Wednesday, October 19, 2011

When you finish reading "Who Will Tell the People" take a look at "America on Strike" by R. E. Noble. Thanks.

Who Will Tell the People?

By William Greider

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

I have been educating myself for over forty years now. I have chosen many great professors to help me along my path to understanding, but I won’t get into that at this moment, other than to tell you about my most recent selection as professor of Civics.

In high school I had a course called Civics. I never figured out exactly what the word “Civics” meant, but I interpret the word as encompassing an explanation of the society and world currently happening around me – politically, socially, economically.

In my high school Civics class we read the daily newspapers, random magazines, and kept up on the local government issues, among other things.
In trying to understanding the modern day world –governments, societies, and general direction of the civilization – I found myself very confused. I wanted to find a professor who could get me up to speed on what is really going on in the world around me. As you know one must choose selectively because there are “so many books and so little time.” Consequently I have chosen William Greider as my “Civics” professor.

I have finished my third book by William Greider this morning, “Who Will Tell the People.” I thought that to be a wonderful title for a book. I have been asking myself that same questions on many different subjects for many years. If you have also been wondering “Who Will Tell the People,” I think I can tell you quite sincerely that one of the people who will tell the people is certainly William Greider.

It is so rewarding when you find an honest, straightforward voice in this world of obfuscation and – for lack of a better word – pure bullshit.
On Mr. Greider’s web site he calls himself an old journalistic type – but Mr. Greider is much more than a Journalist. He is an educator; he is a teacher, an instructor; he is a professor. He has his Doctorate in personal experience in the affairs of the world – that becomes obvious as you follow along behind him.

In Who Will Tell the People we learn, among many other things, how our Democracy works ... or doesn’t work.

Mr. Greider tells us how the Democracy we think we have, lines up to the Democracy we really have.

He tells us about how the laws are made and then un-made. He tells us about the lobbyists, and the lawyers and the Democrats and the Republicans and the Repubocrats – and who owns each of them.

He tells us about the money, the big businesses, the banks, the international conglomerates.

He tells us about the environment; about the military and the pentagon; about who’s in, and who’s out, and why.

At various points in reading Mr. Greider I say to myself – This guy is giving me more than I really want to know. I mean the more I know, the worse it gets. But then he throws in a suggestion, an idea, a possible solution and once again I’m thinking positively.

I am basically a skeptic and I think of the “Power of Positive Thinking” as a prescription for dilution. But you have got to have some kind of hope, even if it is farfetched, distant and on the borders of impossibility. There must be something!
Mr. Greider brings us to the brink, then pushes us off.

Then half-way down, falling into the abyss of eternal despair, we find there is a bungee cord wrapped around our waist. It isn’t much, and the discovery is a little late and maybe not totally reassuring, but it helps.

This book was published in 1992, when we were beginning to talk of “peace dividends” and cutting back on the Military Industrial Complex. Listen to what Mr. Greider was saying way back then:

“The Defense Department was planning a modest five year reduction in the Cold War mobilization ... If the U.S. defense budget were cut in half, it would still be four or five times larger than that of the next strongest nation ... The next round of demobilization would be for real: bringing home troops that had been stationed abroad since the 1950s, closing scores of domestic military bases, shutting more factories ... A few liberals introduced “conversion” bills that did little more than encourage communities and industries to plan for their post-Cold War future. Conservative thinkers concentrated meanwhile, on trying to devise substitute “threats” – Third World terrorism or nuclear proliferation – that might justify continuing the nation’s permanent war footing.”

Chapter 15 of this book is entitled “Citizen GE.” This chapter alone is worth the entire price of the book.

My tendency is to tell you myself what Mr. Greider has to say, but I couldn’t tell the tale as well or with any greater poignancy. I can only tell you to get the book and read it for yourself.

It is not that GE is any worse or better than any of the others; it is more shocking to understand that they are just one of a bunch of like-acting and similar thinking Mega-mights.

If I wanted to continue quoting from this book, this review would be one hundred pages long.

My advice is to buy Mr. Greider’s books and study them. That’s what I’m doing. I’ve only read three thus far, but I know that I am already a world ahead of where I was less than a year ago. Mr. Greider is more than “a read.” He is an education. I feel so lucky to have found such a treasure.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Secrets – A memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers

After you read "Secrets" by Daniel Ellsberg, try "Mein Kampf - An Analysis of Book One" by Richard E. Noble. It is also a book that tackles the question ... "Why War?"

Daniel Ellsberg

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

“But, it is just history,” Daniel Ellsberg was told. Over and over Senators and Congressmen told him, “It is just history.” Four thousand one hundred pages of history. Who’s got time for it? Who would ever read it, never mind publish it in a newspaper?

Daniel Ellsberg was/is clearly an intellectual, or he never would have even considered the notion that anyone would be concerned about “history.” He was and still is concerned with all those foolish things that most of us do not have the time for. Things like principle, right and wrong, injustice, the difference between killing and murder, is napalm a weapon or a terrorist act?

It is difficult to believe but there was a time when the “world” was actually debating the morality of dropping a hand grenade from a biplane. What if the random grenade hit a civilian, was the concern.

Today even the good guys are launching “unmanned” rockets all over the world just like the Nazis did in World War II to the horror of the British and everyone else … for a moment or two. These days when they blow up some unintended people the launchers apologize. The innocent dead are referred to as collateral damage. Oops … Sorry.

Wash your salmonella drenched chicken before you eat it. Why can’t I eat rat poison if I want to? Isn’t this a free country? If she and her children choose to sleep in a sewer, that’s their business. So what if automobiles are responsible for the deaths of more Americans than all of our wars combined. I like my car. Pollution … smulution, who cares?

Daniel was wondering about a soldier’s responsibility to follow orders. If a soldier is ordered to shoot his mother, must he comply? Is there a personal responsibility in agreeing to pick up a weapon? Is shooting into a bush or a hut in an enemy village … reconnaissance? Or is it killing … murder maybe?
Is slitting a non-combatant’s throat because he has seen you in an area that you shouldn’t be in, an acceptable act of war?

Intellectual gibberish?

And Secrets is a history of our time … my time. And I wonder how many of my contemporaries have read it? I wonder how many younger people have read it – this is going to be their world shortly, you know.

This book was printed in 2002 – after 9/11 and before Iraq and Afghanistan. Again Daniel was asking us to read more history. Once again he thought that he could stop a war. Once again it didn’t happen. Some guys never learn. I think Daniel needs to read some more history.

He called the book Secrets. I think there is a reason he called his book Secrets and not The Pentagon Papers Revisited or Vietnam II and III. He did it because there is still the misconception that in this day of 24 hour 7 days a week news coverage “Secrets” can’t be kept from American citizens. This book stands as a testament to the notion that “they” can always fool the people and it can be done ALL of the time.

I read your history book, Daniel, and I got your message. I got it last time back in the 60’s also … even though I didn’t read the Pentagon Papers. It “trickled” down. I got the non-intellectual version – the street version. “This is all a bunch of crap,” is what I heard. “They’re all a bunch of liars and crooks,” is what I heard. “Hell no; I won’t go,” is what I heard.

But aside from learning anything “behavior changing” this rendering is a trip through a human conscience. It is a blow by blow description of how a very intelligent soldier and confirmed cold warrior is transformed into a war resister and a “peacenik.”

It is quite a story. It could be a movie … and it was. The Pentagon Papers is what it was called. I watched the movie too.

I’m reading a lot of history of my own times these days. This is a good one. Sure it is only history … but what else are you doing?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bill O'Reilly

Find out where Bill is really coming from. Read my analysis of book one of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. Click on cover of book to the right of this page to make purchase or get more information. Thanks.

Bill O'Reilly

“Culture Warrior”

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

A friend of mine sent me “Culture Warrior” by Bill O’Reilly. He said his son gave the book to him after he had read about twenty pages. His son who is in his thirties or forties said; “Dad, maybe I’m too young for this guy; I don’t know what he is talking about. See if you can figure it out.”

My friend, the father, said that he read about fifty pages and he gave up. He said why don’t you give it a try. So I started reading.

I’ve reached page 98 but I have decided to quit. I feel rather lazy minded to just quit – after all I am the same person who has written nearly 800 pages, a page by page analysis of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. If I could finish that certainly I should be able to complete a little 200 page rant by a modern day right-winger with an ax to grind or a bat to swing. Adolf had a big ax to grind but Bill seems even angrier than Adolf – if that’s possible.

But I hate to spend as much time as I have reading Bill and not getting something out of the experience to write about. So here is my review of the first 98 pages of Bill O’Reilly’s million seller book “Culture Warrior.”

The cover of the book is red, white and blue on a black background. Bill is sitting in the foreground with an American flag waving behind him – he is wearing an American-flag-blue windbreaker. He has a very familiar Irish looking face. He has those “twinkling” Irish blue eyes and a warm friendly altar boy smile. He could easily have been walking a beat in my old neighborhood. He has the well-known Irish temper – as he admits himself throughout the book – or the first 98 pages.

Bill has discovered a conspiracy. Now I’m a true believer in conspiracies so I can’t knock him on that one. It seems that there are a group of people, living right here within the borders of the United States who are presently involved in the overthrow of “our” government. They are not doing this by means of a revolution or violent overthrow. They are too cleaver to come right out and fight like men. They are doing it by guile and persuasion and trying to sway voters and by real sneaky, underhanded, dirty methods like using their money to twist the media and the “truth.” Bill has a lot of terrible names for these people but overall he benignly refers to them as Secular Progressives or S-Ps.

These S-Ps are a very cleaver group of evil and vile people and they have a horrible anti-American agenda; wait until I tell you about it, you won’t believe it. It is truly beyond your widest dreams.

In the beginning of this book he has a fictitious spokesperson mouth the future as seen according to these S-Ps. This spokesperson is an imaginary future American President. She is a female and her name is Gloria Hernandez.

Gloria and her friends it seems have some horrible ideas – like right out of George Orwell’s 1984.

First and foremost these S-Ps do not believe in God; they are very anti-Judeo/Christian. They want to take all the money from the rich people and use it to make their version of a “better world.” For example they want everybody to have their own home – with no mortgage; they want all children to have an education – for free! And that includes college if they are that cleaver; they think that everybody should make a living wage – whether they deserve to be alive or not! (my God! these people are horrible); they want businesses and corporations to act and conduct themselves in the world market place with a moral conscience (what a pernicious method for undermining capitalism and the American way); they want prisons to be reformed and drug crimes to be looked upon as an addiction to be treated as a sickness and not simply incarceration; they want any and all sick and even healthy people to have access to health care – even if they don’t have a penny!; they actually want the United States to be attacked before the United States attacks anybody else; and one can only conclude from all of the above that these S-Ps would probably try to outlaw war if they could get away with it.

In contrast or in opposition to this group of S-Ps there are the Traditionalists.
Traditionalist love Christmas, and Santa, and lots of presents and Christmas trees and Christmas shopping. They particularly like the word “Christmas.” They love their country and support their country in whatever it chooses to do – especially war.
Charles Dickens and Tiny Tim were both traditionalists who would have liked Bill O’Reilly, Bill claims. Charles Dickens was a traditionalist says Bill. You remember, he wrote that great book about celebrating Christmas, “A Christmas Carol.” As you will remember in that wonderful tale a man named Scrooge (an S-P no doubt) was poo-pooing Christmas and all the other characters, including some ghosts, tried to educate Scrooge to the wonders of Christmas (Traditionalist’s Holiday). And as you will recall in that story, Tiny Tim and his mom and dad and Scrooge’s nephew and all the Ghosts and everybody but Scrooge were strongly in favor of patriotism and war, and capitalism. They were adamant on the rich being able to do as they damn well pleased with their money and that the poor should be damned and get up off their lazy butts and get a job. After all, didn’t Scrooge pay his taxes and support the prison system? What more could anyone ask of him and his rich friends? And that dirty old Scrooge wanted to open orphanages and feed the poor and do all sorts of kind things with his money. But Tiny Tim and his mom and dad and all the other characters and all the ghosts of Christmases past, future and present would have none of it. They all said; So what if we are poor, sickly and crippled. We are in this condition because that is the way we choose to be. And we want to be free. You take all your damn money, Mr. Scrooge, and shove it! If God wanted us to be rich also he would have had us born in a welfare state – not in a country like this one where we can all be poor, crippled, and homeless if we choose to be. That’s freedom, man!

John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy were both traditionalists, says Bill. They loved their county and thought that rich people should have everything that they wanted – remember Fiddle and Faddle and Marilyn Monroe. Teddy Kennedy is kind of like the diseased afterbirth of the Kennedy family – he is an S-P and Bill cannot figure out how that happened. Teddy may be the only Kennedy who is not really Irish. Bill didn’t say this but I have heard the rumor that Rose Kennedy may have actually had an affair with Eugene Debs or possibly Norman Thomas that resulted in Teddy “the social dwarf.”

Bill is fearless in exposing this underground of S-Ps in the U.S. population – he names names and shows their pictures. You will not believe who some of these people are. I will list a few but you should buy the book to get them all and see for yourself.

Many S-Ps are or have been in the media – Walter Cronkite has just recently come out of the closet. He was probably an S-P since day one but he fooled all of America for about 80 years. Tom Brokaw, Bill Moyers, Jim Lehrer, Meredith Vieira, Matt Lauer, Katie Couric are all definite S-Ps. Dan Rather and Peter Jennings are wannabes but tried their best to keep their S-P nature secret.

But some of the worst S-Ps who have ever been born are celebrities and appear on TV regularly. Wait until you hear this! Two of the biggest are Jay Leno and David Letterman – Jon Stewart ... of course, is another. S-P people are all over Hollywood – just tip over any rock or slime covered growth and you will probably find one of them.

And Bill, who looks to be over six feet tall and a couple of hundred pounds, keeps getting tricked and beat up by these little, ethnic, anti-American, intellectual types with glasses and speech defects. These people have been harassing Bill to no end. He has even had to go so far as to buy himself a multi-million dollar mansion and hibernate and take respite. He has been forced to hire bodyguards because these S-Ps are the type of people who will resort to anything.

There is one among these riffraff who is a billionaire. He was born a Jew in Germany but to escape being baked in an over he went so far as to change his name and maybe even pretend to be a Protestant. The cowardly S-P then escaped to Hungry or some place where the Russians discovered his S-P tendencies and he had to escape to America. When he got to America – just like all the rest of his kind – he somehow tricked everybody and became a billionaire. But now that he is a billionaire he has finally come out of the closet and is attempting to get all the money from all the other rich people in the world and give it to the poor. Isn’t that just like a rich billionaire – I should have known it.

So that’s how it has been going up to page 98. There are a lot more of these pictures of angelic looking people who are really S-Ps and are out to steal from the rich and give it all to the poor and ... and heal the sick ... and ... and clothe the naked and feed the poor and put a chicken in everybody’s pot and a car in everybody’s garage. You will not believe it! You must read this book for yourself. And don’t worry because Bill has these peoples’ number and each week on the Fox News Network (of which he is an executive producer) you can see him expose all these vermin. The only thing is that now most of these people are afraid of Bill and they keep refusing to go on the air with him and have an intelligent conversation. You may have seen Bill and Geraldo having an intelligent conversation just the other day on the news.

I agree with Bill. I can not understand why any person would not want to come on to his show and discuss their political perspectives. These S-Ps are like roaches. They just want to stay hidden in the dark and sneak around at night eating all our crackers and hors d’oevures. I don’t know about you but I think these roaches need to be exterminated. OOPS ... wrong book. That was Adolf. I’ve read Adolf’s book four times now but I don’t remember if he liked Christmas or not. He was a Catholic but I don’t think that he was a good Catholic. He wasn’t Irish; I know that for sure.
Keep up the good work Bill. Keep that light shinning! And don’t you worry, I’ve got your back, buddy. You are a true American and don’t let any of them commie, Jew, atheist, fascist, pussy, cowardly, treasonous, manipulative, tricky, lying, drug-addicted, parasitic (I don’t think he used that one – Adolf really liked that one), scum sucking pigs get you down. I know how depressing it can get for sensitive, kind, generous, fair-minded types like you and me. Gosh, oh golly gee, sometimes I just want to go over into a corner or lock myself in my room and cry. But whatever you do Bill – Don’t let them see you cry.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Please check out my books of colunms too: "The Eastpointer" and "Cat Point - And Them Dang Oyster People.

I Have Words to Spend

By Robert Cormier

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

Robert Cormier is a writer/journalist/columnist from Leominster, Massachusetts. Mr. Cormier who has authored an array of children’s Novels which include “I Am the Cheese”; “We All Fall Down” and “Chocolate Wars” also wrote “Now and at the Hour” a rather serious adult novel which I reviewed recently. I liked the man’s style of writing so I tried another of his works.

I Have Words to Spend – reflections of a small town editor caught my eye for a number of reasons. It was listed as his only non-fiction. It was an accumulation of newspaper columns. And it was from the “Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise.” These things attracted me because I too have worked for a small town newspaper. I also write books. I have been a columnist. And Fitchburg, MA is not far from the area where I was raised in Lawrence, MA.

Mr. Cormier also fit my penchant for reading writers who are no longer living. Reading too many modern “live” writers can be detrimental and lead to a disappearance of one own style and natural writing inclinations. I don’t want to give that happenstance any quarter.

Since Mr. Cormier was rather well known at the time, he wrote the column under a pseudonym. He wanted to speak freely and not gain the ire of the community or embarrass anybody. The book was edited by his wife.

It is a very, very nice book. It can very well be called reflections. The columns are simple and down to earth. Mr. Cormier is clearly a small town guy with no grandiose expectations from life. The stories are sensitive, warm, thoughtful and often subtly humorous. The reader will find himself smiling coyly or wearing a little smirk very often. Belly laughs were few but there were some. His story about speeding through the local car wash got to me pretty good.

There are numerous stories about his family and children, especially his youngest daughter.

I also was intrigued by the title. It still has me thinking. What did he mean by having words to spend?

I think it had something to do with his anonymity and maybe for the first time he was not restricted by his subject matter.

The column was considered “human interest” and he could write on whatever he pleased. So now instead of buying and selling his words as he felt he must with his books and novels, he was free to spend his words as he chose.

I feel that it is easy to get trapped as a writer and begin conforming to what the writer thinks my be the expectations of his audience. I think this happens to all artists and most don’t like it.

So this may have been a reach or stretch for Mr. Cormier. As far as I am concerned he did just fine.

His page presentation was also interesting. There were one line "paragraphs" everywhere. This gave the impression of a very non-wordy type individual. It was very unusual and clearly a good technique. I liked it. Short, staccato sentences with not many excess words. The point is made ... period.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Democracy for the Few - Michael Parenti

Democracy for the Few

By Michael Parenti

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

On page 295 of Democracy for the Few the author, Michael Parenti, political scientist and historian, states: “More than half a century ago the great sociologist Max Weber wrote: ‘The question is: How are freedom and democracy in the long run at all possible under the domination of highly developed capitalism.’ That question is still with us. And the answer suggested in this book is that freedom and democracy have at best a highly tenuous and marginal existence in capitalist society.

“In a democratic socialist social system the factories, mills, mines, offices, educational institutions, newspapers, hospitals, etc. will not be privately owned for private gain but will be controlled by and for their clients and workers. That is the goal towards which our efforts should be directed ... This commitment is, or should be, towards communal, collective and responsible decision making …”

Okeydokey! Now where have I read that before? I think it was in a book called Das Capital by some obscure writer whose name slips my mind at the moment.

But this does not bother me. The greatest champions for the rights of the working class in American history have come from the American Communist and Socialist Party. This fact has been credited by famous labor leaders from the AFL, CIO and documented by labor historians. It is an historical fact.

But regardless of the author’s conclusions, remedies and recommendations, I think this book is an invaluable read for anyone interested in the problems that face both capitalism and democracy.

This book was published in 1974 and the author’s analyses of the problems of our democratic system are as prevalent in today’s American democratic system as they were back in the 70s. Not much has changed. In fact, any changes that have taken place have only served to enhance Mr. Parenti’s analysis.

This same book could have the publication date 2010 and with a few name changes and an update here and there it would be on time and on the money. It is amazing to me how Mr. Parenti was able to achieve this. Few social critics have mastered this talent. Most political analyses become obsolete after months. Very few hang around for years and only the greatest for decades. The superstars are the ones we are still reading centuries later.

Democracy for the Few is packed with rather shocking facts and comparisons. For example on page 282 we have this interesting juxtaposition of random information: “… by the end of the 1960s upper income Americans were spending 2 billion a year on jewelry – more than was spent on housing for the poor – and no less than $3 billion on pleasure boating – half a billion more than what the fifty states spend on welfare. Over the years greater sums have been budgeted by the government for the development of the Navy’s submarine rescue vehicle than for occupational safety, public libraries and daycare centers combined.

“The total expenses of the entire legislative branch and the judiciary branch and all the regulatory commissions combined constitute a little more than one half of 1 percent of the Pentagon’s budget.”

This book is filled with such information.

As the title, Democracy for the Few, implies, we have a contradiction in terms with regards to our understanding of American democracy says Michael Parenti, college professor and educator. The gap between the democracy that most of us think we have and the democracy that is our national reality is Grand Canyon-like.

In light of the author’s detailed critical analysis can we seriously claim that we have a democracy – even a representative one, or a democratic republic for that matter?

The author points out every scam, every trick, and every deception. He explains why our democracy isn’t a democracy – with footnotes and easily understood facts and figures.

He tells us why our legislature isn’t working; how our executive and judicial branches have failed us; how our free press has turned news into propaganda; how our freedoms and constitutional rights have been undermined; how our legal system and our prisons have been diverted from the cause of true justice to protective institutions for the criminal wealthy; how our military has been twisted from defensive to aggressive – boarding on the fascist … Well, actually he doesn’t explain how the “system” has been diverted; he explains how it was designed that way from the very beginning. He shows us the Forefathers’ intentions and how our government of the rich, for the rich and by the rich has evolved according to plan.
Mr. Parenti does not think that “the system” can be tweaked. He sees our problems as endemic to our capitalist, corporate state. The old solution of switching corporate controlled Democrats for corporate controlled Republicans will not bring viable change nor will it institute true representative democracy.

This does seem to be the case, but Mr. Parenti, as with others who espouse his solution to these “endemic” problems, seems to be of the opinion that only the wealthy, elitist, current ruling class is capable of deceit and corruption. My question to Mr. Parenti would be, Are these problems endemic to capitalism and its ruling class or endemic to human nature. If capitalists, rich and poor alike, could be injected with a strong dose of the good old, Christian Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you – could this not be a more apt and suitable solution? I would even support laws being enacted along the Golden Rule line of thinking. The Golden Rule solution may be na├»ve but I find it more acceptable than bombs, bullets and a blood stained revolution in the streets of the U.S.A. Revolutions don’t seem to be working all that well either. Look at what ours has wrought, Mr. Parenti – reed your own book!

Republicans and Democrats alike should read this book. I doubt that either group will benefit from it.

This book by itself could easily serve as the text for a two semester college graduate course in American Democratic Government.

Buy it. Read it and weep.