The past few weeks, I have been doing protests on the corner. As a result, I have been asked a lot of questions about my protests. I originally called them claim a corner, then occupy a corner, then random acts of protest. I have been asked where it came from, if it is in coordination with anybody, and a lot of other things. So, I am going to try to explain.
First, where did it come from. I spent half a year screaming for people to be in the streets protesting, then I took a year off to run for office, then I spent 6 months screaming for people to be on the streets protesting. I found out that if 3.5% of the population were on the streets regularly, any government will fall. So, I screamed as loud as I could on social media. Lots of other people were doing the same. “We should be in the streets.” “We have to protest. This is awful.” I even created a hashtag, #FeetToStreet. And some people tried to organize protests. But nothing came of them. And lots of people gave me lots of reasons why they couldn’t protest, but everybody else should. And there was precious little I could say, because I wasn’t in the streets myself. When my grandchildren ask me after our country has fallen to these autocrats, what did I do to stop it, I had no answer.
I looked at the protests going on at the detention center, and even attended a couple. But I had a basic problem with that. One is it was so far away, and at night, when I hate driving and parking was hard. The other is that all the protests I saw were in areas where most of the people are known to be progressive. Or at least not conservative. And it wasn’t my community. I have always believed that to be effective, you have to go into the lion’s den. And Douglas County is the lion’s den.
I asked myself, why not organize a big protest in Douglas County? And the answer was obvious. Organizing big protests is not one of my skills. I can organize a big aerospace program. I can move data. But people are not data. And big protests require permits. Not my skill set. But you know what? Standing on a corner with a sign, that I can do. I saw this group called Stand in Every Corner, and I thought, I can do that. But when I tried to sign up on their website, it wouldn’t take my information. But the idea worked for me.
Originally, I called it Occupy a Corner. But then I decided to call it Random Acts of Protest. I checked, and just showing up on a corner, not getting on anybody’s property, not having throngs there, did not require a permit. You can just show up. So I decided, I would just show up. And I would invite people to join me. I was going to do Thursdays, but Eiko said she could and would do Tuesdays, and showing up on a corner with someone was less intimidating than showing up alone, so I decided to do Tuesdays. As I was pondering this, I was going to protest kids in cages. Then as we were pleading with Jason to come out in favor of impeachment, my sign was going to say, Impeach Trump (or something to that affect). But then Jason came out for impeachment hearings and Gilroy happened, and as I was still processing Gilroy we had El Paso and Dayton, and I knew I had to protest guns. I saw a meme on line that GOP = Guns Over People and I knew my sign had to say No More Guns Over People. I was protesting the proliferation of guns, and Douglas County is the place to do that.
So at the first RAOP (shorter than always typing Random Acts of Protest) there were, at the peak, 8 people. I was floored and delighted. And Katrina said she would get some started in Parker. The Sunday after my first protest, there was a protest in Parker. And at my second protest, there were 5 people. In both cases, there was response from people driving by. People honk, raise a thumb, shout, wave. And some disagree or disapprove. That is ok. Those are the people I most want to see us.
At the last occupation, a young woman came up to us with tears in her eyes, saying thank you for doing this. She said she had given up on anybody doing anything or even caring. Kathy (the archetypical you could only dream of having a mother like this mother) took her back to her car and gave her information on how to contact the Democratic party and Young Dems. Another young man came up, and we talked, and he told me he had some bills he wished would get passed. I told him about our commissioner candidate and our house candidate and told him to look into their campaigns. He said he would. So we can do outreach standing on a corner.
The next question is am I organizing this? The answer is not exactly. Or sort of. I decided to occupy a corner and invited anybody who wanted to join to do so. I will continue to do that. I also encourage anybody else who wants to occupy a corner to do so and invite people to join. My dream is to have 5 or more people occupying at some time or another 20 corners. I have been asked if I can do another day, because Tuesday does not work. I will continue to do Tuesdays, but I would be happy to do another day as well. Because my time is not as important as making a statement. Let me know a day that works and let’s pick a corner.
I have been asked aren’t you taking a risk? At first I thought I might be, then I realized that in our community, I probably am not. Yes, when I first get there and am the only person there, I feel like I am either a fool or an idiot, but not like I am in danger. But even if I am, it has to be done, and I am the one who has to do it. My children are grown, my career is behind me, and now the contribution I can make is what eensy weensy thing I can do to save this country I worked an entire career to protect.
My next occupation is next Tuesday at the post office corner. I would love to see anybody there who is willing and able. When I say able, you do not have to be able to stand in the heat for 2 hours. I bring a chair and sit a lot, because the hot sun affects me. I would also love to see someone organize something in other locations. I would love to see someone involve the high school students who were so passionate at the Never Again rally last year. I would love to see weekend rallies for people who are driving home during rush hour and can’t be on a street corner.
I thank everybody who has been so supportive. I especially thank the people who show up and join me. I welcome anybody who has an inclination to be there.
So I’ve gone and done it. I have filed to run for office. Specifically, I am running for Colorado State Senate in District 30. District 30 includes Highlands Ranch, Parker and Roxborough. While it may not be the reddest district in the country, or perhaps even in the state, it is really red. This district hasn’t been represented by a Democrat in the 29 years I have lived here, and I seem to remember it always being Republican all the years I was growing up.
The Koch Brothers started exerting their influence in this area in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. I was a Republican then (old style, a la Rockefeller, pro choice et al.). I remember hearing them spoken of in awe by the party honchos back then. And I watched the Koch minions select, interview, train and fund those who would adopt the Koch agenda fully. I watched them push aside anybody who disagreed with any of the Koch talking points. Soon it became clear that anybody with a moral compass was not welcome. I was told more than once that I probably should change parties, and eventually I did. Once I did, and opened myself up to what the Democrats were talking about, I discovered that I had probably always been a Democrat.
The person I am running against is a Koch favorite, and I have heard that he is being groomed for higher office, like governor or US Congress. He has $20K left over from his last campaign. He won in 2014 by nearly a 2-1 margin. I am starting from $0, and I don’t have a lot of name recognition. I feel like Don Quixote tilting at Koch machines. But there was nobody else who stepped up, and I refuse to give the Koch brothers a free seat. And I have other reasons to fight this battle.
The first reason I am ready is because of issues. I have issues with the Koch agenda. For example:
- I am a firm believer in public education, and I believe tax dollars should not go to religious entities. I not only believe in public education, but I believe in the teacher’s union. There is also something insidious about the voucher-to-private-or-religious-school thing that bothers me. Back when I was young, people were proud of neighborhood schools. Yes, people sent their kids to parochial school, but they had no problem with the idea of paying for it. You never heard anybody disparaging our public schools and asking for vouchers until Brown vs Board of Education. I recall that schools like the one that was being set up in the 60s by Jerry Falwell stated in their charters that they were for white students only. I honestly believe the voucher movement gained traction because there were a lot of parents who didn’t want their lily white darlings to have to sit next to brown and black students. I think that is shameful.
- I am a firm believer in science, and thus, in climate change. Our family has done all we can to minimize our carbon footprint. We have excellent insulation, high efficiency appliances, top of the line windows and solar. Our experience with solar has made me an advocate. The Koch brothers and others are fighting renewable energy. They have a reason to do that, because when the country turns to renewable energy, the Koch fortune is threatened. They have pushed through laws in several states, and have tried to do so in Colorado, that curtail renewables or make the cost prohibitive. I want to stop them from passing those laws here. I also support the EPA and public transportation.
- I support DACA. I do not understand why that is not universal. Republicans keep saying they want to deport lawbreakers, but most dreamers have not broken any laws. There is NO LAW against children staying with their parents. Dreamers were not of age when their parents came over. They do not know any other home. They have to be allowed to stay. Same for TPS and refugees. They need our support.
- I support gun safety. I see no use for any person to own a bump stock. If they like the feeling of shooting a whole lot of bullets at a range, they can rent a bump stock from the range. There is no use for large magazines, automatic or semiautomatic rifles or bump stocks outside of a range except for killing people. It is time for the killing to stop.
- I support health care for all. I don’t are if we get there through ACA or medicare expansion to all citizens. I have a future daughter in law who is a type 1 brittle diabetic. I worry about what the Republican agenda will do to her ability to live and to thrive. I worry about what happens to the disabled, the millions with preexisting conditions, the poor or even middle class who face bankruptcy if they get ill or get in an accident.
- I support legalized marijuana. There is evidence that marijuana is a safer substance than alcohol. The marijuana laws are not evenly enforced, but are used to oppress minorities.
- I oppose the death penalty. To me it is nothing but government sponsored murder. It is another law that is unevenly applied.
There is another big reason I am running. The odds against me winning are huge. But every voter I get to the polls will be a vote for a democrat for governor, for treasurer, for attorney general and for secretary of state. While we have a Democratic governor now, he is term limited. We have republicans in the other seats. This is a bad time for especially the attorney general and secretary of state to be republicans. In addition, District 30 is divided between US Congressional districts 6 and 4. That is Mike Coffman and Ken Buck. A big Democratic turnout in State Senate District 30 could go a long way toward dumping those two. They would be good guys to dump.
I do understand the odds. I hope you will support me in this crazy venture. If you are interested, you can go to my candidate web site, and if you are so inclined, donate. I would be so appreciative. And I could use any words of encouragement between now and November. Thank you.
Fred Koch was born in 1900 in Quanah Texas. His parents were Dutch immigrants. After attending Rice University and MIT and graduating with a degree in Chemical Engineering Practice, he started working for Texas Company, and then became chief engineer with Medway Oil and Storage in Kent, England. He moved to Wichita, Kansas, where he joined an engineering firm, later becoming a principle.
He developed a new method for turning crude oil into gasoline. After a series of lawsuits (which he won), he was broke. Thus he went to work in the Soviet Union setting up oil refineries. He also built refineries in Europe. Notably, he built the third largest refinery for the Third Reich, project personally approved by Adolf Hitler.
After the war, Fred returned to Wichita and created Koch industries, which he turned over to Charles Koch in 1966.
In 1958, Fred became a founding member of the John Birch Society, and also worked to make Kansas a Right to Work state. These two items are important to recognize in the thought processes of the to favorite sons, Charles and David.
One of the tenets of the John Birch Society is that “Their (liberal conspirators against the United States) tactics include bribing the people with their own money, employing the use of force, deception and fear, and using every other trick they can think of to acquire total government power over the lives and well-being of the American people….Totalitarian government was to be established in this nation, claimed Robert Welch, not as a result of lightning quick leaps, but through a campaign of patient gradualism designed to persuade a once-free people to vote themselves into tyranny and their nation into an all-powerful world government. The goal of the conspirators has always called for the eventual merger of all peoples and all nations into a diabolically conceived “new world order.” source: own Birch Blue Book This group opposed such things as membership in the United Nations. Sound familiar?
It is important to note that this was their basis for opposing any transfer payments to the poor, through anti-poverty programs, social security, medicare/medicaid, etc. Some was a reaction to the New Deal put forward by FDR. It was all based on a conspiracy theory that there were “insiders” in the seats of power. These programs were, they claimed, instituted to obtain control over all the people, strip them of their freedom by making them dependent on the government, and result in a totalitarian world order.
By the 60’s, the John Birch Society had between 60,000-100,000 members and had been condemned by both William F. Buckley Jr, and Barry Goldwater as a fringe group “removed from common sense.” However, their tenets remained with David and Charles Koch. The John Birch Society was a co-sponsor of the Conservative Political Action Conference.
David and Charles Koch remained active in politics. In 1980, he ran as the Vice Presidential candidate for the Libertarian party, thinking that their party could be molded into his views. When that ticket failed to catch on, the brothers began working with the power structure in the Republican party. They provided significant funding to a number of right wing think tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation. They sponsored political donor meetings at high end resorts, such as the Freedom Partners seminars. They provided much of the funding for PACs, like American Crossroads. In addition, they recruited other business moguls to join their efforts. They also supported a number of political candidates, from the school board races in Douglas County, Colorado, a suburb of Denver, to commissioners, to state legislatures, to national offices. Among their favored political figures are Scott Walker, Mike Pence, Sam Brownbeck, Snyder, Rauner, and at one time, Kasich. Newt Gingrich was one of their golden boys until his resignation. More interesting is that they also blocked or blackballed potential candidates who would not support their agenda. They also invested in Chris Jankowski’s REDMAP, to take over state legislators in time for the post 2010 redistricting. They also developed a significant voter database that they would share with their selected candidates that could target communities and even individuals with pleas that appealed to specific voters. The information in that database is coincidentally similar to information known to be in the Cambridge Analytica database that was used by the Trump campaign after Trump won the primaries.
When the Soviet Union fell in 1991 after Desert Storm and Boris Yeltsin replaced Mikhail Gorbachev as President, the Kochs decided that with that event the Soviet Union was no longer Communist and they could do business with the new administration. In 1996, Yeltsin was reelected democratically as the head of what was now Russia, and commenced on democratic reforms. His administration was a disaster. Under his watch, many former KGB agents looted the Russian economy and cornered the assets. By 1999, Yeltsin was extremely unpopular and unwell. He resigned and personally appointed Vladimir Putin as his successor. Putin, over a short time, took control of all of the Russian assets, or gave them to his oligarch friends. One of those assets was the fossil fuel industry. Both Exxon and the Kochs began discussions of worldwide control of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels became their shared interest.
The Koch brothers, through the think tanks they support and through donations, have continued to work on down ticket issues and races. We have seen legislation in many states that restricts or makes more expensive any investment by the state or individuals in fossil fuels. We have seen the whole Koch agenda enacted in Kansas and significant parts of it in Michigan and Wisconsin, and select issues in Colorado, Arizona, Florida, and Illinois. At all levels of government from county commissioner and school board up to US Congress, candidates are beholden to Koch donations and support. The Republican Party is, to a large extent, a reflection of the Koch Brothers. However, not entirely, as I investigate in my next article, The Evangelicals.