Official Secrets

Apparently, and as a recent report revealed (published by the Washington Post and that I mentioned in my previous blog), it has been an Official Secret that our government has used subterfuge, lies and deceit regarding the so-called success of our on-going and never-ending wars, especially on Afghanistan where we send young eighteen and nineteen-year-olds to have their limbs blown off and to die?!!  This is a Huge Scandal! For all our gabbing and yakking about values, constitutionality, freedom, democracy and all those other lofty ideals, as well as shaming and deriding our so-called enemies who do not espouse these same standards, it turns out that, again, we are not Saint Nitouche (Goody, Goody) after all, and perhaps we should stop pretending that we are? In fact, we are shamelessly criminal, especially where these wars are concerned and the innocent victims who were orphaned, displaced, tortured and murdered! This is very unfortunate and very sad, too! Who is left in this rotten world of ours to stand up for Justice, Equality, Human Rights and Liberty? There does not seem to be any country, or any seated leader who can claim this honor. Rather, we are seeing the rise of iron-fisted leaders and unprincipled policies. Whether we look at Bolsonaro, Orban, Aung San Suu Kyi (and when is she going to jail?), Modi, Sisi, Bibi, Duterte and there’s more, it looks like a miserable landscape with which to be greeting the New Year. And, frankly, Putin and Xi are looking quite clever compared to the afore-mentioned specimens and their likes – not that they are above reproach, either!

There have been Official Secrets throughout time. It is not surprising, and it is so-called common practice that there are matters cooked behind closed doors by the powerful and the corrupt in order to advance their agendas. The scandal regarding Afghanistan, as well as other appalling government and military secrets in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Latin America and going back to Vietnam and, maybe even before that, are being slowly uncovered and finding their way into the public domain. It is definitely too late for all the human beings who have been affected by these malevolent doings, but it is also encouraging to know that there are real investigative journalists and whistleblowers who are unveiling these horrible events, and who have been doing so for a long time, although, it seems, that the general public is only recently becoming more aware of them and their reporting. May their numbers increase exponentially!

In these United States we have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that we speak from both sides of our mouths, and that we cherry-pick issues about which we get all het up. For instance, those same politicians on both sides of the aisles have the temerity to bemoan that very same corruption which they have profited from as they accepted donations to their coffers from corporations and lobbyists who have dictated laws adverse to the citizenry. Huh? They have also supported corrupt dictators as long as they swear allegiance to the US, and irrelevant of how those despots oppress their own people and trample on every value that we profess to espouse. Hypocrisy is alive and doing well in our Oval Office, Congress and Senate. Moreover, and despite the fact that we have meddled and interfered everywhere that we chose to, and all across this world, by choreographing coups, assassinating activists and installing thugs who claimed that they will do our bidding, we decry the meddling of other political leaders and governments in our own internal affairs. How does that make any sense? These have become very transparent double-standards and have deprived us of any semblance of moral authority in a world that is desperately in need of that. It is simply enough that we have made a mockery of international institutions such as the United Nations where no resolution sees the light unless it adds, or omits, all that we dictate; we attended the Madrid conference that was addressing the dire climate crisis and watered down all the constructive suggestions thus causing it to become a monumental failure; the World Bank and the IMF are merely tools to fulfill our desires, and the list goes on throughout the so-called International Organizations. Incidentally, Putin, during his four hour end-of-year question and answer session, said the same thing regarding the IMF and the World Bank and, honestly, I did not coordinate with him!

Recently, Congress has impeached Donald Trump, and as everyone is fully aware, the Senate will not endorse this. I might be wrong, but couldn’t we have just voted him out rather than having this wasteful and shameful spectacle? Anyway, it was, as I have previously stated on my posts, an ill-timed and unnecessary exercise that exhausted the country; did not change any minds; allowed the corrupt media, especially the despicable, unprofessional CNN and MSNBC, to carry on with their anti-Trump conspiracy, superficial analysis, their banal breathlessness, their venomous hatred, and their feigned indignation; and, in view of how the FISA Court has reprimanded the FBI for how it handled matters, whether that was deliberate or not, we, the people, are left wondering what else the FBI higher-ups are screwing up on? If you really want to know the answer to this and to so much more, watch a movie called Official Secrets, a current-year British-American production based on a true story that exposes the immoral Bush-Blair conspiracy of going to war on Iraq, how it all unfolded and the lies and maneuvering that took place in order to achieve this heartless, criminal decision. This docudrama is an incredible and brave effort that will compel us all to seriously think, and rethink, how dirty politics really is and why it should not be allowed to continue on this track. What other sordid Official Secrets remain behind closed doors in our own, and other governments, that are not only dangerous, but sinister as well?

Undoubtedly, and as we come to the end of 2019, we find many humans in an enormous mess within their own nations, internationally, and in so many places on this planet. This causes undue anxiety in people and leads to the rising extremism, chaos, wickedness and random shootings and murders that we are witnessing all over the world. It is as if world leaders, politicians and international organizations have given up on trying to salvage the planet, since by their sheer hubris, hypocrisy, arrogance and ignorance they have allowed matters to come to this boiling point without addressing them intelligently and when they were brought to their attention ages ago by investigative journalists, activists, community leaders, specialists and scientists and were totally ignored. How utterly, dangerously sad!

Where does it all go from here? I do not know the answer to this conundrum, however, what I am hoping is that we will not be lamenting our miserable situation again and again as more “Official Secrets” get cooked up behind closed doors that do not address the perils we are facing, and, in fact, might make them even worse.

This Impeachment Year in the US will end, and 2020 will begin the earnest Election Year that will determine whom our US President will be. I truly don’t know if a second term Trump Presidency will make matters better, worse, or crueler, and I don’t know, either, should the Democrats pick Biden, if his Presidency could fulfill the Obama promise of Hope and Change that was, and remains, largely unfulfilled. Perhaps a Bernie Sanders Political Revolution and Presidency could bail all of us, and the world, out? I really believe so. And Tulsi Gabbard as Vice-President? Perfect!

Meanwhile, let us all hope that it will be a Better and more Peaceful Year.

Put on a Happy Face and have a Happy New Year, Everyone!



World events of the past two weeks have been quite extraordinary, not that the years and decades before that were short on drama either! However, it seems to me as if things are going from bad to worse and are more turbulent than they have ever been. Anywhere I looked, and all across this planet of ours, there were disconcerting things going on. What to do? I could either allow myself to go into a depressed state, or I could choose to momentarily step away from it all and escape into my world of music, crossword puzzles, entertaining television programs and books! After all, none of the troubling events depend entirely on me for their resolution, and I am quite sure that they will still be going on with the same intensity and absurdity for the foreseeable future, which is quite sad!

I looked through the stack of books on my bedside table and picked one that my friend Gaby, who owns the Booklink bookshop, had sent me. It is a signed copy by the poet, Ocean Vuong: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, and it is the author’s first novel. The title is so beautiful, I thought, and, therefore, I presumed that it would be an uplifting read to draw me away from this very troubled, and troubling world.

Wrong! While I don’t regret my choice, it presented me with a different kind of troubling! Oof!

The book comes heavy with its own beautifully depressing aspects. It is written in a prose that is pure poetry at times, but is mostly sad, happy, haunting and quite heart-wrenching. The story is about a Vietnamese family: Grandmother Lan, who left Saigon a few hours before it fell, her Daughters Mai and Rose, and Rose’s son: Little Dog. When her grandson arrived, and believing in the superstition that evil spirits tend to take away children with beautiful names, Lan had named him “Little Dog,” hoping to protect him so he may survive. Superstition abounds in all cultures, doesn’t it?

The main themes that I took away from the novel evoked realities from my own experiences, ones that I had personally lived through, others that I was familiar with. Vietnam is the backdrop of this moving account, and one of the themes that I strongly identified with. It was a painful reminder of the US War on that entire region and the lies, ruthlessness, heartlessness and criminality with which it was fought; the extreme agony and death that the Napalm bombs and Agent Orange caused; the fires and the destruction of the soil; and of how the uprooting, displacement, refugees and trauma still, after all these years, manage to bring on deep suffering to the lives of so many, whether they have become US citizens such as the Vietnamese family in the novel, or whether they are still over there. Recently, and amongst all the horrid events on our planet, a study has come out about the lies that the American Government has been propagating regarding Afghanistan and Iraq. The “successes” that our military and sub-contracted projects have achieved are not true at all, as the report states. Not surprising, since the entire Iraq war was based on lies, after all! Yet, we destroyed and traumatized these two nations, as well as the entire Middle East region, and are still doing so! Unbelievably merciless! Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and the wars continue. There has to be another way for us to coexist on this planet without destroying it in every sense as we are doing!

The other theme in this heart-wrenching novel is the fact that Little Dog falls in love with a boy, and the dilemma that this causes him on how to tell his mother that he is gay. I have known five guys who have been through this: one of them, with whom I worked in a civil rights organization and whom I really cared for, died of AIDS during the early nineties; one waited until his parents passed away and then told his siblings who embraced and accepted him; three have never come out of the closet, so to speak, and their mothers have no idea, which is a constant and nagging pain of having to live a double-life of pretense. That’s why Little Dog’s predicament and how agonizing it must have been, touched me deeply and reminded me of those dear fellows I know.

Flitting through his memories and going back and forth between his Grandmother and her experiences; his Mother and how her life unfolded and his own life, Ocean Vuong compels us to share all the tableau of his 28-year-long journey and the incidents and experiences that he remembers from his own vantage point after having graduated from university and becoming a writer. It is his memories that finally allow him to reconcile his deep love for his Mother and Grandmother; his sexual awakening and acceptance of himself; and the necessary acknowledgement that his Vietnamese heritage with all its pain and instinct for survival are, and will forever be, a part of himself. I strongly identified with that theme of reconciling the pain of our memories, one that I share with the many millions of uprooted humans from all over war-torn countries. And, the fact that Lan and Rose did not even realize that so much of their behavior was due to PTSD, was so poignant as it reminded me of how I had to deal with so much that was, and still oftentimes is, very painful. The ache of memories is what remains with us for as long as we are alive, but, as Little Dog realized, it is only through reconciling with the pain that we achieve an inner peace with ourselves.

And then there is another terrifying theme of the opioid crisis and of how the pharmaceutical companies benefited in the billions of dollars from an addiction epidemic that they proliferated through, and with, their abetting doctors and sales representatives – an epidemic that I do not think would have raged as horribly had we not been illicitly importing all that cheap heroin from Afghanistan while our politicians were either complicit, or asleep at the switch! Money Talks, Integrity Walks! How corrupt!

Yes, I wanted to escape into the pages of a book, however, I ended up reliving many personal, traumatic and sad experiences all over again. Yet, it was worth every moment of my time, and of the touching effort of one Ocean Vuong who is a remarkable writer and a beautiful person.