Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fox in the Hen House

CCC visited the Virginia Democratic Convention in Hampton this weekend. The famous Will Rogers quote comes to mind: 
"I belong to no organized political party. I am a Democrat."
I'm sure you've pecked through the news coverage and found the most compelling headliner about Mark Warner rejecting any speculation about being a VP candidate. He is committed to serving Virginia in the United States Senate.
The other big story is about the Democrats running good candidates in each of the 11 congressional districts. If you've been following CCC you already know this. Each of the candidates gave great speeches and the convention center, inside and out, was dotted with signs from all the campaigns. Sam Rasoul was meeting and greeting and had a loyal band of followers sporting his T-Shirts.
But, there was a sneaky fox in the hen house. I spent a little time pecking through the displays and vendors - of course, the candidates had tables. And there were the folks selling shirts, buttons, signs, neckties, and all sorts of campaign materials. AARP, NARAL, and other groups had displays, information, and answered questions. So who was the fox in the hen house?
Near the end of the line, attracting little attention, was an Americans for Prosperity table staffed by a couple of attractive young ladies who I was told were GMU Young Republicans. A slick pamphlet, a membership application, and a letter about "transparency" were the only handouts. The craftiest thing was that letter which among other things, praised Barack Obama for working for earmark reforms and Delegate Ken Plum (D-36) for attempting to get House of Delegates subcommittee votes recorded (Republicans blocked it).
Looking at the literature, one might incorrectly conclude that AFP is a bipartisan group that enjoys lots of support from Democrats. Untrue! AFP is a right wing, anti-tax group that is funded primarily by Koch Family Foundations. The Koch folks are the nation's largest private energy holdings with revenues of more than $25 billion. They are anti-tax, anti-regulation, anti-global warming, anti-environmental protection. The Koch family has close connections with the John Birch Society, the Cato Institute, and other right wing groups. In CD6 such reactionaries as Scott Sayre (he's now some sort of regional director for AFP - a springboard for another run for public office?) and Lynn Mitchell help organize events and can be spotted protesting at forums like Governor Kaine's town hall meetings on transportation.
We can all admire the young ladies for standing up for their views at the Democratic Convention, where they were greeted with smiles and treated with courtesy and respect. However, caveat emptor - the AFP's glossy literature can't hide their right wing, anti-government agenda.

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