SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces:Brushes,Plates&Fates. Category: Public Comment from The Berkeley Daily Planet

A Brush with Destiny
The last place I expected to find a life-enhancing, motivational spiel was on a toothbrush. But there it was—on the packaging of a cheap Reach-brand, tooth-scrubber I picked up at a Dollar Store.

Printed on the backside was the following:
“We believe that the Hard to REACH Places are worth reaching for. No matter what your dreams are, REACH gives you the confidence to reach for them.”

My bicuspids are tingling in anticipation.

Meet This Out-standin’ Author on August 9
In addition to being the proprietor of the Rebound Bookstore in San Rafael, Joel D. Eis is also the author of a snappy new 426-page autobiography. Standin’ in a Hard Rain: The Making of a Revolutionary Life borrows a line from Bob Dylan as an umbrella to cover several decades of stormy left-wing agitation that ranged from voter registration work in the deadly days of the Jim Crow South, to draft resistance across America, and the months-long student strike that placed San Francisco State under police occupation.

And because Eis was a theater major, his adventures also included romps with some of the most radical theatrical groups of the era—including the SF Mime Troupe and El Teatro Campesino.

In a record-breaking 48 chapters (lavishly decorated with photographs), Eis revisits his encounters with the Fresno Draft Resistance Movement and the days of tear-gas and buckshot that became known as “the Battle for Peoples’ Park.” 

Eis seems to have popped up in the midst of every ripple in the waves of revolution that washed across the country in the Simmering Sixties. There was a closing line I was going to use but I see that iconic comic Will Durst beat me to it. “Joel Eis’ memoire,” Durst wrote, “reads like Forest Gump for the 1960’s, only it’s real!” 

Eldridge Cleaver’s Great Escape
Having started to read Eis’ book, I’m marveling at a number of times when our paths almost crossed. 

One example: Eis’ offers a personal account of Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver’s Great Escape: 

In the summer of 1968, the one-time Peace and Freedom Party candidate for US President managed to evade a police stake-out in San Francisco before escaping to exile in Algeria. I was part of a small crowd that had gathered around a Panther safe-house in hopes of preventing a police shoot-out that would likely lead to Cleaver’s assassination. 

Turns out, Eis was on the scene, too. In his book, Eis’ recalls how the Panthers had recruited him to stand watch a block away and serve as a sentry. If he saw any signs of a gathering police presence, he had been instructed to light a cigarette to send a warning to another lookout. 

Fortunately there was no armed confrontation. At one point, after talking with ABC reporter Sander Vanocur. I seem to remember a group of women loudly exiting the building and driving off in a packed car. But it wasn’t until I read Eis’ book that I discovered one of the “ladies” was Cleaver—disguised in a gown and wearing veiled hat—making a clever get-away. 

I’m sure other surprises await when I can finish the read! 

You can catch up with Eis and learn more when his Bay Area book tour comes to Berkeley at 7PM on August 9th at Books Inc. (1491 Shattuck Avenue). 

Fashion Plates
XBEEEEE: (No longer bumbling?) 

PICKUP1: (Need a lift? Room for one)
PCNLUV: Peace and Love 

PAWFUND: Fund for Animals?
LRDA MCY: Lord-a-Mercy 

Bumper Snickers
“I’m Not Old. I’m Vintage”
“Drive Like You Passed the Test”
“Anyone Who Supports The As Moving to Vegas Is a Cop”
“If You Cut Off My Reproductive Choice, Can I Cut Off Yours?” 

Succession or Suck Session?
Presidential succession has become a hot issue. It’s not just a Trump debate anymore. Extremist partisan politics have now given rise to impeachment moves targeting Joe Biden. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has been threatening to open impeachment hearings for Biden (related, in part, to his son Hunter’s alleged misdeeds). But this poses a challenge for the MAGA tribe. If Bidengate were to succeed, it would give the US its first female leader—President Kamala Harris. 

With this in mind, McCarthy and other GOP strategists are likely also arranging plots to impeach Harris as well. But that leads to a unique and unprecedented conflict-of-interest situation owing to the Constitutional article that would see Harris’s Oval Office vacated to make room for the next candidate in the line of succession. That would be the Speaker of the House. Who happens to be… Kevin McCarthy. 

If this conflict-of-interest resulted in McCarthy’s inability to assume the office, the Constitution calls for the next seat-filler to be the Senate President Pro Tem, Patty Murray, a democrat. And should the GOP succeed in impeaching Murray, the new “leader of the free world” would the US Secretary of State—currently Democrat warhawk Antony Blinken. 

And if President Blinken were to commit wars of aggression that got him indicted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague, we would have a Constitutional crisis because the Founding Fathers failed to name a fifth successor. 

NYT on Exculpating Trump’s Crimes
In an August 1 New York Times article, David French explains that the successful prosecution of Donald Trump “depends on Trump’s state of mind.” 

One of Trump’s legal defenses involves the argument that his actions—now confirmed as illegal—were based on the bad advice of his lawyers. 

Because Trump clearly conspired to “obstruct the transfer of power after the 2020 election,” Trump’s new team of lawyers is insisting that the Justice Department must to prove that Trump knowingly made false statements. “In other words,” the Times explained, “if you were to urge a government official to overturn election results based on a good faith belief that serious fraud had altered the results, you would not be violating the law.” 

Forgive that old line about “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” 

In the third paragraph of the Trump’s indictment, the Justice Department states that the twice-impeached president “had a right, like every American, to speak publicly about the election and even to claim, falsely, that there had been outcome-determinative fraud during the election and that he had won.” 

Trump had a Constitutional right to “claim falsely”? That’s good news for a leader who, by some accounts, was guilty of uttering at least 40,000 certifiable lies during his four years in the Oval Office. 

The 48-page indictment cites numerous occasions when Trump’s closest advisors pointedly advised him that there was no “outcome-determinative fraud” in the 2020 election. But, Trump’s new legal team argues, if Trump still believed he had been cheated, that could absolve him of guilt. 

Remember the heavily armed extremist who stormed a Washington, DC, pizza parlor and opened fire after reading a QAnon dispatch that falsely claimed the pizzeria was a front for a child-sex operation being run by Hillary Clinton? 

Under the standards being set for Trump’s defense, this dangerously impressionable loony, could have claimed immunity from prosecution on the basis of a “firmly held belief.” Instead, he was compelled to admit that “the intel on this wasn’t 100 percent” and was sentenced to serve four-years behind bars. 

In essence, this batty defense would grant “mental impairment” a greater legal sway than “serious criminal intent.” 

Trump Threatens US Justice System
Just one day after standing before a judge and acknowledging his third indictment, DJTrump publicly threatened his prosecutors with retaliation. 


Warning: This video may begin with a fund-raising pitch for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign featuring Barack Obama. While it’s nice seeing Barack again (looking older but still sounding cool), the ad ends on a creepy note with a quick closing shot of Biden crouched over a podium, leaning-and-leering toward the camera with an over-the-top grin that’s reminiscent of The Joker. And, without moving from his weird, frozen pose, Biden croaks out a borderline scary salutation: “Thanks, Obama!” (I thought these two would be on a first-name basis by now.) 


Someone shared this on Facebook so it must be true, right? Let’s hope so: the world needs some good news. Herewith, some “interesting facts” about cannabis. 

1. One hectare of cannabis releases as much oxygen as 25 hectares of forest.
2. From one hectare of cannabis you can get as much paper as from 4 hectares of wood.
3. Whereas hemp can be recycled into paper 8 times, wood can be recycled to paper only three times. Hemp paper is stronger.
4. Hemp grows to maturity in 4 months while a tree grows in 20-50 years.
5. Hemp flowers in cannabis plantations purify the air.
6. Hemp can be cultivated anywhere in the world and needs very little water.
7. Hemp can protect itself from pests, it does not need pesticides.
8. Hemp textiles can surpass the quality of linen products.
9. Hemp is an ideal plant for making ropes, cords, bags, shoes, clothing, headwear.
10. Cannabis is banned in many countries but technical cannabis is drug-free.
11. The protein value of cannabis seeds is very high, and the two fatty acids in it are no longer found anywhere else in nature.
12. It is much cheaper to produce hemp than soybeans. 

13. Animals fed with cannabis do not need hormonal support. 

14. Plastic products made from hemp are eco-friendly and fully biodegradable. 

15. A car body made of cannabis-based composites can be 10 times stronger. 

16. Hemp can also be used to insulate buildings. It is durable, cheap and flexible.
17. The production and use of concrete is a major source of greenhouse gases but “hemp-crete” made from the hemp plant may be an alternative. TheRomans constructed buildings using hemp-crete and many of those buildings are still standing. 

Tell Ukraine to Drop Prosecution of Peace Activist  

[Full disclosure: I am a member of the WBW board.] Yurii Sheliazhenko, executive secretary of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement and a boardmember of World BEYOND War (WBW), has been falsely charged by the Ukrainian government with the crime of “justifying Russian aggression.” His home-office was broken into by state agents who seized Yurii’s computer, cellphone, and various documents. WBW is asking people to sign this petition on Yurii’s behalf: 

To: The Ukrainian Government 

We call on you to drop any legal proceedings against Yurii Sheliazhenko, and to respect human rights, the right to conscientious objection, and the right to freedom of speech. The absurdity of prosecuting someone for justifying Russian war-making on the basis of a statement in which he has explicitly condemned Russian war-making, is matched by the absurdity of waging war in the name of freedom and democracy while engaging in this sort of harassment of citizens. We urge you to do better.
Add Your Name Here! 

Three Japanese Films on the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Bombings 

On August 6, 2023 the Bangladesh publication Dhaka Review marked the 76th anniversary of the US bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by noting several Japanese films “that have effectively portrayed the devastation of the bombings.” The two US attacks resulted in the immediate deaths of 226,000 innocent civilians. Clearly, a historic war crime. 

Black Rain (1989)
The aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing, based on Masuji Ibuse’s novel and directed by Shohei Imamura. Click here to play

Hiroshima (1951)
Directed by Hideo Sekigawa, “Hiroshima” delivers a realistic retelling of the day the Hiroshima bomb dropped. Click here to play

Children of Hiroshima (1952)
Four years after the destruction of her hometown, Takako faces the bomb’s after-effects as she travels visits some survivors. Click here to play.


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