William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 11:23 P.M. ET:

KERRY NAMED – President Obama announced today the choice of Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts to succeed Hillary Clinton of Massachusetts.  Clinton wasn't present for the announcement.  It would have been a bit unbecoming for her to have shown up, having ducked testifying before Congress this week because of a claimed concussion.  Kerry will be easily confirmed.  He's a member of the Senate club, and hasn't committed any serious crimes.  His nomination brought mixed reviews.  He is "knowledgeable" on foreign policy, as if knowledge alone is enough.  His judgments over the years, however, have been highly flawed and remarkably naive about foreign enemies.  Most recently he was known for arguing that Assad of Syria was a reformer, an argument he's withdrawn.  He's a fine fit for Obama.

HAGEL HASSLED – The opposition to Chuck Hagel's possible nomination to be secretary of defense is growing importantly.  Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, who is becoming the most visible Republican female officeholder in the country, has now raised grave doubts, as has the highly influential Republican senator from Texas, John Cornyn.  Republicans, one by one, are lining up against Hagel.  James Inhofe of Oklahoma, previously a Hagel supporter, is now pulling back.  The key question is whether Hagel has the votes among Democrats.  So far, you just don't sense any enthusiasm at all.

NRA FIGHTS BACK – The National Rifle Association held a press briefing today, outlining some proposals to fight gun violence.  It wasn't a great performance, and the organization didn't address many legitimate concerns that have been raised in the last week.  But its main proposal, putting armed, trained guards in schools, made sense, although it was immediately ridiculed by the liberal chattering class.  After all, why try something that might actually work?  Why solve problems when you can get far in politics by just talking about them?   I was disgusted by the way the NRA was vilified after the briefing, especially at CNN, whose "reporters" pictured the group as the personification of evil.  The worst offender was Piers Morgan, whose shallowness is a phenomenon to behold.  Hating the NRA will get us nowhere in the gun debate.  Recruiting the NRA to help would be a shrewd move for the Obama administration.  The NRA knows a great deal about gun safety.

NO END IN SIGHT – The world did not end today.  The Mayan prophecy proved wrong.  The Mayans, of course, never disappeared, but have been diminished.  Maybe they've shrunk because they kept messing up their prophecies.  And I understand from noted historians that they got fertility pills mixed up with birth-control pills.  You must be so careful.

December 21, 2012