SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Friday March 02, 2018 - 05:48:00 PM

No Nukes Is Good Nukes. As this week's East Bay Express reveals, UC Berkeley may finally lose its 75-year contract serving the Pentagon's nuclear weapons industry. The bad news: among the contenders vying to claim the contract…. Bechtel. That must hurt, especially given that there's already a Bechtel building on the UCB campus. (Anyone else suffering from Bechtel fatigue?) 

Trump to the Rescue. On February 26, during at a White House event with the nation's governors, Donald J. Trump addressed the mass-killing of 17 Florida students and declared: "We have to end our country of what's happening with respect to that subject." 


After calling the initial police response "a disgrace," Trump went on to claim: "I really believe I'd run in there, even if I didn't have a weapon." 

That boast hardly squares with Trump's on-air comments during a Howard Stern interview in 2008: "I'm not good for medical," Trump confessed. "if you cut your finger and there's blood pouring out, I'm gone." 

The reprimander-in-chief recalled an incident at his Mar-a-Lago retreat where a guest fell and began bleeding. "He was right in front of me and I turned away. I didn't want to touch him . . . he's bleeding all over the place, I felt terrible." Trump trembled. But it wasn't the human suffering that troubled Trump. As he explained to Stern: "You know, beautiful marble floor, didn't look like it. It changed color. Became very red." 

Our Weaponized Vocabulary: How can we have a world at peace when our language is infiltrated with so many words of war? 

• On February 27, Bay Area Congressmember Mike Thompson (CA-05) explained his plan to use a "discharge petition" to advance a gun control initiative. He then told reporters: "I know it's a long shot." 

• A new KCBS radio ad for Star One promises new banking customers "a fully loaded checking account." 

• When ICE officials attacked Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff for daring to warn Bay Area immigrants of an impending ICE raid, Schaff declared she was: "Armed with the truth." 

• I was just on a conference call with 14 anti-war activists. At one point, the convener encouraged everyone to "ldentify a winnable target." 

• A well-known advocacy group recently circulated a detailed email lamenting the costs of Washington's unwinnable 16-year war in Afghanistan. The long message ended with the rousing salutation, "Keep on fighting!" 

Get Me to the Kurch on Time. I never thought about this before, but why isn't "Jesus Christ" pronounced "Jesus Chu-rist"? A church, after all, isn't called a Kurch. 

Twitter Targets Advocacy. Recently, the anti-war group World Beyond War (WBW) caught some unexpected cyber-flack for posting a story that revealed school-shooter Nikolas Cruz received Pentagon-sponsored weapons training while a student at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. The school's Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps offered an indoor firing range for rifle-toting students who were recruited with the assistance of a $10,000 grant from the NRA. During his stint with the JROTC, Cruz was commended for his "excellence in marksmanship." 

But when reporter Max Blumenthal attempted to read the WBW expose while waiting for a plane in a foreign airport, he found the WBW account was blocked. Blumenthal sent the following email to WBW: 

Sent: Feb 17, 2018 5:29 PM
Subject: [WBW-CC] Israelis block WBW?

I was blocked from reading this article by Ben Gurion Int’l Airport’s WiFi provider on the grounds that it was published by an “advocacy organization”  

I contacted World Beyond War and received the following comment: 

"We are an advocacy organization 

Google and Facebook steer people away 

US media won't cover JROTC/military factor in shootings 

US billboard companies refuse our money for billboards 

This is why people don't know anything; they aren't allowed to see anything." 

Something I just noticed: Apparently, when a Twitter link is blocked, a "strike-through" mark is superimposed on the ampersand in the targeted email address. Cute! 

Guns Didn't Stop Guns. Trump insists that no shooters would target a school if they knew in advance there was armed security on site. Attention Donald: Nikolas Cruz had been a student at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. He knew there was an armed guard there. And that didn't stop him. 

So what about the armed sheriffs deputies who arrived on the scene and made no attempt to confront the killer? Could it be that the cops were carrying service revolvers and didn't want to tangle with a gunman armed with an AR-15? 

AR-15s Instead of Apples for Teachers? If "peace officers" are cowed by the presence of an AR-15, arming teachers can't simply involve handguns: Mr. Fuller and Ms. Whitaker will need to be trained to handle high-powered assault rifles. 

If guns are the cure (and not the disease), we'd all be better off if ticket-takers at movie theaters were armed. And preachers in pulpits. And politicians at public gatherings. And babysitters in homes. And Liittle League baseball coaches on practice fields. And clowns at the circus. And dolphins at Marineworld. 

If the use of weapons-of-war for "self-defense" becomes acceptable, the National Rifle Association might find some competitors cropping up. Get ready for the National Machine-gun Association, the National Bayonet Association, the National Hand-grenade Association, the National Flamethrower Association? Oh, wait… Elon Musk has already taken care of that one. 

Elon Musk just sold $3.5 million worth of flamethrowers from CNBC


Who's On the Take with the NRA? After every mass shooting, America's elected officials utter the gun lobby's hollow mantra: "thoughts and prayers." It's part of the political inaction bought and paid for by the largesse of the National Rifle Association. 

But now there's an antidote. The Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund has created a tool to turn the tables on gun-cozy politicians. Simply go online to everytown.org/signup/follow-the-money, enter your zip code, and instantly see if your congressmember or senators have accepted NRA ducats. And, if so, how much.