Monday, January 31, 2011

Koch Rancho Mirage

Koch Rancho Mirage

According to this morning's edition of the Valley, a local newspaper, there were between 800 and 1000 protesters yesterday at a demonstration against the corporate takeover of American politics in Rancho Mirage.  The procession stretched back along this boulevard far into the line of palms, opposite the entrance to Rancho Las Palmas Resort where the Koch brothers' convention was held.
The demonstrators were met by about two dozen county sheriff's deputies dressed in riot gear, wielding billy clubs,
and three others perched atop the resort roof with rifles - according to the this surveillance team.  Whether they were private security or public employees wasn't clear.
Down on the ground, the deputies appeared to be having a terrific afternoon cruising around in their jeeps.  The weather was gorgeous, sunny and mild with a light breeze.  Contrary to right-wing hopes the crowd was placid, even jubilant, and the police were probably getting paid overtime to patrol what was more of a festival than the angry confrontation falsely alleged by the paper.

Common Cause organized most of the bussed-in crowd around the notion "Uncloaking the Kochs" - and other groups joined in, including Code Pink and Ruckus Society, whose theme was to "Quarantine the Kochs".
Mike Roddy and I, in our Climate Zombie masks, tuxedo tee's and top hats, unfurled our Koch Kills banner and marched across the parking lot, stopping frequently as people requested pictures, when we were accosted by a woman who claimed to be representing Common Cause, and a man who was so agitated by our banner that the woman asked him to go away and let her handle it.
She said things like, "This is divisive - it isn't a free speech issue!  We're begging you to put this away.  People have complained," and finally repeated,  "I'm asking you as a favor - I have to live here."  After listening to her hostile objections, we had to demur.  I made it plain to her that whatever the objectives or strategy of Common Cause, Mike came from Seattle and I came from New Jersey, quite independently of their organization, and that we had every right and intention of exercising our right to free speech and assembly.  Koch DOES kill in myriad ways, and we don't believe mincing words is going to bring about the drastic changes required to save human civilization - not to mention the rest of the species on earth - from catastrophic climate change - the science of which is systematically denied by shamelessly greedy corporatists.  Raising the massacre in Tucson as though it in any way is comparable or relevant to reporting the devastation promulgated to our environment by the policies of non-regulation and thug tactics promoted by the Kochs was ridiculous and offensive and rather distressing.
Besides, we weren't the only ones - this congenial fellow came from Oregon with his own handpainted sign...evidence that great minds think alike!
And an enlargement of this photo reveals the banner from Code Pink stating:  "Koch Kills Democracy."  I don't know if there were objections to that sign as well, or if people think killing democracy with corporate money is more or less worthy of note than pollution killing people, causing cancer, emphysema, asthma and diabetes; or decimating trees and other plants, not to mention the wildlife dependent upon them for food and habitat.

The NYTimes online ran an article headlined "25 Arrested at Conservative California Meeting" with the usual nonsensical mainstream media distortions:

"The mostly peaceful demonstration had been arranged with authorities, but some protesters crossed the street to the entrance of the Ranchos Las Palmas Resort where they were met by deputies in riot gear...they were arrested without a struggle, booked at Indio jail, and released."

Mostly peaceful??  It was COMPLETELY peaceful!  This photo is the beginning of the advance across the road after the speeches and music in the lot.  Does this look like there is any impulse remotely resembling violence?  The media is full of distortions - one reporter pestered some retirees behind us, who watching from the lawn, lounging on their golf carts, repeatedly as to whether they weren't afraid of an attack from the crowd - and they just looked at her incredulously and laughed.
There was at least one other tuxedoed, top-hatted participant, as people are starting to make the obvious link between obscene corporate profits, the stratification of the economy, and the destruction of the ecosystem.
The Times reported SOME protesters crossed to the entrance but, as someone who was there, I can attest that virtually ALL crossed - there was almost no one left standing on the opposite side - and the police shut down Bob Hope to accommodate the crowd while the arrests took place.
Curious onlookers peered over the wall.
After everyone who wanted to be arrested had been, the police warned with bullhorns and flashing lights that the protest had to retreat, as the road would be re-opened.  There was an orderly withdrawal.  A bus took those that were arrested from the scene.
On the way out I offered an elderly woman the Koch Bucks flyer.   "Oh," she said fastidiously, eyeing our banner with a distinct lack of approbation,  "that's too rough for me...I don't want to become what we despise!"
How it is possible to equate Koch Industries killing of humans, through cancer, emphysema and other ailments, and the destruction of trees and all the species dependent upon them for habitat and food, with our sign, mystifies me.  Regardless of those two isolated incidents, our reception was almost universally encouraging, as we with some others added a touch of theatre to a boisterous and jolly event, which was hailed, surprisingly, with approval by raucaus honks and toots from cars passing by.
At the end a helicopter, which had been circling through the afternoon, swooped lower as though we were supposed to tremble from intimidation, and run away ignominiously.
It wasn't the dimensions of the Egypt uprising, of course, but we felt empowered nonetheless.  Some people wondered whether there was any point, or whether we could possibly have any influence on a country run by politicians who are nothing but puppets for ruthless, soulless people like the Kochs, who possess essentially limitless financial resources.  But I look at it this way.  I can't remember anything like this - a direct challenge to virtually omnipotent billionaires by ordinary people, some who traveled thousands of miles to confront them.  It's just the beginning.
While in my ClimateZombie persona, I was delighted to be recognized by Christine SoCal, who posts on Earth Boppin'.  It was so exciting to meet a Wit's End reader from across the continent, who gave me some excellent advice about comparative studies of trees, and what happens to specimens in the landscape from herbicides, and damage from mechanical equipment.
So getting back to the topic of Wit's End, here are some photos from my first days in California, around Del Mar, where the trees are succumbing to the effects of exposure to toxic greenhouse gases.
As soon as I publish this post, I'm heading out to the desert for more pictures, and will do a better job on the subject of trees.  A close look at this park, across from the beach, shows futile efforts to trim branches in the hopes of encouraging fresh, more vigorous growth.
Groundcover leaves exhibit the classic loss of chlorophyll indicative of damage from ozone.
I did find some lush hibiscus although there were almost no leaves...
This jade tree has more flowers than leaves, a troubling symptom.

The speckling is from damaged stomates, which absorb the ambient ozone and turn brown or rusty.

The leaves on this shrub should all be green, but they are losing chlorophyll...
and turn red in stages.  Sooner or later they will shrivel up and fall off, and the plant will be dead.
These leaves exhibit the marked, prominent veins as well as yellowing.

A glowing bird of paradise is a delight to see!
There are several varieties of coniferous trees, all losing needles.

There are still some pretty flowers to be found.

I was thrilled to greet the Pacific, dotted with surfers.
Many, many thanks to Mike Roddy, whose assistance has been invaluable on this trip, and to his friends, John Hines and Randy Godfrey, and Terry and Catherine Payne, for their gracious hospitality.
Here is my souvenir...I think, it's the skeleton of sea worms.
Update:  A Terrific Rap from Jasiri X in Wisconsin Against the Billionaires! 


  1. Nah, not barnacles or sea worm skeletons.

    THIS is your brain on Koch. Kick the Koch habit before it's too late.

  2. Great report !

    Especially glad you got pics of damaged trees there.

  3. The Dracula Strategy is quite important -- Great work! Shinning the light of day on something so wrong (ecologically evil) can sometimes be enough to stop it. Randy Hayes

  4. Gail, did you get to play any golf while you were there? I hear that's an excellent course they have at the resort

  5. crystalwolfakacaligrlFebruary 1, 2011 at 9:33 AM

    Great post & pics!
    The one pic of the scraggly palm? I have one across the street from me that is even worse...! And I have Jade plant I need to go check them out I do recall seeing flowers on there. Your blog has really opened my eyes Gail.
    Thanks for all you do.
    Hope you have time to enjoy Cali?

  6. No golf but yes thanks - I am having a WONDERFUL time! Today, I'll be hiking in the desert this morning and then going to a live oak park northwest of LA, staying in Redondo Beach and MAYBE flying home tomorrow, depending on the monster storm, which of course, is completely unrelated to global warming!

  7. crystalwolfakacaligrlFebruary 1, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    Yep the completely out of character"monster" storm not related to Global warming!
    Hope you have a great time and get lots of plant pics!
    Gail when you get home you must sign up for twitter...Look!
    The #climatehawks Daily is out! ▸ Top stories today by @jsalsman @crystalwolflady @chaplinscourage

    (I did typo on Koch)

  8. crystalwolfakacaligrlFebruary 3, 2011 at 12:55 AM

    Gail I would like to invite you(& anyone else) to P & K's new blog site
    Also since they will soon be huge...I'm sure if you contacted them they would love a guest blog post from you! They did a post on Koch and its not limited to palin.
    Your blog post are so inclusive and well have my email?
    Or please contact them. Will love to see you there.♥
    Are you stuck in Cali??

  9. Gail, this is a wonderful and thorough report! However, one thing that you may not have known at the time of your report is the fact that 125 Federal Judges met at the same time at the same facility, behind closed doors, as the Koch brothers:

    I do not buy the notion that it was “completely coincidental” that the judges were at the same resort at the same time as the Kochs, especially because the Kochs bought out the entire resort for the weekend. I want to know the names of ALL the judges who attended this meeting.

  10. ProChoice, thank you for your comment, and NO, I did not know about the judges! A verrrry interesting development.

  11. Gail, here is another article:

    Just how would Capt. Dan Wilham know this:
    “One had absolutely nothing to do with the other” and Wilham said he knew about the judges' conference long before the Kochs' meeting.

  12. Hi Gail!

    I'm sorry I didn't get shake your hand at the rally but consider us well met!

    And glad you got to make it to the shores of the beautiful Pacific, I had my feet in it just last week.

  13. Hi Gail, sorry I didn't manage to come down & meet you.

    Re the tone/theme of the demonstration, see Sara Robinson's excellent Feb 2007 Why Protests Don't Work...And Why They Do. (she quotes Mahablog: "I know they’re called “protests,” but your central purpose is to win support for your cause. You want people looking on to be favorably impressed. You want them to think, wow, I like these people. They’re not crazy. They’re not scary. I think I will take them seriously…")

  14. Anna, Sara Robinson's article was interesting, but contradictory, too. By citing that part of it are you implying that Gail and I were a little too edgy with our sign?

    There's room for all of us at a demonstration like that one, united in our disgust with what people like the Kochs are doing to this country. We have to act according to our personalities- I'm a little cranky and pissed off, and want to express the Kochs' lack of legitimacy. Others, maybe more innocent younger people, preferred to dress in matching shirts and be polite. It's had to say whose message was more effective.


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