Recently, Ken Blackwell spoke at a meeting of the Council for National Policy.
This picture with the one line of text appeared on Ken Blackwell's Blog Monday. I received it through my RSS Subscription to his blog.
Sounds innocent enough, but I was curious why there was not more promotion of the speech and the group Blackwell was speaking to accompanying the blog post.
When I went to Ken Blackwell's Blog, the post had been removed.*
Who is the Council for National Policy (CNP)? And if the name isn't familiar to you, don't be surprised. That's just what the Council wants.
"The media should not know when or where we meet or who takes part in our programs, before or after a meeting," reads one of the cardinal rules of the organization.
The membership list of this group is "strictly confidential." Guests can attend only with the unanimous approval of the organization's executive committee. The group's leadership is so secretive that members are told not to refer to it by name in e-mail messages. Anyone who breaks the rules can be tossed out.
Is this the reason the blog post was scrubbed?
What is this group, and why is it so determined to avoid the public spotlight?
A little internet digging (mostly facilitated by a post from February 2005 right here on Daily Kos, "Sith Lords of the Ultra-Right" brought out a lot about "The Council for National Policy".
The CNP was founded in 1981 as an umbrella organization of right-wing leaders who would gather regularly to plot strategy, share ideas and fund causes and candidates to advance the far-right agenda. Twenty-five years later, it is still secretly pursuing those goals with amazing success.
Since its founding, the tax-exempt organization has been meeting three times a year. Members have come and gone, but all share something in common: They are powerful figures, drawn from both the Religious Right and the anti-government, anti-tax wing of the ultra-conservative movement.
It may sound like a far-left conspiracy theory, but the CNP is all too real and, its critics would argue, all too influential.
CNP's first president was Tim LaHaye famed millenialist preacher and writer of the Left Behind series of popular books about the "end-times" and the Second Coming of Christ. LaHaye,like the whole of the nation's Religious Right leaders, nurtured a strong contempt for the First Amendment principle of church-state separation, because it seriously complicates their goal of installing fundamentalist Christianity as the nation's officially recognized religion.
Many members of the CNP are part of the Christian Reconstructionist movement. Reconstructionists espouse a radical theology that calls for trashing the U.S. Constitution and replacing it with the harsh legal code of the Old Testament. They advocate the death penalty for adulterers, blasphemers, incorrigible teenagers, gay people, "witches" and those who worship "false gods."
A list of former and past members reads like a who's who of conservative Christian Right activists, anti-tax and anti-government activists, billionaire right wing philanthropists and GOP office holders, past and present.
And what was the ultimate goals of this organization? Well, they stated them pretty clearly early on . . .
From the beginning, the CNP sought to merge two strains of far-right thought: the theocratic Religious Right with the low-tax, anti-government wing of the GOP. The theory was that the Religious Right would provide the grassroots activism and the muscle. The other faction would put up the money.
Bringing together the two strains of the far right gave the CNP enormous leverage. The group, for example, could pick a candidate for public office and ply him or her with individual donations and PAC money from its well-endowed, business wing.
The goals of the CNP, then, are similarly two-pronged. Activists like Grover Norquist, who once said he wanted to shrink the federal government to a size where it could be drowned in a bathtub, are drawn to the group for its exaltation of unfettered capitalism, hostility toward social-service spending and low (or no) tax ideology.
Dramatically scaling back the size of the federal government and abolishing the last remnants of the New Deal may be one goal of the CNP, but many of the foot soldiers of the Religious Right sign on for a different crusade: a desire to remake America in a Christian fundamentalist image.
Since 1981, CNP members have worked assiduously to pack government bodies with ultra-conservative lawmakers who agree that the nation needs a major shift to the right economically and socially. They rail against popular culture and progressive lawmakers, calling them the culprits of the nation's moral decay. Laws must be passed and enforced, the group argues, that will bring organized prayer back to the public schools, outlaw abortion, prevent gays from achieving full civil rights and fund private religious schools with tax funds.
Alongside figures like LaHaye and leaders of the anti-abortion movement, the nascent CNP also included Joseph Coors, the wealthy beer magnate; Herbert and Nelson Bunker Hunt, two billionaire investors and energy company executives known for their advocacy of right-wing causes, and William Cies, another wealthy businessman.
Interestingly, the Hunts, Cies and LaHaye all were affiliated with the John Birch Society, the conspiracy-obsessed anti-communist group founded in 1959. LaHaye had lectured and conducted training seminars frequently for the Society during the 1960s and '70s a time when the group was known for its campaign against the civil rights movement.
In 1988, writer Russ Bellant noted in his book The Coors Connection . . . that many CNP members have been associated with the outer reaches of the conservative movement.
Tom Ellis, a top political operative of the ultra-conservative Jesse Helms, followed LaHaye as the CNP president in 1982. Ellis had a checkered past, having served as a director of a foundation called the Pioneer Fund, which has a long history of subsidizing efforts to prove blacks are genetically inferior to whites.
In addition to obsessing over communist threats and buttressing white supremacist ideology, the CNP has included many members bent on replacing American democracy with theocracy.
The CNP's current executive director, a former California lawmaker named Steve Baldwin, has tried to downplay the organization's influence on powerful state and national lawmakers. He has remained cagey about the CNP's goals, insisting it is merely a group that counters liberal policy arguments.
In many ways, Baldwin himself exemplifies the CNP's operate-in-secret strategy. As a political strategist in California in the early 1990s, Baldwin was one of the key architects of the "stealth strategy" that led to Religious Right activists being elected to school boards and other local offices.
"Stealth candidates" were trained to emphasize pocketbook issues such as taxes and spending. But once elected, they would pursue a Religious Right agenda, such as demanding creationism in public schools.
In the spring of 2002, while working at the CNP, he penned a controversial article for the law review at TV preacher Pat Robertson's Regent University. The piece, "Child Molestation and the Homosexual Movement," linked pedophilia to homosexuality.
The article went on to become a staple in the Religious Right's anti-gay canon, despite the fact that its claims were challenged by legitimate researchers.
"It is difficult to convey the dark side of the homosexual culture without appearing harsh," wrote Baldwin. "However, it is time to acknowledge that homosexual behavior threatens the foundation of Western civilization the nuclear family."
In 1999, candidate George W. Bush spoke before a closed-press CNP session in San Antonio. His speech, contemporaneously described as a typical mid-campaign ministration to conservatives, was recorded on audio tape.
(Depending on whose account you believe, Bush promised to appoint only anti-abortion-rights judges to the Supreme Court, or he stuck to his campaign "strict constructionist" phrase. Or he took a tough stance against gays and lesbians, or maybe he didn't).
The media and center-left activist groups urged the group and Bush's presidential campaign to release the tape of his remarks. The CNP, citing its bylaws that restrict access to speeches, declined. So did the Bush campaign, citing the CNP.
Shortly thereafter, magisterial conservatives pronounced the allegedly moderate younger Bush fit for the mantle of Republican leadership.
Is it possible they're now doing the same for Blackwell?
Ohio Voters deserve to know that Blackwell is associating himself with this group. We have a right to ask Ken Blackwell if he agrees with the value and principles of this group. Is he accepting funding from any members of the National Council for Policy?
The Ohio Media I contacted seemed interested in the story, but aren't going to publish. The Cleveland Plain Dealer emailed me all day today acting if they were going to publish their own story and then only put up a link to the original post "Open Links: Links of the Week : Ohio UAPA Did Blackwell Scrub a Flub?. The Columbus Dispatch wouldn't touch it. Many "Lefty Blogs" in Ohio crossposted and linked and Hotline's Blogometer wrote a paragraph on it today.
I need some help getting this story out there. Can anyone help or advise me?
Crossposted From: Upper Arlington Progressive Action
Update: My ultimate goal here is to get this into the media because if the CNP finds out that Ken Blackwell shed light on their organization they'll drop him like a hot potato. Remember, you can get thrown out of the CNP for mentioning their name in an email. What would they do to Ken Blackwell if he brings national media attention upon them? The voters aren't really even the target, I want to cut offhis funding from the CNP.