Archive for October, 2012

Hurricane Sandy prompts two sharply divergent views on how society should respond

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Occupy Wall Street, the group alleged to be the left’s answer to the tea party. But you might hear more about these messages yesterday from the group expressing apparent approval of the wrecked state of New York City post-Hurricane Sandy:

Go outside. Meet your neighbors. Talk. Share a meal. When capitalism retreats, our communities flourish. #sandy #nyc

No subways. No electricity. No chains. #capitalism #sandy #nyc

As capitalism halts, we experience “an exceptional period of mutual support and common care.” http://ow.ly/eSX4t #sandy #nyc @StrikeDebt

I don’t think the person tweeting from the OWS account really believes things would be better in a world with so much physical destruction (although, in light of the way OWS treated the Manhattan park where it held its famous rallies last year, I may be giving him/her too much credit). I do, however, think these messages betray an astounding lack of recognition that free-market capitalism …

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Mickey Mouse meets Luke Skywalker

Forget the presidential election and Hurricane Sandy. There is only one breaking story today:

“Disney to Acquire Lucasfilm Ltd.”

It’s a $4 billion cash-and-stock deal that only matters to you if you’re a Disney shareholder or George Lucas himself. The part that is attracting the most buzz is this line:

STAR WARS: EPISODE 7 feature film targeted for release in 2015.

Episodes 8 and 9 are scheduled to follow, with two to three years between each film.

I grew up watching the original Star Wars trilogy. But, in light of the three prequels that came out between 1999 and 2005 and featured the likes of Jar Jar Binks, I’m afraid to say my initial reaction to this news is somewhere between this:

and this:

If there is hope — ahem, “A New Hope” — it’s this: Lucas said it was time for him to pass the series on to “a new generation of filmmakers.” Which means he won’t be involved. Which means the next three movies might stand a fighting chance of being good in the hands of new filmmakers …

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2012 Tuesday: A real deficit hawk endorses . . .

David M. Walker has been touring America talking about the need to face facts about our federal debt. Walker, who was U.S. comptroller general under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, came to Atlanta with former Clinton staffer Alice Rivlin and other members of the bipartisan Fiscal Solutions Tour last March: Here’s what I wrote about it at the time (quoting Rivlin but not Walker). He has even been mentioned as a possible independent presidential candidate in the near future; the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman actually wrote a column suggesting that Walker run this year.

So when Walker says he’s endorsing one of the two men who are major-party candidates for president this year, it’s worth listening. Here’s what he wrote in an op-ed in Sunday’s Washington Times:

From a fiscal perspective, I am convinced that both major presidential candidates want to achieve a “grand bargain,” although they clearly differ on how to get there. Unfortunately, while I would prefer to make a …

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Poll: Young voters, young parents back charter schools amendment

Mark Rountree of the locally based Landmark Communications has a new poll for Channel 2 Action News that shows two results you might have expected: Mitt Romney is almost certain to win Georgia, and the charter schools amendment is heading for a very close finish.

There are a number of interesting numbers within the poll, however, and the one I find most intriguing is this one about the charter schools amendment (as posted at Peach Pundit):

There is a stark difference in levels of support based on the age of the voter. Younger voters are strongly supportive of the Amendment (57-32% among those aged 18-35), while older voters slightly oppose the Amendment (40-41% in opposition among those over age 64).

People aged 18-35, of course, largely represent two groups: Those who are most recently graduated from high school, and those with young children either already in school or about to enter school. (For instance, this newly minted 34-year-old — my birthday was Saturday; and, yes, …

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Could this election turn on the effects of a mega-storm?

My thoughts and prayers this morning are with people in the path of Hurricane Sandy and the other storms converging on the Northeast Corridor. My sister lives in Brooklyn, and a number of my friends from my WSJ days live in New York City, Washington and elsewhere. One estimate I heard on the radio this morning was that 50 million to 60 million people stand to be affected. Folks, that’s 16-19 percent of the country’s population. Let’s hope it doesn’t end up as the super-storm so many meteorologists have predicted.

In the political world, both presidential campaigns are adjusting their campaign schedules to account for the storm, out of concern for the safety of residents and staffers in the places lying the storm’s path. It’s an old adage that Election Day weather has the power to change election outcomes. But we’ll have to wait and see if that’s the case this time, given that both campaigns are acting similarly (as opposed, for instance, to John McCain’s unilateral, ill-fated …

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Follow the money for anti-charter amendment campaign, too

There’s a logical explanation for the bitter opposition to the charter-schools amendment. Just ask Edward Lindsey, the Buckhead Republican who serves as House majority whip.

“This isn’t about ideology,” Lindsey says. “It’s about turf. It’s about those folks who have a vested interest, no matter how mediocre the present may be, in not changing.”

The turf in question is the power to approve charter schools — and thus how some public education funds are spent. Amendment One would empower the state to create charter schools in two instances. The first is for statewide charters; think virtual schools that teach online courses.

The other is when a local school board denies a charter application. The state could then conduct its own review and decide whether to approve and fund the school.

Who considers those powers an invasion of their own turf? Follow the money.

After its latest report, filed Tuesday, the anti-amendment group Vote SMART! had a donor base comprising …

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Attention, ladies: Obama wants to be your ‘first’ (with video)

An intellectually honest feminist would be horrified by this sexualization of women’s suffrage, the reduction of young women to Harlequin Romance voters finding the right man** to give themselves to. Are there any such feminists left?

It’s funny: Democrats tell women to “vote like your lady parts depend on it” — or at least they used to. You had the Code Pink protesters who, at the GOP convention in Tampa, actually got dressed up like vaginas. Now this. I try not to play the “what if Republicans did it” card too often, but seriously: Can you imagine the outrage on the left if the Romney campaign put out an ad like this?

At what point do women decide to turn away from such patronizing, superficial pandering?

Oh, right. Many of them already have.

**Note that this ad pretty much implies women should only vote for male candidates. Or that only a lesbian would vote for a female candidate. Or something. Honestly, this is such an amazing example of sophomoric pandering I’d like to …

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Charter school parents explain why we need Amendment One

“How can I in good conscience send my child to a school that didn’t even cheat right?”

The question from Shelby McDonald has surely been asked by many an Atlanta parent since rampant cheating on standardized tests was uncovered in the city’s public schools. Only rhetorically, of course, because the answer is: You can’t.

Unlike many of those parents, however, McDonald found a way out: a public charter school approved in 2009 by a state commission. That commission closed after a 2011 court ruling declared it unconstitutional, but it would be re-created if voters approve Amendment One in next month’s election.

“I did everything right. I looked at every [school’s] test score between here and what was driveable,” says McDonald, a widowed mother of one whose parents had pledged to drive her daughter as far as Macon each day if that’s what it took. She tried one charter-school lottery and lost. As a single mother, private school was out of the question.

“I did …

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Why the lawsuit against BoA/Countrywide could be a blockbuster

The name on the lawsuit is “Bank of America,” but the key word to those in the Beltway is “Countrywide,” one of the most reckless — and politically connected and active — companies involved in the subprime meltdown.

First, the key parts of the AP story about the lawsuit, in which the government is seeking more than $1 billion in damages:

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Countrywide Financial, which was later bought by Bank of America, churned out mortgage loans from 2007 to 2009 without making sure that borrowers could afford them.

“The fraudulent conduct alleged in today’s complaint was spectacularly brazen in scope,” Bharara said in a statement. He said the suit was partly to recover money that Fannie and Freddie lost from defaulted loans.

Bank of America had no immediate comment.

Countrywide sold the loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were left to pay for the loans when they defaulted, according to the lawsuit. Fannie and Freddie were effectively nationalized in …

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Emails show White House knew of terrorists’ Benghazi claim within two hours. So why blame a video for two weeks?

The Obama administration/campaign’s story about what happened in Benghazi on Sept. 11 keeps having run-ins with the facts. The latest comes from Reuters:

Officials at the White House and State Department were advised two hours after attackers assaulted the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11 that an Islamic militant group had claimed credit for the attack, official emails show.

The emails, obtained by Reuters from government sources not connected with U.S. spy agencies or the State Department and who requested anonymity, specifically mention that the Libyan group called Ansar al-Sharia had asserted responsibility for the attacks.

The brief emails also show how U.S. diplomats described the attack, even as it was still under way, to Washington.

U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the Benghazi assault, which President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials ultimately acknowledged was a “terrorist” attack carried out …

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