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Saturday, May 30, 2020


To All,  
 With all the protests, rioting, looting, and burning of stores throughout the US because a police officer knelt on the neck of the Black man, George Floyd, kneeling for over 8 minutes and killing the suspect, yet something about Minneapolis and police killings is never mentioned.  In all the numerous stories about the incident, and the telling video that accompanied the stories, there is no mention of the July 2017 incident in Minneapolis in which a Black police officer shot and killed an unarmed white woman (who had earlier called the police worried about a possible rape in her back yard).  The story probably would never have been allowed to reach beyond Minneapolis (the national media have no desire to hype Black on white killings) except for the fact that Justine Diamond was not an American but an Australian, and the Australian government protested what had happened to her.  There were no street protests, no riots, no looting, no burning of stores.  The Black policeman was charged, found guilty, and now serves a 12 year sentence.  In addition, her family was paid $20 million by the city, of which the family donated $2 million to fighting gun violence.  While Floyd is now a name on the international scene, the media have buried the information about the Diamond case with her.
   There is a great contrast in the way the media treat white on Black crime, and Black on white crime.
    Hugh Murray


To All,
     Good news to those who watch late-night comedy shows.  Jimmy Fallon, star of NBC's The Tonight Show, has just qualified to run as a Democrat for Governor of the state of Virginia.
     He qualified when an old video of his stint on Saturday Night Life surfaced in which he appeared pretending to be another comedian, Chris Rock.  To do this effectively, Fallon was in black face.  Of course, even defending black face as a possible Halloween costume probably contributed to the termination of NBC's contract with Megan Kelly.  But Fallon is a known liberal, like the present governor of Virginia (in in younger years appeared in black face and in a KKK gown), so Fallon may keep his Tonight job.
     Democrat Governors and Mayors continue to keep lock downs of many businesses, even threatening those who open up with fines and arrests.  But last night, in many Democratic run cities, there were protests against a policeman's knee on the neck of a downed Black, George Floyd, accused of passing a counterfeit $20 bill.  The weight of the cop was sufficient to kill the suspect, and protests have erupted throughout the nation.  The penalty for passing a bad note should not be death.  However, not all of the protests are peaceful, especially after dark.  Not just in Minneapolis, where the knee death occurred, but in many cities, after dark, the crowds became mobs that looted and burned stores, even here in Milwaukee, but also in Atlanta, Houston, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, etc.  What is interesting is that even with more cops on the street, even supported by National Guard troops, they look on, but do not stop the rioters.  Lesson to be learned: Democrats will arrest someone who wants to open his legitimate business, like a barber shop, but will not arrest those who want to loot a store or burn it down.  Even if the arsonists are not wearing a mask for the virus!  Once again, the pro-crime nature of the Democrats is demonstrated for all to see.
     Hope everyone remembers this in November.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

"Novel" Memoir Skips Much of Interest

Review by Hugh Murray

One recipe for comedy is to juxtapose the anticipated and expected to, or replace it with, the incongruous. (This is not a joke.) One common example: “Seven days without God makes one weak.” Poetry can be somewhat similar, describing a noun with an unusual adjective, or the adjective with an incongruous adverb. These surprising descriptions can provide amusement to the reader, or they may seem confusing, or profound, or a bit of all. Vuong indulges in much such word play, some simple, some belabored. After telling of the long flights of monarch butterflies from his home in Connecticut to Mexico, he compares a book's page to a folded monarch's wings. Then, when they open, will they fly away with the book? Too heavy. Admittedly, some of his comparisons are poetic, and the reader can pause to ponder. But sometimes the comparisons add nothing to the prose nor to the thought. It is simply another stop sign on the road through this “novel” memoir.

Vuong provides portraits of his grandmother Lan, his mother Rose, and shorter, more narrow sketches of his “grandfather” Paul, and his slightly older teen-age lover Trevor.

But there is so much that is NOT there! Vuong, born in Saigon in 1988 is brought to America when he was 4 to live in poverty in a poor section of Hartford, Connecticut. How did he get to the US? With his mom and grandma at that time? His father too? All together, or in spurts? The dad Vietnamese? There is nothing in this book about the boy in school, who knows almost no English, and being Vietnamese, is most likely smaller than most other kids his age. How was he treated? And mistreated? Who, if any, befriended him? How did this affect his character? Much of the book is about his mother (indeed, the book is an epistle to her). However, even when he sets off for a job on a tobacco farm at age 14, was this mainly for financial reasons, or because of disappointments in school? Working with tobacco his first day, his co-workers address him in Spanish, assuming he is another of the illegal aliens working there. Vuong was soon treated kindly by the Hispanic lead worker, who assigned him a task he could do (with effort). Working there, the lad meets Trevor, the 17-year-old white son of the farm's owner; Trevor, like the hired hands, also works the fields. They hit it off, and in time, engage in sex after work. After various explorations, the innocent boys are both shocked and embarrassed to discover that sometimes during anal sex, sh*t happens. One of the few amusing episodes. Like Trevor, Vuong snorts coke, but declining to go along with everything his older friend does and offers, Vuong refuses to inject heroine.

Unlike “white privileged” Trevor, Vuong receives a scholarship to a Brooklyn College. Again, the role of the public school in this transformation is absent. What, how did this happen? I would prefer less poetry and more answers to how a small guy with no English is metamorphed in a decade into a scholarship student in another state? This might be quite a story from which many might learn. Meanwhile, the “privileged” white male Trevor, over does it and dies at 22.

Vuong returns to Vietnam with the ashes of his grandmother, but present-day Vietnam is another absentee from this volume. It might crowd out monarch butterflies flights or cliff jumps by buffaloes.

Perhaps asking for Vuong's survival kit is going too far, but with odds against him, he did survive and do well. Perhaps, the title provides a clue – he and we all are gorgeous. But we know that that is a lie. True, some are gorgeous, but usually for only a short span; and some are not and were never gorgeous; and some are hideous. But on some level after high school, we all learn that as pleasant as eye-candy is, it cannot sustain us; we also require, need, the ugliness of most proteins. For adults, the main meal is soup to nuts, not much eye-candy. This short book is episodic, jumping round in time, explicit on street names in Hartford and other sites, inclusive of some Asian superstitions, echoes of war, somewhat poetic, but omitting so much of what must have been important.

Friday, May 8, 2020


THE MOUNTAINS SING (Kindle ed.) 2019
Algonquin Books, 2020
By Nguyen Phan Que Mai
Review by Hugh Murray

I rarely read fiction,preferring works of history. Yet, even when I taught History, I was aware of what readers could learn from novels and in the first half of the American History course, assigned the Great American Novel, Huckleberry Finn. One acquires knowledge of mid-19th century America almost unawares, while laughing at the antics of the characters.

The Mountains Sing is not funny, but I learned much from it. For example, I had read and heard the simple phrase “land reform” over decades in hundreds of books, newspaper articles, TV news shows, and documentaries. Stalin's collectivization of agriculture and mistreatment of kulaks in the Ukraine did present a negative impression, but that was long ago and now everyone concedes that Stalin had made some mistakes. Just after WWII, Mao's civil war against Nationalist Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek was interpreted as a disagreement over Mao's desire to achieve land reform, or so many thought at that time. Land reforms in Rhodesia and more recently in South Africa meant snatching farms from whites to give to Blacks, but that was viewed as a continuation of the continent's de-colonization. A more recent television serial depicted land reform: the German “Line of Separation” showed a small German town in the defeat of 1945 divided between American and Soviet sectors (like the much larger Berlin). A large mansion and plot belongs to the count, a returning officer of the Reichswehr. His wife is shot and killed in the final days of war, and when he realizes his land is in the Soviet sector, he moves to the West. His pretty, 18-year-old daughter inherits the area and building. She falls for a young German who is poor, and whose brother is not actually kin, but an extra son taken in by his mom when the other boy's Jewish parents were taken away. Her boyfriend is in the (Communist) Party, after the Nazi defeat. The Communists begin an agenda of change: “Bauern Land statt Junker Land” - farmer's land instead of nobleman's land. The young woman is unhappy, but her boyfriend persuades her that as a couple, they can get a good plot and become regular farmers. By the end of the series, she has become the strongest defender of East Germany.

In Mountains Sing, Nguyen presents a vivid, and very different picture of land reform in North Vietnam in 1955. Unexpectedly, the family at the center of this novel is shocked when teens banging drums, and older folks, a mob, with sticks and implements to be used as weapons, arrive shouting slogans, Down with the Rich Landowners, Down with the Greedy Rich, Exploiters, etc. The scene is more akin to the 1931 film of Frankenstein, when the townspeople march on the castle of Count Doctor Frankenstein determined to destroy him and his creation. In the Vietnam story, this was a national operation directed by the Communist Party against all larger landholders it deemed unreliable. Out in the rice fields, some of the mobsters came across the brother and a son of Dieu Lan (then head of the household, and who would become the major character of the novel). The two men were beaten, tied to a tree, and tortured. They then killed one, Dieu Lan's brother. One of her hired workers was able that night to cut the rope holding her older son, and he fled. Did he make it to some safe area, or was he killed too? The mob reached her home, and she too was attacked, bound, and beaten. Her money and jewelry, stolen. That night an elderly servant quietly cut her ropes and she had to flee also. It was not easy as she took with her her three younger children and her 1-year-old baby. One omission in the novel, she does not consider trying to escape to South Vietnam. Instead, she can only think of getting help from a former teacher who lives in distant Hanoi, but a man she hasn't seen in several years.

On the run with four children, her struggle to stay alive and get to Hanoi consists of a large part of this book. Penniless, suddenly friendless, how is she going to make it? And as she walks along the national highway, she must often get off the path to avoid suspicion. She sees fires in the distance where other mobs have flamed the homes of other “exploiter” landholders. In one village, a gent with a pole wants to kick her out of the area because she is a beggar. In some instances, some will not help because they suspect she is on the list, and if they help her or her children, the Party will go after them. By this time she knew the party had a quota for killing exploiter landlords (like the American Left that loves quotas that disturb society in their own way, the VN CP had quotas to kill people).

Along her journey, Dieu Lan must leave a child with this kind lady, another with this family, another, and so on. With luck and courage, she makes it to Hanoi where new trials strain her endurance, but she learns new skills and her character keeps her coping and growing. I need not describe the entire plot, but her book provides memorable descriptions of folks in Hanoi when American bombers flew above dropping their cargoes, and for those below, the fright and then the rush to survive. I don't think I had read such a description of the bombings from the vantage of those on the ground. Hers is powerful. Also, soldiers for North Vietnam describe their war, from their viewpoint, some actions. Also being rained on by American Agent Orange (and I do not mean Trump). She includes the lies told by the victorious North Vietnamese army to those of the defeated South's ARVN, and the difficulties faced by the losing side (those who did not flee to American planes or ships, or those who did not commit suicide when Saigon fell). She describes some of the discrimination faced by black marketeers (an almost necessary ingredient in a socialist economy) and even some discrimination encountered by Northern carpetbaggers who got cushy jobs in the South.

On the negative side, it would have been better if Nguyen had given her characters an English name along with the VN name. I often did not even know the sex of some characters, though she did add clues in the dialog with “Sis” or “Uncle.”

She has one character make a decision that seems unrealistic to this Westerner. This character, a Northerner who has fled Communist oppression gets to South Vietnam and even joins the ARVN. He is helped by others who are Christian, and converts to their religion. He marries the daughter of a man with money, and has two children with her. As the government of the South begins to collapse, his father-in-law purchases a boat to get out, hopefully to America. It is for him, his wife, his daughter, her two children, and his son-in-law. He declines! I find this out of character. Instead of going with his wife and children, he wants to somehow find his mother and siblings, who may be in the North or, as far as he knows, may be dead. So he chooses to remain in VN. I find this incomprehensible. This entire book is an example of the importance of family. Well, which family, his mom, or his wife and children? I think the answer is clear, and not the one he made. Once the man has a wife and children, is that not his primary family?

Overall, Nguyen has written an excellent book.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020


                              THE SOLUTION
                              By Hugh Murray
    In 2016 I voted for Donald Trump for President of the USA.  I was generally satisfied with his leadership until 2020.  Then the corona-virus hit China, the world, and America.  In response, Trump signed into law spending trillions of dollars to try to maintain the American economy, even giving $1,200 to many (if not most) Americans.  I was shocked - the weird, highly inflationary proposal by Andrew Yang, candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for President, became American policy under Republican Trump.  Far worse, Trump appointed a virus committee led by Dr. Anthony Fauci, whose predictions about the virus are constantly being shown as grossly exaggerated, but whose prescriptions indicate his power-hungry, narrow-minded, authoritarian approach to society.  His implicit assumptions: the virus is quite deadly; we must limit infection so as not to overburden hospitals (while closing hospitals to "elective surgeries" even when they may be necessary to maintain health and life).  Fauci's influence has pushed Trump and state governors to crack down, and place most people under quarantine home arrest.  In the past, this has been imposed on the infected to prevent spread of the disease; under Fauci's expansive government authority - it is imposed on the healthy.  The economy is crumbling.  Fauci speaks of leveling the curve, so the rise in cases become manageable.  When Trump suggests use of an old malaria drug to cure the new virus, Fauci dismisses this as anecdotal.  We would need double-blind tests, etc.  I urge all to watch the US Public Television program, "Independent Lens" about Jim Allison, a cancer researcher who had to go against the medical establishment with his cure for some forms of cancer.  His early success was just anecdotal.  Eventually, he got FDA (Federal Drug Agency) approval for double-blind studies, which were quite costly and paid for by a major pharmaceutical company.  These took 5 years, before he won approval.
    Does Dr. Fauci, who says we must continue restrictive lives until a vaccine is found, mean we must remain shut down for a minimum of 5 more years?  He dismisses "anecdotal" evidence.  So America must await the approval of Dr. Fauci before we can re-open our society.  That would be, at earliest, in 2025.  Of course, he does not give a year, just hints of the virus may rise again in the fall of 2020.  Of course, it will because many have been hidden away under house arrest, unable to get the virus and the immunity it would provide.  Fauci is power-hungry and is destroying America.
    The virus is not very deadly for those under 50.  There is no reason for schools to be closed.  It is terrible that those following Fauci maintained that older patients who had stabilized in a hospital, should be released AND RETURNED to nursing homes, where they spread the virus among the most vulnerable to the disease.  The death rate at some nursing homes is quite high, because they were not meant to handle the serious virus cases (no ventilators, etc.).  But the govt. was contending they could not remain in hospital and must be returned to nursing homes.  A murderous policy.
      An open-America policy would allow most to become infected with the virus, and for the vast majority, there would be no serious consequences.  Recent data shows many more infected than previously thought.  Most are totally unaware they had it.
    Bottom line: I voted for Trump in 2016.  In 2019 I got Democrat Andrew Yang's inflationary policies.  I also got Fauci's police state restrictions against free speech, freedom of assembly, and at Easter, even against freedom of religion.  Horrendous!
      So I propose that President Trump now run against Democrat former VP Joe Biden, but run against Biden for the nomination of the Democratic Party for President in 2020.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020


To a friend
    , When we spoke on the phone yesterday, I mentioned that I studied at NYU in the summers of 1965-66.  My "dorm" had been a hotel a block or 2 north of Washington Square Park.  Apparently, one resident continued to stay in the building even tho it was no longer a hotel, but a dorm.  This was a tall building, probably about 50 stories.  Yesterday, on the phone I had a "senior moment," and could not recall the man's name.  I finally remembered his name - a fellow resident in the NYU dorm when I lived there during the summer of 1965 - Dr. Otto Nathan.  The elderly lady at the reception desk was always mean to him, harassing him, "you don't belong here," etc.  He tried to ignore her as much as possible but had to go through her to ask for his mail, etc.  We had some small chats.  Dr. Nathan was the executor of Albert Einstein's will.
    Other than my 3-day visit to NY - probably in 1962 - this was my first real visit to the city.  Fantastic.  The hotel/dorm was near Greenwich Village, Wash. Square park a block away, the Militant Labor Forum, the Free U. of NY, book stores everywhere, coffee houses on Bleeker, terrific.  And I met a surprising number of folks whom I knew from Tulane U. walking in the area.  I recently read a book and realized that in that 1965 summer I missed an important lecture at the Militant Forum, as its guest speaker was Malcolm X.  His speech from that occasion is discussed in Christopher Caldwell's 2020 book, The Age of Entitlement.  In the next summer, 1966, the same forum would be filled to hear another guest speaker, me.  Malcolm did not come to hear my lecture, either.
     By the mid-70s, the book stores had disappeared, replaced mainly by liquor stores.  The Strand and a few others were the hold outs, but the trend was not good, in so many ways.  By the 1980s, street bums would walk into the 8th St (or St. Marks) Bookstore, steal a few volumes, go outside and place them on their filthy blankets on the sidewalk, and try to sell the looted material.  All part of the decline of NYC.
    By the way, I did not look up Dr. Nathan's name on google, I remembered him (of course, after our phone call).  Now I'm waiting for a spin-off on the tv show Jeopardy, "The Next Day."  Instead of answering questions within a few seconds, contestants would have 24 hours to recall the answers to the required by the game-show host.  For those older than me, another spin-off will be called "The Next Year," giving seniors a year to remember the answer.  Just joking.  By the way, I call the program Jeo-pardy.
    Hey, you may not have to pay rent any more with the new Trump/Pelosi relief law?  
    Hugh Murray

Friday, March 27, 2020

THE END OF AMERICA - 1776 to 2020

This is a very sad day, Friday 27 March 2020.  It will live in history because today Congress passed, and Pres. Trump signed, the 2 trillion dollar corona-virus stimulus bill.  Were it simply an expensive but necessary monetary supplement to those laid off from their jobs because many governors are demanding that businesses close to prevent spread of the virus, if it were simply an extension of unemployment insurance, and loans or even gifts to airlines, ships, hotels, and other service and tourist industries shut down by government to halt further contagion by the virus, these things could be justified.

 But in the massive legislation there is money to be given to National Public Radio, which like BBC and Deutsche Welle, is a liberal left news and entertainment and "education" media source.  But the news is hate-Trump, smear conservative, cheer Obama and the Left.  Some of its interviews are repellent, preventing the interviewee from expressing the truth by the interviewers voiceover and hostile questions and interruptions.  Also in the bill, money for the Kennedy Center, a Democratic and left-wing culture venue.  Corporations that take federal funds are to add "inclusive" members to their boards.  This can mean a new set of extortions and shakedowns, to run the company into ruin.

 Worst, there are provisions to make it easier to register to vote, and to vote.  Already in some states, for example, illegal aliens are allowed to vote in some elections.  This will make it easier for Democrats to steal elections all over the US by encouraging more votes from illegal aliens, the dead, and others who will be voting more than once.  Stimulus bill?  It will stimulate stolen elections!  Instead of a democratic republic, the USA will become a Democratic Party, one-party state.  That party already favors restrictions on free speech, and on the right to own and carry weapons; the Democrats also favor the rights of violent criminals over the rights of their victims (most violent criminals are from Democratic Party voting blocs.)  During this crisis in states governed by Democrats, the Governors are letting more criminals out of jails and not putting more in (to avoid contagion), and at the same time closing gun shops so the honest people cannot defend themselves from the pumped up permanent criminal class on the roam.

      The Wuhan corona virus is bad enough.  The remedy of the Democrats under Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, AND the Republicans who control the Senate is far worse than the virus.  Pres. Trump, misled by Medicrats, bureaucrats with medical degrees,  has also whipped up some of the hysteria over the virus.  He has not been as much of a fear monger as some of the vocal Democrats, like NY Governor Cuomo of New York, but Trump caved more and more to the doctors, who were wrong about the AIDS epidemic, predicting millions of Americans would die, and that it would spread beyond homosexuals and drug users to the general population, when that proved mostly wrong too.  Why rely on those who were wront in the past?  Why rely on such alarmists like Dr. Anthony Fauci?  Trump was snookered by the Medicrats.  And when Trump declared he favored giving each citizen $1,000, I was stunned.  I had voted for Trump in 2016.  Suddenly I felt instead, I had elected Democrat Andrew Yang, whose signature policy while running for the Democratic nomination of President in 2020 was to give each American $1,000 a week.

     Trump has been infected - not by the virus, but by Democratic Party and Medicrat madness.
The media, Democratic and GOP leaders, including Trump, have denounced Kentucky Republican Representative Massie, who demanded that the House of Representatives hold a real vote, not a voice vote, on this most crucial legislation.  Massie was right to do so.  THOMAS MASSIE IS A HERO.

     Meanwhile, 27 March 2020, with enactment of this horrible 2 trillion dollar legislative package, will be seen as the beginning of the end of the America that the world has known.  How long before massive inflation destroys the American middle class and the whole economy?  America is now on a cruise ship to Weimar Germany, 1923 where one required a wheel barrel full of Reichsmarks to purchase some groceries.  Will we be paying $1,000 for some toilet paper?  Or will we be using the useless dollars to wipe up the mess?  The mess that began 27 March 2020.
      March 27, 2020 - a very sad day in history.
      Hugh Murray