William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 10:52 P.M. ET:

STATISTIC – Chicago police appeared miffed today when a number of outlets, including this one, reported that the city had seen its 500th murder this year.  The constables insisted that one man, found beaten to death, may not have actually been murdered.  We understand.  There are plenty of people who beat themselves to death.  Later in the day the police conceded that the 500 figure was correct.  Gee, I'm glad we didn't insult that fair city.  If the number was only 499, we of course would have rushed a correction.

EXCLUDED – The White House has made a big deal out Joe Biden's commission to prevent gun violence.  Now, you'd think the administration would want to draw all sides to such a commission and urge them to work together for practical answers.  But thus far, guess who hasn't been invited?  The NRA.  Yup, the most influential and knowledgeable gun owners group in the country is, at least for now, not on the guest list.  It's fairly typical of this administration.  Instead of working toward common ground, it will go for ideological solutions that will solve nothing but make the base happy.

A BIT OF HOPE – A meeting at the White House today between the president and congressional leaders on the fiscal cliff ended without agreement today, but with the sides reporting some progress and expressing guarded optimism about a deal being made before current tax rates expire in three days.  Republicans are increasingly vocal in criticizing the president for lack of leadership, and they're right.  But it won't matter.  If the talks collapse, the public, informed by a hopelessly biased press, will blame the Republicans.

NEW BOY IN TOWN – Daniel Inouye, who just died, was a giant in the Senate, a man who held the Medal of Honor for service in World War II.  You might be interested in a brief resumé of the guy just appointed to replace him:  "Brian Schatz grew up in Hawaii, attending Punahou School there followed by a B.A. in Philosophy from Pomona College in Claremont, California. While at Pomona, Schatz also spent a term studying in Kenya as part of the International Training Program, where Schatz developed skills as a public servant. After returning to Hawaii, Schatz taught at Punahou School before moving into the non-profit sector. ... Schatz first became active in the community when he became involved in the Save Sandy Beach movement in the 1980s. He served as CEO of Helping Hands Hawaii as well as Director of both the Makiki Community Library and the Center for a Sustainable Future. In March 2010, Schatz stepped down from Helping Hands to focus on his campaign for the office of Lieutenant Governor. In 2008, Schatz worked as spokesman for the Hawaii campaign of Barack Obama. He was elected chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii at the state convention in May, 2008."  I'm so impressed.  Why, I'd make him head of any student government.  (Hat tip - Mike Scully).

December 28, 2012