William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 10:24 P.M. ET:

FISCAL CLIFF LATEST – We reported this morning on the outlines of a possible deal to avert falling off the fiscal cliff at the end of the year.  But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says there is no such deal, and expressed pessimism today about the negotiations to get one.  From the Weekly Standard:   “'Nothing good is happening' in the negotiations, McConnell says, because of Obama’s insistence on tax rate hikes for the wealthy but unwillingness to embrace serious spending cuts.  Geithner suggested $1.6 trillion in tax increases, McConnell says, but showed 'minimal or no interest' in spending cuts."  The Dems seem more interested in punishing the Republicans than reaching an agreement.  And, given the immature mood of the nation, they may succeed.

OBAMA'S WAY OF GETTING TOUGH – The United States is now giving Iran until March to get serious about nuclear negotiations...or else.  The "or else" consists of referring Iran to, the dread result, the UN Security Council.  You know the UNSC, don't you?  That's the really, really, really tough place where Iran's allies, Russia and China, have veto power.   That's pretty much our position today.  It must be chilling to the mullahs in Tehran, who are probably laughing their heads off.  I get the sense this is the opening foreign-policy statement of Obama's second term.  Even more appeasement, especially of Islamists.

THE USUAL SUSPECTS – It was a foregone conclusion, but the UN General Assembly voted today to give the nonexistent "state of Palestine" observer rights at the United Nations, placing it on the same level as the Vatican.  Some 138 nations voted for the mostly symbolic proposal, which is not surprising.  You begin with 57 Muslim nations, then add a bunch of "third-world" nations, many run by tinhorn dictators, then add the fellow travelers like Cuba and Venezuela, and throw in some European nations nostalgic for the appeasement policies of the thirties, and getting to 138 isn't hard.  Only nine nations, including the U.S., voted "no," but 41 abstained, including Britain.  Among the stalwarts who voted with the U.S. and Israel were Canada and the Czech Republic, two nations that have been noble in the defense of freedom.

SANDRA FLUKE WINS – The U.S. birth rate has dropped to its lowest level since the start of the Great Depression.  In 2011, the overall birth rate was 63.2 per 1,000 women.  The birth rate reached 122.7 in 1957, the peak of the Baby Boom.  Obviously, the economy has an impact on birth rates.  But so do social trends, like women opting for careers rather than marriage and motherhood.  We have no breakdown of birth rates as between Democratic mothers and Republican mothers, but I'd love to know.

November 29, 2012