William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 10:45 P.M. ET:

MIDEAST – There is a sense of pessimism tonight about the possibility of arranging a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.  Rockets continue to pour down on Israelis, making normal life impossible in a good part of their country.  Israel's retaliation continues, both from the air and sea.  There is growing criticism of President Obama's role, which critics see as lax and distracted.  He's trying to deal with the crisis by phone while on a trip to Asia.  He has the secretary of state with him, as well as his national security adviser.  Observers point out that previous presidents would have immediately dispatched a high-ranking official to represent the United States in person in any talks.  The whole crisis symbolizes the increasing decline of American influence. 

DUMBNESS – I actually used to like Debbie Wasserman Shultz, the Dem national chair.  I thought she was an effective and even entertaining mouthpiece for her side.  Then she came down with Obamism, and she turned into a nut.  There is no known treatment.  Today Shultz said that the Republican Party “got whiter and more male” while the Democratic caucus is “majority minority and female.”  That's the way she and her crowd think.  Wasn't that the kind of thinking we were supposed to be rejecting during the days of the civil rights movement?  I guess that, like Rick in "Casablanca," I was misinformed. 

FRANCE FALLING – We sometimes forget that Europe is in even more serious economic trouble than we are.  We haven't heard much about France, although the new socialist government doesn't seem to be improving things.  Today Moody's stripped France of its prized AAA rating, citing the effect on growth of the country's inflexible labor market, as well as a lack of innovation, which undercuts France's competitiveness and industrial base.  Moody's said:  “Further shocks to sovereign and bank credit markets would further undermine financial and economic stability in France as well as in other euro area countries.  The impact of such shocks would be expected to be felt disproportionately by more highly indebted governments such as France.”  Hey, welcome to the world recovery.

BUT HE ISN'T BUSH (!!) –  President Obama just finished a visit to Burma.  While there he met one of the world's great democracy icons, Aung San Suu Kyi...and repeatedly mispronounced her name.  He also botched the name of Burma's new, elected president, Thein Sein.  Can you just imagine if George W. Bush had done this?  The MSNBC crowd, and a good chunk of the CNN staff, would be in hysterics, requiring immediate calming medication and possible counseling.  But Barack is forgiven, for his thoughts are deep, and he can't take time out from his philosophical encounters to memorize the names of mere mortals.  Yuch.

November 19, 2012