Thursday, October 23, 2008


How Obama Would Handle a Surprise from Osama....
....would Obama run back to Momma?

The decision by Barack Obama to return to Hawaii to visit his ailing grandmother might not be the last surprise of the last fortnight of this campaign. Two weeks is an eternity in presidential politics, which means we're likely to have one more twist before this ends-though with early voting, more than a quarter of the electorate now votes before Election Day.

What will the twist be? Reviving Jeremiah Wright, which the McCain campaign is hinting at, won't mean much. Unless the Reverend Wright himself resurfaces (he's abroad and on radio silence), that thrust would be easily parried by the Obama campaign. That's because John McCain is on tape saying a man's pastor should not be relevant in judging his character. Even if an independent 527 committee were to make an attack ad involving Wright, Obama's got an obvious jujitsu response ad making McCain out to be a hypocrite.

Maybe McCain could buy a half hour of time for a big speech that realigns his campaign. Problem is, any sudden readjustments now would play into the narrative that McCain is erratic and unpresidential. And the Obama campaign has bought up most of the remaining available time across the country, anyway. In fact, the earliest McCain can launch any kind of new offensive is Saturday, when Obama returns to the mainland. Otherwise it looks like he's beating up on a guy for visiting his grandma.

But something else is going to happen. My money is on Osama bin Laden popping back up with a hate video, just as he did the weekend before the 2004 election. That tape reminded the public that the country was still at risk from this sickening terrorist and that President Bush had kept us safe for the three years since the September 11, 2001 attacks. In that close campaign, it was this video-not the Swift Boat tactics that got all the ink-that made the difference. John Kerry, who led in several polls that weekend, saw his margin melt away.

In 2005, Kerry himself said that 9/11 was the "central deciding thing" of the 2004 election and that the bin Laden video ended any chance he had of being elected. Just because it was convenient for him to say that doesn't make it untrue.

Why did the bin Laden tape do so much damage? The 9/11 attack was still fresh in Americans' memories, and the possibility of another one was on our minds. While sophisticated analysts could explain that bin Laden released the tape just before the election because he hoped Bush would win (Bush was a better recruiting tool for Al Qaeda than a President Kerry would have been), none of that got through. The tape had the effect of freezing the 2004 campaign in place. Kerry couldn't criticize Bush at all for a pivotal 24 hours.

This was partly Kerry's own fault. After his 2003 speech attacking Bush for letting bin Laden escape at Tora Bora, Kerry dropped most bin Laden references from his speeches. Internal polling by the Kerry campaign showed that voters didn't respond well to his talking points about Bush's failure to catch bin Laden, so he gave the whole subject a rest. This was a terrible mistake. Had Kerry kept the heat on, bin Laden's re-emergence would have reinforced the message that he had not been caught.

That's what would happen this time if bin Laden tried to intervene in another American election. Seven years after 9/11, the country is in a different place, and the Obama campaign would respond to a bin Laden tape in a different way. For two years, Obama has been reminding audiences that the Bush administration has failed to catch bin Laden. First with Hillary Clinton, then with McCain, Obama has made a point in debates of saying he would risk destabilizing Pakistan by bombing the border with Afghanistan if he had actionable intelligence that Al Qaeda targets had been identified. In the second debate, on Oct. 7, Obama brought up bin Laden again, making a point of stressing that he would "kill him" if possible.

McCain's position on bin Laden has opened him up to attack in a way that Obama failed to exploit. In the second debate, McCain said, "I know how" to find bin Laden. This should have led Obama to respond that if he knows how to catch him, he should have told his friend George Bush. Obama missed a chance for that riposte in the debate, but he may yet have another opportunity.

All of this sets up a quite different dynamic should bin Laden release another tape. After condemning the new tape, Obama could launch right into renewed criticism of the failure to catch Al Qaeda's mastermind seven years after 9/11. Instead of making him look like another weak Democrat, a new tape would give Obama a chance to seem muscular on national security. McCain would try to argue that the country would be safer with him, but it probably wouldn't have the potency of Bush's similar claim in 2004.

Should there be, God forbid, an actual terrorist attack between now and the election, all bets are off. But it's instructive that only three days after the 2004 terrorist attack in Madrid that killed 193, the most deadly act of Islamic terrorism in European history, the Spanish socialists won national elections. We aren't Spain, but we're also not a country that can have a whole election thrown into disarray by terrorists. At least I hope we aren't any more, though we won't know for sure unless it happens.

Real Estate: Home Prices Falling Around the World....

....a world of hurt

If declining home values have you down, and you'd like some company in your misery, here's a glimmer of good news: when it comes to the housing downturn, the United States is starting to have plenty of company.

It's been nearly three years since U.S. home values peaked at the height of what was, in retrospect, a bubble fueled by low interest rates, speculation and a general giddiness as millions of Americans began to look at their houses not only as a place to live, but as an asset that would make them rich. For years the experts assured nervous homebuyers that nationwide home prices had never fallen year-over-year since the Great Depression-a record that's come to a painful halt as the average U.S. home has now lost more than 15 percent of its value.

Meanwhile, a similar transformation has been taking place in other countries. In much of the world, home prices soared during the first half of this decade, rising far beyond the levels that you'd expect, based on traditional economic factors. In the last year, however, many of those markets have seen their housing bubbles burst, too. In fact, during the first six months of 2008, a host of economies-including that of Denmark, New Zealand, the UK, Spain, Sweden, Canada and Norway-have seen home prices fall at a faster rate than is occurring in the United States.

In a study published this month, economist Prakash Loungani of the International Monetary Fund examined how this boom-bust cycle is playing out around the globe. He and his colleagues looked at how and why home prices rose in a variety of countries between 1997 and 2007. They tried to figure how much of the rise could be explained by traditional economic drivers like income growth, population growth, interest rates, the availability of credit and the wealth being created by rising stock prices. In a host of countries, home price gains went well beyond the levels you'd expect based on those variables, and the IMF study looks at this "house price gap" as one indicator of just how bubbly each country's housing market became. In Australia, Ireland and the U.K., this gap ranged from 20 to 30 percent, and in France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain the gap ran between 10 and 20 percent. In the last year, home values in all those countries have begun to fall more quickly than they are in the United States.

Atlanta AIG Layoffs

AIG got the bailout. Some of its Atlanta employees got the pink slip, according to WSB Radio.

Employees of AIG's auto insurance subsidiary in north Fulton County have lost their jobs. The workers at the company's Morris Road office packed up their personal items and were shown the door. A spokesman for AIG says the layoffs are part of a reduction in its auto group nationwide. The layoffs come weeks after AIG received a government bailout totalling $123 billion.

The company would not disclose exactly how many local workers were fired. But, prior to Tuesday, 660 people worked at the offices. One employee says they were told this was just the first round of firings and more layoffs are on the way.

Rev. Jeremiah Wright, former pastor of Barack Obama, Delays Macon, Georgia Visit....
.....until after the November election

The controversial Chicago preacher and former pastor of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama had been scheduled to preach a fall revival next week at the St. Paul AME Church in east Macon. He preached two sermons there last year. Instead, Wright will lead a winter revival at St. Paul on Dec. 15-17, said the Rev. Ronald Slaughter, the church's pastor.

Wright became a lightning rod in the presidential campaign after video clips from a few of his sermons were circulated on the Internet and reported on television news shows. During the sermons, Wright said, among other things, that the American government was to blame for 9/11 terrorist attacks and for creating AIDS to kill blacks.

A video excerpt from a Wright sermon described the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as America's chickens coming home to roost. In perhaps the most widely aired and criticized snippet, Wright discouraged his mostly black congregation from singing "God Bless America."

In the video, Wright shouted, "No, no, no, not God Bless America. God damn America!"

The controversy began in March after ABC News aired excerpts from Wright's sermons. Obama, who attended Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ for 20 years, initially denounced Wright's remarks but defended the man, saying he had never heard any of the controversial sermons. Obama has since resigned his church membership and distanced himself from his former pastor. Whatever.

Miss Louisiana Teen USA Winner Arrested.....
.....for not paying her restaurant bill.

The Miss Louisiana Teen USA winner has taught all restaurant diners a valuable lesson–pay your bill or you could end up behind bars.

Lindsey Evans was arrested after she ate at a restaurant with a group of friends and then left without paying the $47 bill.

According to TMZ, Evans forgot her purse at the restaurant, and when she returned to retrieve it, the cops were waiting for her. As a result of the arrest, pageant officials are stripping away the crown for her, even though her term expires in nine days.

This proves my point of what I have been saying about beauty pageant winners all along - especially the teen ones – they are all full of bull. They claim they want to bring world peace and cure world hunger, but yet, they don’t even have enough respect to pay for their own restaurant food bill.


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