Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
Road to Recovery?
Two well-known economists are predicting that if the economy slips into recession, the effects will be short-lived.
Brian Wesbury and Robert Stein write in Forbes Magazine that while they forecast the largest decline in real GDP this quarter since 1982, "We believe the economy will stabilize in the first quarter of 2009, grow at a two percent annual rate in quarter two and then expand at a three percent rate in the second half of next year."
Why? They write, "In October alone, banks increased commercial and industrial lending by 4.2 percent, real estate loans by 3.4 percent and consumer loans by two percent... this is not the kind of environment that creates an endless downward spiral."
Enemy Number One?
As recently as the weekend President-elect Obama said that killing Usama bin Laden is a critical aspect of winning the War on Terror, but former CIA field officer Robert Baer asks at Time Magazine online, "When will Obama give up the bin Laden ghost hunt?"
He says the last reliable sighting of the terror leader was in a 2001 video. He also says experts suggest those countless bin Laden audio tapes could have been old recordings edited with software to give the appearance that he is alive and, "There's the mystery why bin Laden didn't pop up during the election."
Baer says a number of his former CIA colleagues also assume bin Laden is dead. "One day Obama will need to give up the hunt... he has more important enemies to deal with, from Iran to Russia."
Unrepentant one-time terrorist and Barack Obama acquaintance William Ayers has criticized his portrayal by the media and in particular this network.
Ayers told an audience at a Washington church Monday that the media were responsible for "the creation of me as a fearsome person... that somehow I’ve killed people, that somehow I've been a violent person... There are times I felt like that wonderful moment in George Orwell's '1984' called the 'two minutes of hate'... the only thing is George Orwell had quite an imagination — he couldn't imagine FOX News."
But the truth is Ayers was part of the 1960's radical Weather Underground group that even the Associated Press characterizes as "violent." The group was responsible for a series of bombings, including attacks at the Pentagon and the Capitol, as well as the deaths of two police officers and a security guard in a botched Brink's truck ambush in 1981.
The Ex Effect
As the leftist Venezuelan regime prepares for a stiff challenge in Sunday's regional elections, President Hugo Chavez may face his toughest political test yet.
The London Times reports ex-wife Marisabel Rodriguez is running for mayor of Barquisimeto, Venezuela's fourth-largest city. She is an Independent Party candidate and leads her pro-Chavez rival in the polls. Chavez and Rodriguez have continually sparred in public since their 2002 breakup which led to a custody battle over their daughter.
Rodriguez says, "Whenever I hear him talking publicly about our girl... I want to say the same to him as the king of Spain: 'Why don't you shut up.'"
She is also not a fan of her ex-husband's politics, saying, "If he's not a dictator, at least he seems it."
— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.