hillary Clinton's charge of a "vast, right-wing conspiracy" that is out to "get her husband." And there is a good deal more to that story than meets the eye; a story which - if read carefully - exposes the shadowy and threatening character of the kind of people Christians have gotten themselves mixed up with in their effort to "return the nation to Christ and the church."

It's a story that goes a long way in revealing the shocking lengths and cruel methodologies that some very misguided Christians - along with their "conservative" secular allies - are willing to employ in order to "return the nation to Christ" and preserve the world for "free enterprise," capitalism, and the American multinationals. As you will discover in this article and those which are to follow, the Christians who have become involved in all this have become the modern day equivalents of the Spanish Inquisitors who were willing to kill their prisoners in order to "save them." God preserve us all from such people! - people like Paige Paterson, James Dobson, D. James Kennedy, Pat Robertson, Tim LaHaye, Jerry Falwell, etc. Yes! - God preserve us from Christian politicos like them! And more: God preserve us from becoming like them - and there are more of us who are in danger of allowing ourselves to be thus transformed than we are today willing to concede - Pharisees who "... compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, make him twofold more the child of hell than themselves" (Matt. 23:15). Jesus hated the Pharisees and their relentless, unmerciful pursuit of their idea of "righteousness," and He warned them:

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
"Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
"Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish (decorate) the sepulchres of the righteous,
"And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
"Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
"Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
"Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" (Matt. 23:23-33)

But let's get back to our story; let's examine Mrs. Clinton's contention of a "vast, right-wing conspiracy" directed against her and her husband, the president; and let's see if there is any truth to it.

THEODORE B. OLSON

Kenneth Starr, the president's nemesis (and "Grand Inquisitor"), is inextricably linked to a right-wing ideologue named Theodore B. Olson. The association between Olson and Starr goes back some twenty years when both were partners in the Los Angeles-based law firm Gibson Dunn and Crutcher. Both men came to the Justice Department in 1981 when Gibson senior partner William French Smith was named U.S. Attorney General at the beginning of the Reagan Administration. Olson is now back at the Washington office of the Gibson firm while Starr has gone on to the Chicago-based law firm of Kirkland and Ellis.

Both Olson and Starr are part of a tight-knit network of conservative lawyers associated with right-wing legal foundations and "think tanks." They both sit on the Legal Advisory Councils of two such groups: the National Legal Center for the Public Interest and the Washington Legal Foundation - both of which are bankrolled by Richard Mellon Scaife. Edward Spannaus of EIR charges that the National Legal Center for the Public Interest (NLCPI) is an umbrella group for a nationwide network of New Right "public interest" law firms connected to various Religious Right and Secular Right causes. In addition to Starr and Olson, its Legal Advisory Council includes George Bush's former Attorney Generals William Barr and Richard Thornburgh, plus Robert Bork; former federal prosecutor Joseph diGenova and Eugene Meyer, the executive director of the ultra right-wing Federalist Society (an organization of so-called right-wing lawyers and legal experts) are also members of the NLCPI. Both Starr and Olson are activists in the Federalist Society. The society was founded in 1982 under the guidance of now-Supreme Court associate justice Antonin Scalia. Olson chairs the Washington, D.C. chapter; Starr has been a regular speaker at Federalist Society events.

Spannaus charges that, in effect, Olson is Starr's Svengalli. Olson played the central role in putting together Starr's staff, and is responsible for the collection of career Justice Department prosecutors who have been recruited for Starr's operation - all of them civil service employees recruited during the Reagan and Bush years (as career civil servants, they could not be fired by the new Clinton Administration). Since Starr himself is not a prosecutor, and has never tried a criminal case in his life, he is totally dependent on the men Olson is responsible for bringing on board. And what a group they are! For the most part, they have - over the years - gained a certain notoriety for targeting black and Hispanic elected officials for "investigation." For example, Spannus charges, Hickman Ewing, from Memphis, Tennessee, conducted a long - but ultimately unsuccessful - vendetta against Rep. Harold Ford. Sol Wisenberg and Ray Jahn, from San Antonio, Texas (Starr's hometown), targeted mayor and later Clinton cabinet official Henry Cisneros, plus Rep. Albert Bustamante, and Rep. Craig Washington. Starr's deputy Jackie Bennett, from Justice Department headquarters, also went out to San Antonio to help in the Bustamante case. Starr's office also includes longtime federal prosecutors from Mississippi, Florida, Virginia and Los Angeles - all with records of "going after" blacks, Hispanics and other minorities and of being Reagan ideologues.

THE "OLSON SALON"

Olson, his wife Barbara (who is the chief counsel for Rep. Dan Burton's House Government Reform and Oversight Committee which has been charged with conducting an investigation of the "Chinagate" allegations surrounding the Democratic Party's illegal fundraising activities), and Starr are a part of what David Brock has alleged in Esquire Magazine is an informal "Get Clinton" group known as the "Olson Salon." The gathering, according to Brock, includes Starr, federal appeals court judge Laurence Silberman, former judge Robert Bork, Supreme Court associate justice Clarence Thomas, Wall Street Journal editor Robert Bartley, American Spectator editor Emmett Tyrell, and many others. Brock describes how he had been a guest at the wedding of Ted and Barbara Olson in the summer of 1996, when "the entire anti-Clinton establishment" was on hand, including Starr, former Bush White House Counsel C. Boyden Gray, and the Wall Street Journal's Bartley. Brock says that Barbara Olson then dis-invited him from another party at her home a few weeks later - after word had leaked out on Brock's new book, The Seduction of Hillary Clinton, which she considered was too sympathetic to the First Lady.

The question, of course, might fairly be asked, How did a Clinton hater with such evident, apparent and very obvious ties to a "Get Clinton" group like the "Olson Salon" get appointed Independent Counsel? - especially in light of the fact that the Independent Counsel is supposed to be "controlled" by the Attorney General, Janet Reno. The answer lies in the fact that the actual appointment of the Independent Counsel itself does not lie within the purview of the Attorney General, but lies rather within the jurisdiction of a three-judge panel appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist, a Reagan appointee. The Attorney General "calls" for the appointment of the Independent Counsel, but she does not appoint the Independent Counsel.

JUDGE DAVID SENTELLE

The current head of the three judge panel responsible for the appointment of the Independent Counsel is a man named David Sentelle, a person who runs in the same ultra-right legal circles that Olson and Starr run in, and who - like Olson and Starr - is a member of the extreme-right Federalist Society. He is also a kind of quasi-member of the "Olson Salon" and is widely known in Washington circles as a "protégé" of Senator Jesse Helms, the powerful, ultraconservative Republican senator from North Carolina. It was Sentelle, not Reno, who was responsible for the appointment of Starr as Independent Counsel.

Of course, all this leads to a second question: What possibly could have motivated Reno to risk calling for an Independent Counsel knowing all the while that the appointment of such a Counsel rested with a man - Judge Sentelle - who so obviously was connected to "Get Clinton" groups like the "Olson Salon" and the Federalist Society? The answer is, at the time the Independent Counsel was first named, Congress had allowed the statute governing the Independent Counsel to lapse, which left the appointment of the Independent Counsel in the hands of Reno. She did not appoint Starr; she appointed Robert Fiske - a fact that most people today seem to have forgotten. The fact that the Independent Counsel statute had lapsed is precisely what had impelled Reno to take the chance of appointing an Independent Counsel. In the absence of the statute she - not Sentelle - controlled the appointment of the Independent Counsel which meant that she could control the direction of the investigation which would allow her to quickly dispose of the allegations against the president and permit him to continue on undisturbed with his left-wing political and social agendas - agendas which were anathema to the social conservatives which infused the Federalist Society and the so-called "Olson Salon." And Fiske was everything that Reno could have hoped for. Fiske began his work as Independent Council by investigating the death of Clinton aide, Vince Foster, and in 1994 concluded that Foster's death had been a suicide.

THE FALLOUT FROM THE
VINCE FOSTER INVESTIGATION

This conclusion incensed and enraged the "Get Clinton" crowd - and not only the Secular Right elements of that crowd, but Religious Right elements as well - the same elements responsible for spreading stories in the "underground press" charging Clinton as a murderer and a drug runner [i.e., the "Clinton Chronicles" which were shamelessly sponsored by Jerry Falwell (a card-carrying member of the Religious Right) and financed by Richard Mellon Scaife (a card-carrying member of the Secular Right)]. It was just at this time that the Independent Counsel statute was reinstated, placing the appointment once again in the hands of Sentelle.

Infuriated by Fiske's conclusions regarding Vince Foster, Sentelle intervened to remove Fiske and appoint a second Special Prosecutor, namely, Starr. In removing Fiske and appointing Starr, Sentelle cited potential conflicts of interest involving Fiske, conflicts supposedly relating to Fiske's appointment by Reno, an employee of the administration under investigation. Interestingly, shortly before removing Fiske and appointing Starr, Sentelle had lunch with Helms and his colleague Lauch Faircloth, the junior senator from North Carolina and another Helms protégé. It was widely rumored in Washington circles at the time that the purpose of the meeting was to coordinate the removal of Fiske and the appointment of Starr - clearly a conflict of interest. This, at least, was the view of five former heads of the American Bar Association, all of whom publicly criticized the actions and legal ethics of Sentelle in removing Fiske and appointing Starr. Sentelle, however, could care less what the "biased," "liberal" American Bar Association thought.

STARR ATTEMPTS TO RESIGN

For the better part of four years Starr gave himself to investigating President Clinton - from "Travelgate" to "Filegate," to the death of Vince Foster to "Troopergate," to Mena and the charges of drug running, to Whitewater. But always, and just barely it sometimes seemed, his prey, Bill and Hillary Clinton, escaped his grasp. Starr was convinced that both were as dirty as pigs in a pigsty, but he couldn't prove it - and it wasn't as though he hadn't tried. He spent $40-million attempting to do so and he had employed people who were as dedicated as he was to "Getting Clinton." By the summer of 1997 he was about ready to give up. But there arose such a hue and cry from his friends in the right-wing matrix against his giving up, that he was persuaded to soldier on. And the reason? - to cultural and religious conservatives, Clinton was dangerously threatening. First, as the nation's first baby-boomer president, he epitomized the often-permissive cultural values of the 1960s, which they despised. Second, in a political system where war service and heroism have been a paramount experience for many presidents, Clinton not only did not fight in his generation's war - Vietnam - he "gamed" the system to stay out of the draft while preserving what he described in his youth as his "political viability." Worse to conservatives, he participated in student demonstrations against the war. These two characteristics alone produced in many conservatives the same visceral hatred of Clinton that liberals at an earlier time had reserved for Richard Nixon.

THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT
IMPERATIVE TO "GET CLINTON"

And now a third and more important factor presented itself: as a result of the Democratic Party's disastrous rout in the 1994 elections, Clinton began to successfully re-position the party back to the center and away from the liberal, special interest group politics of the 1980s, which had made the Democrats unable to win the White House. In doing so, he was shamelessly poaching Republican issues. If he succeeded - as the results of the 1998 presidential election seemed to indicate that he was doing - Republicans could lose both the House and the Senate in 2000 and be shut out of the presidency for another eight years by Vice President Al Gore, the man who Clinton was grooming to take over the new centrist Democratic Party. To Republicans who thought long-term, this meant the Supreme Court would be gone along with the entire federal judiciary, and it also meant a resurgence of the hated federal bureaucracy and its related regulatory agencies. To anti-abortionists, anti-feminists, anti-homosexuals, free marketeers, etc., this meant the devastation of all the dreams of the right - especially, the Religious Right, the dreams of people like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Tim LaHaye, etc. By the time the Al Gore presidency finished - in the year 2009 - all of them would very probably be dead and buried, or at least close to it.

It was precisely these people who refused to let Starr give up - and thus was born the determination to "get Clinton" at all costs. All this, of course, has tended to reveal what the Religious and Secular Right were really up to: to prevent at whatever cost Clinton's re-positioning of the Democratic Party in the center. They were not interested in the specifics of the charges against Clinton; they weren't even interested in necessarily finding out the truth of the charges against the president. They wouldn't even have been pleased (or relieved) to find out that the president was genuinely innocent of the charges. Their purpose was to remove him from office or to so cripple him (and the Democratic Party) politically that they could successfully install themselves in power in the year 2000 - and by their control of the presidency and both houses of Congress re-institute America as a "Christian nation." A president who was innocent of the charges against him would be of no use to them. They had to make at least one of the charges stick! - and they didn't much care which one it was. Hardly the attitude that real Christians would be expected to display. These men - all of them - seem quite unconcerned that in order to save the United States as a "Christian nation," they are killing Christianity as a spiritual reality.

Enter Paula Jones, Richard Scaife, the Rutherford Institute and the Religious Right in all their pompous regalia and at full gallop.

Sincerely,

S.R. Shearer


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