SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Saturday August 18, 2018 - 03:55:00 PM

Ron Dellums, Presente!

Remembering the Marine Vet Who became an Antiwar Congressman

"If it's radical to oppose the insanity and cruelty of the Vietnam War, if it's radical to oppose racism and sexism and all other forms of oppression, if it's radical to want to alleviate poverty, hunger, disease, homelessness, and other forms of human misery, then I'm proud to be called a radical."

-- Representative Ron Dellums

Here's a video clip of Ron Dellums speaking truth about power onstage at UC Berkeley in 2016.  


Pot Bots in Berkeley?  

Walking down Berkeley's Shattuck Avenue last week, I came face-to-faceplate with one of those new automated four-wheeled Kiwi food-delivery robots.  

It stopped right in front of me. I moved to the side but the bot stayed rooted to the spot where it had stopped.  

I was befuddled.  

At that point, I heard a voice.  

Looking to my right, I discovered a bearded street dude who had just raised his eyes to survey the encounter.  

"Say, brother," he inquired. "Is that my weed delivery?"  

This gave me an idea for a new business—delivering pot-infused drinks via robotic carts. The company could be called "Portable Potables" and the rolling pot-bots could be dubbed "Robottles."  

The Secret Word Is "Fear!" 

KCBS offers a daily "Commute Cash" contest. Each day, a single, common, every-day word is announced on-air and listeners are instructed to text that word to KCBS for a chance to win $1,000 in a nationwide contest. 

On Friday, July 20, the word was "school." On Thursday, July 19 the word was "habit." But on Wednesday, July 18, the contest took a disturbing turn. A chill may have run down the spines of many in the radio audience when the female announcer revealed the chosen word was: "Terror." 

First thought: Could this have been some kind of secretive, government-sponsored mass-media psychological experiment? 

Historic Vote: 76 Politicians Vote "No" on US War Budget 

On July 26, Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (CA 11th) released this statement regarding to the House vote on the National Defense Authorization Act.
"The NDAA would give an additional $717 billion to the Department of Defense. For context, that is almost four times the entire budget for the State of California. Instead of giving funding unchecked to the Pentagon, where $125 billion in bureaucratic waste has already been identified, we should be spending on only the essentials . . . .  

"I have not voted in favor of any of the annual bills to authorize defense spending and will continue to oppose the measure until the DoD has completed a full audit and I am confident taxpayers' hard earned money is spent in an open, transparent, and efficient manner . . . ."
The latest vote on the War Budget was historic. Why? Because ten senators and 66 members of congress voted AGAINST more Pentagon spending. 

In the Senate, 2 Republicans, 7 Democrats and 1 independent voted "Nay." 

In the House, 7 Republicans and 59 Democrats voted "Nay." 

You can check the complete list of may-saying politicians at the Environmentalists Against War website

Teaser: Thirteen of the House "No" votes were cast by California Representatives. In the Senate, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris joined Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in voting "No!" 

No Middle Ground for Muddling Meddlers 

The US has accused Iran of "meddling" in Syria and Yemen—at the same time US is fully engaged in wars in both countries. The difference: Syria's elected regime invited Iran (and Russia) to provide troops. The US, by contrast, was not asked to invade Syria with thousands of soldiers, Special Ops forces, and corporate mercenaries. 

And, last I heard, the US had built eight ground bases and two airfields inside sovereign Syrian territory. Now that's meddling. 

As for Yemen, while Iran has offered money and military support to the Houthi rebels, this aid pales in comparison to Washington's Made-in-the-USA "meddling." The Pentagon has been providing Saudi Arabia with fuel and weapons that have been used to kill hundreds of civilians and create massive refugee problems. Saudi attacks on Yemen's ports have created shortages of food and medicines, triggering outbreaks of cholera and famine. 

When it comes to uninvited acts of military aggression, the conclusion is clear: It's the US that deserves to get a medal in Meddling. 


WarSpeak got a new spin thanks to a recent fund-raising letter from Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer on behalf of Senate Majority 2018. The first page of the pitch featured an introductory quote from J. B. Poersch, President of Senate Majority 2018. It read: 

"Senate Majority 2018 exists to run independent, take-no-prisoner campaigns and fight back against the right-wing fundraising machine." 

The aggressive tone of the quote failed to acknowledge that the phrase "take no prisoners," invokes the threat of a war crime. Under international law, prisoners are to be detained and protected. Killing a captured prisoner during war is considered a crime. 

Quick Flick Clicks 

With Blindspotting, Black Panther, and Sorry to Bother You, Oakland has suddenly become the Mecca for progressive afro-urban filmmaking. 

And here's an odd cinematic coincidence: there is a peculiar plot device that's shared by two of the summer's hot new movies. Sorry to Bother You and Spike Lee's BlackkKlansman both star black protagonists who use a telephone connection and a "white voice" to infiltrate, subvert, and manipulate the dominate culture. 

Too bad movie theaters no longer offer double features. Picture a co-screening of Dark Money and Generation Wealth. That would have made a great double bill. 

Tweeting While Rome (and Redding) Burns  

With California—and many other parts of the world—going up in flames, D. Trump is still pushing to burn more coal and oil. Everyone knows Trump's a square-peg-in an-Oval-Office but this is like having a Fire Chief who turns out to be an arsonist. 

Greenpeace Puts Trump on the Run 

Memories to cherish: In Scotland, on July 14, a lone Greenpeace protester in a motorized parafoil buzzed Donald Trump during a visit to one of Trump's foreign golf clubs. A sign beneath the floating activist proclaimed: "Trump Is Sub-par." 

Well, not when it comes to running, it seems. 

In a video of the incident, Trump (who is not known for his athleticism) can be seen breaking into a run as he flees for the safety of the nearest building. 

Note: Trump is the only one in the crowd to break into a terrified trot! 


How America Hacked Russia's Election to Help Boris Yeltsin 


From "It's Time For a Little Perspective On Russia" by Lyle Jeremy Rubin in Current Affairs

"As the political scientist Dov H. Levin has shown, between 1946 and 2000, the United States government conducted at least 81 electoral interventions in other countries, while Russia conducted at least 36. 

"This does not include the US government's violent overthrow of dozens of governments during this same period, including democratic governments in places like Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Congo (1960), Brazil (1964), and Chile (1973).  

"As recent as 2009, Hillary Clinton's State Department played a complicit role in the brutal deposition of democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya's government in Honduras. No other country, including Russia, even approaches this level of wanton disregard for the norms of sovereignty." 

Some Salient Quotes from Simon Bolivar 

"The United States appear to be destined by Providence to plague America with misery in the name of liberty.

"Flee the country where a lone man holds all power: It is a nation of slaves.

"When tyranny becomes law, rebellion is a right.