Monday, August 29, 2011

Alger Hiss

Recollections of a Life

By Alger Hiss

Book Review/Commentary

By Richard E. Noble

The first thing that you have to remember about Alger Hiss is that he is not Rudolf Hess. Rudolf Hess is that Nazi guy, who flew to England for some yet to be explained reasons and was tried and convicted at the Nuremberg trails.

Alger Hiss was also tried and convicted, but in the United States, for being a Communist and supplying information to the Russians in 1938.

Alger Hiss was a graduate of Harvard Law school; was a clerk to Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Homes, Jr.; was one of F.D.R.’s bright young men; was in the State Department; served on the Agriculture committee; on the Nye committee investigating improprieties and profiteering in the armament industry; was with Roosevelt at Yalta; served on the international committee which drafted the U.N. charter; and was president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. But, after tangling with McCarthy, Nixon, J. Edgar Hoover and a guy named Whittaker Chambers, he ended up selling paperclips and rubber bands for a living. He was also disbarred and went to prison for nearly four years.

It seems that he spent the remainder of his life trying to clear his name and turn over his 1948 conviction. His two biggest mistakes it seems to me were; agreeing to serve on the Nye Commission which was assigned to investigate war profiteering by people like the DuPonts, and Curtiss Wright and Pratt & Whitney companies; and not allowing Whittaker Chambers to give him a blowjob. A little co-operation on this petition might have wiped some of the frost off old Whittaker’s pumpkin.

But blowjob aside, aggravating the DuPonts and others in the Armament industry by announcing that the charges against them were fair and justifiable, just as they were during World War I, was not a smart move. And further stating that the only way to end corruption in the armament industry was to end war altogether was just adding insult to injury. I mean, when you consider that the DuPonts actually tried to raise a private army to violently overthrow the Roosevelt administration ... come on now?

Franklin and Harry Hopkins were now dead. The Stalin connection was over. Harry Truman was having tea with the old Clividon set and the entire world was reinvesting in Krupp Industries.

This was not a time to be investigating war profiteers. It is also interesting to consider why we spent so much time investigating Communists after the war, as opposed to Nazi sympathizers. After all, I don’t mean to shock anybody out there, but the commies, both Russian and Chinese, were our allies, and the Nazis were our enemies, dahhh, remember?

In Alger Hiss’ last book, “Recollections of a Life” Alger makes his last plea for exoneration, and he makes a very, very good case. He had been anxiously awaiting files to be released under the freedom of information act which were guaranteed to take no more than ten days, but took four and a half years. Oh well?

In any case, information from the newly released Russian files, supposedly contradicts Alger’s testimony once again. I wish Alger was still around to defend himself on this one, but now he is dead also. I wonder, could he have refused Molotov’s offer of a blow job, or are the DuPonts manufacturing gun powder in Russia too? From the looks of Molotov, I’d bet on the latter.

Recently the debate has come forward once again. The adopted son of the Hiss’s, Timothy Hobson, has come forward to advance their innocence. He and his half brother Tony Hiss – who has dedicated his life to clearing his dad’s name – are proclaiming Alger Hiss’s conviction to have been a blatant tragedy perpetrated by a series of lies and falsifications.

It seems that Timothy, a ten year old in 1937 and a household witness to any supposed spying or espionage was not allowed to testify in defense of his parents at the trial in 1947 because he had received an Undesirable Discharge from the military on the grounds that he was a homosexual.

What is truly unbelievable is that it is this one case and this one individual, Alger Hiss that marks a turning point in the politics of the American people.
When Alger Hiss was convicted of perjury (not espionage or treason) America turned from the liberalism of FDR and his pro-Russian and anti-German/Nazi-ism position to the Cold War and the pro-German/Marshall Plan anti-Russian Bolshevik position. This poor man and this tragic case are like the linchpin in one of the biggest policy changes and turnarounds in all of American History. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

World Orders - Noam Chomsky

World Orders – Old and New

Noam Chomsky

By Richard E. Noble

World Orders, Old and New is 99% new and 1% old. Though Greece, Rome and a few other empires are made reference to in the early going, the book mainly centers on the United States and Israel. I was hoping for a more historical interpretation of World Orders, but this book is current events as seen through Professor Chomsky perspective.

It is a long story but according to Mr. Chomsky the two biggest terrorist nations in today’s world are the United States and Israel. He establishes this with page after page of facts and quotes. To fact check this book would be a lifetime endeavor for any young scholar or “fact checker.”

I would guess that all the facts and quotes are accurate; the questioning would be with the interpretation of the facts and quotes.

I don’t at this moment know where I would go to find a more critical analysis of the U.S. role in the last century. Mr. Chomsky sticks the sword of his criticism in the body politic of the U.S.A. and doesn’t stop until it comes out the other side – then he twists it several times for good measure.

Professor Chomsky credits the Cold War as beginning with the Russian Revolution in 1917.

With this I agree. On page 41 he credits a fact from a study done by Christopher Simpson that I found interesting.

“U.S. investment in Germany accelerated rapidly after Hitler came to power … by some 48% between 1929 and 1940 while declining sharply everywhere else in continental Europe … and barely holding steady in Britain.

“In a recent review of British records, Lloyd Gardner concludes that ‘for the British, the immediate problem was still Russia’, not Germany, during the period of the Hitler-Stalin pact (until June 1941). Deciding that war was necessary, high British officials ‘centered not on German efforts at partition [of Poland], which London had already dealt with as acceptable, but on the Nazi-Soviet pact, which was not acceptable.’”

My research on who actually financed Hitler substantiates the above quote as does my reading in the history of the time.

I would be interested in the percentage of investment coming from the U.S. and going to Japan and Italy during the same period also.

Woodrow Wilson is described poorly in this work and I think justifiably.

It is pointed out that fascism was admired and supported by the Capitalist nations of the world until it proved to be disadvantageous – economically and politically to the capitalists. “The ‘defense’ was mounted throughout the Capitalist world, taking a variety of forms, including the admirable achievements of fascism.”

He then points out that history records, “Throughout the developed world conservative ruling elites had been discredited by their association with fascism.” Unfortunately this fact is only known to those who read history books.

So it is established that the capitalist world was actually at war with Russia since the Russian Revolution in 1917.

This notion should be obvious to anyone who has researched this historical period – but for some reason to speak or write accordingly still receives resistance.
On page 82 the Professor makes this observation.

“A look at who is celebrating after a conflict and benefits from it, and who is left in distress and suffering, often tells something about the true victors and defeated, and indeed what the conflict was about. By that criterion, the victors of World War II include the financial and manufacturing interests that were mobilized in support of the fascists regimes and were largely reconstituted and restored to power by the official victors; the losers of World War II include leading elements of the anti-fascist resistance worldwide, ranging from radical democratic to Communist in orientation, and violently demolished or displaced and marginalized by the official victors. Not the conventional picture, but an accurate one, and one that does not lack relevance to an assessment of what was at stake.”

The book goes on to discredit the U.S. role in South America, Asia and the Middle East. The professor hits hard on Viet Nam and our present position in Iraq and Afghanistan. I really do not have enough information to argue with the professor. His description of U.S. behavior is nothing less than ruthless.

His point is that America is not on the side of democratic rule anywhere. We sabotage democracy in favor of capitalist profit and progress in any way possible. And we support the establishment power structure that will work to the benefit of American capitalist objectives.

I would only make the distinction between the American “Government” and the American “people.” But the professor does point out that the American people are kept unaware via a compliant or inept media and are not allowed to participate appreciably or to any consequence in their government because of the powerful propaganda of the corporate ownership of the American government.

By the professor’s analysis we do not support democracy around the world and we are far from a democracy here at home. I would like to disagree but find his arguments substantive – and embarrassing.

He continues:

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are controlled by International capitalists manipulated by the U.S.A. and invariably programmed to institute policies that cripple, bankrupt, exploit and enslave the people of third world countries.

Israel is a “client” state submissive and cooperative to U.S. hegemony. It is a partner in U.S. criminal behavior. They are murders and killers as is the U.S.A.
The Palestinian populations within Israel and in surrounding areas are modern day slaves. They are treated as a subclass and are kept in such a condition via laws and manipulation reminiscent of Nazi Germany and its treatment of the Jews in the 30s and 40s.

Because of necessary water sources in certain areas the Israelis will never, and have no intention of ever, submitting to a two state solution to their conflict. The Israeli Jews are attempting to exterminate the Palestinians in much the same manner as the native Indians were exterminated in the United States in its early growth years.

From the Israeli perspective peace will only come to the area when all reluctant and uncooperative Arabs are dead.

This is the situation as Professor Chomsky writes and describes it.

As for hope for the future or a possible solution, the professor states: “Much will depend on cultural conditions within the United States, the global power that dominates the region and has succeeded in imposing its will. But whatever the outcome, what has taken place, and how it has been interpreted, constitute an impressive testimonial to the rule of force in international affairs, one that should be considered carefully by those who care about the fate of the world.”

Monday, August 22, 2011

War and the American Presidency - Schlesinger

War and the American Presidency

By Arthur M. Schlesinger

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

Well, I guess I will have to start reading more Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. I enjoyed reading this book. I had forgotten how good he was.

This work was not exactly what I would call a history book and not really a political book either. But it was filled with both. It was more of a conversational book with an historian about today’s politics and guess-timations for the future. He is very blunt and outspoken. You may not agree with the author but he certainly doesn’t seem to be hiding anything.

After reading this thin book of slightly more than 150 pages, I have no doubt from where this man is coming. He is a Democrat; he accepts globalism and the necessity for world trade; he is against unilateralism; he is not an isolationist; he is a capitalist with provisions, he questions laissez-faire and free trade; he supports world cooperation, the UN etc.; he is an anti-Marxist or anti-Communist; he is anti-Bush and the Bush Doctrine of preventive war; he supports diplomacy and is more of a dove than a hawk; he is an establishment type more than any rebel and he thinks nationalism is dead but will linger on nevertheless in the hearts and minds of the unsophisticated. On this last point, I certainly hope that he is wrong. Without a strong revival of nationalism, I doubt that America will ever be what it has been and what I think it should be.

He gives simple to-the-point explanations of complicated issues. He has a very good writing style; easily understood even to the average reader. I have several of his other books in my library. I will have to get to them.

I read this book in a day or two and I have it filled with highlights. I feel that there is much that I don’t agree with in what he has to say. But there is more than enough that I do agree with to peak further curiosity. He is knowledgeable and smart and he backs up what he has to say with historical insights.

His evaluation of pre-emptive war and the Bush legacy, Bush Doctrine of the preventive war, is right on. As the author points out pre-emptive war is legal and preventive war is illegal. He has nothing flattering to say about Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld.

I really didn’t think that president Bush had established a Doctrine. I was hoping it would be considered more of an aberration. But it is what it is and I hope it will go away. At the moment it appears to be advancing under the present Democratic administration.

I found the book to be refreshing, informative, authoritative, historical and opinionated. I couldn’t put it down.

In this short 150 pages the author covers everything from George Washington and the Revolution to the present war in Iraq. He hits on Wilson and Truman, World War I and Korea. We stumble around with Munich and World War II and the battle between the peaceniks and the war-mongers in various wars throughout American history.
It is a wonderful synopsis of the presidency, where it has been and where it is heading.

Mr. Schlesinger doesn’t mess with the small stuff. He crams bunches of big stuff into this tiny volume. A great read.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Big Bang Never Happened

The Big Bang Never Happened

By Eric J. Lerner

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

I am not a scientist. My interest in cosmology stems from my interests in philosophy and the ancient arguments over this topic arising between philosophers and theologists or as it evolved between religion and science. The author is also interested in these philosophical and theosophical debates and he maps parts of his debate on the Big Bang cosmology and his plasma cosmology on his understanding of these ancient philosophical and religious arguments.

These sections of the book I found extremely interesting and accurate. This is a very interesting approach for a science book. It brings to my mind a book by George Soros that I read recently where he relates his interest in philosophy to his investment strategies.

The author brings economics and its history into the debate also. This is another very interesting approach from my point of view. Equating the cosmological estimation of a historical period to the degree of economic depression or prosperity is extremely logical and quite revealing. I had no trouble at all understanding the author’s inferences in this regard. I found nothing to question or challenge in this area.

This book challenges the accepted Big Bang Cosmological Theory. The Big Bang theory contends that the universe began as a single cataclysmic explosion ten or twenty billion years ago. The author is a scientist who has involved himself in an alternative cosmological theory and discipline known as “plasma cosmology.”

“Today, Big Bang theorists see a universe much like envisioned by the medieval scholars – a finite cosmos created ex-nihilo, from nothing, whose perfection is in the past, which is degenerating to a final end.”

Plasma theory deals with electricity in gases in the universe and the ability of these electrically charged gases to form matter, planets, galaxies and eventually the universe and to continue on in a positive direction, infinitely.

I am not even going to attempt to explain the author’s plasma cosmology. But from my point of interest the author is consistent with the basics as I understand them.
The author does not believe that something can come from nothing. In many books defending the Big Bang, this notion is advanced. I have never accepted such a premise. This author’s theory is consistent with the laws of conservation of matter and energy.

The author states that his theory is consistent with an infinite, self-regenerating universe. The universe does not have to have a beginning nor does it need to end. It always was and always will be. This point is anathema to many religious explanations of the origins of the universe.

The author challenges the interpretation of the second law of thermodynamics. The universe, he explains, is not devolving to a negative state as the current misinterpretation of this law suggests but growing in complexity as it always has and always will. He elaborates on this point to other scientists and in the appropriate scientific language.

This author challenges on a scientific level all the established notions and established scientists, including Heisenberg, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and many others.

That the universe always has been is the only intelligent position that can be offered on the subject, rationally in my opinion. This is as far as the cause and effect search can take us. To go beyond the notion that the Universe is where all our knowledge begins is to step into the realm of religion, mysticism, superstition, revelation and the supernatural. We have the universe and we have science with its observations and experimentations and that is where our inquiry should begin and end.

The author also establishes that time travels in one direction. It is not reversible. Just because equations are reversible does not substantiate any fantasy of traveling backward or forwards in time. I have found this notion totally ridiculous. I’ve ordered a book the author recommends on this subject, “Order out of Chaos” by Illa Prigogine.

There is only one area where I disagree with the author, slightly. But it seems to me many scientists fall into this same trap. Hawking in his last book makes pretty much the same misstatement.

Mr. Lerner confirms the ancient argument over freewill with the supposition that because man has an infinite number of choices he then has free will.

Man does not have freewill in the philosophical and theological sense because he could not have possibly chose to exist. Man’s existence is thus arbitrary and no number of choices will abolish that fact. Man is free to conform to his physiological, biological and genetic preset. This was determined by however it was that human beings originated via the universe. This at present is unknown.

Choices do not make the freewill notion valid. Chain a man to a wall and then offer him a million compensations. Having a million choices does not free him from being chained to the wall. And having choices does not set man free from an arbitrary existence.

To me this book is the most logical and straight forward book written by a scientist that I have read in a very long time. I have already ordered other books suggested in this text. I feel that my interest in science has been renewed.

I more than agree with the author in his insinuation that most of today’s science is wrongheaded. We are basically living in a Ptolemaic scientific state. Some drastic turnarounds to get the scientific community heading back in the direction of logic and sound scientific reasoning are necessary. As the author states, at present the Big Bang is being used and distorted by economic and theocratic inclinations to pressure and push science back into the mystical and theocratic. We are returning to the dark ages where logic, reason and scientific experimentation are being replaced by theorizing, and rationalized dogmatic inclinations – complete with computer paradigms and hypothetical models. I would give this book ten stars if I could. This author has a web site:

I have found no other books written by this author for the general reader. But I will be keeping an eye out for any new books by this gentleman.
I must repeat. I think this is a great book!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Limits of Power - Bacevich

Hobo-ing America is my book and it provides a picture of how the millions of non-profligate exist in today's America. Click on cover of Hobo-ing America at right of this page for my information.

The Limits of Power

By Andrew J. Bacevich

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

The author does a lot of quoting of a man named Reinhold Niebuhr. Do yourself a favor and skip Reinhold. I read Reinhold first at the author’s recommendation, and even though the man writes in English one still needs an interpreter to get through his book.

Bacevich, on the other hand, is very mater-of-fact and to the point.
Andrew Bacevich is a college professor and ex-military. This book is another installment from “The American Empire Project.”

This Project is a series of books by various authors who disparage the imperialistic policies of the United States, the expansion of the Military Industrial Complex, and the tendency of promoting the misguided notion of global exceptionalism by the U.S.A.

In this work Bacevich points out the futility of constantly choosing military solutions to solve international disagreements by the U.S.A. War should be a last resort and only used as a retort to military aggression by an enemy. Used as a diplomatic weapon it has been a total failure, Bacevich explains. Disregarding the morality of it all, it just doesn’t seem to be working. And this failure goes back for decades.

Mr. Bacevich is extremely hard on his military cohorts. General Franks, Colon Powell, General Wesley Clark and several others are run through Bacevich’s meat grinder. He goes so far as to say that, though America’s soldier base and technology are strong, the officers Corps is derelict. He is very outspoken with regards to the poor quality of American military leadership. This would make some conclude that our institutions for training our officers must be faulty. But Bacevich doesn’t mention our military academies. Maybe he deals with those institutions and their shortcomings in another of his books.

He doesn’t have much good to say about the civilian leadership either. He runs Bush and his administration through the ringer. He is especially unhappy with the Bush Doctrine of “Preemptive War” as should all Americans.

He also hits Clinton and his military strategy of throwing bombs and rockets around as equally misguided, insane and irrational.

The moral of his story is that war does not work. He quotes Norman Mailer: “Fighting a war to fix something works about as good as going to a whore house to get rid of the clap.”

In Bacevich’s estimation the military “option” is not the answer.

He questions every military excuse for their failure, even their groaning about interference from inept and dominating, civilian, political leadership.

By Bacevich’s arguments the military leadership has no excuse. They appear to be, in the author’s estimation, a bunch of bungling, rampaging buffoons.

His bottom line: no military unless attacked. Military brawn is a poor excuse for not using our political heads. The United States is not equipped, nor does it have the moral right to be preemptively striking anybody. We should be more willing to let world problems play out in the world theater. America does not have all the answers and we should not be so patriotically egotistical to think that we do. And, by the way, we don’t have the money or the personnel to protect and direct the world militarily.

A big sub-theme throughout the book is highlighted by the word “profligate.” The author praises Jimmy Carter for his “malaise” speech – though he says that Jimmy never used the word.

It seems that it is the wasteful, greedy consumerism of the American people that has precipitated all these terrible military and political policies. We all want cheap gasoline, cheap goods and cheap foreign imports. We are all wasteful, self-indulgent, and … profligate.

This point by the author brings to mind such past writers as Henry David Thoreau, Thorstein Veblen and John Kenneth Galbraith.

Thoreau advised his American fellow citizens back in the 1800’s to “simplify.” He told us to make do with less and to be satisfied with one chair and a mat of straw to sleep on at night. Henry did not get very far with this notion even back in the 1800’s.

Then there was Mr. Galbraith who pondered the difficulties of “The Affluent Society.” A time that was advancing upon Americans when they would all have more free time and luxuries to spare. Oh woe is me. What would all us fat, overfed, wealthy Americans do with all our freedom and money.

Then we had Thorstein Veblen who coined the term “conspicuous consumption.” But Thornstein was not talking about everyday Americans. He was referring to the elegant class, the better-off and the wealthy. Unlike the other two mentioned above, he had a point.

Mr. Bacevich is laboring under the misconception that all of us Americans have been living high off the hog going all the way back to the late forties and early fifties. Ever since World War II ended, America has truly been a land of milk and honey and “profligate” spending on the part of all us elitist Americans.

My dad was hunting work all through the 50’s in my old neighborhood. My hometown of Lawrence was boasting an unemployed percentage of between 30 and 40 percent. We were in a depression.

Things were horrible.

I have never enjoyed profligacy of any type, shape or form. In my book “Hobo-ing America” my wife and I worked ourselves around America and though we worked by the sides of thousands of hard working Americans, we bumped into very few of the profligate.

I think Mr. Bacevich has been blessed and has had the privilege of rubbing elbows with the profligate in some nifty profligate neighborhoods. I have never seen one, nor do I know any of the profligate class. I don’t doubt that one could find statistics to verify the author presumptions but we all know what has been said about statistics.

I resent being held blame for America’s poor government leadership, military leadership, and poor economic policies.

Mr. Bacevich also neglected U.S. failure to maintain jobs in the face of our mounting import/export imbalances that started, as he pointed out, in 1970 and has never returned to the black. He mentioned the import/export imbalance but never once brought up the loss of our jobs to the global economy and what could or should have been done to compensate and keep Americans working.

I agree totally with over 90% of what Mr. Bacevich has to say especially with his points against the military option, preemptive war and attempting to police the world. But the points where I disagree I disagree very strongly.

Please don’t blame me, buddy. I have been doing all that I can just to stay alive.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Hobo-ing America

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

This was the most exciting adventure in our lives and despite all the conversation, very few people actually do what Carol and I did. We sold everything we owned, including Carol’s little MG Midget; bought a van and hit the road, Jack. We left our secure lives in 1976 and the adventure never stopped. I was managing restaurants and Carol was a reparatory therapist working the emergency room at a Miami hospital.

When our initial adventure capital ran out, we were reading the Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. We were inspired. Why couldn’t we get crazy migrant/hobo type jobs and continue traveling across America? We did. And that is where this book begins – in a farm labor bureau employment office in California. We were signing up to go “top onions” with all the poor contract laborers and illegal immigrants. The interviewer thought we were nuts.

I subtitled this book “a workingman’s adventure.” That is not quite fair to Carol who also lived a “workingman’s” life. She didn’t sit back at the van baking cup cakes. She climbed 20 ft. ladders to pluck oranges from the top of thorny oranges trees; she tonged oysters from the bottom of Apalachicola Bay; she topped onions crawling around on her hands and knees in the desert-like sun of southern California. She did a “man’s” work, as they say.

We are both now well into our 60’s and as I review this book and our adventure, I must say I found a girl who was one in a million. Carol can gripe with God over what she was given but I certainly have no justified complaints on the girl he sent to me.
We had so much fun on this adventure that I felt compelled to write a book about it. Our adventure began in 1976 and ended in an ice cream parlor in Carrabelle Florida in the year 2000. That’s where the book ends but our adventure is still in progress.
Deciding to pack up and leave Fort Lauderdale and our steady, dependable jobs and lives to have a little adventure before we were too old to enjoy it, was truly a monumental decision. It changed our lives and it changed us … for the better.
When I compare this to other travel books and I have read them all – On the Road by Jack Kerouac or Charles Karualt, Mark Twain’s many travel books, the Dove, Walking Across America, Blue Highways, Travels with Charlie by John Steinbeck, Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson, I think Hobo-ing America stands out as somewhat unique. We worked our way around this country. We weren’t on a sabbatical or a scholarship. We weren’t getting a check from National Geographic. We worked and we worked hard doing jobs that the majority of Americans wouldn’t do on a dare.

There are only two other books that I think compare with Hobo-ing America in this regard, Two Years before the Mast by William Henry Dana and Pages from a Worker’s Life by William Z. Foster. Those two guys also put in some sweat.

This is a fun book. It is written as Mark Twain advised, without the author forgetting his sense of humor. Carol and I had great fun and met bunches of loveable and very interesting people. It was the experience of a lifetime for both Carol and I. We both hope you will buy a copy and enjoy reading it. Good luck on your adventure.