Sunday, September 30, 2007

When did we adopt the Soviets' secrecy?

In the old days, it used to be true that if you told all the people all the truth, you were seen as an honest person and you could be trusted. And voters would elect you, listen to what you had to say, weigh your ideas even-handedly, and usually vote to keep you in positions of authority as long as you were willing and able to serve there.

But more and more, it seems to be an article of faith among a category of modern politicians that if you tell the least truth possible, to the fewest people, and you shut out the public from hearing what you say and knowing what you know, then you can box up those old sentiments of honesty and trust, pack them away, and still hold onto whatever power you have.

Who, or what, is the Council for National Policy? We don't know. Should we know, in the interest of being informed voters? In America, where freedom is more treasured than anywhere else on Earth?

Here's part of what Trib wrote about it yesterday, here (

Vice President Dick Cheney and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney addressed some of the most influential leaders of the conservative movement Friday in Salt Lake City, but their speeches, like the group itself, remain cloaked in secrecy. Members are told not to discuss the group, reveal the topics discussed in the closed-door meetings, or even say whether or not they are members of the organization.

"You're not supposed to be here," said a grinning Foster Friess, who was pleasant but steadfast in his unwillingness to talk about the group.

An attempted interview with Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the Eagle Forum, was interrupted when a volunteer stepped in front of Schlafly and advised her she didn't have to talk to reporters and guided the conservative matriarch by the arm to her next event.

Should I, or should I not, subscribe to the view of the DailyKos website, that this Council is made up of the "Sith Lords of the Ultra-Right"? If I'm a voter and the group doesn't tell me anything, or doesn't want me to know what it says or does, what am I to believe? And should I, or should I not, subscribe to Wayne Holland's view that "policy is influenced in this country by what amounts to a secret society of far-right-wing conservatives and religious extremists."

The Trib's reporter Robert Gehrke could only get this much from the group:

Members of the group say they are not a shadowy cabal but concerned Americans engaging in frank policy discussions, made possible by the secrecy.

A confidential copy of the agenda, obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune, showed topics for presentations covering a range of conservative causes, including anti-union presentations, the future of the anti-abortion movement and trends in international terrorism.

Today, the council will hear from Herbert; Rep. Chris Cannon, who will discuss technology and commerce; and his brother, Deseret Morning News Editor Joe Cannon. Two sessions are also dedicated to Utah's voucher referendum, featuring Doug Holmes, chairman of Parents for Choice in Education, and Lyall Swim, director of operations for the Sutherland Institute.

Featured speakers and topics"Lessons Learned From Utah's School Choice Battle"
Doug Holmes, chairman, Parents for Choice in Education.

"The ABCs of Vouchers: Lessons From Utah's Fight for School Choice"
Lyall Swim, Sutherland Institute

"How Unions Are Affecting the Economy"
Rick Berman, founder of

"Update on the Battles for Worker Rights vs. Big Labor"
Trent England, Evergreen Freedom Foundation

"What is Endangered: Climate or Freedom?"
Va'clav Klaus, Czech Republic president

"How Conservatives Must Continue to Fight the Fairness Doctrine"
Stuart Epperson, Salem Communication Corp.

"The Next Generation of Conservatives"
Rev. Jonathan Falwell

"Resolved: The United States is Winning the War in Iraq"
Debaters: Richard Greco, Jr., Assistant Secretary of the Navy
and John Lenczowski, founder, Institute for World Politics

"Keeping Pro-Life in the Republican Platform"
Colleen Parro, director of the Republican National Coalition for Life

"Parents' Rights in Public Schools"
Mathew Staver, dean of Liberty University School of Law

Aside from Doug Holmes and Rev. Jerry Falwell's son, I don't recognize most of the names on the list of featured speakers, either. Who is Rick Berman of Who is Trent England of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation? Who is Stuart Epperson -- and why is he against fairness? And why was it necessary to bring Mathew Staver of the Liberty University School of Law to Utah, when Utah has its own schools of law?

But I guess these are all secrets, too. Shhh.