Public Comment

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces: SmitherDigs/Dogs&Dogma

Gar Smith
Sunday March 19, 2023 - 09:04:00 PM

Woke Versus Noke

Florida Gov. Ron De Sanitizer wants to cleanse the state's schoolbooks of all things wokish. That includes math and history books. The New York Times recently reports any history books that dare to include the story of Rosa Parks cannot mention that Parks was the victim of racial prejudice. Instead of noting that Parks refused to sit in the back of a racially segregated bus, Florida's students will only read: "She was told to move to a different seat." And, according to a rewrite submitted for the textbook review process, a reference to "African American men" has been changed to "men of certain groups."

If the MAGA-tribes can "own the Libs" by invoking the pejorative word "Woke," it's only fair that liberals respond by condemning right-and-wrong-doers who dismiss tolerance and acceptance as NOT OK—"Noke" for short. 

America's New Top Dog 

The Chronicle's March 16 edition carried a wire service report that the American Kennel Club (AKC) had stripped the title of "favorite dog" from the country's Labrador retrievers—a prized perch these pooches have possessed for the past 31 years. 

So who pushed the Labs from their precious pedestal? A descriptive pronouncement (quite possibly written by a Lab owner) described the AKC's newly crowned canine as follows: "Adorable in some eyes, deplorable in others, the sturdy, push-faced, perky-eared, world-weary-looking and distinctively droll French bulldog." 

Car Scars Mar the Marina 

Desecration news: Have you noticed that some local (or maybe out-of-town) road-show rowdies have been spinning donuts on the big roundabout at the end of University Avenue, where the road to the Marina meets the turnoff to the Cesar Chavez Park? Big black tire marks are visible all over the elevated structure. 

Wonder if any videos have wound up on the Internet yet. 

Sure enough. Here's a pre-roundabout clip from 2010: 


Fashion Plates 

Honda Pilot: EEKACAT 


Yellow Toyota: FISHAWK 

Black Jeep: 510 JEEP (Celebrate our area code!) 

Red Expedition: CHOW 2TE (Haven't a clue) 

Gray Subaru Outback: B BKLYN (Born in Brooklyn?") 

Gray Tesla: LINGNOI (Name of an online language course) 

White Ford: REUSER ("Look! I'm driving a used car!") 


Pray for Secular Government 

Abolish Corporate Personhood 

People Cast Votes. Corporations Buy Elections. 

Billionaires Can't Buy Bernie 

I Don't Have a Bucket List but My F—k-it list Is a Mile Long 

Whatever Happened to the "Chinese Spy Balloon" 

It was the biggest, most front-page, in-your-face news story of the week. It was so ballyhooed that it distracted nearly everyone's attention from Seymour Hersh's expose that pinned the destruction of Russia's Nord Stream pipelines on none other than the USA. (Previously, Washington's unconvincing response to the mysterious bombing was to point East and yell "Moscow did it!") 

There was major attention paid to the recovery of the debris from off the Atlantic shore. But instead of answering the question about the alleged surveillance powers of the floating balloon, there was no follow up on what the military and FBI found. All reporting suddenly stopped on February 17. No discloser. No updates. No further details. "Nothing to see here. Move along." 

What Has our Air Force Got to Hide?
Aviation News reports the US Air Force has started removing traditional identifying markings from Air Mobility Command (AMC) aircraft. The large "US Air Force" logos (along with tail numbers and "other identifying markings") are all being scrapped. Why is the USAF going incognito? Why the move from transparency to anonymity? 

“We operate across the globe every day, often supporting sensitive movements of people and cargo," the AMC explained, “Understandably, we have concerns about the operational security impacts to these missions in the modern era of on-demand, real-time information. Subdued paint schemes that limit identifiable information is one way we are taking a hard look at how we operate to ensure our ability to continue to deliver for America and our allies and partners around the world." 

“Woven through our culture is a foundational knowledge of the business we are in, the war business,” AMC Commander Gen. Mike Minihan wrote in October 2022. “Lethality is what we will deliver.” 

The Anniversary of "Shock and Awe" Brings Major Protest to SF 

It's a matter of fact that Russia sent weapons of war across a shared border with Ukraine but—to shift the lens a bit—how about if we started referring the March 19, 2003 "Shock and Awe" US assault on Iraq as George W. Bush's "Special Military Operation"? 

While there were provable (and preventable) concerns that Russia warned could lead to conflict (mostly involving NATO's eastward expansion toward Russia's western borders) GWB's justification for attacking Iraq was based on a Big Lie involving fictitious "Weapons of Mass Destruction." 

What does a "war crime" look like? Just revisit the photos and video clips of the mass aerial bombardment Baghdad and Fallujah (the "city of mosques" was attacked using shells containing depleted uranium). 


And so it was that, on Saturday, March 18, 2023, a rally of more than a hundred peace activists gathered at BART's 24th Street plaza to mark the 20th anniversary of George W. Bush's murderous "Shock and Awe" attack on Baghdad. 

One of the rally's many speakers asked why no one in the US was ever charged with war crimes given that the Pentagon's massive bombardment of Iraq was responsible for "killing a quarter of a million civilians in 43 days." (Brown University's Cost of War Project puts the total number of Iraqi civilian deaths at 387,072.) 

The UN Commission on Human Rights reports that Russia's deadly war on Ukraine has so far claimed 8,000 civilian victims. Meanwhile, the failed US invasion of Afghanistan killed more than 70,000 civilians over the course of 12 bloody years. Notable facts: Afghanistan is not on America's border and the men accused of crashing passenger jets into the Pentagon and the Twin Towers were mainly citizens of Saudi Arabia, not terrorists from Afghanistan. 

When it comes to war crimes, America's record seems much darker than Russia's. Moving thousands of children out of a war-zone sounds more like a humanitarian act than an act of war. 

In an attempt to gain some perspective during the BART demo, an Army vet took the microphone to note that the US has around 800 foreign bases in more than 70 foreign countries. "How many foreign bases has Russia got? 21! How many foreign bases has China got? 1! It's in the African nation of Djibouti." 

Adding to the din was a contingent of eight demonstrators wrapped in blue and yellow Ukrainian flags who repeatedly booed the main event while waving anti-Putin placards and shouting "Defend Ukraine!" and "Shame on you!" The Battle of Amplification raged for more than an hour but the grit and determination (and the informed historical depth) of the majority's arguments won the day. 

What Does "Rule-based Order" Mean? Just Swap Two Letters 

The phrase "rules-based order" has a pleasant ring to it but what does it really mean? Rules-Based Order is not the same as adhering to international treaties. It's actually the opposite. It would be more honest and alarming if the phrase were changed to express what it really means. And that only takes the addition of two letters: Ruler-Based Orders

As Joe Biden likes to proclaim: "America is back and ready to lead the world." But there's a problem to this worldview. Maybe the world doesn't want to be lead by a US president. There's another obstacle to America's insistence on unilateralism—the United Nations. 

The US doesn't believe in following the global majorities that have guided UN decision-making. Washington prefers to ignore UN treaties and enforce its own version of "law and order." The US has been a global UN scofflaw since 1948. Over the past seven-plus decades, the US has refused to sign or ratify UN treaties on the rights of women, the rights of children, the rights of workers, the rights of migrants, and the rights of the disabled. The US has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the Convention against Torture, the Convention on Human Rights, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty and has ignored bans on cluster munitions and landmines. The US withdrew from the International Criminal Court, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and the SALT II nuclear agreement. The US has even refused to sign the Moon Treaty. 

As professor and author Glenn Diesen recently explained, the US is losing its leadership position regarding "strategic industries," control over the world's "maritime corridors," control over "the main development banks," all while dealing with the decline of the dollar—"the world's trade/reserve currency." 

The US faces a dilemma, Diesen says: "It can either facilitate and shape a multipolar system where the US is the 'first among equals,' or it can aim to contain rising powers to extend its hegemonic position." 

Sports Notes 

I don't spend a lot of time following sports but I usually read the headlines in the Chronicle's sports section. And this sometimes leaves me baffled and scratching my headlines. Some recent samples: 

• Cal's loss Mizzou's key gain in Gates 

• No Brink, no problem 

• Giants catchers picking up on the nuances of pickoffs 

• Jones picks up slack as Cardinal roll in first-round trouncing