Saturday Reads: Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dreams, Waiting for Irene, and Bernanke’s Complaint

By Mr. Fish, Truthdig.org

Good Morning! We are approaching the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (remember those?) and Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. Perhaps it is fitting that the ceremony to be held tomorrow to commemorate the anniversary has been postponed indefinitely. After all, King’s dream of ending poverty in American has certainly been postponed indefinitely. Ironically, we now have a “Black President” who as different from Dr. King as night from day. Oh, if only King were here today to speak truth to this sorry excuse for a President!

A reminder from the Center for American Progress: Dr. King’s Legacy Relevant in Today’s Budget Battles

In the 1960s, Americans had a government that refused to deliver basic human rights to its people. Over time, after battles in the courts and the political arena, laws such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 were passed. But despite these great accomplishments the fight continued because many Americans of all racial backgrounds were still living below the poverty line.

So in 1967, Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference decided to organize and lead the Poor People’s Campaign to combat poverty. The goal was to push Congress to create an “Economic Bill of Rights” that would establish how the federal government would address and solve the country’s poverty issues. It called for full employment, affordable housing, reasonable living wages, and equitable education opportunities for the poor. Momentum built up around the country, but unfortunately the campaign ended early due to the tragic assassination of Dr. King and lack of organization to continue the efforts.

Cornel West had a very appropriate op-ed in the NYT a couple of days ago: Dr. King Weeps From His Grave Here is a relevant excerpt:

The age of Obama has fallen tragically short of fulfilling King’s prophetic legacy. Instead of articulating a radical democratic vision and fighting for homeowners, workers and poor people in the form of mortgage relief, jobs and investment in education, infrastructure and housing, the administration gave us bailouts for banks, record profits for Wall Street and giant budget cuts on the backs of the vulnerable.

As the talk show host Tavis Smiley and I have said in our national tour against poverty, the recent budget deal is only the latest phase of a 30-year, top-down, one-sided war against the poor and working people in the name of a morally bankrupt policy of deregulating markets, lowering taxes and cutting spending for those already socially neglected and economically abandoned. Our two main political parties, each beholden to big money, offer merely alternative versions of oligarchic rule.

The absence of a King-worthy narrative to reinvigorate poor and working people has enabled right-wing populists to seize the moment with credible claims about government corruption and ridiculous claims about tax cuts’ stimulating growth. This right-wing threat is a catastrophic response to King’s four catastrophes; its agenda would lead to hellish conditions for most Americans.

King weeps from his grave. He never confused substance with symbolism. He never conflated a flesh and blood sacrifice with a stone and mortar edifice. We rightly celebrate his substance and sacrifice because he loved us all so deeply. Let us not remain satisfied with symbolism because we too often fear the challenge he embraced. Our greatest writer, Herman Melville, who spent his life in love with America even as he was our most fierce critic of the myth of American exceptionalism, noted, “Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its ragged edges; hence the conclusion of such a narration is apt to be less finished than an architectural finial.”

King’s response to our crisis can be put in one word: revolution. A revolution in our priorities, a re-evaluation of our values, a reinvigoration of our public life and a fundamental transformation of our way of thinking and living that promotes a transfer of power from oligarchs and plutocrats to everyday people and ordinary citizens.

Yes we need a revolution. We desperately need to revise our priorities and values and to end the transfer of wealth and power from the people to the oligarchs. Who will lead that revolution? We have never been more in need of strong, honest, caring leaders and yet we have a complete vacuum of leadership. What is to become of our country?

Of course Hurricane Irene is the more immediate focus and the object of the media sharks’ feeding frenzy for today. Nothing so pedestrian as putting people back to work or ending poverty could interest them. Interestingly, big media seems to be ignoring the fact that the hurricane has weakened significantly and that the eye has collapsed, meaning that there is unlikely to be any more intensification of the storm. I suppose it could still do quite a bit of damage along the coastline, but as a Bostonian I’ve seen so many of these huge storms fail to live up to the hype that I’m skeptical of this one. I hope I’m right this time.

Jeff Masters at Weather Underground yesterday:

Satellite data and measurements from the Hurricane Hunters show that Irene is weakening. A 9:21 am EDT center fix by an Air Force Reserve aircraft found that Irene’s eyewall had collapsed, and the central pressure had risen to 946 mb from a low of 942 mb this morning. The highest winds measured at their flight level of 10,000 feet were 125 mph, which would normally support classifying Irene as a Category 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds. However, these winds were not mixing down to the surface in the way we typically see with hurricanes, and the strongest surface winds seen by the aircraft with their SFMR instrument were just 90 mph in the storm’s northeast eyewall. Assuming the aircraft missed sampling the strongest winds of the hurricane, it’s a good guess that Irene is a mid-strength Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds. Satellite imagery shows a distinctly lopsided appearance to Irene’s cloud pattern, with not much heavy thunderstorm activity on the southwest side. This is due to moderate wind shear of 10 – 20 knots due to upper-level winds out of the southwest. This shear is disrupting Irene’s circulation and has cut off upper-level outflow along the south side of the hurricane. No eye is visible in satellite loops, but the storm’s size is certainly impressive. Long range radar out of Wlimington, North Carolina, shows that the outermost spiral bands from Irene are now beginning to come ashore along the South Carolina/North Carolina border. Winds at buoy 41004 100 miles offshore from Charleston, SC increased to 36 mph as of 10 am, with significant wave heights of 18 feet.


And from last night:
“Irene continues to weaken.”

Satellite data and measurements from the Hurricane Hunters show that Irene continues to weaken. A 1:32 pm EDT center fix by an Air Force Reserve aircraft found that Irene’s eyewall is still gone, and the central pressure had risen to 951 mb from a low of 942 mb this morning. The winds measured in Irene near the surface support classifying it as a strong Category 1 hurricane or weak Category 2. Satellite imagery shows a distinctly lopsided appearance to Irene’s cloud pattern, with not much heavy thunderstorm activity on the southwest side. This is due to moderate southwesterly wind shear of 10 – 20 knots. This shear is disrupting Irene’s circulation and has cut off upper-level outflow along the south side of the hurricane. No eye is visible in satellite loops, but the storm’s size is certainly impressive. Long range radar out of Wilmington, North Carolina, shows that the outermost spiral bands from Irene have moved ashore over North Carolina. Winds at buoy 41004 100 miles offshore from Charleston, SC increased to 47 mph, gusting to 60 mph at 3 pm EDT, with significant wave heights of 25 feet.

New York City has ordered 250,000 people to evacuate from coastal areas.

New York City officials issued what they called an unprecedented order on Friday for the evacuation of about 250,000 residents of low-lying areas at the city’s edges — from the expensive apartments in Battery Park City to the roller coaster in Coney Island to the dilapidated boardwalk in the Rockaways — warning that Hurricane Irene was such a threat that people living there simply had to get out.

Officials made what they said was another first-of-its kind decision, announcing plans to shut down the city’s entire transit system on Saturday — all 468 subway stations and 840 miles of tracks, and the rest of nation’s largest mass transit network: thousands of buses in the city, as well as the buses and commuter trains that reach from Midtown Manhattan to the suburbs.

Underscoring what Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and other officials said was the seriousness of the threat, President Obama approved a request from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York to declare a federal emergency in the state while the hurricane was still several hundred miles away, churning toward the Carolinas. The city was part of a hurricane warning that took in hundreds of miles of coastline, from Sandy Hook, N.J., to Sagamore Beach, Mass.

From what I’ve heard, the Jersey Shore may get hit worse than NYC, but who knows? I know we have a few commenters from NJ, so I hope they will keep us updated on the situation there. In Boston, they are getting warnings about the storm surges for people along the coast and the Cape and islands.

BOSTON — As Hurricane Irene began to batter the Carolina Coast on Friday afternoon, a hurricane warning was issued for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, New York City and coastal Connecticut.

A tropical storm warning was issued for the North and South shores, and a tropical storm watch was issued for areas of southern New England further inland….

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm. He said he is particularly concerned because Irene will likely take a path through central Massachusetts, with fierce, damage-causing winds and storm surges on the eastern, coastal side of the state, and at least 10 inches of heavy rain leading to flooding to the west.

Here’s a little comic relief. Some ESPN guy (a former golfer) got in trouble for mocking President Obama on Twitter (has the First Amendment been repealed or what?)

ESPN is coming down on Paul Azinger for mocking President Obama on Twitter. The golf analyst tweeted Thursday the commander in chief plays more golf than he does — and that Azinger has created more jobs this month than Obama has.

On Friday ESPN ‘reminded” Azinger his venture into political punditry violates the company’s updated social network policy for on-air talent and reporters.

“Paul’s tweet was not consistent with our social media policy, and he has been reminded that political commentary is best left to those in that field,” spokesman Andy Hall told Game On! in a statement.

ESPN’s Hall would not comment on whether Azinger, who won the 1993 PGA Championship, will be fired, suspended or punished in some way. “We handle that internally,” he said.

In economics news, Ben Bernanke gave his eagerly anticipated speech yesterday, and basically said that the politicians have screwed up the economy and he hopes they won’t completely sink it with their insanely stupid policies based on Reagan era fantasies. If you’re interested, here are a few links to reactions to Bernanke’s speech.

Derek Thompson at The Atlantic: Bernanke: The Debt Ceiling Debate Nearly Broke the Recovery

Andrew Leonard at Salon: Bernanke Declines to Commit Treason

Jenine Aversa at Bloomberg: Bernanke Scholar Advises Bernanke Fed Chief to Be Bold on Monetary Policy

Those are my reading recommendations for today. What are you reading and blogging about?