Friday, November 6, 2009

Astroturf Invades DC

The wing-nuttiest of the Tea Bagger Set arrived yesterday in Washington, DC.  It was “grass roots” with no outside organization.  They just happened to get on the forty busses provided by AFP.

astroturf Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the corporate front group founded in the 1980s by Koch Industries billionaire David Koch, worked closely with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) to orchestrate the anti-health reform rally today. As ThinkProgress reported yesterday, AFP has been encouraging right-wing activists to board their buses — free of charge — to attend the rally. While AFP does not disclose all of its corporate donors, foundations controlled by David and Charles Koch provide millions in yearly funding, and David continues to chair the AFP foundation and preside over AFP’s annual convention.

ThinkProgress found at least a dozen AFP staffers standing at their designated bus drop off point near the Capitol, handing out signs, directions, talking points, petitions, and donuts to protesters. Many of the people who work at AFP are longtime Republican operatives, like Ben Marchi, the AFP Virginia director who previously worked for the National Republican Congressional Committee and for Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX). Victor Zapanta produced this video report of AFP staffers talking about their exploits at the rally today:

AFP STAFFERS: We have 25 buses just from Pennsylvania, New Jersey we probably have 5 or 6 from Maryland.

AFP STAFFERS: We have about 40 buses coming.

Watch it:


David Koch’s AFP has a long history of marshaling “grassroots” support for GOP objectives. In the early 1990s, AFP, then known as Citizens for a Sound Economy, worked secretly with then-Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA) to organize angry crowds following the Clintons as they touted their health reform bill. Industry money from health insurance, telecommunications, oil, and other companies has flowed freely to AFP over the years to help AFP promote an agenda of boosting the rich, stripping consumer safeguards, and maintaining corporate monopolies. Phillip Morris rented out AFP from the Koch family, contributing millions to the organization in exchange for AFP to build opposition to tobacco regulations...

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I always find it particularly enlightening when those organizing those they have trained to claim they are “grass roots”, not organized, actually brag about how well they have organized the event.  I found most of what I saw and heard in clips of this event highly offensive on many levels.  Keith Olbermann, back from the Series, provided an excellent analysis, so I’ll conclude with that.

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the walking man said...

I suppose these fools think that the radical left is full of flower children and pot smokers who are indolent and lazy. I hate to think that the left is getting ready to strike back from the underground where they live. There is action and reaction. With their action the Radical right is just not prepared for the reaction they are fomenting among them who oppose them.

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

ah, 'walking man', i take great pride in my radical left, Goddess demonstrative,, ok shutting up now! but! Great post TC! Welcome the

TomCat said...

Mark, I fear that you may be correct here. I dropped out of SDS in the late 60s after the weather faction took control of the organization. I know that there are limits, and fear that the riots back then will seem mild by comparison.

Shut up, Gwen. ;-) Big Brother is reading.

Paul Burke said...

Actually the fake grass roots AstroTurf business model sounds extremely profitable.

I'm sure that the corporate money pouring in is being siphoned off the top and probably into personal bank accounts one way or the other.

If those sorry pawns knew what saps they were and that their top organizers were directly profiting while they stood out in the cold wearing out their sneakers they might feel differently about boarding those donuts or not.

One other question - don't these uber, flag waving, bible thumping, right thinking, gun toting people have jobs?

How do they get all this time off to hound planned parenthood follow the Clintons around let alone assemble in D.C.

I have to work 9 to 5 Monday through Friday - what gives?

Must be nice....

TomCat said...

Hi Paul. I'm sure it is profitable. These followers have been trained in being ripped off by TV preachers, the best there are at that trade. From the looks of their rallies, many are seniors.