Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Democrats, led by Bernie Sanders, are organizing marches and protests for "Medicare for All"... but:

The only time Democrats advocate "Medicare for All" is when they are campaigning or when Republicans are in power.

The Democrats did not even improve Medicare when Obama and the Democrats had the opportunity.

Instead the Democrats increased co-pays; made people pay more for Medicare Part B; eliminated many coverages and gave doctors free reign to set fees for Medicare covered health care services instead of controlling their prices and the cost of drugs.

Most working class people can't even afford Medicare Part B.

Never mentioned is the expensive, complex web and maze of the supplemental health insurance industry we are being subjected to to "cover" (with all of its own deductibles) what Medicare still won't cover.

Thousands of working class families are forced to file medical bankruptcies because they can't afford the Medicare co-pays--- working class families are losing their homes, cars and everything they worked a lifetime to buy to pay health care debts.

Working class homeowners are being "offered" the scam of reverse home mortgages touted on television by Hollywood hucksters as a way to pay medical bills.

Hundreds of doctors, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and nursing homes are making big profits off of Medicare; this is wrong, too, but Democrats have done nothing to stop this.

In many cases, patients routinely get double-billed for Medicare services.

Al Capone would have loved the Medicare racket.

As even the Wall Street Journal has noted, doctors and the reactionary American Medical Association have been put in charge of establishing what doctors get paid for their services under Medicare and this has pushed all health care costs up.

Medicare could have been a step towards a National Public Health Care System but instead Obama appointed the reactionary Alan Simpson to launch an attack on Medicare and Medicaid.

And to top it off, all of these profiteers are colluding to undermine Medicare by routinely intentionally not "coding" bills properly so Medicare--- and insurance companies--- will deny claims. Insurance companies will not pay claims denied by Medicare.

Democrats will now try to convince people they are for Medicare for All in an attempt to prevent a discussion about the real solution to this health care mess: a National Public Health Care System which would be based on the model of public education... but, here again, Obama encouraged a massive attack on public education by supporting private charter schools instead of defending the integrity of public education.

Republicans and Democrats despise any program that is public; they love private for profit everything... just like the greedy doctors, pharmaceutical companies, insurance industry, hospitals and nursing homes... and these contributors to their campaigns prove it.

Here is what we need...

A National Public Health Care System---

We need a health care system that is all-inclusive and comprehensive covering everything from ore-natal to through burial:

General health.



Hearing--- ever priced hearing aids?


Family planning--- including abortions. Everything Planned Parenthood does should be included and expanded.

Publicly financed. Publicly administered. Publicly delivered... just like public education.

How to pay?

With a huge Peace Dividend... end militarism and these dirty imperialist wars. We don't need to update and upgrade the nuclear weapons arsenal. We definitely don't need a trillion-dollar F-35 fighter jet program.

We don't need over 800 U.S. foreign military bases dotting the globe... we do need hundreds of community and neighborhood health care centers dispensing free health care across our country creating twelve to fifteen million good-paying jobs.

We must insist on progressive funding for a National Public Health Care System (tax the rich, end militarism and wars, a tax on Wall Street transactions) instead of the regressive and reactionary method used for funding public education--- local property taxes, which serves to under-mine and under-fund public education.

And we must insist there be no for-profit feeding at the public trough with a National Public Health Care System like there is with public education.

Those supporting Medicare for All and Obamacare are very selfish people even though they hypocritically claim to be so concerned about people who will lose coverage but they don't give two hoots about those of us who can't afford the "benefits" of what they are defending and offering. If they really cared they would be calling for reforms to the present Medicare mess rather than calling for shifting this mess to even more people with the co-pays and expensive Medicare Part B.

I realize these co-pays and the high price of Medicare Part B mean nothing to these selfish well-heeled upper middle class Democratic party hacks but they should be held accountable for what they want to dump on the rest of us.

When all is said and done, these Democratic Party hacks don't even have any intention of delivering what they claim to be supporting--- they are just playing us for fools just like they have done in every single election since 1948.

When they finally delivered Medicare it was only for a small part of the population and they never made any attempt to improve it but they sure spent a lot of time making it less inclusive--- these aren't people we can entrust with health care reform--- after all, it was these same Democratic Party hacks who worked behind our backs to derail even the mild single-payer reform.

The price we pay for these dirty imperialist wars is not having the world-class National Public Health Care System we are entitled to. We have created the wealth being squandered on militarism and wars as the Wall Street crowd profits from both health care and militarism and wars and these Wall Street parasites hoard the rest of the wealth we have created.

We don't need, nor want, a market-based for-profit health care system--- the only way to resolve this health care mess is through a socialized National Public Health Care System... about as controversial as public education and would be based on the model of public education which has been proven to work so well when properly funded and administered.

And let us be clear about this:

Defending Obamacare is not the way to get us closer to real health care reform.

The Affordable Care Act should be repealed and replaced with a National Public Health Care System.

Obamacare is nothing but the "Health Insurance and Pharmaceutical Industry Bailout and Profit Maximization Act."

Obama promised single-payer Medicare for All when first campaigning for president which probably won him the election--- and then he turned around a betrayed those who voted for him.

There are many ways to pay for a National Public Health Care System:

Through a Peace Dividend.

A payroll tax on employees and employers.

A hefty tax on corporate profits.

A tax on all Wall Street transactions.

It will probably take a combination of all of these.

And it wouldn't hurt to have a government concerned about a healthy food chain and a healthy and safe living environment, along with a healthy and safe working environment with a focus on an education that emphasizes how to stay healthy and fit... and a health care system which stresses preventative health care.

How can we be healthy when our air, water and land is being polluted and contaminated?

I could mention more about the working environment and the toll working long hours at poverty wages takes on a person, too, but this would be well beyond the thinking abilities of the well-heeled upper middle-class muddle-headed intellectuals who are selfish Democratic Party hacks pushing for Medicare for All in order to keep health care in this country market-based and for-profit.

The American people want no part of a health care system that includes the health insurance industry and its over-paid corporate executives.

The American people want no part of a market-driven for-profit health care system.

It must also be noted the very same Democratic Party hacks, over-paid media pundits, think-tanks and front groups and their "partners" now pushing this Medicare for All scam, which was mobilized under the leadership of the Campaign for America's Future, were the same ones who banded together to derail and disrupt the single-payer universal health care movement in order to make way for Barack Obama's "Affordable Care Act" which has only made health care more expensive for most people while still leaving tens of millions without any access to health care.

We should also remember that it was President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins, who fervently advocated for socialized health care.

We need a National Public Health Care System--- everyone in; nobody left out.

Eleanor Roosevelt advocated health care as a human right in helping to draft the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights; so did Dr. Martin Luther King.

Repeal Obamacare and replace it with a National Public Health Care System.

I'm wondering why all of these other health care schemes have been so shrouded in lies and deceit?

Put doctors and all health care workers on the public payroll and make education free through university.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


I'm wondering why it is so difficult for people to figure out that the solutions to our problems are the basis of unity?

It would seem to me it should be rather simple to build a huge movement capable of winning change in this country under the theme:

Americans united for prosperity for all through peace and disarmament...

And then articulate our problems and their solutions...

And how a Peace Dividend would pay for these reforms.

One of the big problems I view as an impediment to this kind of unity is that we are allowing these politicians to define our problems which they don't understand to begin with because they have no connection to our problems and then they turn around and arrogantly tell us what solutions to our problems are required and even these lame solutions are nothing more than campaign gimmicks they have no intent on implementing anyways...

A perfect example is health care.

These politicians keep insisting that we must maintain a system of health care based on the scheme, and scam, of free market for-profit health care when everyone knows this doesn't work--- except for those getting rich.

Not one single politician in Washington has the moral or political integrity to even tolerate a discussion about a National Public Health Care System based on the model of public education.

And the media suppresses all discussion of socialized health care even though millions of people in this country support socialist solutions to our problems.

Even Bernie Sanders who claims to be a socialist refuses to bring forward the socialist solution to this health care mess.

To achieve unity we need to bring forward issues, problems and very specific solutions to our problems.

Unity is key; we can not afford to remain splintered along sectarian lines.



And Unity in struggle has always been the key to working people solving our problems.

This means a huge broad-based people's front movement made up of liberals, progressives and leftists.

It all starts with small groups of people getting together around the kitchen table... writing letters to the editor, passing out leaflets, circulating petitions, demonstrating.

No one will do this for us; we must take the initiative. We must become the catalysts for united action in the streets and at the ballot box.

Monday, July 17, 2017

About the G-20

Victor Grossman, Tikkun's Berlin Correspondent
The concert hall in Hamburg’s wonderful new Elbphilharmonie edifice resounded with Schiller’s thrilling Ode to Joy and world brotherhood in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Nineteen heads of state were there for a G-20 conference; only Erdogan from Turkey was missing; he may not appreciate Beethoven or was too busy worrying about the huge peaceful march to Istanbul, a first major response to his repression. All other leaders and their spouses heard the music; even Donald Trump was seen for a TV moment with half-closed eyes, in euphoric enjoyment of Beethoven, we assume. Or why else? 

For the outside world it was not Schiller’s sparks of joyful brotherhood which marked that evening – and two more evenings - but those from the torches of  black-masked figures setting fire to cars and dumpsters, throwing fireworks, breaking shop windows and shop interiors.  

What lay behind the destruction and all the water cannon and pepper gas used in response? Did it overshadow the meetings? Was anything accomplished in polished conference rooms and luxurious hotel suites carefully protected from the wild, fiery street scenes? Was it worth hundreds of injured police officers and arrests and millions in damage?

The event was rife with contradictions and haziness, not only from smoke and tear gas. The groups opposing the conference ranged in tactics from mild disapproval to violent disruption, some condemned climate warming, others condemned capitalism. One group denounced Erdogan, others opposed Merkel, muslimophobe racists, or Putin. For the first two hours, it seems, the police did nothing to control the masked men with torches and hammers but then moved in hard with a water barrage against a large group which was defiantly blocking the street but was non-violent, with no connection to the masked “black bloc”. One police spokesperson explained their long wait to fears of Molotov cocktails, cement blocks or stones thrown from rooftops in Hamburg’s famous leftwing-anarchist Schanzenviertel neighborhood, not wanting to risk lives of police and civilians. But well before any Bush, Obama or other controversial dignitary visits in Germany every sewer is examined and sealed off, divers check river bottoms, windows along the route are ordered shut; even a hostile mouse could hardly get through and do any damage. Here 20 top world leaders were expected, for months, but no-one seemed to think of the rooftops until the flames spread.  

Some things are still hard to explain. By skipping musically from Beethoven to Gilbert and Sullivan’s very British operetta HMS Pinafore, we find a song famously casting doubt on appearances: 

“Things are seldom what they seem, Skim milk masquerades as cream…” Etc.

At heated events in the past, some masked men were rather “skim milk” than cream. When the G-8 met at Heiligendamm in 2007, a leading stone-thrower lost his mask and was recognized as a police employee. The far left-anarchist center in Hamburg (a building known as “Red Flora”), a main organizing center of the current protests, has been infiltrated more than once by very “leftist”, inquisitive, even libidinously active police spies. Some truths may never come out; who is masquerading here and why. New, angry demands from the CDU and the SPD that “leftist-terrorists” from all of Europe should be listed in a register make me wonder; isn’t someone who reads Karl Marx or calls for socialism a “leftist-terrorist” for some dignitaries making these demands? And isn’t this ”down with leftists” campaign one more reason to suspect black-masked provocateurs?  

The city-state Hamburg is now ruled by a coalition of Social Democrats and Greens. The Social Democratic mayor has sometimes been considered as a popular new national head of his slumping party. Only until this weekend, that is! Now he is being pressed by indignant Christian Democrats (Angela Merkel’s CDU) to step down. Germany’s second city is at stake and so are crucial German elections, due in eleven weeks. The calls for even more authoritarian measures than recently approved have grown to a louder crescendo than any joyous chorus in the 9th Symphony. 

The CDU is well ahead in the national polls, at about 38%. Its desired partner, the right-wing big-biz Free Democrats, are moving upward with 8% and could supply the desired majority. But polls often change, and Merkel and her band would gladly squelch any remaining chance that potential rivals might somehow present a challenge. After a brief surge with their new leader Martin Schulz the Social Democrats slumped back downward and now trail by 13 points. But who knows? Some still hope they can overcome repugnance toward the LINKE and join them and the Greens, who will team up with almost anyone to win a few cabinet seats, and squeeze out a ruling coalition trio. For the CDU, angry new demands for more “law and order” from countless frightened citizens might have been seemed just the needed guarantee for rescuing Germany from an imagined “leftist threat”.

Did such tactics play a secret role last weekend? We can only hum again: “Things are seldom what they seem, Skim milk masquerades as cream…”

It would seem, however, that Angela Merkel did hope to improve her world standing, already so strong, with herself as courteous hostess of a great conference, heading toward the top of the world pile, despite differences with the transatlantic ally, indeed, replacing that unruly clown in some areas without quite breaking with big brother’s trade and ebbing yet still powerful political and military muscle. Did she navigate the tight rope? This scene, too, is murky, with deceptive lights and shadows. 

The decision on saving the Paris Agreement, without Trump, is rated as a limited success, since no one expected him to back down. Was nearly everyone else’s yes-vote a triumph for our sea and air? Paris had been a step forward, if a limited one. But the Christian Democrats (and Greens) have ties to Daimler and Porsche; official Social Democrats enjoy financial ties to Volkswagen (sharing with Qatar) and Bavarian Christian politicians are close to BMW. None fought passionately for better air conditions, their electronically deceptive exhaust pipes aimed in false directions. German “Marshall Plan assistance” to sub-Saharan Africa is to be mostly private, hence profit-oriented, fond of wide, monstrous monoculture with few workers, ruined landscapes and countless shaky boats risking Mediterranean waves and winds. That does not bode well for big advances, nor did the lack of any African leader except Jacob Zuma, more an expert on private swimming pools than cleaner oceans. 

The trade agreement has been billed as the one really big success. But trade agreements now on the drawing boards seem likely to be rehashes of the dumped TTIP Trade Treaty between Europe and the USA, beneficial if you’re a big import-export trader but not otherwise. And Washington may come around, anyway. Trump pledges to ditch NAFTA no longer seem so very definite, any more than making Mexico build that wall. Promises can sour, too, like skim milk. 

Two happenings during the conference, though pushed to the media sidelines by the torches or the wardrobes of the Trump ladies and Ms. Merkel, were potentially far more crucial. Merkel, Putin and Macron met to try defusing the Ukraine conflict. We do not know what was accomplished, if anything, but it was good that they talked. Almost immediately NATO boss Jens Stoltenberg raced off to Kiev to undo possible de-escalation by opening an exhibition called “Ukraine-NATO. A  Formula for Security”. His obvious aim (for years now): to fully close the nearly total, heavily-armed NATO ring around Russia. We shall see how many warning statements, euros, battalions and weapons Merkel and Macron will commit to that ring – or will they surprise everyone by working towards peace?
Far more important was Friday’s meeting between Putin and Trump, when they agreed on a cease-fire in southwest Syria. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said: “This is our first indication of the US and Russia being able to work together in Syria… The two leaders had a lengthy discussion of other areas in Syria where we can work together". Both the US and Russia "promised to ensure that all groups there comply with the ceasefire" and "provide humanitarian access". Thus far the cease fire has held. 

Of course, no-one knows what Donald Trump will say or do tomorrow, perhaps not even Donald Trump. He has ordered more and bigger maneuvers in South Korea, against South Korean wishes, for they would be worst hit if sparks lead to explosions. He backed off from cyberwar agreements. But volatile and untrustworthy as he is, and a growing danger in domestic policy, the fact that the head of the most powerful military force in the world took one hesitant step toward reducing tension with a country pictured as “the enemy” was a second Hamburg event offering any hope. 

Why do so many US politicians and journalists attack such hopes? Do they want more bloodshed in Syria? Or some bloodthirsty idiot stationed in Estonia or Poland to light that fuse; we have many bloodthirsty idiots around, some with hand weapons in schools and dancehalls, some commanding drones, aircraft carriers and atomic warheads. Should we let them escalate confrontation? 

One such liberal was full of hatred toward Putin for “helping to orchestrate an attack on the sovereignty of the United States during the last U.S. election”. His evidence? “According to all indications”. No more. Yet when Trump shook hands with Putin and patted him on the back he found that “a disturbing if not sickening display….No one is arguing that seeking peace and lowering tensions with Russia isn’t necessary. But demonstrating strength and resolve, in ways small and large, is an imperative in trying to reach those ends. That and making it abundantly clear that mucking around in American elections will not be tolerated.” Such language brings back terrible memories! 

Perhaps, after quoting Dan Rather, I should recall Washington’s total involvement (with Pres. William Clinton) in having Russia “increasingly passing into de facto western receivership”, with American advisors and funds openly backing Yeltsin, leading to the near total collapse of the county. A huge US-backed IMF loan at the time was, according to the New York Times “expected to be helpful to President Boris N. Yeltsin in the presidential election”. As TIME noted, “Yanks to the rescue: The secret story of how American advisers helped Yeltsin win”.

I also think of the Ukraine in February 2014 when Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, after “contributing” $5 billion, said over the phone “I think Yats is the guy.” And indeed, Arseniy Yatseniuk was then “the guy”. There have been so many such stories from Chile to Myanmar; I wonder whether those so horrified today were sickened then at US attacks on others’ sovereignty. There has been lots of masquerading, I think, by disguised provocateurs or indignant sovereignty defenders. Their threats against even hesitant moves toward dialogue, disarmament, de-escalation in the world’s charged atmosphere are what truly sicken me - and frighten me!


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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Book Review: Hardboiled Activist: the Work and Politics of Dashiell Hammett

Hardboiled Activist: the Work and Politics of Dashiell Hammett

by Ken Fuller

Praxis Press: Glasgow, Scotland, Great Britain, 2017. $25. 334 Pp.

Revewed by Roger Keeran
July 11, 2017

Ever since Roland Barthe’s essay, “La Mort d’auteur” (“The Death of the Author) in 1967, academic critics have come to regard an author’s political views and biography as meaningless tools for understanding a novel that willy nilly has a life of its own. Though this idea has some merit, it has deprived literary criticism of a lot of pleasure. Fortunately, for readers interested in the life and work of Dashiell Hammett, Ken Fuller does not share Barthe’s approach, and consequently his study of Hammett’s “work and politics” is not only serious but a lot of fun.

This book is particularly fascinating for any leftist who has ever read The Red Harvest or seen “The Maltese Falcon” or “The Thin Man” and wondered what these works had to do with the life of their author, a presumed Communist, whose longtime companion was the Communist playwright Lillian Hellman and who went to prison rather than name names.

Fuller explores the anomaly of a writer whose works unlike his life lacked obvious progressive meaning.

Plenty of material has appeared on Dashiell Hammett’s life and work. At least thirteen studies or biographies of Hammett exist (actually sixteen, if you count multiple studies by the same author). The merit of Fuller’s book resides not in new facts (though he does provide new confirmation of Hammett’s membership in the Communist Party), but in its analysis and understanding of his life and work.

Fuller makes a two-fold argument that departs from earlier treatments of Hammett.   Unlike biographers and critics who have seen Marxist or socialist ideas in Hammett’s work, Fuller argues that at the time he was writing, Hammett was not a Marxist, and that at most he was a nihilist, and that the only thing political about his work was a vague anti-capitalism. During the Popular Front, Hammett joined the Communist Party, and while a Communist, he no longer wrote fiction. Fuller also argues that most treatments of Hammett’s politics are terribly misleading.   Presenting Hammett as a dupe, na├»ve, or intellectually lazy, most treatments disfigure the man and misconstrue the history. During the last twenty-five years of his life, Hammett was a committed and knowledgeable Communist activist, and he did not travel this path alone.

Fuller is a man of the left. He was a trade union official in London and a historian who has written a history of London bus workers and a three volume history of the left in the Philippines. Fuller shows more empathy to Hammett’s views than anyone else who has written about him, including Lillian Hellman. Fuller observes that most writers have more interest in showing their own anti-Communist credentials than understanding Hammett.  Indeed, Fuller’s refutation of some of Hellman’s memories, recalls Mary McCarthy’s jibe that “every word she [Hellman] writes is false, including ‘and’ and ‘but.’”   In any case, having a biographer who understands a subject’s politics counts a lot when politics occupy as central a place in a subject’s life as they did in Hammett’s. Not only did Hammett most likely belong to the Party from 1936 or 37 until his death in 1961, but also he was involved with twenty-two publications or organizations associated with the Communist Party, including a long stint as a teacher at the Party’s Jefferson School in New York City.

Fuller’s perspective leads to some penetrating insights into Hammett’s writing and such puzzles of his life as why and when he became a Communist and why he never produced another book or short story after 1936. Though not all of Fuller’s answers break new ground or dispel all doubt, he argues well and provokes thought.

The most outstanding contribution of the book is Fuller’s discussion of Hammett’s politics in Chapter 7, “Hardboiled activist.”   Many of those who have written about Hammett hold him in contempt for accepting the “Soviet line” and rejecting anti-Stalinism. As Fuller says, “None of these writers even attempt to explain why Hammett (or Hellman) would have adopted these positions.” Fuller does just that. He imagines why Hammett was attracted to the Popular Front positions, why he supported the verdicts of the Moscow Trials, why he rejected George Orwell’s position on the Spanish Civil War, and why he supported the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact of 1939 and the change in the Communist Party’s position that came with it.   Fuller’s summary and analysis of the plots of every book and short story can try one’s patience, but with this chapter his account comes alive. The whole book is worth Fuller’s exercise in historical re-imagining.

For someone who has devoted so much time and attention to him, Fuller does not display much liking for Hammett. Fuller’s judgments about the man and his inferences drawn from Hammett’s writings constitute the most problematic aspects of the book. Undoubtedly, there was much about Hammett to dislike. He made a lot of money from his books and screenplays and spent it wantonly on wine, women, and for a time, a lavish, Hollywood lifestyle. He evaded his duties as a provider for his former wife and two daughters. He had affairs, saw prostitutes, and on more than once occasion, hit a woman. In his stories and books particularly in the 1920s, he occasionally used racist language and stereotypes. For much of his life, he had a severe drinking problem, and for the last twenty-five years, he produced no books or stories.

Still, some of Fuller judgments though never rash are sometimes harsh. Fuller says, for example, “It must surely be the case that few communist parties in the world would have welcomed someone with a lifestyle like Hammett’s.” This is dubious. Infidelity and alcoholism certainly existed in Communist ranks. Hammett’s drinking and luxury differed not a whit from that of Hollywood Communists, like Dalton Trumbo. Similarly, to say that “a Marxist would never have penned” the “blatant escapism” of some of Hammett’s screenplays, ignores the constraints that Hollywood writers labored under as well as some of the screenplays produced by other Communist screenwriters. Trumbo, for example, no stranger to escapism, penned or helped pen such films as “Carnival Story,” “Curtain Call,” and “Sorority House.”
Moreover, Fuller claims that because of “his ability to give up drink for extended periods,” Hammett was a drunk but not an “alcoholic.” This is a rather quaint opinion. Most medical professionals regard alcoholism as any drinking that leads to mental or physical problems. Hammett’s drinking fit that. It was linked to suicidal depression and a nervous breakdown, as well as deteriorating physical health. Fuller credits Hammett for giving up alcohol for good in 1949 but more scorns his alcoholism than pitying it or even recognizing it as such.

Fuller also scores Hammett’s use of racist language and stereotypes in his stories.   Such usage certainly strikes contemporary ears as offensive. Yet, is Fuller correct to say that “a socialist, let alone a Marxist would not have employed them?” Unfortunately, such American Socialist notables as Victor Berger and Jack London used racist language, and some racially exclusionary practices even existed in fraternal groups connected with the Communist Party until 1930, when the Party campaigned to educate its members and eradicate such behavior. Roland Barthe’s caution about not confusing an author with his/her works might have application here. That is to say, the racial words of characters or even of a narrator are not necessarily reflective of an author’s values.   As Fuller shows, Hammett’s writing often portrayed the corruption, venality and criminality of a capitalist society in which a progressive thought or character rarely appeared. Racism was certainly part of the world Hammett described and hence his description may not be the best guide to his personal views. More telling is the testimony of his daughter Jo Hammett (quoted by Fuller) who said that he had begun life with “the usual racial biases.”

If Fuller and Hammett’s daughter are right, then the most striking thing about Hammett’s “racial biases,” is not that he once had them but how thoroughly he shed them. As a Communist Hammett’s devoted most of his time to the Civil Rights Congress (a Communist-led organization formed in 1946 by the amalgamation of the National Negro Congress, the International Labor Defense and the National Federation for Constitutional Liberties) for which he was the New York president. Fuller says that this organization “would have the biggest impact on his life.” Fuller, however, only discusses one aspect of the Congress’ work, namely, raising bail for Communists indicted under the Smith Act. Hammett’s refusal to turn over names of bail fund donors resulted in him going to prison for contempt of court.   The Civil Rights Congress, however, mainly concerned itself with defending the civil rights of African-Americans. Indeed, the Congress spearheaded the most noteworthy civil rights cases of its time, including the campaigns to free Willie McGee, the Martinsville Seven, and the Trenton Six.   (See Gerald Horne, Communist Front? The Civil Rights Congress, 1946-1956.) Thus, Fuller, who scores the lack of dialectics in Hammett’s writing, does not give quite enough credit to Hammett’s own dialectical change.   Hammett not only changed from an agent for the strikebreaking Pinkerton Agency to a Communist, but from a casual racist to a civil rights activist. If there was much to dislike about Hammett, there was also much to admire.

Such reservations are small potatoes, while Fuller’s book provides both meat and potatoes. He treats his subject with seriousness and his readers with intelligence. I cannot imagine a more politically empathetic and engaging treatment of Hammett’s life and work.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Mayor Bill de Blasio joins protestors in Germany... unity against the G-20, for a united people's front against Wall Street and its junior partners.

The Democrats and Republicans comprise Wall Street's two-party trap. We are caught in this trap and must break free. We need a working class based people's party that is both anti-monopoly and anti-imperialist to get us on the road to socialism or we are doomed.

Join the Campaign for a “21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity”

We are fed up with politicians campaigning on promises of “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” and then failing to make themselves legislatively responsible for attaining and maintaining full employment.

We are fed up with our tax dollars being squandered on militarism and wars instead of being used to create jobs by solving the problems of the people and defending our living environment… its time to beat swords into plowshares. Put people to work solving the problems of the people.

A National Public Health Care System would create over twelve-million new jobs paying real living wages providing people with free health care--- general medical, eyes, ears, dental, family planning and mental health--- through a network of neighborhood and community health care centers; this is a better use of our tax-dollars than wasting our human and financial resources on a far flung empire of over 800 U.S. military bases around the world. Or, it could be financed the same way Social Security is financed. Or paid for with a tax on Wall Street transactions. Or financed with a combination of these methods. Public funding. Public administration. Public delivery… nothing controversial; just like public education.

A National Public Child Care System would create over three-million new jobs providing working class families with free child care.

We need to restore the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (C.E.T.A.), Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

“At Will Employment” legislation in states across the country needs to be rescinded and repealed to expand democracy in the workplace and provide workers with the right to freely participate in the communities where they live.

All attacks on immigrant workers, documented and undocumented, need to end.
Planned Parenthood needs to be defended and programs expanded.

We insist Congress and the president enact full employment legislation which makes them legislatively responsible for attaining and maintaining full employment; assure everyone who wants a job employment at real living wages in line with the actual cost-of-living.

Full employment would provide stability for Social Security; everyone paying in; everyone getting something out. A Basic Income for All must be guaranteed. Pensions must be honored and protected. The Wall Street swindle of pension funds must end; restore the Glass-Steagall Act.

Turn Habitat for Humanity into a massive public works project to create jobs and assure everyone has a decent home.

Free education through university; cancel student debt. End military recruitment in the high schools.
Unemployment and lack of a National Public Health Care System is the price we pay for militarism and wars.

We are entitled to a Peace Dividend……... Let’s talk about the politics and economics of livelihood.

Prosperity can only be derived through peace and disarmament. Militarism and these dirty imperialist wars must end.

The Democrats and Republicans comprise Wall Street's two-party trap. We are caught in this trap and we must break free. We need a working class based people's party that is both anti-monopoly and anti-imperialist to get us on the road to socialism or we are doomed. We must challenge Wall Street for political and economic power.

The imperialist leaders of the G-20 must be opposed by a massive international people's front united against our common enemy: Wall Street and its junior partners.

Democratic New York Mayor Bill de Blasio joining demonstrators at the G-20 Summit should be welcomed and this kind of unity in the people's movements should be encouraged.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Trump has proven he can draw huge crowds...

Millions of people are turning out to demonstrate against him in Hamburg, Germany and all over Europe.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Could we learn something from North Korea?

What can we learn from North Korea?

How to provide every person with free health care.

In 2001 North Korea spent 3% of its gross domestic product on health care.

Beginning in the 1950s, the DPRK put great emphasis on healthcare, and between 1955 and 1986, the number of hospitals grew from 285 to 2,401, and the number of clinics – from 1,020 to 5,644.

There are hospitals attached to factories and mines.

Since 1979 more emphasis has been put on traditional Korean medicine, based on treatment with herbs and acupuncture.

A national telemedicine network was launched in 2010. It connects the Kim Man Yu Hospital in Pyongyang with 10 provincial medical facilities.

Patriotism on Parade

There is something a bit perverted when a bunch of corrupt Wall Street warmongers talk about putting "Patriotism on Parade" for the Fourth of July... I kind of doubt those founders like Thomas Paine who fought to have the Bill of Rights included as part of our Constitution would be too thrilled with a bunch of politicians who hypocritically boast to the world that the United States is the greatest bastion of democracy as these same two-bit, half-assed fascist bastards like Trump go goose-stepping backwards in the footprints of Joe McCarthy and his ilk.

On this Fourth of July corruption and unethical conduct by the politicians has become the norm rather than an aberration.

All hands on deck to defend democracy and the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

We need to press forward in driving Trump and his Cabinet of Wall Street serving scumbags from office as we build a movement of Americans united to obtain prosperity through peace and disarmament.

The price we are paying for these dirty imperialist wars is costing us a National Public Health Care System and our youth the right to free education through university and working class families the right to free child care as our youth are deprived of sports and recreation.

On this Fourth of July our country has as many burial grounds for democracy as contaminated super-fund sites.

Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson must be twisting and turning in their graves reeling with disgust on this Fourth of July.

We need a massive people's front movement mobilizing people in the streets and a new working class based people's party that is both anti-monopoly and anti-imperialist militantly advancing an agenda of very specific reforms solving the problems of the people intent on challenging Wall Street for political and economic power while advancing the socialist alternative to capitalism which means public ownership of the mines, mills, factories, the energy complex, banking, communications and transportation... a movement of the people to save ourselves and Mother Earth.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Perhaps Trump can order one of these to take Putin for a ride at the G-20 Summit

And they call this "democracy?"

This complete arrogance and disregard for the public good by "public officials" is going on all over the country; corruption has risen to new levels. We need some kind of national organization to advance good governance and ethics and accountability from elected and appointed public officials.

This says it all...

Trump and the G-20 Summit

This is a meeting of the leading imperialist countries.

Working people can expect to be subjected to further attacks as a result of this Summit.