William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 11:15 P.M. ET:

MANDELA – Nelson Mandela has died.  He made an enormous contribution to the fight against apartheid in South Africa and, perhaps most notably, became South Africa's first black president and gave up power after five years, not exactly a common practice in the much-sanctified "third world."  You are about to see some of the most over-the-top obituaries you'll see in your lifetime, with news organizations vying with each other to find the most glowing words for Mandela.  He was a human being.  He had serious flaws as well as assets.  His criticisms of the United States were unfair and often uninformed.  His fight against apartheid, which included years in prison, was not joined by a similar fight to uplift South Africa once it was free.  The country is a mess.  And Mandela had a casualness about dictatorial regimes, like Gaddafi's Libya, that remains troubling.  But political correctness will shove these concerns aside.  A key question now is whether President Obama will attend the funeral, assuming there is one.  Please note that he not only declined to attend Margaret Thatcher's funeral, he didn't even send a high-level representative of his administration.   Attending Mandela's funeral would be entirely appropriate, but the contrast will be noted. 

MASTERSTROKE – We give credit where it's due here.  Bill DeBlasio, soon to be inaugurated as the most left-wing mayor in New York City's history, has dumbfounded critics by appointing William Bratton as his new police commissioner.  Bratton was police commissioner under Rudy Giuliani, the New Yorker the local lefties love to hate.  True, the two didn't get along and eventually Bratton was pushed out, but he instituted many of the effective anti-crime measures that turned New York into the safest large city in America.  Bratton promised to rebuild some of the frayed relations between the NYPD and minorities, but he defends "stop and frisk." which DeBlasio and his allies have been campaigning against.   With this stroke, DeBlasio signals either that he's a realistic progressive who understands the need to capitalize (oops, wrong word for him) on the anti-crime success of the last 20 years in New York, or he has converted Bratton to Marxism.  Maybe both.  Great move, though.  Maybe Al Sharpton won't think so.

ANOTHER GROUP TAKING A WALK – Hispanics have been among President Obama's most loyal supporters.  But as the president nosedives in the polls, Hispanics are also leaving the ship.  In December Obama had a 53% approval rating among Hispanics.  Today it is 41%, about the same as the great mass of Americans.  Hispanics are the fastest-growing group in America.  If the GOP can cut into the Democratic grip on the Hispanic electorate, it could create a political earthquake.  That's a big if.  But sometimes even Republican leaders get hip.

WHITE HOUSE CRIES UNCLE – From the Daily Caller:  "The White House on Thursday admitted fabricating an earlier claim that President Obama had never met his Kenyan uncle, Onyango 'Omar' Obama.  Approximately three years ago, as Uncle Omar was fighting deportation following a DUI charge, the White House asserted to The Boston Globe without any apparent qualification that Onyango Obama 'has never met his famous nephew.'  That statement was untrue.  Uncle Omar testified at an immigration hearing earlier this week that the younger Obama had briefly lived with him for several weeks in the 1970s."  You kind of wonder what's coming next from this White House in the fib department. 

December 5,  2013