"We are no longer working to preserve the status quo. We are radicals, working to overturn the present power structure in this country." Paul Weyrich
Got your attention? Good, because this is important.
More below the fold . . .
Update: In the interest of moving the conversation off the title, and so people can send this as a link without worrying about being labeled anti-semetic, I've changed the title. I appreciate all those who defended my original title, but I'd like the focus kept on the information presented and what we can do to counter the influence of this group.
Ever wonder how the right always seems so coordinated in the strategy. How all the multitude of organizations they've created all seem to use the same playbook? How they all manage to focus on the same talking points each day, day after day, year after year. Well it's no accident. But how do they do it?
The answer my friends lies in a little known organization with the innocuous sounding name The Council for National Policy. Don't go looking for an official website because you won't find one. In fact this "think tank" goes out of its way to avoid publicity:
When a top U.S. senator receives a major award from a national advocacy organization, it's standard procedure for both the politician and the group to eagerly tell as many people about it as possible.
Press releases spew from fax machines and e-mails clog reporters' in-boxes. The news media are summoned in the hope that favorable stories will appear in the newspapers, on radio and on television.
It was odd, therefore, that when U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) accepted a "Thomas Jefferson Award" from a national group at the Plaza Hotel in New York City in August, the media weren't notified. In fact, they weren't welcome to attend.
"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 that honored Frist. 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.
What is this group, and why is it so determined to avoid the public spotlight?
That answer 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 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-three 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.
What amazes most CNP opponents is the group's ability to avoid widespread public scrutiny. Despite nearly a quarter century of existence and involvement by wealthy and influential political figures, the CNP remains unknown to most Americans. Operating out of a non-descript office building in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Fairfax, Va., the organization has managed to keep an extremely low profile an amazing feat when one considers the people the CNP courts.
Sounds a little tin foil hattish to you? Trust me it gets worse. Founded in 1981, its 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. He was also a co-founder of the Moral Majority. In the 1980s he headed the American Coalition for Traditional Values. While heading that group, LaHaye said, "If every Bible-believing, Christ-loving church would trust God to raise up an average of just one person over the next 10 years who would get elected, we would have more Christian candidates than there are offices."
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: Here's a partial list (as of 1998) assembled from this website:
Right Wing Religious Leaders
Dr. Tim LaHaye, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson (Focus on the Family), Howard Ahmanson (Christian Reconstructionist), Rev. Donald Wildmon (American Family Association), David W. Breese (Christian Identity), William R. Bright (International Christian Leadership University), Robert P. Dugan Jr. (National Association of Evangelicals), Robert Grant (Christian Voice), Haldeman "Hal" W. Guffey (International Ministries Fellowship), Sara DiVito Hardman (Christian Coalition of California), Seamus Hasson (Becket Fund for Religious Liberty), Donald Paul Hodel (Christian Coalition), James B. Jacobson (Christian Solidarity International), Bob Jones III (Bob Jones University), Ed McAteer (Religious Roundtable, Inc.), Dal Shealy (Fellowship of Christian Athletes), John A. Stormer (I Chronicles 12:32 Ministries and authour of None Dare Call it Treason famous McCarthyite anti-communist screed), Jay Strack (Christian motivational speaker, former appointee to "Just say no" drug task force).
Right Wing Media and Communications:
L. Brent Bozell III (Media Research Center), Stuart W. Epperson (Salem Communications Corporation), Tracy Freeny (AmeriVision Communications, Inc.),Reed Irvine (Accuracy in Media), Mark Maddoux (USA Radio Network), Pat Matrisciana (Jeremiah Films), James D. McCotter (Media Management Group, Inc.), Liz McCotter (Channel 26 Orlando), Patrick B. McGuigan (The Daily Oklahoman), Sam Moore (Thomas Nelson Publishers), Thomas L. Phillips (Phillips Publishing International), Larry W. Poland (Mastermedia International, Inc.) , Gerry Snyder (member of editorial board, Valley Views, a conservative weekly newspaper), Bill Tierney (Capital Communications, Inc.), George Uribe II (Uribe Communications and former political director of Alan Keyes for President).
Businessmen, Lobbyists, Lawyers and Political Consultants:
Gary Jarmin (Jar-Mon Consultants), David Keene (American Conservative Union), Larry Klayman (Judicial Watch), Mark R. Levin (Landmark Legal Foundation), Christopher Long (Friess Assoc.), Edward A. Lozick (Nerts, Inc.), Edith D. Hakola (National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation), Carolyn Malenick (Triad Management Services, Inc.), Thomas E. McCabe (Killion McCabe & Associates), Dana Meese (Deloitte & Tousche Consulting Group), Eugene Meyer(Federalist Society), Ralph Reed (Century Strategies), William Bradford Reynolds, Jay A. Sekulow (American Center for Law and Justice), Kyle Stallings (Permian Basin Acquisition Fund), Allen Stevens (Capital Insurance Services of Mississippi), Christine Vollmer (Aragua Services - K Street lobbyist), Jack Webb (Jack Webb & Assoc.), Somers White (Somers White Co.).
Funders of Conservative Causes:
Nelson Bunker Hunt (of the famed Texas based family of oil tycoons), Various members of the Coors' family (Beer Barons), Richard DeVos (Amway founder), Pierre S. duPont IV.
Former Sen. Jesse Helms; Dick Armey and Tom Delay (GOP Congressional leaders); Gary Bauer, Ed Meese, William G. Batchelder III (Congressman), Dan Burton (Congressman), John Doolittle (Congressman), Robert K. Dornan, Sen. D. M. "Lauch" Faircloth, Ernest J. Istook (Congressman), Sen. Jon Kyl, Sen. Trent Lott, Sen. Don Nickles, Tom Patterson (AZ State Sen.), Tony Perkins (La. State Rep.), H. L. Richardson (CA State Sen.), David C. Schultheis (CO State Rep.), Gov. John H. Sununu, Gov. Tommy G. Thompson.
Paul Weyrich (Free Congress Foundation, etc.), Howard Phillip (Conservative Caucus), Larry Pratt (Gun Owners of America ); Oliver North; Richard Viguerie (direct mail wizard), Morton C. Blackwell (Leadership Institute), Henry F. Cooper (High Frontier), Edwin J. Feulner Jr. (Heritage Foundation), Peter Flaherty (National Legal and Policy Center), Stephen Goodrick (National Right to Work Committee), Lon Mabon (U.S. Citizen's Alliance), Raymond Moore (Moore Foundation), Henry M. Morris (Institute for Creation Science), Grover Norquist, Phillip Olsen (Family Research Council), Phyllis Schlafly (Eagle Forum), John K. Singlaub, LaNeil Wright Spivy (Eagle Forum), Lt. General Gordon Sumner Jr. (Connected to various org. associated with Rev. Moon).
And what was the ultimate goals of this organization? Well, they stated them pretty clearly early on:
In the summer of 1981, Woody Jenkins, a former Louisiana state lawmaker who served as the group's first executive director, told Newsweek bluntly, "One day before the end of this century, the Council will be so influential that no president, regardless of party or philosophy, will be able to ignore us or our concerns or shut us out of the highest levels of government."
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.
The CNP has always reflected this two-barreled approach. The group's first president was LaHaye, then president of Family Life Seminars in El Cajon Calif. LaHaye, a fundamentalist Baptist preacher who went on in the 1990s to launch the popular "Left Behind" series of apocalyptic potboilers, was an early anti-gay crusader and frequent basher of public education and he still is today.
* * *
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 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.
And what kind of conservatives are these? Run of the mill, regular folks? Or something else?
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.
LaHaye, like the whole of the nation's Religious Right leaders, nurtures 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. LaHaye has worked within the CNP and other groups to replace American law with "biblical law."
* * *
For many years, the late leader of the Christian Reconstructionist movement, Rousas J. Rushdoony, was a member. 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."
Another CNP-Reconstructionist tie comes through Howard Phillips, the Constitution Party leader. Phillips, a longtime CNP member, is a disciple of Rushdoony and uses rhetoric that strikes a distinctly Reconstructionist tone. In a 2003 Constitution Party gathering in Clackamas, Oregon, Phillips told party members and guests, "We've got to be ready when God chooses to let us restore our once-great Republic." A report by the Southern Poverty Law Center said that Phillips proclaimed that his party was "raising up an army" to "take back this nation!"
* * *
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."
And who do these folks honor with their most prestigious awards (even though they don't publicize them? Why the most conservative leaders, judges and politicians, of course. Here are some of their honorees:
Thomas Jefferson Award
for Servant Leadership
2004 Bill Frist
1997 Ward Connelly
1996 Paul Weyrich
1995 Edwin J. Feulner Jr.
1994 Phyllis Schlafly
1993 Daniel O. Graham
1992 Clarence Thomas
1991 Robert H. Krieble
1990 James Dobson
1989 Ellen St. John Garwood
1988 William Armstrong
1987 Fred Schwarz
1986 Edwin Meese III
1985 William J. Bennett
1984 John F. Lehman
1983 Jesse Helms
1982 Jeane J. Kirkpatrick
The New York Times in a 2004 article (link) reported that Bush attended a 1999 CNP function, and Rumsfeld and Cheney have both been speakers since the Iraq war was initiated. So clearly the Bush administration takes these folks very seriously. Other speakers at the August 2004 event included Arnold Schwartzenegger and Rudy Guiliani, two supposedly "moderate" Republicans.
Fellow Kossacks, these are the people who should go on our enemies list. I urge you to read the full article at the American United for Separation of Church and State website. It's daunting but well worth the time and effort. We're way behind, but better late than never.
"The destiny of our nation is on the shoulders of the conservative movement," the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, Republican of Tennessee, told the gathering as he accepted its Thomas Jefferson award . . . according to an attendee's notes"
It's past time to relieve Senator Frist and these other conservative nut jobs of that burden, don't you agree? Other good links for information about CNP are: