William Katz:  Urgent Agenda







OUR MIDDLE EASTERN FRIENDS – Saudi Arabia's religious police, the mutawa, have invaded a private gathering of 53 Ethiopian Christians, ending their prayer session and arresting them for practicing their faith.  And in Egypt, Coptic Christians say they are experiencing their worst time in recent centuries, and are prepared for martyrdom.  Some Christians have been threatened with death unless they convert to Islam.  Please note the deep interest of "human rights activists."

A FATHER'S PRIDE – Seasickness pills required.  The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. says he is so proud of his son, former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., for coming forward and taking responsibility for the deeds that have landed him in serious legal trouble.  Junior pled guilty this week to using $750,000 in campaign funds to buy private goodies, including a $40,000 Rolex.  There are also political charges, not yet legal, that he attempted to buy the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama when the latter became president.  Senior seems to have low standards for pride.  His son only "came forward" after months of plea bargaining, and after refusing to resign from Congress before the recent election.  He resigned afterward, and after his legal options were exhausted, forcing the people of Illinois to pay millions for a special election.  Stand-up guy.

NOT SO FAST, RAHMBO – Speaking of famous Chicagoans, there was heavy speculation early in the week that Mayor Rahm Emanuel, formerly Obama's White House chief of staff, might run for president in 2016 if Hillary bows out.  The Washington Post actually ran a serious column giving the pros and cons of an Emanuel run.  Uh, but there's a problem.  It seems Emanuel's Chicago constituents are turning against him in disturbing numbers.  A Crain/Ipsos poll reports that only two percent of Chicagoans strongly approve of Rahm's performance as mayor.  Only 12 percent somewhat approve.  These are not numbers that normally launch a presidential run.  They may not even keep Rahm in the mayor's chair.  Maybe ideas of his like asking financial firms not to invest in gun makers didn't strike Chicagoans as exactly addressing the problem of mass violence. 

RE-UP – David Gregory of NBC News has been signed to an unspecified time to continue as host of "Meet the Press."  He boasts that it's a great sign of the confidence NBC has in him.  This is like White Star Line asking Captain Smith to stay on the bridge of the Titanic, saying, "We know you're having problems, but let's just ride out the night and see what happens in the morning."  "Meet the Press" was once an iconic interview show.  It is the longest-running program on television.  But Gregory, a clearly partisan liberal, is no great asset to the institution.  He lacks depth and, at times, seriousness.  NBC could have done better, but chose not to. 

February 22, 2013