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Saturday, July 15, 2017

A GOOD GUIDE TO MODERN CHINA

THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO MODERN CHINA (Indianapolis, IN: Alpha Books, 2002)
By Vanessa Lide Whitcomb and Michael Brown
Rev. by Hugh Murray
            This is a good, short guide to China’s long history.  But there are problems.  In a chapter on the “Lay of the Land,” the authors include much essential description of the vast and varied areas of China.  However, the one map is utterly inadequate, with no markings for major rivers, the great wall, the grand canal, or the size of territories included within major historical dynasties.  Next, there seems to be a left-leaning bias – thus (p. 266) “ the Korean war broke out,” rather than the North’s leader Kim Il Sung had received Stalin’s permission to invade the southern half of the peninsula.  The authors twice quote Owen Lattimore (44, 51) not because his words were so incisive, but as a way to reject the Cold War Republican charges that Lattimore and other “progressive” authorities who bashed Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-Shek, may have helped Mao Zedong and the Communists seize power in China after WWII.  Indeed, the book devotes only one page to the civil war between Chiang and Mao that followed WWII.
            Interesting also is their treatment of the “Hundred Flowers Debacle.” (141)  The authors vacillate on the sincerity of Mao’s call to let a hundred flowers bloom, “to let a hundred schools of thought contend” for what should be the best policies for China, following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China by the victorious Communist forces in 1949.  When many scholars and intellectuals responded with open criticism of the Party and of Mao during the blooming flowers campaign of 1956-57, Mao suddenly reversed his policy and the Communist Party cracked down.  Soon “some 300,000 intellectuals were denounced, their lives and careers ruined.  Others, not so fortunate, were executed.”  The authors wonder if Mao was sincere in calling for free speech, or simply using his call for openness as a ploy to expose and entrap dissidents.(141)
            The History Channel in 2016 telecast a special on Mao, and it asserted that when the Long March was completed, and Mao’s residue forces finally reached Yanan, the Left was already dominant in the area.  But it was less organized, more student centered, more tolerant.  Mao planned to change that.  His military took control and he imposed more “discipline” on the area.  Then he urged criticism, and a wall of public announcements and critiques was suddenly plastered with suggested improvements and criticism of Mao’s policies.  Mao discovered the main critic, had him arrested, and was there when his men began their lessons on the imprisoned young critic.  For starters, they began by bending his knee in ways that are unnatural but cause incredible pain.  Then they tortured him in ways to inflict ever more pain.  Finally, they killed him.  When word got out, criticism of Mao ceased.  The implementation may have been original to Mao, but the process can be traced back to Lenin and the early days of the Communist state.  The Communists had asked author Maxim Gorki with help in organizing a large gathering of Russian authors and intellectuals.  Gorki did so.  Soon, many of the participants were arrested by the Bolshevik government.  When Gorki complained, Lenin quoted Gorki’s own words that intellectuals were often “irresponsible,” and how the new state could not afford such irresponsibility by bourgeois intellectuals but required instead those who could speak for the workers.  Mao’s flowers, like those of Lenin earlier, seemed to bloom and quickly wilt, at die, in prison.
            There are some errors in this book.  Not in 2002 when it was published, and not even now in 2017, is the population of China 3.4 billion!(6)  The population then was more like 1.4 billion.  The authors got something else backward – China is a huge importer, NOT exporter, of chicken feet.(273)  The authors appear wrong in their prediction: “By fits and starts the process of [North and South Korean] unification seems to be underway.”(238)  While the authors rightly credit Chinese with many inventions, the authors can exaggerate: “The invention of paper [by the Chinese] had a profound influence on the world.  Prior to its existence, parchment was the only writing material available…”(105)  Wrong.  Papyrus scrolls had filled the shelves of the Library of Alexandria and other places.  We all use initials and other forms to save time and space.  I suspect one of the authors used “CM” to mean one thing; and the other mistook the meaning.  So the book notes that in 1848 Karl Marx published “The Common Man.” (43)  In 1848 Marx published The Communist Manifesto.  And one can dispute the number of Chinese who died in various social engineering experiments by the Communists under Mao – 20 million?  Or 50 million?
            Strangely missing from the book is mention of Mao’s policy that pre-dated the well-known “one-child policy” of his successors.  As Mao pondered the possibility of nuclear war against the capitalist nations, or even against the USSR, he believed that China could survive if its population were large enough.  Thus, large families were encouraged.  Later, his successors sought to raise the standard of living, in part, by imposing the one-child policy, at least on urban dwellers.  Missing entirely from the discussion of the WWII era are the different types of experiences  - as few Chinese resided in Mao’s Communist-run areas of China, more in Chiang’s Nationalist China, whose temporary capital was Chungqing, while probably the largest number of Chinese then resided under Japanese occupation: in Manchukuo, and in Wang Jing-wei’s “Reorganized” Chinese government located it Nanjing (a collaborationist government like Marshall Petain’s in France.), and in other Japanese occupied areas of China.  On the other hand the authors report that when the terra cotta soldiers of the ancient emperor Qin were discovered during the Cultural Revolution, Zhou EnLai ordered they be reburied; he feared the Red Guard fanatics of the Cultural Revolution would destroy them.  He ordered, rebury them to save them.(148)
            The authors do make some important conclusions.  China’s efforts in WWII were important for the Allies.  “The bulk of the Chinese fighting had been done by Chiang’s forces, while the communists stayed on the sidelines and built party solidarity.”(127)  The authors calculate that during WWII, 1.3 million Chinese were killed, and another 130,000 missing, for a total 1.43 killed and presumed dead.(127)  Mao had many plans for China, and he and the CCP implemented the Great Leap Forward, to industrialize the nation and collectivize the peasantry.  The result was a man-made famine, 1959-61, in which “it is estimated that as many as 20 million Chinese people starved to death.”(144)  In 1976, with the deaths of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, Deng Xioaping defeated “the Gang of 4” to succeed Mao.  “Deng took over the government of a country that had just lost 30 million people to famine and the purges of the Cultural Revolution.”(155)  Some anti-communist estimates of the cost of Mao’s egalitarian efforts range up to 50 million Chinese killed.  With such a high cost for “equality,” might China have fared better under Chiang Kai-Shek and the Nationalists?  Or even by making a deal with the Japanese, as sought by Wang Jing-wei and his “Reorganized,” collaborationist government?

Despite a few errors, one can learn much from this fast-paced guide to China.   A

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

MY PROVOCATIVE CLASS

     When I wrote the review of the Garrison book, I mentioned that I taught a Sunday School class in 1960-61.  Upon reflection, that was a very good class, I thought.  I taught a small group of high school students.  We began with Plato's Republic.  Because they did not have the book, and they were not going to do homework, I would have one, and then another, read some of the dialog in Books 1 and 2 of the Republic.  The question was, 'What is Justice?". but it could easily be reformed into what is righteousness?  what is the good?  The book begins with rather simple definitions, that Socrates quickly shows these to be contradictory.  Then more complex definitions.  And then the question of why bother with this, because justice and righteousness is simply the interest of the stronger.  From there I knew the rest of the book would take too long to present Plato's answer to some of these challenges, so I tried to sum up his position.
     Next in class we read the book of  Job, or much of it.  This poses the question, what can happen to the just or righteous person?  It is poetic, and not necessarily rational, but interesting.
     Finally we read only one chapter of Dostoievski's Brothers Karamazov - The Grand Inquisitor chapter.  It is a story within the novel and can stand alone.  The point is, do people want righteousness?  Or truth? When they can have magic and mystery instead/
     At the time I thought it was an excellent and thought-provoking class.  I still tstand by that observation.
      I had an eye operation 2 days ago and my sight is not yet that good.  Please excuse any typing errors.  Hugh Murray

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A TRAIL WORTH TAKING

ON THE TRAIL OF THE ASSASSINS: ONE MAN’S QUEST TO SOLVE THE MURDER OF
PRESIDENT KENNEDY (New York, Skyhorse Publishing ed,, 2012; d. 1988)
By JIM GARRISON
Rev. by Hugh Murray
            Why review a book published in 1988?  Because it is pertinent today.  Today in America we witness most of the major media engaged in an attempt to discredit President Trump: CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc., with news anchors and journalists determined to “expose” the exaggerations, distortions, bigotry, hatreds, ignorance, bullying, his hostility to women, to minorities, etc.  Trump is the deplorable President elected by the Deplorables of America.  Will the media succeed in taking Trump down?  Recall what they did to New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison when he challenged the Establishment by charging businessman Clay Shaw with conspiring to assassinate President John Kennedy.
            Garrison had to contend with hostile reports from NBC, CBS, the Saturday Evening Post, Newsweek, the New York Times, and the other major media of that day.  While Garrison once appeared on NBC’s The Tonight Show with host Johnny Carson (in a most unfunny and hostile interview), Trump was essentially called a c*** sucker by Stephen Colbert on CBS’s The Late Show, and comedienne Kathy Griffin posed with a severed head with the bloodied face of Trump.  (Does Griffin laugh when she watches footage of the shooting of Kennedy in Dallas?)  In late May 2017 CNN telecast a 2-hour special on the John Kennedy assassination.  About the last half hour was devoted to the Garrison case against Clay Shaw, and though Warren Commission critic Mark Lane and DA Garrison made brief appearances, the thrust was that Garrison had no real evidence of conspiracy.  When Shaw was found not guilty by the jury, the program used the verdict to vindicate the findings of the Warren Commission that Oswald had alone killed Kennedy.  While Garrison was merely the DA of a major city, Trump is President, and therefore has more powers to defend himself.  Or does he?  Think JFK.
            Jim Garrison has written an excellent book concerning his attempt to expose the conspiracy that led to John Kennedy’s killing.  Garrison does make some strange omissions, however, but overall, his is a persuasive work.
            In late November 1963 I noticed a short article in a local newspaper, probably the States-Item, stating that David Ferrie had been arrested in connection with the recent Kennedy assassination in Dallas.  Could it be the same Ferrie?  Surely, there could not be two people in New Orleans with that weird name.  I clipped the article and sent it to my old roommate, Oliver St Pe.  In the summer of 1960 we were the two white New Orleanians (along with 6 Blacks) who attended a CORE training institute in Miami.  Among those teaching us the methods of non-violence for racial change were Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (who that August was off-the-record supporting Kennedy and the Democrats in that presidential election year); baseball legend Jackie Robinson (then openly endorsing Richard Nixon and the Republicans against the Democrats), and others who had experience in civil rights activism.  As part of our training, we tested various facilities, and in one test Oliver was arrested for sitting at a table with Blacks at Shell’s City Super Market.  He was released in a day or two, and appeared on a national television news program about CORE.  A few weeks later, we all returned home,-  and a week after that, with 5 Blacks and another white, I was arrested in the first lunch-counter sit-in in New Orleans.  The new census figures were not out yet, so New Orleans was still listed as the largest city in the South, more populous than Miami, Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas, and Houston.  Because of the arrest, I had to move from my parents’ home, and Oliver, living in a suburb, wanted to reside closer to his university.  I was a graduate student in history at Tulane; he was a senior majoring in sociology at Loyola U. (which was just next door to Tulane).  We found an inexpensive apartment, and roomed together for the school year 1960-61.
            Not until we roomed together did I become aware that Oliver was legally blind.  Although I had graduated and he was a senior, he was about 2 years older than I.  He had dropped out of school for a time as a youth, and had had troubles adjusting.  He was probably on the path to what was then called delinquency, but was saved with the help of others.  A cousin taught him the trade of an electrician, and much later, at Loyola, Father Fichte gave Oliver academic direction in perceiving, analyzing, and changing society.  But long before Loyola, and most important, to get Oliver back on track, back in school, so he might even consider university, Oliver joined the Civil Air Patrol, where he was greatly impressed by and influenced by David Ferrie.
            I worked at the Tulane U. Library on weekends, so Oliver and I did not share a social life.  Sundays he attended Roman Catholic Mass, and on other occasions volunteered to instruct in Catholic doctrine; I taught Sunday school at the Unitarian Church (Plato’s Republic, Job, Dostoevsky, etc.).  In the week I might earn extra small sums by reading to Oliver some of his text-book assignments.  One day he said that the forthcoming weekend he was going to a party at his old friend’s home.  He noted that he had not seen David Ferrie in awhile, and looked forward to seeing him again.  After that weekend, when I saw Oliver again, I asked, how was the party?  “Oh, Dave was playing soldier.”  Oliver added that there were many military types were at the gathering.  This would have been in spring 1961, about the time of the Bay of Pigs invasion.  I never met Ferrie, but Oliver stressed that he was very intelligent, even involved in cancer research.  I never met him, but with such a name, I did not forget David Ferrie.  At the end of May 1961 our lease ended, Oliver graduated from Loyola, and we went our separate ways.
            When I clipped the small article in November 1963 that mentioned the arrest of Ferrie in connection to the assassination, I sent it to Oliver who no longer resided in New Orleans.  Oliver was working for the Agency for International Development in Laos, a new nation sharing a long border with North Vietnam.  Garrison quotes John Gilligan, Dir. Of AID under Pres. Jimmy Carter, stating that the organization was infiltrated by the CIA from top to bottom.(pp. 62. 315)  Oliver later told me he knew of some CIA people in Laos, but he never said he himself was one.  I knew Oliver as a good Roman Catholic, kind, straight (hetero), almost a saintly man.  In later years he became active in the disability movement, and a building is named for him on a university campus in New Orleans.
            David Ferrie and the Civil Air Patrol were performing their function – training young people into capable, patriotic citizens in the 1950s.  Did Ferrie perform the same function for Lee Oswald?  Historian Larry Haapanen found that if Oswald had had a boy, he would have named him David Lee Oswald.(Joan Mellen, Farewell to Justice, pp. 43, 397)  Oswald had only daughters.  But one of Oliver’s sons was named David.
            Garrison ignores all links between Oswald and Ferrie in the CAP.  Garrison writes: “…the real Lee Harvey Oswald?  It seemed to me that the best way to find out was to go back and study Oswald’s short but varied career.”(44)  But the next page Garrison is researching Oswald in the marines.  Yet, some allege that the man who may be most responsible for pushing Oswald toward enlisting in the marines was David Ferrie.
            There are other strange omissions.  After being elected District Attorney in late 1961, and sworn in in 1962, Garrison’s office became known for its anti-vice activities.  He writes how his investigations struck at “strip joints, gambling operations, and other racketeer activities… B-drinking joints… closed down the last house of prostitution in New Orleans [and] ended the lottery operation.”(128)  What Garrison fails to write is that his office engaged in anti-gay round-ups of single men who might simply be walking on the street in the wrong part of the French Quarter, or too near one of “those” bars.  Long before the arrest of Clay Shaw, Garrison had earned the enmity of many gay New Orleanians.  Indeed, American Grotesque, a large, very hostile book about the Garrison probe was written by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner, James Kirkwood, best known for writing the book for The Chorus Line.  Kirkwood simply viewed the Shaw trial as a show trial, an anti-gay witch hunt.
            According to Kirkwood and others, Garrison was simply using general antipathy to gays to convict Shaw.  But it was not only negative stereotypes.  A friend assured me Shaw could not possibly be involved in the murderous conspiracy because he was a homosexual!  I assume she meant gays were too flighty, too superficial, too weak, too incompetent, to partake in a murderous conspiracy.  Of course, Shaw was capable enough to lead the International Trade Mart in New Orleans, quite an accomplishment in itself.  He served in the army in WWII, and ended as a major, and he won medals from three nations for his service.  Today, there is no doubt he had some connections to the CIA.
            When Garrison discusses New Orleans Atty. Dean Andrews, he begins with the testimony from the Warren Commission in which Andrews related that shortly after the assassination of Kennedy in Dallas, Andrews received a phone call from Clay Bertrand asking Andrews to defend Oswald.  Garrison neglects to mention that Oswald, while in New Orleans, had gone to the office of Andrews to ask for help in changing his dishonorable discharge from the marines; at the time Oswald was accompanied by several gay Latinos.  Through much of his book, Garrison avoids use of the phrase “gay bars,” preferring euphemisms such as “some bars deep in the French Quarter, or ”raffish bars.”(83, 117)  He writes of the Golden Lantern, Dixie’s, and the Galley House without mentioning that these were gay bars.(117, 119)  Only later in the book does Garrison specifically speak of gays and homosexuals.
            There is no doubt that the Establishment strongly opposed the Garrison probe.  The day after Garrison arrested Shaw for conspiracy in the murder of Kennedy, the US Attorney General, Ramsey Clark, almost immediately spoke before the news cameras and declared that the Federal government had already investigated and exonerated Shaw.  A newsman then “asked Clark directly if Shaw was checked out and found clear?  ‘Yes, that’s right.’”(149)  Suddenly, many people were wondering why and when the federals had investigated Shaw concerning Dallas.  Clark’s comments only added to the speculation surrounding Shaw.  On 4 September 1967 Chief Justice Earl Warren spoke asserting that Garrison had “produced absolutely nothing” to overturn the findings of the Warren Commission.(160)  Of course, at that time, the trial had not yet begun.  The national media mocked Garrison’s efforts more.
            Garrison alleges that 1) an oilman sought to bribe Garrison to drop the investigation of the Kennedy murder; 2) that Ferrie and Shaw tried to hire a hitman to kill Garrison; and 3) on a trip there was an attempt to entrap Garrison in an airport toilet with a gay man – aiming to discredit Garrison and his probe.  The evidence on all 3 of these seems flimsy, and may be paranoid fantasy.  Or not.  Garrison also maintains that several years after the loss of the Shaw case, the federals brought a trumped up charge of corruption against him in the midst of his campaign for re-election in 1973.  There is no mention in this book of an allegation that occurred in summer of 1969, after the Shaw trial defeat.  A male teenager claimed that Garrison fondled him at the NOAC, but despite articles about the alleged incident by national columnist Jack Anderson, the boy’s family never pressed the issue to court and Garrison was never convicted on such a charge.
            This Garrison book makes clear – it is not easy to take on the federal government.  Some of the episodes he includes may have been stories of crazy people (like Spiesel, who seemed good enough to place on the witness stand, and then under cross-examination, appeared like a total lunatic.  (I was in the courtroom, and like most spectators, found it difficult to hold back laughter at the man the more he spoke about people getting his eye and making him impotent, and fingerprinting his daughter when she returned from college to make sure it was really her, the less credence he had.  The Garrison effort suffered greatly by placing Spiesel under oath as a witness for the prosecution.)  So too in this book, one may read some of the episodes with a grain of salt; there were crazies who went to Garrison; there were infiltrators from the feds inside his camp, and some of his suspicions may have seeped into paranoia.  Recall the cliché: even paranoids have enemies, especially when one takes on the feds.  However, there is no doubt that Garrison’s expose of some of the background of Oswald in New Orleans, and of events in Dallas, did much to demolish the myth propounded by the Warren Commission.
            Because of the Garrison probe, we learned – from the sworn testimony by one of the doctors who performed the autopsy on Pres. Kennedy at Bethesda hospital, that the doctors performing the autopsy were not in charge of the autopsy.  They were not permitted to give Kennedy a proper examination.  Under oath!  Under cross examination, Lt. Col. Pierre Finck was asked if he had probed the neck wound of Pres. Kennedy all the way through.  No, he did not.  Why not?  He was ordered not to.  Who ordered that?  There were many generals and admirals in the room, and he was only a lt. col., so he followed orders.  Those with higher ranks were not physicians.  Dr. Finck had been a defense witness.  Finck’s testimony revealed what a sham the Kennedy autopsy was.  Also at the trial, Americans got to view the Zapruder film for the first time in years so one could judge for oneself which way the President moved when hit by the head shot.  We learned from CORE workers on the Left and white townspeople on the Right in Clinton, Louisiana, that Oswald was in town in 1963 most likely in the company of David Ferrie and Clay Shaw.  That Oswald in New Orleans that summer hung out at the office of Guy Banister, former FBI, and staunch anti-communist and anti-Castro activist.  According to Garrison, Oswald was merely pretending to be a Marxist, but was really involved with the right-wing, anti-Castro groups who circulated with Ferrie and Banister.
            Though the federal government had its major media minions to bolster the Warren Report, lone gunman theory, there was more freedom in the local New Orleans media.  I recall watching on the local news channel Atty. Dean Andrews being interviewed.  I don’t recall the exact question, but something like, “Was Clay Shaw the same as Bertrand?”  “I can’t answer that,” Andrews replied in his jivey manner.  In different words, the same question was again put to Andrews.  Now he snapped, “If they can kill the President, they can squash me like a roach.”  Also on local TV we could see the FBI man (probably William Walter) who revealed that a telex came into the local FBI office warning of an attempt to kill Kennedy in Dallas, just a few days before the assassination.  He said the same telex was sent to FBI offices round the country, but nothing was done.(Garrison writes the telex came in 17 November 1963, pp. xiii, 222)  But outside New Orleans, Walter probably was not invited on local TV, and certainly not on the national networks.  In NO, on talk radio one could hear callers discuss the weapons they had seen stored in Banister’s office, his anti-Castro activities, etc.
            When the NO jury acquitted Shaw of conspiracy, the national media celebrated and relaxed.  The emphasis was that there was nothing to the charges against Shaw to begin with.  With the jury’s verdict, the witch hunt was over!  All could now understand now how Garrison was thoroughly discredited.  Warren Commission critic Mark Lane interviewed all of those jurors after the verdict.  They assured him, there was simply not enough evidence to convict Shaw.  Yet, all of them were also convinced that a conspiracy had resulted in the murder of Kennedy in Dallas.(251)  Most New Orleanians and about 2/3s of the nation continue to reject the Establishment theory that Oswald did it alone, despite all the TV programs propping up the official line.
            Garrison had convicted Dean Andrews of perjury, and planned to get Shaw on the same charge, because under oath Shaw had denied ever meeting Ferrie.  But with the loss of the main case against Shaw, the local press demanded that Garrison resign his office, and publicity against Garrison grew.  1969 was another election year, and a teen was now alleging that Garrison had molested him.  A Federal judge enjoined Garrison from prosecuting Shaw for perjury.  Despite all the bad publicity, despite losing the big case against Shaw, Garrison was re-elected to a 3rd term as DA – 81,000 to 61,000.(253)
            In 1973 when Garrison prepared to run for his 4th term, the Nixon Administration’s Justice Dept. filed charges of corruption against Garrison.  His Republican opponent was considered Mr. Clean.  Garrison was in court defending himself and was unable to campaign.  The press contrasted Mr. Clean with Mr. Corrupt.  The jury found Garrison not guilty, but he felt he had little time left to campaign.  Garrison lost his bid for re-election by 2,000 votes.  Garrison does not mention the name of his victorious opponent in 1973, but today people throughout the world might recognize the name – Harry Connick, Sr., father of the singer, musician, actor, and TV host, HC, Jr.  While at it, Youtube has a number of videos that seem to indicate one of the Latinos distributing pro-Castro, Fair Play for Cuba Comm. leaflets along with Oswald in New Orleans in 1963 was the father of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.  (Reinforcing the notion that the NO FPCC was not a left-wing, but an anti-Castro operation.)
            Garrison’s book is not a catalog of all the discrepancies that can be found in the Warren Commission’s theory.  It is the story of Garrison’s own initial acceptance of the Warren version of events.  However, the more he studied Oswald’s actions in New Orleans, the more he read and heard witnesses from Dallas, the more Garrison was convinced a conspiracy had killed Kennedy.  When Garrison sought to probe further, the federals, the media, the Establishment, obstructed, smeared, used the resources of the major media, the esteem of the Chief Justice, the prestige of the Attorney General, and all the lesser lights to dismiss, to mock, to infiltrate his investigation, to use hostile judges, to refuse to extradite important witnesses, generally to derail and destroy his case against Shaw.
            Through all this, Garrison stands out as a very brave and intelligent man.  Sometimes he was guilty of hubris, “Oh, I certainly solved the case,” and other overblown statements.  Like the tweets of Trump, Garrison’s “certainty” caused some to view him as bombastic and without substance.  A more modest beginning might have helped him, part of the way.  But once he took on the feds – and not just the CIA; once he took on the Establishment (CIA, FBI, Warren, and the lesser stars), it was inevitable there would be the Establishment’s revenge, aimed at destroying him.

            All Americans should rejoice that we have patriotic, truth-seeking individuals, willing to risk all, like the late Jim Garrison, New Orleans DA.        

Monday, June 5, 2017

ON ISLAMIC TERROR IN LONDON

      Those who assert that we do not need walls, we need bridges, must understand that Islamic terrorists can more readily kill on bridges.  Just look at the other night's terrorism on London Bridge.
      London's Mayor Khan is upset by Pres. Trump's tweet which criticized the Mayor for urging Londoners not to be alarmed.  Khan was sufficiently disgusted with Trump, so the Mayor declared that if the American President traveled to the UK capital he would not receive the red-carpet treatment.  I suspect the real reason is that that carpet is still wet with the blood of the victims of Islamic terrorists.  Khan refuses to call them such; Trump calls a spade a spade.
     Hugh Murray

Sunday, June 4, 2017

WHY AMERICA'S CITIES ENDURE VIOLENCE AND CRIME

WILL MILWAUKEE MANNEY UP?
Mary Spicuzza reports a $2.3 million settlement has been approved in the Dontre Hamilton case (MJS – June 1, 2017, p. 3A)  We should forget the handsome picture of Dontre that has been shown now for years on local TV.  Dontre had mental problems. He was unarmed in the park across the street from City Hall, but he weighed nearly 300 pounds.  Someone must have alerted police that day, and a police officer came, found no problem, and left.  Another complaint. A 2nd officer came, saw nothing wrong, and left.   A 3rd complaint. Officer Christopher Manney came, decided to pat down the very large man with mental problems.  Hamilton grabbed the police man’s baton.  A very large man with a baton could be deadly.    Manney shot and killed him.
 Suppose Hamilton had been armed? Suppose he had shot a city councilman, or the mayor?  Would Manney have been fired for not doing his duty in keeping the area safe? How menacing was the 300-pounder?  Were you a cop, what would you do?
Mayor Barrett, officially a non-partisan, but a former member of Congress and liberal Democrat, is embarrassed that so many young Black males in Milwaukee are incarcerated.  He shows no anger that so many engage in criminal activity to get themselves jailed.  Chief of Police Flynn, another white liberal, knew what to do to reduce tensions - he fired Officer Manney!
That did not satisfy the Hamiltons. They led protests blocking traffic and were joined by other left-wingers: Occupy, Black Lives Matter, etc.  They violated the city laws marching through the rush-hour streets, blocking traffic.  When they got to the highways, Sheriff David Clarke. A Black Democrat who supported Trump for President, arrested them as they blocked the roads.  Bottom line - Officer Manney did his job, and was fired and humiliated.  A large man with mental problems, refused to be patted down, and grabbed for the policeman's baton (a weapon). Dontre was rightly shot, and killed.  For his criminal act, the City of Milwaukee's politicians grant over $2 million to the Hamilton family.  Lesson – in Milwaukee crime pays..

Hugh Murray

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

THE MUGGING - PART 2

In October 2016 I was mugged some 2 blocks from where I live.  I described the incident on this blog onhttp://hughmurray.blogspot.com/2016_10_01_archive.html   Now I want to describe what happened after the mugging.  Hugh Murray

MUGGING – Part 2

            In the following week or two, I had to return to the hospitals for follow-up visits..  In the end, my eyesight seemed no worse that it had been before the attack.  I had to pay about $600 for various medical bills, while Medicare (one advantage of being old – I am 78 years old) paid about $9,000 to the Emergency Rooms for me.

            I tried not to let the mugging destroy what was left of my life.  I had already booked a trip to Taiwan for December 2016, went there, and saw one of my former students from mainland China who is now studying international law in Taiwan.  She showed me around the northern part of the island and made the visit worthwhile for me.

            While the Detective Michael Martin, originally suspected that the license plate jotted down by spectators to the mugging, would merely reveal a stolen vehicle – such was not the case.  Through the license plate number, he learned that the girl friend of the mugger was in the get-away car, along with a male who had driven the culprit to safety.  They gave him up.  He was a 20-year-old Kasadine G. Smith.  A court date was set for him in January 2017; I arrived before 8am, though the court room did not open till 8:30.  I had already been in contact with Natalie Nguyen, who works with crime victims as part of the District Attorney’s office.  She arrived, and soon there was the regular bussle as the court began to move toward opening.  I had been told that a plea-deal had been agreed upon between the prosecution and defense, so it would be all over this day.  After the buzz and discussions, Natalie informed me that the defense attorney had requested a delay, so nothing would happen this day, and Mr. Smith would not even appear.  I left the court room disappointed because it was not over yet.
            I had noticed air fares to Asia continued to decline.  I decided to go – booking a return flight from Chicago to Vietnam for $590 with insurance.  This would not happen until 3 April through 19 April.  I informed Natalie, because if there were a trial, I would be needed to testify.  I wanted her to know I would not be available during those dates.  Smith’s next court appearance was set for March.  For that, my appearance was not required.  Another plea-deal.  I did not attend, but nothing was accomplished, for another delay was requested.  In early April, a friend drove me from my apartment to the train station, where I took a bus for nearly 3 hours to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, then a few hours of checking luggage, going through security, and then the 14-hour flight to Seoul, South Korea, then more security and board another plane for a 6-hour flight to Vietnam.  About 2 hours to get my visa stamped and go through customs, and finally a taxi to the hotel.  But the trip was worth it – beautiful Halong Bay with its “thousand islands,” Hanoi, and finally Saigon.  There was no English-language news on the TV in the hotel, so I had no idea what was happening, except for the many soccer games on TV, games from the English Premier League, the Bundis Liga, the Spanish League, even VN teams.  Away from the news for 2 weeks, on the return flight to Seoul, I wondered if war had broken out with North Korea.  Happily, not.

            I arrived back in Milwaukee the night of 19 April, and listened to voice mail on my phone.  There were 2 messages from the Asst. DA now handling the Smith case.  She had phoned me while I was in VN to tell me a deal had been made about the Smith case.  The next day I called the number she had left on my phone, and urged her to call me.  I called her again the following day, and left a message to call me.  Then I called Natalie, the representative of victims, who urged me not to call again.  There would be a court date on 11 May to finalize everything.  I was not required to attend, as it was not a trial but for the judge to accept or reject the plea-deal.  What I had understood on the voice mail from the Asst. DA was that Smith would do not time, but be on probation for several years.  The more I pondered this, the more I wanted to attend the court proceeding and make a statement.

            On Thursday 11 May 2017, I woke at 6 am (as I night owl, I usually go to bed at 2am), went through the court house security before 8, and was one of the first into the court when the chamber opened at 8:30.  Natalie came early, and I was embarrassed when I did  not recognize her, but my eyesight is poor.  She introduced me to the Assistant DA who was now handling the case.  I was happy to finally meet her and discuss the case.  She explained to me what she would be asking for, but it would be up to the judge to accept or reject her recommendation.  I wanted to know if Smith would have to do any time, because as I had understood the voice mail, he would only be placed on probation.  No, she said.  She was asking for 18 months in jail, which translates into an 8-month sentence.  There would be 5-years’ probation, restitution of the nearly $600 which I had had to pay in medical bills, and a “no contact” order (between Smith and me).  One of the reasons I was there to make a statement was that I had assumed, wrongly, that he would be let out on the street without doing any time.  Nevertheless, I still wanted to make a statement.

            All the other cases were heard first.  Those defendants, singly would enter the courtroom, cuffed, and in jail uniforms.  In each case, the defendant had agreed to a plea deal, pleading guilty.  The judge addressed the defendant – did he understand that this would mean his loss of the right to vote and other rights of citizens.  In each case, the defendant acknowleged he understood what the judge was detailing.  The defense attorney sometimes added an explanation, but the plea deals had already been agreed to so the sentencing was almost perfunctory, and the cases were quickly closed.  Finally, the case of K. G. Smith was called.  He did not enter from the area of the incarcerated defendants.  Indeed, I was surprised when I realized he was seated a few rows behind Natalie and me in the courtroom.  I am unsure I would have recognized him, had he not been called.  His skin seemed darker, and he looked stockier than I recalled.

            The ADA spoke first, recounting the events of the case.  I learned several new facts about the case in her presentation: in the struggle between K. Smith and myself, his cell phone had been broken.  I laughed to myself – for it had been broken when he him me in the face with it!  She assured the judge that K G Smith had not previous record, and as he was only 20-years old, he also had not previous juvenile records, either.  His girl friend, who had been in the get-away car, was expecting his child in 4 months.  And on the day of the mugging, before he sought money from he, he had lost his job.

            Next, I was called to present my statement.  First, I wanted to thank many involved in the case, such as Detective Michael Martin who apprehended the assailant, and a Marquette U. police officer who raced to the scene, causing Smith to cease his attempt to get into my pockets and jump into the car, to thank the others who also came to the scene.  I had no idea of their names, not could I identify them, between my poor eyesight, and my bleeding eyebrow and eye lid and face when they arrived.  And it was the by-standers who spotted and jotted down the license plate of the get-away car.  Many people rushed to halt a crime.  And it was through the license plate that Det. Martin was able to trace the mugger.

            When the detective first questioned Smith, he alleged that the cause of the altercation was that I had used a racial slur.  That was not true.  I brought with me a portion of the Congressional Record, 27 February 2017 – the remarks of Congressman Cedric Richmond, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and the remarks were for Black History Month 2017.  Richmond spoke of civil rights in his home town, New Orleans, which is my home town, too.  He spoke about the very first sit-in in New Orleans in 1960 and the 7 who participated.  He mentioned their names – and mine was one of those names.  Cong. Richmond said that the 7 were freedom fighters, and much rests upon their shoulders.  My shoulders too.  Of course, before we sat-in, we were tained – in the summer of 1960.  One of our teachers, trainers, was Martin Luther King, Jr., who at that time was, off the record, supporting the Democrats and John Kennedy in that year’s presidential election.  On another day, we had another teacher, Jackie Robinson, the first Black to play in major league baseball, what was then the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Most are unaware that Robinson had been involved in civil rights, even when in the army, in the South during WWII.  Because he refused to abide by local laws on a bus, he was nearly court-martialed.  In the summer of 1960 he was teaching us how to partake in civil rights.  He was also supporting the Republicans and Richard Nixon for President in the election.  Training was not that unusual.  Even Rosa Parks had been trained before she refused to relinquish her seat on a bus in Montgomery, causing the major boycott of the 1950s.
            As a result of the sit-in mentioned by Cong. Richmond, I became a convicted felon in 1960 when I was 21-years old.  There had been 7 of us in that sit-in, 5 Blacks and 2 whites.  When we went to court and sat together beside our Black attorneys, the judge threatened us with contempt of court for messing up, integrating his court.  After a number of years, out cases reached the US Supreme Court and out convitions were reversed.  On October 22, 2016, I did not use a racial slur.

            The Emergency Rooms cost me about $600, but the cost to Medicade was $9,000.  Will there be any money left in Medicare when you (pointing to the Asst. DA) retire?  Or when the defendant retires?  Crime is costly.

            Finally, I have lived for several years in China, in German, and in Scotland.  I was never physically attacked by natives of those countries.

            A society that does not punish crime, encourages crime.

            Snith’s sister then was called to the stand by the defence.  She stressed how he helped her with her children, and was a good brother who had never before done anything like this.  The defense attorney then asked for slight modifications in the plea deal – that Smith be allowed time to go to the hospital when his girl friend had their baby.

            Judge Pedro Colon made a concluding statement.  He understood the young man had just lost his job, and had no previous record, but he used violence against an elderly citizen.  Judge Colon also spoke of the high cost of crime, and though he was willing to allow time to attend Smith’s girl friend when the baby came, still he was imposing the sentence suggested by the ADA, which included time in jail and then probation and restitution and a no-contact order.  Case closed.

            Smith now exited from a different door, to go to the jail.  I was surprised when his defense attorney came to me and shook my hand.

            I am glad I made the statement, and so thankful to all who helped in this case.  I am glad it is OVER.  It has been a dark cloud over me for more than 6 months.  And after, I was emotionally drained, reading and writing less.  Emotional pain.  Hugh Murray




Tuesday, May 23, 2017

SMOTHERED BY QUOTATION MARKS?

     Sheriff David Clarke, an elected Democrat for Milwaukee County, is often in conflict with the Mayor, a white liberal Democrat, and his appointed Chief of Police, a white who is probably liberal too.  Clarke is a Democrat, a Black but also for law and order.  He opposes gun control efforts and has urged the law-abiding to try to protect themselves.  He spoke at the 2016 GOP Convention and supported Republican Donald Trump for President.  Most Milwaukee Left-winger despise him.  On Sunday 21 May 2017 the Milw. Journal Sentinel ran an article discussing Clarke's "plagiarism", which I discuss below.  --  Hugh Murray

             In his article, “Clarke accused of plagiarism,” (Sun. 21 May 2017, p. 17A) John Fauber discusses the latest charge against Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke.  Fauber quotes the original CNN story, which conceded: “In all instances…Clarke credits [his sources] with a footnote, but does not indicate with quotation marks that he is taking the words verbatim.”  Clarke thus failed to conform to academic rules by omitting quotation marks.  Should Clarke be barred from a post with the Dept. of Homeland Security because he missed the marks?
            When it comes to plagiarism, there is little doubt that Rev. Martin Luther King plagiarized large parts of his doctoral dissertation.  No one noted it at the time.  Did anyone outside of his committee even read King’s dissertation back then?  Today, does anyone beside the small number on the academic committees ever read the dissertations and theses?  (Science and math dissertations may be the exception where new experimental knowledge can be advanced within dissertations.) 
            Should King have been barred from leading the Montgomery bus boycott movement because he had plagiarized?  Of course, not.  At that time, no one was aware of the plagiarism, but had they known, so what?  Today, we judge King not on his plagiarism – or other human failings – but on his great strength and courage to stand up for freedom when much of the government was adhered to oppression.  Indeed, it is only after King became prominent that anyone bothered to read and analyze his dissertation to discover plagiarism.
            Clarke should not be judged on his missing quotation marks – unless he is applying for a post to teach academic writing.  If CNN were not liberal, and Clarke not conservative, would CNN have bothered to dissect Clarke’s thesis?  (When Obama became President, many of his records, grades, and papers were removed from public scrutiny.  How would his work fare under critical testing?)

            Clarke should be judged as a lawman, as a sheriff who has inspired citizens to defend themselves, even arming themselves.  By contrast, our liberal mayor and police chief have pandered to mobs and sought to disarm law-abiding citizens, while excusing violent criminals.  Sheriff Clarke is a role-model for law-enforcement throughout the land.  The soft-on-crime crowd will use anything to discredit him, even smearing him with quotation marks.