Category Archives: Books

Jan. 20, 2020 MLK and Moms 4 Housing

On January 3, 2020 WBUR’s Tonya Mosley and Serena McMahon reported “In California, homelessness has been labeled by many as a “crisis” — more than a quarter of the nation’s homeless population lives in the state.  Homelessness in the state grew by more than 16% — about 21,300 people — in 2019 alone, according to the latest official count by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In Oakland, homelessness increased nearly 50% over the past two years due, in large part, to rising rents and evictions. 

On January 8, 2020 NPR’s Molly Solomon reported “According to the most recent count, more than 4,000 Oakland residents are experiencing homelessness. Meanwhile, the city estimates the number of vacant properties at around 4,300.” Aaron Glantz, author of Homewreckers, said “corporate entities like Wedgewood have been acquiring properties across the country.” “As families began to lose their homes to foreclosure in 2008 and 2009, it wasn’t other people that came in and bought those homes. It was speculators buying through shell companies.” “In 2016, Wedgewood’s CEO boasted that the company purchased over 200 foreclosed or soon-to-be foreclosed homes nationwide a month, calling the distressed housing market “hot and sexy.”
 
On January 14, 2020 Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman and Juan González reported “Moms 4 Housing: Meet the Oakland Mothers Facing Eviction After Two Months Occupying Vacant House” On November 18, 2019, Dominique Walker, one of the co-founders of Moms 4 Housing, moved into 2928 Magnolia Street in West Oakland California. Wedgewood Properties owned the vacant house and tried to evict them for illegally squatting on private property. The mothers filed a “right to possession” claim, saying housing is a human right. Dominique Walker said “There’s four vacant houses for every one homeless person in Oakland. We are reclaiming this house from a billion-dollar corporation who bought this house at a foreclosed price. It has been vacant for two years while people are living out on the street. We felt like this was necessary to take this step.” She also said “There are 6,000 to 8,000 folks sleeping on the streets. And that’s not even accounting for all of the unhoused people and housing-insecure. This house was owned by Wedgewood, a company that is a displacement machine. They’re composed of five different companies. They all play a role in the direct displacement of people. We’re taking a stand, and it doesn’t end with one house. We want to take Oakland back from all speculators. We’re not going to stop organizing until we all have shelter. I was born and raised in Oakland. And most of folks are either displaced out, at least 45 minutes to a couple hours out, or they’re displaced onto the street.” 
 
Amy Goodman said” “It’s not so much an issue of scarcity, but of distribution.” Democracy Now’s Marianne Maeckelbergh reported “In the last two years, homelessness in Oakland has increased by 47%. With average rental rates in Oakland rising to nearly $3,000 a month, there are few or no options for most people looking for housing.”
 
Carroll Fife, the director of the Oakland office for Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment said “After the housing crisis and the foreclosure crisis of 2008, many homeowners lost their primary residences — their only residences. And so that allowed speculators and the banks that were bailed out by the government at that time to come in and scoop up homes at rock-bottom prices. So, that is still happening, and we’re still experiencing the impacts of the foreclosure crisis, with speculators owning 35% of the housing stock in America.” “So, some state that Oakland has the worst speculation crisis in the country. And that’s observable by how high the rents are. You have the median one-bedroom market-rate unit starting at around $2,500 a month. And so, the housing wage, which is different from the minimum wage or living wage, in Alameda County, where Oakland is located, is $40.88 per hour. And that is out of reach for many of Oakland’s working-class people.” “Wedgewood Properties has approximately 96 subsidiaries. And they are the real estate speculator that is holding the deed for Moms’ House. They are in the business of buying homes at rock-bottom prices and flipping them. And that is part of the problem why housing is so unaffordable in cities like Oakland. They buy houses by bulk, so 100 to 200 properties per month, if not more, in distressed neighborhoods — their words — and then they flip them and sell them to the highest bidder. So it puts home prices out of reach for many working-class people. So they drive up the cost of rents and the cost of actually purchasing a home, which is why homeownership levels are so low.”And that’s what’s criminal about this housing crisis. There are actually places where people can live. But because they’re private, they’re privately owned, it makes it difficult to even crack into what a solution could be, because the private industry doesn’t have to be held accountable. And that is what we’re saying is criminal. It should not be legal for anyone that owns property, particularly corporations.And we want to make a distinction, because that’s what’s been thrown around a lot, too, is that if an individual mom-and-pop owner of a property left it empty because they’re on vacation, then somehow Moms 4 Housing is advocating taking people’s personal property. That is completely and patently false. What we’re saying is corporations should not be able to hold vacant properties when there is a housing crisis. There should not be people living on the streets when there are places where they can live.” “This is — Oakland looks like an entirely different city than it did years ago, and it’s strictly due to corporations that are able to rent-gouge when they have homes for rent and charge way over market for homes that are not worth what they’re actually selling them for.  And so, this is starting a movement where people who are also experiencing housing insecurity, which means they pay more than 30% of their income in rent, are waking up, because they’ve seen this example of Moms 4 Housing define what the market trends are, and saying, “We deserve housing for all, not just for those who can pay the high price tags.”  
 
On January 15, 2020 NPR’s Molly Solomon interviewed Dominique Walker after her family was evicted. “The sheriffs came in. They came in like an army for mothers and babies.” “Armed officers, some wearing combat fatigues, knocked down the front door before handcuffing two of the mothers, Tolani King and Misty Cross. Two activists supporting the women were also arrested. Outside, a small crowd of protesters shouted down the officers.” They were shouting “Shame on you.” 
 
On January 16, 2020 Mother Jones reporter Marisa Endicott wrote “Police Said They Wouldn’t Be “Confrontational.” Then They Came in Riot Gear to Arrest Homeless Moms.” Oakland city council members, including Nikki Fortunato Bas and president Rebecca Kaplan, even got behind the moms and attempted to negotiate the sale of the home to the Oakland Community Land Trust”. Bas said “What the moms are doing is an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, saying that there was a human right to housing, a right to adequate housing.” “This movement is just beginning, and we see what we’re up against, but we also see what they’re afraid of. They’re afraid of us mobilizing over 300 people in 15 minutes. That’s what we did. Because we all care, and we all have humanity, and we want to change this system.” 
 
On January 20, 2020 KQED’s Kate Wolff reported “Moms 4 Housing Group Reaches Agreement to Buy Vacant House”. At an Oakland demonstration on Martin Luther King Day, Moms 4 Housing announced an agreement to buy the home through the Oakland Community Land Trust from Wedgewood. “Members of the group say once the sale goes through, they plan to move into the house and make it a headquarters for their movement. ”Dominque Walker said “We will not stop organizing and fighting until all unhoused folks who want shelter, have shelter.” Carroll Fife, director of Oakland Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, a non-profit that supported Moms 4 Housing, called the agreement “a huge step.”  “What they’re doing is conceding to the pressure that’s been put on them by this movement,” Fife said about Wedgewood.
 

Copyright 2020 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 24, 2019 SNR

On Oct. 24, 2019 SNR published SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker’s article “You Are Not Alone.” “On average, older workers age 56 to 61 – very close to traditional retirement age – have $17,000 saved for retirement. The average social Security monthly payment is $1377. Walker wrote that Social Security only taxes income up to $132,900, Removing that cap would raise billions of dollars to help senior citizens.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

 

Oct. 17, 2019 SNR

On Oct. 17, 2019 SNR’s Foon Rhee wrote “My Generation: How Can Millennials Do Better? Vote. Because of the Great Recession and student loans millennials could be the first generation to to be worse off than their parents. A political group called Young Invincibles is trying to get millennials to vote.

Scott Thomas Anderson wrote “The Twilight Zones” about the PG&E blackout in Nevada City. Richard Calkins said”The Bottom line  is , there’s a lot of people here who want to know if we’re being punished because PG&E is losing its lawsuit. What’s the real motivation?” Governor Gavin Newsom said “This is not a climate change story as much as a story about greed and mismanagement over the course of decades. neglect, a desire to advance not public safety, but profits.” The governor called for refunds to customers.

Copyright 2019 DJ cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 11, 2019 Vanity Fair

On Oct. 11, 2019 Vanity Fair Hive’s William D. Cohan wrote “A Decision Between Sickness And Death: Wall Street Tries To Get Its Mind Around a Warren Presidency.” This article is so important that the full article is below:

You can tell Wall Street is getting more than a little worried that Elizabeth Warren may become the next president of the United States when research reports start popping up about what her presidency might mean for the financial markets. Spoiler alert: It’s not good.  
 
In a note to his high-net-worth clients on October 8, Barrett Tabeek, a financial adviser at Matauro, LLC, an affiliate of AXA, the giant French insurance company, makes clear that a Warren presidency won’t be good for corporate earnings, which means she won’t be good for the stock market, which means she won’t be good for shareholders who have no doubt gotten quite used to the stock market highs unleashed by Donald Trump’s massive tax cut for corporate America. “Everyone has their hierarchy of what’s important,” Tabeek wrote, “and Warren is an unapologetic populist who, if in power, would enact policies designed to reduce corporate earnings to benefit other stakeholders.” In the group that stands to benefit from a Warren presidency, Tabeek puts “workers,” then the “environment” and “those with lower incomes,” and finally “women and minorities.”  
 
While he’s adamant that he’s not being political in his four-page note, Tabeek evaluated 10 of Warren’s policy proposals—among them, “ban fracking,” “increased taxes on the wealthy,” “break up big tech,” and “reinstate Glass- Steagall”—and pretty much declares that they will reduce corporate profits, reduce incomes for the super-wealthy, and raise gasoline prices for consumers. “The bottom line is that from a market standpoint, all of these policies would be negative for stocks, with some being downright negative for the broad markets (by reducing corporate earnings broadly) while others would be material negatives for certain sectors (large-cap tech, prison stocks, defense stocks, etc.),” he wrote. “How negative would these policies be for stocks? No one knows exactly, but it’s safe to say they’d be negative.”  
 
Wall Street’s best hope, Tabeek notes, is that most of the policies that Warren would like to enact would need congressional approval, “and as such they are unlikely to be approved, at least based on what we know now.” He wrote that polls suggest that Warren is “more liberal than most Democrats (and obviously Republicans) so even if Democrats were to sweep (controlling Congress and the presidency), it’s unclear how many of these policies would be enacted,” although he pointed out that some of her policies, such as having the EPA ban fracking, could be done by executive order.   But actually, Tabeek is significantly more pessimistic than many others on Wall Street, who don’t yet see Warren as either the inevitable Democratic nominee yet or that she would necessarily govern—if she’s elected president—as radically as she comes across in her stump speeches. For all her regulatory fervor, she still describes herself as a capitalist—and she hasn’t yet passed through the crucible of a general election, which can sometimes, though not always, have a moderating effect.  
 
Robert Wolf, who has his own advisory firm and has been described as Obama’s favorite Wall Street banker, sees Warren as “having the most momentum in the populist lane” while Joe Biden, Obama’s former vice president, is “still the guy in the moderate lane.” He hesitates to say that Bernie Sanders is out of the picture, especially since within days of suffering a heart attack, he announced that he had raised $25 million from 1.4 million unique donors, “which is just off the charts in both ways.” He also can envision Sanders playing a key role, should he decide that his health scare prevents him from pushing forward with his campaign. Such a move, if it were to happen, would obviously favor Warren. “There’s no question that the role he decides to play—whether he continues onward or decides to align his movement with Elizabeth Warren—will definitely be one of the major steps in the primary season,” Wolf says. (There’s no indication, yet, that Sanders plans to pack it in.) 
 
Wolf is much less worried about Warren’s policies than he would be about Sanders’s policies. “She’s to the right of Bernie, but much to the left of Biden,” he continues. “She wants to promote capitalism, and we still need to figure out what that means to her. The way she comes across is: She wants capitalism to be fair and balanced and regulated. And I think that we need to better understand what it means ‘to be regulated’—which is fine, as long as we keep the ‘fair and balanced.’ It’s to be determined what that all means, and I’m not losing sleep yet, because, in my opinion, we’re still in an environment where there’s a big difference between populist rhetoric and the ability to execute a plan when you need congressional approval.”  
 
He thinks of Wall Street in simple terms: 40% are staunch Democrats who will vote for Elizabeth Warren over Donald Trump; 40% are staunch Republicans who will vote for Donald Trump over Elizabeth Warren. Then there’s the 20% in the middle. In 2008 that 20% went for Barack Obama. In 2012 it went for Mitt Romney. In 2016 it went for Hillary Clinton. “I don’t know where they’re going to go today,” he concludes. “Because an incredible number of people in financial services are exhausted by the Trump chaos.” 
 
Another Wall Street bigwig and longtime Democratic Party stalwart likes to use a football metaphor when it comes to figuring out who the Democratic nominee will be. He thinks Warren has one spot in the Democratic Super Bowl locked up; the other spot looks like it will go to Biden but there are a host of more centrist Democratic candidates—Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar—who are going to use the next debate, scheduled for October 15, to try to displace Biden as the inevitable challenger to Warren. But they can’t go after Biden directly. “People have already been burned by that stove,” he says. He says they will go after Warren, instead of Biden, in order to displace Biden as Warren’s challenger. It’s a subtle strategy. “It’s a little bit of a bank shot,” he continues, “but you’re going out to be the alternative to Elizabeth Warren. Elizabeth Warren, on today’s facts, has a spot at the Super Bowl. That could change. The trick here is for someone to basically say, ‘I am the person who can take on Elizabeth Warren. Let’s get down to the two of us or three of us.’” And what are his Wall Street brethren thinking about Warren? “They’re all whiny,” he says. “Every time they open their blanking mouths, they probably gain Warren another 50,000 votes.”
 
But another longtime Wall Street banker who has also been involved with Democratic politics has been impressed with Warren’s political skills. “She’s putting together a great campaign,” he says. “She has a great message. She’s resonating. She is smart politically, smarter than the rest of them.” He likes that she doesn’t “sugarcoat” things. And many parts of her message are resonating with him. In small groups, he says, she tones down her anti–Wall Street rhetoric and she’s becoming more moderate. “She’ll [now] put it differently,” he says, “which I don’t disagree with, which is ‘Do you think our country would be better off if we had less inequality?’ Well, I can’t argue with that. Of course, the answer is yes.” He seems genuinely impressed by her. “I think she’s incredibly smart and much more reasonable towards what she wants to do for this country than people think,” he continues. “A lot of what she does is against my own personal interest, but I think she has the greater interest at heart. And I like that. Okay. And she does not talk crazy.” He thinks she can win if she focuses her message on having wealthy individuals pay higher taxes than they are now, rather than talking about remaking capitalism by attacking corporate America. (He also thinks Tom Steyer, the billionaire and former hedge fund manager, is someone to watch at the next debate.)
 
When he first started talking to people on Wall Street and in corporate America about Warren, their reaction was “Elizabeth Warren. Oh, my God, this is crazy. Forget it.” He doesn’t hear that anymore. “I hear, like, ‘Nah, might not be so great, but God, this guy Trump is killing me.” He talks to corporate CEOs across America. He says they are worried. “They are very worried about Donald Trump,” he says. “Where we are as a country, and what Donald Trump’s next term looks like. They get the uncertainty. The unpredictability. The craziness. The losing our station in the world.”  Somewhat incredibly, on Wall Street, Trump is now viewed as a worse choice than Warren. “The prospect of a 2020 election between Elizabeth Warren on the one hand and a lame duck Donald Trump on the other—scary as hell—has people nervous,” another senior Wall Street banker tells me. “It feels like it’s going to be a decision between sickness and death.” He’s hoping for political gridlock—a Warren victory with a Republican Senate or a Trump victory with a Democratic House—so neither person can really get much done legislatively. He says many of his Wall Street brethren think Warren would be worse than Trump, for them. “Trump has not declared war on Wall Street,” he says. “Wall Street hasn’t gotten damaged by Trump whereas they can feel the damage coming with Warren.”
 
He has a different point of view. “I think both Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump are existential dangers to the United States, to what we stand for, to the pillars of our society, to the economic and political leadership internationally,” he says. “They’re both really dangerous to the United States. I happen to think that Trump is more dangerous. So when I have to pull the lever, I’d probably pull it for Elizabeth Warren and hope and pray that there is enough of a moderate middle in the legislative branch to prevent insane things from happening.”  
 
Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.
 

Oct. 3, 2019 SNR

On Oct. 3, 2019 SNR’s Foon Rhee wrote “Facing The Forever Drought” about California’s large water recycling projects.

Judy Lin and Ben Christopher wrote “”After Banner Year For Labor Will Workers Unionize?” Thanks to AB5, Charter school teachers, child care workers and gig workers can now join unions in California.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

David Wallace-Wells, deputy editor and climate columnist for New York magazine has a new book The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming. It talks about the severity of climate change. “Russia could play a bigger, more dynamic role of rival in the future. And the same is true of China.” Regarding green technology “We could save $26 trillion in the global economy just by 2030, which is a very fast return, if we decarbonize quickly.” Regarding sea levels “So, we could see at least a hundred feet of sea level rise, possibly as much as 260 feet of sea level rise, if we melt all of the ice.” Regarding heat waves “You see, you know, projections that many of the biggest cities in India and the Middle East will be lethally hot in summer as soon as 2050, which means you really won’t be able to go outside during the summer without incurring some risk of heat stroke.”

Increasingly there are youth movements calling for action like the Green New Deal in America or the Extinction Rebellion in Europe. On February 21, 2019, sixteen year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden addressed the European Union: “We need to focus every inch of our being on climate change, because if we fail to do so, then all our achievements and progress have been for nothing. And all that will remain of our political leaders’ legacy will be the greatest failure of human history. And they will be remembered as the greatest villains of all time, because they have chosen not to listen and not to act. … And if you still say that we are wasting valuable lesson time, then let me remind you that our political leaders have wasted decades through denial and inaction. And since our time is running out, we have decided to take action. We have started to clean up your mess, and we will not stop until we are done.”

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

The Daily Show (The Book)

An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, The Correspondents, Staff and Guests

By Chris Smith and Jon Stewart

This is the story of how a marginal show on basic cable became a major force in show business and politics. Like Tom Shales’ book about Saturday Night Live, reading the book is a lot like watching a documentary with a lot of talking heads. It is comprehensive and still funny.

Copyright 2018 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Live From New York

The Complete,Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live as Told by its Stars, Writers, and Guests

By James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales

This the story of how Lorne Michaels built an empire. He took a time slot Johnny Carson did not want and eventually controlled the The Tonight Show, The Late Show and Saturday Night Live. Reading the book is a lot like watching a documentary with a lot of talking heads. It is comprehensive over forty years. What appears to be improvisation is in fact a carefully scripted formula from a well oiled machine.

Copyright 2018 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Lights Out

Lights Out

By Ted Koppel

Koppel explains how vulnerable the American power grid is to cyber attack. Much of the equipment is customized or no longer made in this country. It would be months and possibly years to replace damaged equipment. It could not be moved on our crumbling infrastructure. Millions of people might die in the disruption. The solution is to prepare or build a society that does not depend on the grid. This means batteries and solar panels everywhere.

Copyright 2018 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Mindhunter

Mindhunter

By  John Douglas and Mark Olshaker

John Douglas was one of the last of J. Edgar Hoover’s G-Men who hunted serial killers. At the FBI, he developed profiles on people like Ted Bundy. Apparently Douglas predicted that Bundy would live in Seattle, be in the legal profession, a registered Republican and drive or collect Volkwagen vehicles. Every page of this book seems to have a horror story.  How do we prevent this? Douglas, a hardboiled cop and conservative, thinks society creates them and can prevent them.

“Bill Tafoya, the special agent who served as our ‘futurist’ at Quantico, advocated a minimum of a ten-year commitment of money and resources on the magnitude of what we sent into the Persian Gulf. He calls for a wide-scale reinstatement of Project Head Start, one of the most effective long term, anticrime programs in history. He doesn’t think more police are the answer, but he would bring in “an army of social workers” to provide assistance for battered women, homeless families with children, to find good foster homes. And he would back it all up with tax incentive programs.”

Copyright 2018 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

 

Jan 6, 2017 Dirk Gently

I enjoyed Douglas Adams book The Hitchhikers Guide To The Universe. He also wrote two Dirk Gently Holistic Detective Agency books. They were odd but the BBC TV series is off the charts. These are shaggy dog stories so shaggy that I’m not sure there is a dog underneath it all. The characters keep saying everything is connected but they sure take their time showing it. Not recommended if you are using cold medication.

Copyright 2018 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Dec. 4, 2017 The New Yorker

On Dec. 4, 2017 The New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino wrote “Killing It” about what is wrong with millennials. The odds are stacked against them. “The type of millennial that much of the media flocks to – white, rich, thoughtlessly entitle – is largely unrepresentative of what is, in fact, a diverse an often downwardly mobile group. (Millennials are the first generation to have a fifty-fifty chance of being financially better off than their parents.) Many millennials grew up poor, went to crummy schools, an have been shuttled toward for-profit colleges and minimum wage jobs, if not the prison system.”

Copyright 2017 DJ Cline. All rights reserved.

Aug. 7, 2017 The New Yorker

Aug. 7, 2017 The New Yorker’s Sheelah Kolhatkar wrote “Bad Ratings” about cable companies outrageous price increases and terrible customer service. The major companies are AT&T, CenturyLink, Comcast, Spectrum, and Verizon. They are effectively monopolies controlling the speed and access to the Internet. Ajit Pai, formerly of Verizon was appointed FCC Chairman by Donald Trump. He wants to  end Net Neutrality, an important First Amendment right that would give complete censorship control to these companies.

Benjamin Wallace Wells wrote “The Dream Deferred” about Bernie Sanders continuing his campaigns for healthcare, education, housing, and fair wages.

Copyright 2017 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jul. 10, 2017 The New Yorker

On Jul. 10, 2017 The New Yorker’s Sheelah Kolhatkar wrote “Uber And Out” about harassment and hostile work environments at Uber and other companies. Freada Kapor Klein and Mitch Kapor think Uber has not changed its culture. They lost half a million customers.

Lawrence Wright wrote “The Future Is Texas” about a few conservative politicians are trying keep control of the state against a rising tide of other groups.

Copyright 2017 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

May 15, 2017 The New Yorker

On May 15, 2017 The New Yorker’s Sheelah Kolkatkar wrote “Stickler Status” about the thankless job of compliance officers in financial institutions. It is a bad career choice. Even if they do everything right they could still wind up in jail.

Nicola Twilley wrote “Sight Unseen” about sensory substitution technology that allows people to see with their tongue.

Nathan Heller wrote “The Gig Is Up” about the sharing economy and companies like Uber. One worker named Seth said “These are jobs that don’t lead to anything.” Safety nets are needed to protect workers between gigs.

Adam Gopnik wrote “We Could Have All Been Canadians” about what the world would have been like without the American Revolution.

Copyright 2017 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

May 8, 2017 The New Yorker

May 8, 2017 The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos wrote “Endgames” about removing President Trump from office using theTwenty-fifth Amendment. It is a little vague but can be done if he is judged to be mentally unfit. “He is the first president with no prior experience in government or the military, the first to retain ownership of a business empire, and the oldest person ever to assume the Presidency.”

Copyright 2017 DJ Cline All rights reserved,