Standard procedure for sea-going pirates of yesteryear was to pretend their vessels were normal merchant ships until they got close enough to the target, when they hoisted the Jolly Roger. Many politicians today do the same. Those most adept at the practice are liberal Democrats, from Barack Obama down to Arizona’s District 26.

Their biggest pretense is to claim “moderation” and accuse Republicans and conservatives of being “extremists.” They will tell you they are problem-solvers, reaching across the aisle, an illogical premise defying reality based on the irrational supposition that all problems can be solved by compromising all the various proposed remedies, which is absurd. But making that claim helps mask intent. Look closely and you’ll find the real agendas, like the hidden guns behind the closed ports of those pirate vessels.

Start with Senator Obama. Some years back, I worked on a California congressional campaign against an admitted lefty who was quite proud of it, the late George Brown. Dick Armey’s staff provided me with some interesting data comparing Brown’s voting record to that of Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, the only admitted Socialist in national office. Using material from left-of-center sources, such as Americans for Democratic Action, I discovered that about half the other Democrats in the House voted to the left of socialist Sanders. Sanders is now in the Senate, and using similar criteria, he votes to the right of Barack Obama.

We have the same stealth problem locally. Cheryl Cage is a very bright, attractive lady. Her website currently rants about her opponent, Al Melvin, “distorting” her views about taxes. She makes that charge with no specifics. Perhaps it’s the charge by Melvin that she proposed a new tax on golf carts that she denies, which reliable sources claim to have seen on her Web site.

There are other items where Ms Cage avoids specificity. Try “supports reproductive choice.” OK — how far? Parental consent for a minor to have an abortion? Third trimester? “Health of the mother” exception — defined by whom as what? Melvin is clear — he’s anti-abortion in every case but life of the mother.

Melvin favors private school vouchers by providing parental choice as a remedy for failing public schools. Cage doesn’t. She wants higher teacher pay and smaller classes, all of which require more money. She wants a state revenue source beyond the sales tax but doesn’t say what. She also calls for tax incentives for teacher helpers and the “equalization” of contributions made to public and private schools. She makes no critique of any public school’s methodology, simply stating we don’t spend enough.

Melvin supports more nuclear power plants. Cage is anti-nuke and believes solar power is the wave of the future and is willing to bet a large hunk of the state’s economy on it becoming viable. Cage also favors ending “discrimination” in health care by apparently forcing insurance companies to include those with pre-existing conditions, raising everybody else’s premiums. One comes away from her Web site suspecting that what she really wants is single-payer universal coverage, and I’d  respect her more if she had the courage to tell us.

She and other Democrats have other annoying habits. Whining about “wedge” issues and others they find “divisive.” Apparently legislatures should only discuss “nice” things. The standard cop-out on illegal immigration — “make the feds do it.” The re-definition of “subsidy” to “investment.” But their biggest irritation is a failure to tell us publicly who they really are.

With Al Melvin, what you see is what you get. With Ms. Cage and others, I detect that hidden flag.

Hear Emil Franzi and Tom Danehy on Inside Track, Saturdays 1-4 p.m. on KVOI 690 AM.

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