SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Friday February 08, 2019 - 12:11:00 PM

Democracy v. Gopocrisy

Enemy of Democracy Mitch McConnell says a bill that would make Election Day a federal holiday is a nothing more than a "power grab" on the part of devious Democrats. I guess that means Mitch doesn't think elections should be accessible to the working class.

Bernie Sanders, for one, thinks it's a good idea. If you agree, you can check out Bernie's website and read his "Democracy Day" bill.

Reich On! 

Robert Reich has responded to Mitch McConnell’s Washington Post attack on HR 1, the House Democrats’ “For the People Act of 2019." Prof. Reich calls HR 1 "the most important effort in recent memory to expand voting rights, encourage low-dollar campaign contributions, end gerrymandering, shed light on secret money and tighten up lobbying and ethics rules." So what's Mitch's gripe? "McConnell reveals that he and the GOP want fewer voters, not more, and they want to enhance the power of big money, not diminish it." For the rest of Reich's rakish repudiation, check out his Facebook posting. For the content of HR 1, click here


Will Senators Feinstein and Harris be backing the Senate's companion bill (which is likely to be an updated version of Sen Udall's "We the People" Democracy Reform Act of 2017? It's hard to see how Sen. Harris could refuse to back HR 1. After all, "For the People" is her presidential campaign slogan. 

To keep an eye on how Harris (and other DC politicians) are voting, visit the political tell-all site, Vote Smart. 

A Scar Is Borne 

Sadly, there was a time when (white) people didn't see a problem with applying blackface makeup. "Just a bit of harmless entertainment." We're all now familiar with the photo from Virginia Governor Ralph Northlam's medical school year book but let's not forget Hollywood's role in racial stereotyping. I'm not just talking about Al Jolson. Here's a still of Judy Garland performing in the 1938 film, "Everybody Sing." 


BDS Trump 

In the lead-up to the delayed State of the Union Address, female legislators were being urged to wear white (in solidarity with the Suffragette movement) and there was even talk of an outright boycott. If Donald Trump can walk away from treaties to lessen the threat of climate change and nuclear war, it was argued, Democrats could respond in kind—by walking away from the SOTU Address. 

Trump recently insulted his intelligence chiefs—whom he previously praised and appointed—because they dared to expose his lack of intelligence. Since Trump is performing for an audience of one and only listens only to the echo chamber inside his head, having to stare at a House chamber filled with empty chairs might prove to be therapeutic (or traumatic, since it might remind him of his Inauguration). 

Trump Watch: To See or Not to See? That Is the Question 

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) explains why he decided to attend the SOTU: 

I don't expect I'll hear anything surprising, or anything that is focused on real solutions to our nation's biggest challenges. But I know that after Trump has his moment in the spotlight, and after the self-aggrandizement; scapegoating and divisiveness; racist beacons and white nationalist grievances; distortions, omissions, and outright lies—we'll still be able to forge a path forward for America. While the State of the Union gives Trump a highly visible platform for his poisonous swamp-fever-dream paranoia, it also gives the rest of us a chance to plot a way around (or through) him. 

Trump's Leadership Skills Can Be Measured in Milliliters 

Trump continually offers proof that he is not genetically inclined to be a leader. A bully, yes. A leader, no. Here's the proof. Whenever he's asked about his strategic expectations about how any social, economic, environmental, political, or international problem will play out, his go-to response is, more often than not: "Well, we'll just have to see what happens." 

Chug a pint of beer every time Trump uses that line and you might feel less stressed about our shared future. And then you can pass the empty can to Trump so he can kick it down the road. 

Trump's Superbawl Interview 

Margaret Brennan's February 3 Meet the Press Interview with Trump was filled with a richness of embarrassments. Here are just a few: 

On negotiating: "Well, I don't—I don't take anything off the table. I don't like to take things off the table." (You wouldn't want Trump as a roommate.) 

On not negotiating: "And on the 15th we have now set the table beautifully because everybody knows what's going on because of the shutdown." (Just remember how beautifully the table was set for the last shutdown.) 

On criticism of his intelligence chiefs: "It was the questions and answers as the report was submitted and they were asked questions and answers." (They were asked answers? That's questionable.) 

On the threat of terrorism: "You're going to always have pockets of something. What—you're going to have people, like the one-armed man who blew up a restaurant. You're going to have pockets." (But, at least one-armed attackers would have fewer pockets.) 

On dealing with the Taliban: "We'll see what happens, who knows…." 

On an insurgent rebound in Syria?: "We'll come back if we have to. We have very fast airplanes, we have very good cargo planes. We can come back very quickly, and I'm not leaving. We have a base in Iraq and the base is a fantastic edifice. . . . I've rarely seen anything like it. And it's there. And we'll be there." (So we're leaving, but you're not leaving and we're staying?) 

On negotiating with Venezuela's elected leader: "Well he is requested [sic] a meeting and I've turned it down because we're very far along in the process." (And that process is been directed [sic] by the CIA.) "We're going to see what happened." (So not only can't Trump see what's in the future, he can't even see what's in the past?) 

On the Mueller investigation: "There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. There was no nothing." ("No nothing"? Double negative, Mr. T. That translates as: there was "something.") 

On accommodating Russia: "Well, look the Russia thing is a hoax. I have been tougher on Russia than any president, maybe ever. But than any president." (But what?) 

On risking his son's health playing football: "It's very, it's very tough question. It's a very good question. If he wanted to? Yes." (Then Trump immediately contradicts himself, adding: "Would I steer him that way? No, I wouldn't.") 

On "taking a knee" to protest racial injustice: "I think that when you want to protest I think that's great. But I don't think you do it at the sake of our flag, at the sake of our national anthem." (Let's make "saking the flag" a federal offense!) 

On keeping US troops in Iraq: "We have to protect Israel. We have to protect other things that we have." (The Golan Heights is just ten miles north of Baghdad, right?) 

On leaving Afghanistan: "I'll leave intelligence there. Real intelligence, by the way. I'll leave intelligence there and if I see nests forming, I'll do something about it." 

On Roger Stone's arrest: "I don't know if you know this or not—Roger wasn't on my campaign . . . except way at the beginning." (No biggie. He was only a founding member.) 

On Afghanistan: "I want to fight. I want to win, and we want to bring our great troops back home. I've seen the people. I go to Walter Reed Hospital. I see what happens to people. I see with no legs and no arm—arms." (God knows it's hard to see when you have no limbs.) 

On Iran: "[R]ight now they're a country that's in big financial trouble. Let's see what happens." 

There's much more, but my frontal cortex is starting to melt. 

The #MeToon Movement and the Fusco Fiasco 


The Fusco Brothers cartoon-strip continues to rack up offenses in these sexually charged times. Now, it's not just the four nudniks from Newark who are on the prowl. In a January 31, 2019 Fusco panel, a cartoon judge ogles a blond woman (whose low-cut dress reveals some significant cartoon cleavage) and utters the invitation: "Mi chambers, su chambers." 

Instead of apologizing, the strip's fans actually celebrate the Fusco's verbal misbehaviors. The go-to cartoon site,, even has a special archive called "The 10 Worst Pickup Lines Uttered by The Fusco Brothers.'" 

These include a panel where Al Fusco threatens a date: "You know, if you're not nice to me, I can pull a few strings and arrange it so that you look ugly when this encounter shows up in the comics." 

In a 2016 panel, Rolf Fusco hovers over a woman inside a darkened room and says: "I'm currently working on my autobiography. Would you care to help make page 327 interesting?" 

DeFuscofying the Chron's Comics? 

What's really aggravating is that the Chronicle has chosen to place the Fuscos at the top of its daily comic lineup—ahead of 22 other strips. While it may be too much to call for the complete deFuscofication of the comic pages (the strip was dropped once before but popular outcry brought it back), the Chron's editors could at least dethrone it from its current position as the lead-off comic. 

What to put in its place? Maybe the Chronicle could hold a contest. (Peanuts and Doonesbury could stand aside since they're both reruns.) 

A quick-fix could be as simple as elevating the two adjacent single-panel offerings—Bizarro and Dennis the Menace. Whatever the solution, The Chronicle should pay heed. The #MeToon movement will not be denied. 

Exercise Your Emojination 

Who knew? Iran has a "Death to America" emoji—and it looks like a character from South Park. Kinda cute, actually. 


Schiff Hits the Fan 

On January 30, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-NH) sent out an email blast on the economic hit the country took from Trumpmageddon—"the president’s temper tantrum" and the federal shutdown that followed. Schiff noted: "The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office calculated that President Trump’s 5-week shutdown cost the US economy $3 billion in unrecoverable economic activity. That’s $3 billion down the drain." 

Smithereens has invited Rep. Schiff and other democratic "thought leaders" to follow up on our proposal to pass legislation requiring Donald Trump to reimburse the American people for his billion-dollar boondoggle. Failing that, does anyone know any public interest good lawyers? (Emails will be going out to the legal team at Public Citizen.) 

I Just Juan to Be Your Leader 

Juan Guaido's self-nomination to become the "unelected democratic" leader of Venezuela (after receiving a go-ahead phone call from Vice President Mike Pence) has triggered some copycats. 

On January 30, my Facebook page received a message from Patrick Jordan (someone in the Midwest that I don't know). Jordan's short announcement read: 

"I declare myself President of the USA. Send me your taxes. And I'm giving Tucson back to Mexico.

Lee Camp Fires Up the Venezuela Debate 

Lee Camp, host of Redacted, an acerbic, weekly, left-wing newcast, recently made a similar public announcement, declaring that he had just nominated himself to be the new governor of Idaho. 

Camp's obscenity-laced rant on a recent episode of Redacted is right on—and viewable right on RT. Apologies for the language but—profanity be damned—I'm posting it anyway. 


Bolton Says US Wants Venezuela's Oil 

Don't just take a left-wing comic's word for it: Here's the truth from the mustachioed mouth of Trump regime-changer, Revoltin' John Bolton. 


Crowd-sourcing Facts on the Ground 

The MSM (Mainstream Media) continue to list the US-aligned governments supporting Guaido's presidential usurpation but seldom mention the countries (including Bolivia, Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Uruguay) and international organizations (such as the Organization of American States and the United Nations) that continue recognize Maduro as the country's legitimate leader. 

Meanwhile, the MSM's reports on the competing political rallies in Caracas kept referring to the size of Guaido's crowds without mentioning the huge turnout for Maduro's event. (It would be politically embarrassing for the White House to read that Maduro's turnout might have been larger than Guaido's.) 

It's hard to source facts on crowd size. One press report admitted "it was hard to tell which side's crowds were larger" while another report said the turnout at Maduro's event "was larger than expected." 

Anyone have a crowd count? In the meantime, here's a photo (from a Latin America news organization) showing the turnout for the embattled, elected government: 


A New Film (with Lots of Local Faces) Explores Racist Politics 

The so-called "American Dream" is rooted in the belief that certain individuals are born superior and are thus more entitled to wealth and privilege. The concept of "biological determinism" underlies some of America’s most appalling history—and Trumpism is fueling its return. 

A new documentary, A Dangerous Idea: Eugenics, Genetics and the American Dream, reveals how biological determinism has been used to marginalize women and disenfranchise people of color. The 18 women and men interviewed include Van Jones (activist and CNN political commentator), Robert Reich (UC Berkeley Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy), Ignacio Chapela (UCB Associate Professor of Microbial Ecology), and Troy Duster (UCB Chancellor's Professor of Sociology and author of Backdoor to Eugenics and White-washing Race). 

Here's the trailer: