“That’s Another Fine Mess!” - Oliver Hardy was always saying that to Stan Laurel, and I find myself saying it at least once a day these past years. In 2004=2006, I wrote a blog with that name that actually won a few awards. I think we’re in a situation far more dangerous, far more consequential than we were back then, and so I’m bringing it back.
What do you get? You get an opinionated writer who can point over the years to having been right more often than I was wrong about what was going on in the world around me. I first became aware that things were not the way I’d been told they were at age 19, as an enlisted member of the Naval Command that was responsible for what became known in history as “The Tonkin Gulf Incident.” A month later, I discovered everything I thought I knew as someone whose security clearance gave me access to information was wrong when I walked into a bar in Olongapo outside the Subic Bay naval base and ran across my best friend from boot camp, who I hadn’t seen since we went through firefighting training ten months earlier, before we took our separate paths to our new commands.
He told me how as the petty officer in charge of the main battery on the destroyer “Maddox,” he had three times refused the order to open fire, on the grounds that the only target on his screen was the destroyer “Turner Joy.” For his service to his country in so doing, he received a general court-martial for refusing a direct order and was busted from E-5 to E-3. Last year, while researching my new book “The Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club,” I discovered that, 15 years ago, it had been proven that the “lights in the water” that night, identified as enemy torpedo boats, were in fact the reflection of moonlight and lightning flashes on an enormous school of flying fish that annually transits the Gulf of Tonkin at that time of year. It turns out, LBJ really was the only guy who knew the truth, when he exclaimed on being informed of the events in the gulf, that “those poor damn sailors were probably shooting at flying fish.”
I hope that won’t be the first time I surprise you when commenting on this or that event. I’m a trained historian, author of eight well-received books (so far, more on the way), who spent ten years in professional politics here in California, which turned out to be good training for a 30 year career as a screenwriter here in what I refer to as “Hollyweird.” All that leads me to look at events in historical, political, and social context.
A commentator I watched recently said he thinks we are at the most dangerous time in our history since 1861. I agree. We need to understand what that means, we need to think about what needs to be done. My goal is to promote thought and communication on the issues that make this time that important.
If you like what you find here, I hope you’ll support it by becoming a paid subscriber. I will have posts that are for subscribers only, and more benefits to membership as I think of them. So, as the late Harlan Ellison said, “pay the damn writer!” I think you’ll be glad you did.
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