Monday, August 18, 2008


Francois Marie Arouet (1694-1778 A.D.)

By Richard E. Noble

Well, O.K., I'm impressed. My brief enquiry into the life of Voltaire leaves me with a very strong desire to learn more about this man. On the negative side he seems to have been sexually promiscuous, had no marriages but numerous affairs - one with another man's wife, the vivacious and brilliant Madame du Chatelet, and another with the daughter of his own sister, Mme Denis. And, he didn't care for Jews. He said some very nasty things about them as a race, which seems so out of character when compared to all else that he had to say.
This guy was in and out of the Bastille, and in and out of 'exile.'
As a playwright he was an instant monetary success. He thought that Shakespeare was a barbarian. He became world famous and extremely wealthy, yet he was constantly in hot water with the big boys (Kings and such). It seems he was forever on the run. Yet he may be the most beloved man to the French nation in all of their history. He championed the underdog, he housed the poor, he built churches for the Godly though being very, very anti-religious himself, defended his enemies, built factories for the workers and gave them the profits. A writer, a poet, and playwright, a philosopher, a humorist, a historian, a scientist, a novelist, a business man, an encyclopediest, a philanthropist. I can see no way at present of not coming to the conclusion that this was an extremely brilliant and dynamic man. I feel that I must find out more.
Because of his stand against religion, he is often said to have been an Atheist, but like many of our American revolutionary greats, including Tom Paine, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and others, he was a Deist.
Deists have a strange but practical belief. They believe in a Creator, a Prime Mover, a First Cause, an Infinite Something that brought the Universe into matter, motion, and life, but ended all involvement at that point. If you want to know more about God, study the universe and the principles that guide it. Forget about Bibles, Koran, Holy Books, miracles and mystical revelations. The real truth about the nature of God lies in the knowledge, discovery and understanding of his creations. I don't know where the Deists stand with regards to Divine Justice or the creation of Evil, but their cult seems to have been prevalent at the time.
When he died in Paris on a visit when he was in his eighties, the fear of being inundated by a distraught public led his entourage to prop is dead body up in a carriage and smuggle him out of the city. He was what they now call a 'rational humanist' which would seem a compliment to me but is interpreted negatively by some religious cults of today. They claim that a rational humanist is a person who puts reason above the word of God (Bibles, Korans, Revelations), and life here on earth above a Heavenly (or Hellish) eternity. On his grave stone it reads ... Here lies Voltaire.

Page Smith

Redeeming the Time

By Page Smith

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

"Redeeming the Time" is volume 8 and the final volume in historian Page Smith's monumental work A People's History of America. I have yet to read all of the volumes entirely but I have completed several.
Volume 8 covers the 1920s through the death of Franklin Roosevelt. The book is over 1200 pages.
This period between the two World Wars is one of the most important periods of the last century.
The 1920's not only marked the end of World War I and the so called Roaring Twenties but the rise of Fascism and dictatorships all over the world. It was not only a turbulent time but a revolutionary time.
The labor movement was strong and controversial with its right, left and center all at adds. The women's movement was bursting, and then the stock market crash of 1929 followed by a decade of depression and poverty. All this tragedy then culminates in a Second World War There is no end to books written about this period. Mr. Smith does a wonderful job.
I marvel at the scope of some people's endeavors. This is quite an achievement for Mr. Smith. Obviously he had a very serious interest in the United States of America.
In reading this series there are many things that I would take issue with but there are so many things that I have learned or that I am now aware of that I had not known previously.
What this series tells me is that my quest to know the truth is endless and may be impossible.
"I have done my best to tell nothing but the truth..." states Mr. Smith in his final chapter but then as, can be expected, he qualifies his attempt. He continues by explaining the Historian; "He can rest secure in the knowledge that he has done his duty when he has done his best to tell what happened."
All historians try to tell us what happened but no historian is without a point of view.
There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Smith admires Franklin Delano Roosevelt. There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Smith has an opinion with regards to Sacco and Vanzetti or the validity of the American Revolution, or Communism or anarchism, or woman's right etc. There are many other areas where it is obvious what Mr. Smith thinks - sometimes he even tells you what he thinks. I have no problem with this. I find this to be the case with all historians and all writers for that matter. The difference is that the historian bolsters his opinions with facts. Mr. Smith has facts to support his ideas.
Overall I would say that this book was a very informative and objective analysis of the period covered.
This is a "People's History" but it is not a People's History in the same tone as Howard Zinn's "A People's History". This is a People's History because it tells you about a vast array of people in various areas of life and social class, that you may never have heard about. Many of these people were prominent in their day and their time, but in the vastness of history they all seem to get lost in the shuffle. It certainly takes more than a few well known people to make the history of any country. The Civil War for example was not simply a contest between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee.
This book includes large numbers of the lesser known along with the famous names but it is more conservative than reactionary or revolutionary. It is nevertheless controversial in that it covers all the major radicals and discontents along with the mainstream and the established.
This series is eight individual, one thousand page volumes and now that I have finished most of it, what I have learned is that I have a lot more reading to do in the future. There is obviously no end to this learning business. I can only hope that I am getting smarter for the effort and not dumber - but I'm really not sure.
What I am finding out is that everything is more involved than I thought it to be. I still don't necessarily know when someone is telling the truth, historically speaking, but I often know when they are not or when they are being inaccurate or insincere. I suppose that can be considered gaining ground.
In reading all of this work by Page Smith I realize that we certainly don't agree or interpret our history exactly alike but I am more than confident that I have much more in agreement with Mr. Smith than I have in disagreement.
When I see and read a multi-volume work such as this, I wonder how many have actually read this man's lifetime effort? I also wonder who paid him to do it. Was this all an act of love or personal commitment and interest? What motivates a man to take up this kind of a challenge?
Once again as usual, I am very impressed.

Hurricane Evacuations

The Eastpointer

Hurricane Evacuations

Richard E. Noble

A while back when I was covering the county commission meetings, an elderly woman from Apalach stood up and attempted to explain to all the listeners why it was that folks who work in the seafood industry are reluctant to leave town even when a hurricane is approaching. My wife and I have been two of those people.
We weathered most of the storms that struck in this area in our little mobile home. We slept on the floor over at Hobo's Ice Cream Parlor, when we owned it during one storm. We hauled our mattress from home and a bunch of blankets. My wife even had her favorite pillow. It blew pretty hard and it was mighty scary. We didn't sleep much that evening – even with our favorite pillows.
To be very honest for the most part we never left because we didn't have the money. Even twenty years ago, it cost fifty or sixty dollars to stay in a motel. We had no friends or relatives in the area we could visit. It didn't make much sense to us to be up in some forest or parked sleeping in our car north of Eastpoint in a hurricane. So we took our chances and sat it out. I have no difficulty associating with those "po" folks in Mississippi and hurricane Katrina. In our day we would have been right up on that bridge with the rest of them.
We left during only one storm. They were predicting over 150 mile an hour winds. Our new friend Ronald the Redneck had invited us up to his place in northern Florida if it ever got bad. So we gave old Ronald a call and he said, "Sure, come on up!"
I think Ronald made the offer in the spirit of generosity but was surprised when we took him up on it. But surprise or no surprise we got the royal treatment up at Ronald's place. He took us all over town. We met all his friends and relatives. We even went over to a buddy of his and watched them make cane syrup. Ronald's wife was one of the best home cooks I have ever met. I had food that I never experienced before - like deep-fried corn bread and chicken fried steak and gravy. I'll never forget it.
The hurricane landed and we watched it on TV every chance we got. I remember Ronald being curious about our concerns. He had a nice home and lots of possessions. He was aware that we lived in an old Airstream travel trailer parked on our lot on a bed of oyster shells with a septic, a light pole and our oyster boat out back - that was it. Finally he said, "You folks are so worried and you really don't have all that much to lose."
I said, "It may not seem like much to you, but it is all we got to us."
I know Ronald liked that answer because from then on that is what he told any of his neighbors who asked what we were doing up there. "They are running away from that hurricane. They don't know yet but they may have lost all they got." Most of his neighbors were impressed by that remark because they knew how devastated they would be if they lost "all they got." None of them knew how little all we had was.
One of the most interesting things about being away during a hurricane was watching the news. The news reporters, understandably, go to a spot that looks the most devastated to them and they start filming. "And here we are out in front of this devastated building. As you can plainly see the hurricane has taken its toll."
The trouble with that scenario in our case was that most of Eastpoint looked like a hurricane had struck it before any hurricane ever landed. The news media was on the Eastpoint waterfront taking pictures of the dilapidated oyster houses that had been dilapidated for the last 50 years. They were constructed dilapidated. They were built by Dilapidation Construction Inc.
My wife and I kept staring at the TV trying to figure out where the devastation was. We saw on TV the dealer house that we sold our oysters to and the only difference was the depth of the water and the waves crashing over the rickedy dock. There was nothing damaged at all as far as we could see. In fact after that storm, all the Dealers collected their insurance money and the shoreline in Eastpoint got a face lift. It had never looked so good before in its entire history. I wondered at that time, why they built such nice expensive buildings right along the water's edge. The dumple-down old oyster shacks and rickety unloading docks made more sense to me. Our recent hurricane Dennis I think has reaffirmed my contention.
I know this does not conform to "conventional" wisdom but if you are going to build your house on a railroad track, cheap and shoddy might be just what the Doctor ordered.

Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother, Hobo-ing America and A Summer with Charlie are books written by Richard E. Noble. They are all for sale on Richard Noble is a freelance writer and has been a resident of Eastpoint for 30 years. If you would like to stock his books in your store or business e-mail him at

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mein Kampf

Chapter 16

By Richard E. Noble

Next Adolf gets into the nitty-gritty of starting his little National Socialists German Workers Party.
"...I spoke for thirty minutes, and what formally I had felt in my mind, without knowing it somehow, was now proved by reality..."
Without knowing it somehow? Give us a little break here Adolf! So Adolf found that for some reason people listened to him more so than his contemporaries. Was that because of how he said it, or because of what he had to say - or both? If only he had discovered this ability as a small child and was led to acting as a career - acting on the theatrical stage that is. Ah, but for the small twists of fate. I wish he discovered singing, instead of public speaking. Maybe we would be playing his recordings today, instead of cleaning up the dead bodies and the tortured and twisted psyches of those that he left behind in the wake of his oratory. Kind of makes one want to do away with oratory altogether, doesn't it?
Sometimes Adolf makes me laugh in his 'astute' observations. He criticizes his little party group for its rather feeble early attempts at developing an audience for their cause.
"...Each of us turned to his circle of friends in order to move the one or the other to visit one of these meetings.
The success was a miserable one.
I still remember how in the first period I myself once carried out about eighty of these bills, and how in the evening we waited for the masses of the people that were to come.
With one hour's delay the chairman had finally to open the meeting. We were again seven men, the old seven..."
Upon reading this, we, the readers are supposed to laugh haughtily with our hero Adolf (the great man, the great speaker, Adolf the Great) at his inauspicious beginnings. But who the heck is Adolf Hitler in the year 1923? He is certainly no General Luedendorf. He is a nobody, but yet a legend in his own mind even at this point. Here without any doubt is an example of the power of positive thinking. You are what you think you are. Once again this whole book appears to me as a political advertisement. He and his ghost writer Rudolf Hess are putting out their pre-election campaign book, just like our politicians of today. I wonder if he was the first to use this technique.
He mentions two men who were his humble associates at the 'beginning', Herr Harrier, a journalist, and Herr Drexler, a simple workman. This is interesting. These are the two men who supplied the initial funds, the enthusiasm, the cause, and the impetus for the whole effort, but Adolf goes out of his way here to belittle their importance, and their leadership qualities. Herr Harrier was a well educated journalist, but 'not a speaker for the masses'. And as for Herr Drexler;
"...who was then chairman of the local group of Munich, was a simple workman, as a speaker equally little important, and for the rest he was not a soldier. He had not served with the Army, also during the war he was not a soldier, so that he, whose entire nature was weak and uncertain, lacked the only school which made it possible to turn uncertain and weak characters into men..."
Well, that is quite a mouthful with regards to the man who seems to have given Adolf his start in his political career - the man whose name appears on nearly every one of the posters that were printed up to advertise Adolf's speeches to this date. And I presume the man who paid for not only the posters but the hall for the evening. I can see this poor worker, Anton Drexler, running around these meeting halls with his hat turned up, begging his other poor, stupid, non-soldier-weaklings workers for their few coins in an attempt to finance Adolf the Great's next speech. It seems quite obvious that at this point Adolf had picked up some new financial backers and was about to dump his low class supporters from the old neighborhood.
Far from being a criminal at this time in his life, he was more of a celebrity. Little women from the upper crust thought he was just the berries, a German patriot and hero. They brought baskets of bread and cheese to his cell, and giggled about how brave a man he was for standing up to that horrible makeshift government set up by the allies, and those Bolshevik bullies.
"...The reds! In the year 1920, in many parts of Germany, a national meeting that dared to direct an appeal to the great masses and to extend an invitation publicly to visit it was simply impossible. The participants at such a meeting were dispersed and driven away with bleeding heads. The mere name 'German Workers Party' had an irritating effect. Terror is not broken by power of mind, but by terror. Subject; Brest-Litovsk and Versailles. Four gentlemen appeared as speakers. I myself spoke for almost an hour, and the success was greater than on the occasion of the first demonstration. An attempted disturbance was at once nipped in the bud by my comrades. The disturbing individuals were thrown downstairs with their heads knocked about..."
Ah yes, the art of political speaking in Munich. Interesting to note – this is one German talking about the treatment of fellow Germans who disagree with his point of view.
"...On the whole, the entire winter of 1919-20 was one single fight to strengthen the faith in the victorious power of the young movement and to increase it to that fanaticism which then, in the form of faith, is able to move mountains..."
And there it is! Adolf is a preacher, and fanatic Nazism is the faith. What are the basic tenets of this new faith? Nationalism, Race, and Anti-Semitism. To boost these up a notch, could we redefine these principles as Pride, Egotism, and Hate?
In relation to the Faith espoused by Jesus Christ for example, what did we have? Of course, in place of hate, Jesus preached love; in place of egotism, Jesus preached Humility; in place of Pride, Jesus taught Respect.
These two are pretty much opposites. So once again Adolf is up to his Hegelian tricks. He suggests for his moral standards the antithesis to Jesus. But is the antithesis to the teachings of Jesus the antithesis to the teachings of Christianity? Was Charlemagne any different than Adolf Hitler? Were the Popes and the Christian leaders of the Crusades any different than Adolf Hitler? Was Alexander the Great, great; or simply a mass murderer? Adolf speaks from a unique view of history. To him it matters little how many people or nations a great leader slaughters, what really matters is how many pyramids he leaves behind. Once again, Historians take note. Maybe we need a different emphasis in our history books on what is truly 'great.' Even today in our own country we study presidents who presided over times of war and talk of them as great. Could it not be that these are the failures of historical rank of presidents, and maybe, just maybe we should be studying those presidents under whose administration nothing of so called note happened. Maybe 'nothing' happened because they were smart enough to prevent it from happening in the first place. We say for example what would the Nation have done without such a great man as Abraham Lincoln? Could it be that without Abraham Lincoln there may not have been a Civil War? Without Washington no American revolution? Without Wilson, no U.S. involvement in World War I? Even without Wilson there would have been a World War I, and without Roosevelt there would have been a World War II. How about Truman? Maybe no Korean War? Without Johnson, no Vietnam war? Well, whatever, it does leave room for thought and investigation into the lives of our so-called lesser presidents for the future.
"..But a man, who in this world does not succeed in being hated by his adversaries, seems to me of little value as a friend..."
Well, this sounds to me another of Adolf rationalizations. From my point of view it seems to me that any man who says anything on any subject will be hated by somebody. Jesus Christ you will remember had said that a man should love his neighbor as himself. Even if this neighbor becomes his enemy and strikes him on the right cheek, he should turn the left cheek also. This man was brutally tortured and killed for uttering such incendiaries. But maybe it wasn't these lines that got him into all the trouble. It might have been some of those remarks about a rich man passing through the eye of a needle or that one about giving away all of your possessions and come and follow me; or helping the poor; or sharing what you have with others. Who knows?
In any case, Adolf is implying here that if a man speaks his mind he will make enemies. I think that a man will make enemies even if he doesn't speak his mind. But I do not consider anybody a friend or a hero because he has amassed an army of detractors and hateful enemies, and I truly admire people who are able somehow to speak their minds and somehow even make friends of some of their enemies. The more that I read Winston Churchill, and maybe I haven't read enough, the more I become impressed. He really had a way with words, and seemed to be able to say some of the sharpest things to his opponents, and still maintain a respectful attitude. This is something I would want to learn myself. I guess it is what they call 'class'. Tom Paine on the other hand was not so good at this technique, and, it seems, either is Adolf.
"...But it makes no impression whatsoever on such a quack that in a peoples' assembly a Demosthenes can be silenced if only fifty idiots supported by their talk and their fists, won’t let him speak..."
Gee wiz, Adolf Hitler, the Demosthenes of the 20's, 30's and 40's, had trouble giving his great orations. I wonder why fifty idiots didn't show up at the speeches of Demosthenes and bust a few heads? You know coming from a bad neighborhood and slum myself, I have the impression here that Adolf was trying to give his political speeches in the wrong neighborhoods. Of course, I do remember Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Robert McNamara and even Ronald Reagan having a similar problem during their political careers. Obviously, whatever Adolf was saying at the time was unpopular to a lot of people. When I read some of the posters put out by Adolf Hitler at the time, they remind me of the stories about John L. Sullivan walking into a local tavern, jumping up on a table and announcing - Me name is John L. Sullivan, and by Gaud, I can whip any man in the house - Adolf's speeches were to say the least incendiary. I can't imagine that at nearly every turn he wasn't arrested for disturbing the peace. If you think that Malcholm X and Eldridge Cleaver had some bad things to say about the government under which they lived, you should have heard Adolf. Like McCarthy, Adolf got very personal. He named names and pointed his finger. He made accusations. He slandered, ridiculed, and accused people of treason and cowardice.
This next statement is interesting;
"...A man who knows a thing, who realizes a given danger, and who sees with his eyes the possibility of a remedy, has the damned duty and obligation to work, not in 'silence,' but to stand up publicly against the evil and for its remedy..."
But, of course, if you happen to be standing up against the opinions of Adolf you are a coward, a traitor to your homeland, not to mention an idiot who deserves to be thrown down a flight of stairs, by some ex-soldiers who know how to talk with their fists and aren't afraid to bust a few heads.
And here is the basic formula for success.
"...propaganda; influence on the great masses, concentration on a few points, continuous repetition of the latter, self-assured and confident wording of the texts in the form of apodictic assertion, greatest persistency in spreading, and patience in awaiting the effect..."
And today we have the thirty second TV spot, the one liner confidently spoken over and over and over. Is this something that Adolf thought up, and has since been adopted by our politicians, or is this just the way that it has always been?
"...At 7:30 the opening was to take place. At 7:15 I entered the banquet hall of the Hofbrauhaus at the Platzl in Munich, and my heart nearly burst with joy. The enormous room, for then it appeared to me like that, was overfilled with people, shoulder to shoulder, a mass numbering almost two thousand. And above all-those people had come to whom we wished to appeal. Far more than half of the hall seemed to be taken by communists and independents ... After the first speaker had finished, I took up the word. A few minutes later interrupting shouts came down like showers of hail, violent clashes occurred in the hall, and a handful of the most faithful war comrades and other adherents were struggling with the disturbers and only by and by were they able to restore peace. I was able to continue. After half an hour applause gradually began to drown out the shouting and calling.
When after almost four hours the hall began to empty and the crowd, shoulder to shoulder, like a slow stream, began to push, to scramble, and pour towards the exit, then I knew that now the principles of a movement which never could be forgotten walked out into the German people.
A fire had been lighted, and out of its flames there was bound to come some day the sword which was to regain the freedom of the Germanic Siegfried and the life of the German nation.
And side by side with the coming rise, I sensed that there walked the goddess of inexorable revenge for the perjured act of the 9 of November, 1918..."
And there we have the end of book one of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.
For me it has been a worth while endeavor. I think that I have a better understanding of Adolf Hitler than I have ever had before. Many of my questions have been answered and many new ones have been raised. Adolf was a self-styled Messiah, preaching a faith. He came from out the Germanic Woods like the fabled Siegfried to rescue his people from world domination. If only he had turned to the theater rather than politics.
World War I and his experience as a soldier formed the basis of his moral thinking and from what I can see formed his personality. It was certainly the most traumatic experience of his life. I've read several accounts or analyses of Adolf's life and it seems so humorous to me that so many great thinkers, psychologists, journalist and writers can concentrate so heavily on Adolf's childhood, or his love life or lack of love life, on his relationship with his mother and his father or siblings, and totally ignore World War I. I think this is a great insight into our culture. War is accepted as normal and everyday. Watching men die by the millions, smelling their rotting carcasses heaped in front of you as a protective wall; seeing the dead; watching them die sometimes slowly, and other times in an instant; seeing, witnessing, and possibly participating in the killing of children and the raping of women; these are not considered traumatic enough to alter one's psyche, or change one's personality?
War is so much a part of the every day nature of man that like the Mail box and the Campbell's soup can, it becomes inconsequent and an invisible part of the background. War not only arranges men's lives but changes their souls. It is such a horrible experience that most men never recuperate from it. They live it over and over every day of their lives. Some rebel against it, some spend the remainder of their lives trying to justify their part in it, but I have never met a one who has experienced combat that has been able to totally put it aside.
Adolf's reaction is one man's alternative. He learned from the war to incorporate death and brutality as a part of the living cycle and even a part of God’s wisdom and direction. Dying on the battlefield for a cause of whatever nature seems much more glorious to him than willowing away at the hands of fate by way of old age, or purely natural causes. He has found a meaning for life in war. By war the race is purified, the superior justified, and brutality sanctified. The authoritarian Military structure provides order to the chaos of the human relationship. Indecision makes one weak. It is better to make a positive, resounding, authoritative statement even if it is wrong, than to waver. The way to leadership is to seize it, and resist all challengers with a club. Murder and killing are not only justified but are actions performed in accordance and imitation of the Divine. God eventually kills everyone. To be like God is to seize the power over life and death, to put terror into the hearts of the timid and to kill the weak and impure, and imperfect. This is the example of God. Peace can only be established by the power of the sword. There will be no peace for man until the world has one sole ruler. This ruler has no need of principle, only power. He should use whatever means or method within his abilities to become victorious and in the end when all is said and done, the world will not remember his misdeeds, only his achievements. History does not count bodies but buildings and pyramids, columns and coliseums, shrines and monuments.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Franklin Pierce (president 1853-1857)

By Richard E. Noble

Franklin Pierce seemed to come out of nowhere. He was such a dark horse candidate that Stephen Douglas commented dryly; "Hereafter no private citizen is safe." Franklin bounded into the office of president bright, young, challenged and optimistic. He left disillusioned and aged.
His story seems to me as that of a favored child seeking something dynamic to do with his life. He goes to school, becomes a lawyer, and gets into politics. He runs through his state legislature in New Hampshire, and then gets elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He does well there and then is elected to the U.S. Senate.
Then he marries Jane Means Appleton. She is described as withdrawn, deeply religious, neurotic and frequently an invalid. She doesn't like Washington, nor does she care for politics. (Well, that doesn't make her necessarily neurotic to me. Maybe she had some other "real" problems.)
He resigns from his second term as a Senator and returns home to practice law. He gets offered other political jobs but refuses. The war with Mexico comes along and he decides to become a hero. He volunteers (as a Brigadier General, of course) and rushes down to bail out General Winfield Scott. In his first confrontation with the enemy, his horse balks at an explosion. He gets his "privates" jammed into the pommel, falls off his horse and passes out on the battlefield. The troops were not impressed. The notion spread among the "guys" that Frank, was no Old Hickory. So he resigned as Brigadier General. He went home to New Hampshire and tried something less challenging. Something that was not so involved with courage, reputation and valor.
He ran for president of the United States in 1852. No sooner does he get elected than his little boy gets killed in a train wreck while he and his wife survive. Mom takes it as a warning from God, rather than a positive act of Divine Providence.
The country was about to explode into Civil War. Pierce supported the Compromise of 1850, and then the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The Kansas-Nebraska Act demolished the Missouri Compromise and left slavery up to the popular vote of each new in-coming state. Revolution broke out in Kansas and then the infamous John Brown slaughter in Lawrence.
Slavery was an issue that neither the executive nor the legislature could solve. So they tried to pass the buck to the Judicial. The Judicial bounced the ball back via the infamous Dred Scott decision.
Judge Taney, speaking for the majority, supported the notion that it was not the Supreme Court's position to make laws. The creation of new laws was the responsibility of the legislature. Slavery was and had been the law of the land and recognized as legitimate by governments throughout the world. Our forefathers and our Declaration of Independence supported slavery. The position of slaves as property was referenced in the Constitution, and all decisions up until that time supported slavery. If Slavery was to be abolished it must be done by amendment or the legislature and not the Supreme Court. Taney sounds more like a Republican than a Democrat, doesn't he?
Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts was nearly beaten to death on the Senate floor by Preston Brooks, a federal representative and nephew of Senator Andrew P. Butler, a pro-slaver from South Carolina. Times were, to say the least, "HOT."

Friday, August 08, 2008

America's Wars

The Hobo Philosopher

America's Wars

Historical Essay/Commentary

By Richard E. Noble

Although I am one who doesn't often find himself in agreement with Vice-president Cheney, recently he made a comment suggesting that historians and others were still debating the presidencies of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman. He also suggested that there was still considerable disagreement with regards to a positive or a negative judgment on these historical figures.
Well, I certainly agree and so it will forever be, I'm sure. But that got me to thinking about America's wars. Though I am a very anti-war person, one cannot take an interest in history without bumping into war of one type or another.
Every time that I read about America's wars, I ask myself; is this a war that I would have supported - if I were given the choice, of course.
I find that I would have supported very few of America's wars. John Wayne once suggested, rather disparagingly, at a college campus that many of the kids there probably wouldn't have even fought in the American Revolution if they had been alive during the Colonial days. Well, I am definitely one of them.
In terms of morally justifiable wars, the American Revolution seems almost to be a joke. Can you imagine rushing into battle, ready to kill or die, sporting a banner of warring outrage that had these words written on it: "Taxation without Representation is Tyranny"?
Oh brother, somebody has got to be kidding me. If this idea was all that important we would still be shooting people in the streets of America today.
Now "Give me Liberty or Give me Death" that is getting a little better. But even on this issue as I see it, I have lived all my life here in the United States and I have had the Liberty to follow the laws of the land and do as I was told, or go to jail.
Not too long ago this country could order you to go to a war and kill people whether you thought that it was right or wrong. If you said no, you went to the pokey.
As long as you do as you are told and obey the laws of the land you can live pretty much with liberty and justice for all everywhere. The whole thing seems to be dependent on what the laws are and what you are told to do and how you are treated if you challenge those demands. If you don't challenge any of the country's demands you are usually allowed to enjoy your "liberty." But then if you do, do you go to jail or are you beheaded? Do you pay a twenty-five dollar fine or is your oldest daughter raped and murdered in front of you?
Liberty is restricted everywhere. The debate seems to be with the degree of restriction.
There are teenagers here in America today who scream "Give me Liberty or Give me Death" because their parents made them go to their room - and their room looks like a Chucky Cheezes.
During the American Revolution it is estimated that two thirds of the population of the colonies were against or indifferent to the revolution. One third it is claimed - only one third of the colonists - wanted to fight over their suggested lack of representation and burdened tax situation.
Actually did you know that the tea at the Boston tea party was thrown into the harbor because even with the tax it was too cheap? The local retailers were POed because the new tea coming in on the boats was cheaper than what they already had in stock. So if this new tea was dumped onto the market they would lose bucks on all the tea that they had already purchased and had on hand or stocked in their storerooms. The British were trying to break the retailer monopoly and power by dumping a bunch of cheap tea onto the market.
So as a consequence now we hear the people screaming "Give Me Higher Prices or Give Me death"? Yeah right!
The big argument of the American Revolution was not liberty or death or even taxation and representation; it was fair trade in the global economy along with the basic assumption on the part of a majority of colonists who were descended from or themselves abused, persecuted or thrown out of Britain as basic scumbags, traitors or misfits, that the British government, the King and the nobility basically sucked.
The British demanded that all exports from the colonies go to England where the British would then add their profit and resell these products to the rest of the Global marketplace. Many of the colonial retailers and exporters were already bypassing this British demand by "smuggling" their products directly to France and elsewhere and not giving the British their cut. Good old John Hancock was an infamous Colonial smuggler.
In response pirating became a popular British tactic. If the colonists wouldn't send their exports directly to Briton then the British would stop the colonial ships on the open sea and take what they had and pay them nothing.
This pirating business became a big business and Thomas Jefferson actually got into it rather seriously during his administration.
I presume that if I was alive and living in the colonies at that time, I would have been as I am today - a poor working stiff. Why the heck would I get involved in a war between the "bosses" and who gets how much of the profit. I ain't going to get nothing but beat up, shot at, or killed. Let them fight it out. I say "give me ambiguity or give me something else" what difference does it make? Call me a Brit; call me a Yank but don't forget to call me when it is pay day.

Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother, Hobo-ing America and A Summer with Charlie are books written by Richard E. Noble, a freelance writer who has lived in Franklin County for over thirty years. All three books are now available on If you would like to stock his books in your store or business e-mail him at

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Eastpointer

Countywide vs. Single District Voting

By Richard E. Noble

This is a difficult issue to understand and I still don't know if I have it down accurately. Somebody will have to contact an expert on Civil Rights legislation and voting rights. But nevertheless I have been trying to bone up on this issue and come to an understanding of it.
The following is how I understand this issue after limited studying of the legal jargon involved.
The first areas of contention are the principles of majority rule and minority rights. This confrontation goes back well before the establishment of the United States. This is a problem intrinsic to the political concept of democracy.
That the "majority" should rule has always been problematic. Philosophers have long warned against a possible "Dictatorship of the Majority" in democratic structures. Our whole structure of government is designed to counter just that. We have two representative bodies; one regulated by population and the other by simple membership. The House is population (majority) and the Senate is simple membership regardless of population - there are two senators form each state no matter what the size or population of the state.
A Bill of Rights was also established by the smaller states to protect their minority status, and the ninth amendment to protect us from our own Constitution. The ninth amendment reminds the populace that we retain rights NOT listed in the document. That we have RIGHTS other than those listed is the basis for much of the arguments related to the Supreme Court today.
In the 1960s it was decided by the Supreme Court that certain minorities were not being provided a fair representation in the governing of this nation. Changes to guarantee fair representation to these minorities were written into the law of the land. As a result of this legislation in 1963, twenty years later, in Franklin County, a legal action was taken to the Florida courts claiming that the traditional voting practices in Franklin County were not adequate to provide fair representation to all of its constituents.
The traditional practice of countywide voting was challenged by the local black community. This challenge was at the financial expense of the black community. They received no help or funding from the local government or the County Commission as far as I know.
In their case they brought in historical documentation that the practice of countywide voting was not adequate, was biased and prejudicial and made it impossible for blacks in Franklin County to be represented. The court decided in favor of the black community and placed an “injunction” against Franklin County and the practice of countywide voting.
This decision mandated that Franklin County devise a new system of voting that would guarantee a fair representation to the black community.
There were several different methods of voting that were accepted and approved as democratic that could have been enacted but the single district was decided upon as being the simplest, least confusing and least disruptive.
Since it was the winner-take-all, countywide, majority rule voting practice that was declared in violation of the law, the majority community cannot simply have a majority countywide voting referendum to over rule this legal action. It is the majority rule voting that was declared illegal in the first place.
A legal case must be taken to the court on behalf of those who are challenging the decision to over ride that decision.
My estimate is that the group that would like to pursue this action will have to have a very good team of lawyers with stacks of recent historical documentation and lots of money. I don't think that the County has enough taxpayers or taxpaying citizens to want to pursue this controversial expense. To ask the local County Commission to support one side or another in this action would be asking the commissioners to act “undemocratically” not democratically and to champion racial bias. It has already been stated by prominent members of the black community that they will make a legal challenge to any such action challenging their right to political representation in this County.
The winner take all countywide policy is still being challenged on other grounds all over the United States. Many communities even without a black constituency find this practice unfair and challenge it simply on the basis of its potential to empower a strong voting block of just 51% of the registered voters. With this system there is the potential that a small but well organized block of voters could take over any local government.
This is a big concern in areas where development is a prominent issue. Those who have enough money and backing could unfairly dominate the voting population and force this issue to one outcome or the other.
In summary, I do not think that the voters of Franklin County have the option of going back to countywide voting even if a majority of the voting population would like it better that way. Just as the majority of citizens in the entire nation as a whole could not vote slavery back into law even if they thought it advantageous or better suited to the needs of the majority.
In the United States of America the majority doesn't necessarily rule and it never has. The rights of minorities and individuals have always been a huge concern of the American people.

Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother, Mr. Noble’s new novel, is now available along with Hobo-ing America and A Summer with Charlie on
Richard is a freelance writer who has lived in Eastpoint for over thirty years. If you would like to stock his books in your store or business, e-mail him at

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Oyster Theory of Value

The Eastpointer

Oyster Theory of Value

By Richard E. Noble

It was a horrid day in Paradise when either my wife or I asked the question, "Do you realize how many bags of oysters this is costing us?"

I don't remember which of us thought it up but from that day forward, spending our money became a rather frightening experience. Neither of us had ever made such an analogy before in our working careers. Never before had we equated our work to our purchases and bills. How many dishes did I have to wash to pay the light bill or how many chickens did I have to cut to run the air-conditioner? Once we got onto the oyster bag standard of value everything suddenly became far too expensive.

When we started our oystering career we sold a bag of oysters for $4.00. Consequently it didn't take a very large purchase to amount to a substantial number of bags of oysters. A pizza and a pitcher of beer could be 5 or 6 bags of oysters. A special dinner or a night on the town could easily turn into ten or twelve bags of oysters. That could be a whole day’s work for the two of us depending on the time of year.
The big problem was imagining carrying 5 or 6 bags of oysters up to the counter at the local pizza joint. Why in the world would we be willing to trade 75 to 80 oyster dinners for one pizza and a pitcher of beer? Were we Crazy?

We did a lot of staying at home and eating fried oysters and fresh caught fish instead of T-bone steak or even fried chicken. I would often help load a truck down at the oyster house for 25 or 30 stone crab claws. I thought that was a great deal - 2 or 3 hours of work for 3 or 4 stone crab dinners for two. My wife really liked that trade - especially since it involved my labor only.

If a hamburger and a beer cost 5 dollars and a bag of oysters was selling for $4.00 that was a very poor trade. Do you know how many oyster burgers a person could make out of one bag of oysters? If you figured six fried oysters to the bun, that would be about 50 oyster burgers to the bag. Why would anybody trade 50 oyster burgers for one hamburger?

We were off the dollar standard and the gold standard. We were now on the bag-of-oysters standard. Do you know how many bags of oysters it took to buy a washing machine or a new mattress? A new automobile took the oyster bag standard off the charts.

Then a strange thing happened. The price of oysters began to climb. The rules had changed and consequently we were able to catch fewer bags, but nevertheless we made more money.

A bag of oysters at one point was selling for as high as $20. Now from the sale of just one bag of oysters we could buy 4 T-bone steaks at the grocery store or one pizza and a pitcher of beer at the local restaurant. One bag of oysters could buy 10 or 12 pounds of hamburger. We could go to a movie in Tallahassee and even buy a bag of popcorn for one bag of oysters. Ten or fifteen bags of oysters could buy a new washing machine or a stove. We were fortunate to be in a period where the price of oysters rose faster than the price of everything else. That, of course, has since changed.

But then we had a different problem - would we rather eat fried oysters all week or T-bone steak and hamburgers? At $20 a bag of oysters we really couldn't afford to eat oysters any more. We stopped taking oysters home altogether. Just a quarter of a bag of oysters could buy a pound of hamburger and a six pack of beer.

We were now pulling up the floor boards on our boat to make sure no oysters fell through the cracks. I remember telling Carol one afternoon, "I feel like eating oysters tonight and I don't care how much they are costing us." We rebelled against the economic system that evening and ate a whole pail full of steamed oysters and a full plate of fried oysters. That one dinner may have cost us 10 pounds of hamburger and two six packs of Bud. Talk about going crazy! What was it with us? Did we now have bags of oysters to burn?

It seemed totally insane. We were the people who caught the oysters. The oysters always cost us so many hours of sweat no matter what the price. But now because of some external standard of value - we felt that we could not afford to eat our own oysters any more. What is that?

Actually I can’t afford to live here in Eastpoint anymore. Not too long ago they were telling me that my pink single-wide situated in the middle of a one acre swamp was worth $200,000 to some guy living in London or Paris, France. Does anyone out there have that man’s phone number?

Hobo-ing America and A Summer with Charlie are books written by Richard E. Noble. They are both for sale on Richard Noble is a freelance writer and has been a resident of Eastpoint for 30 years. If you would like to stock his books in your store or business he can be contacted at or call 850-670-8076.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Eastpointer

Can't Afford to Die

By Richard E. Noble

All my life, I've had the same problem. No matter what it is, I just can't afford it.
The first bicycle that I wanted to buy cost $52 - I had $48. The first secondhand car that I wanted to buy cost $150 - I had $120. One year's tuition at the university was $3000 - I had $300. I wanted to buy my wife a nice wedding ring - she settled for a $30 plain gold band that we got at a flea market in Fort Lauderdale. It doesn't fit any more. She keeps it in a box in her dresser.
After my wife and I were married for awhile we went shopping for a home in Miami. We learned that even though we both had the best paying jobs in our lives we couldn't afford a home. We could have put a down payment on one, but it would have taken two lifetimes to pay for it. We would have been willing to live two lifetimes, but the option was not made available.
We ended up leaving Miami and our good jobs and began our adventure of Hobo-ing America. We lived in a van and slept under bridges and under equipment shelters all over America. We met bunches and bunches of people who could afford even less than what we could afford. In America we all know that there are no limits for those at the top, but unfortunately there is also no limit for those at the bottom.
We got our first home here in Eastpoint. We couldn't really afford it but we bought it anyway. It was a trailer home and it cost $8,886 new. We almost didn't get it paid for, but somehow we managed. As things stand today in Florida, I can't afford to insure it and I can't afford to sell it. It also seems that some people don't want me to live in it anymore. They say it isn't safe and that people like me aren't paying enough taxes. Unfortunately where they want me to go and live instead of living in my trailer is even less safe and I can't afford to do that either – and from what I understand it is a lot hotter.
I have just become eligible for Medicare. I can't afford it.
Now recently my wife and I have both reached the age where we have the opportunity to die. We have been analyzing our financial options and we have both come to the conclusion, that we can't afford it. If either of us dies, the other will not have adequate income to live on. The only way that we can both afford to die is if we can do it simultaneously. I've been thinking recently about that movie where those two women, Thelma and Louise, drive their car off the top of a cliff. At least they went out with a blaze of glory.
I guess, as people are prone to tell me these days, I should have done more planning. I should have gotten a 401K.
Well, most of my life there was no such thing. But I couldn't have afforded it anyway. And even if I could have I probably wouldn't have gotten one because I would have figured it was another scam. I would have figured that if I had saved all my life putting all my "extra" money into this 401K that by the time I became eligible to collect it, it would have disappeared. Like the pension programs at Ford Motor Co., or General Motors, or Colt Revolver Co., or Good Year Tire and so many others that are rapidly vanishing today. Somehow there would be an "equity" problem; there would be a "liquidity" imbalance. And like the Great Depression of 1929, or the S&L catastrophe of recent vintage, or the current mortgage crisis all the money would evaporate and, of course, there would be no one to blame. Everybody was just doing their job - business as usual. Yes it would be true that suddenly a few people would have billions and millions of people would suddenly have nothing, but...
I would probably have decided like most young people today, that I would take the gamble. I'll either strike it rich or I'll die broke.
I'm sure glad that I didn't have any children. Of course my wife and I realized that we couldn't really afford to have any children but most young people who really can't afford to have children do it anyway. Like Malthus once said and other conservatives say today, if poor people would just stop breeding, we would have no poverty.
I suppose.
In any case, since my wife and I have both figured that neither of us can afford to die, we have made a pact. I won't die as long as she won't die. It is going to be like The Survivor on the TV - stay tuned for next week’s challenging episode.

Hobo-ing America and A Summer with Charlie are books written by Richard E. Noble. They are now both available on If you would like to stock my books in your store or business, e-mail me at