William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 9:25 P.M. ET:

JACKSON JR. SETTLES UP – Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has, according to a number of news reports out of Chicago, agreed to a plea deal with federal authorities.  Jackson is charged with improper use of campaign funds, including the purchase of a $40,000 Rolex.  It will be up to a judge to decide whether he goes to jail.  There is now intense competition for Jackson's congressional seat.  However, one of the leading candidates was recently charged with trying to bring a gun onto an airliner.  Another has served jail time.  Great role models for the young, ay?

APPALLING – We recently reported that the carrier USS Harry S. Truman was being held at Norfolk, rather than deploying to the Mideast, to save money.  Now the Navy is saying that nuclear refueling for the carrier Abraham Lincoln, will be delayed, also because of budgetary problems.  The Lincoln is being extensively overhauled.  This is embarrassing.  Even if the Navy is engaging in a bit of scare propaganda – not unknown in naval history – to secure an acceptable budget, announcements like this send the wrong message to potential enemies.  They increase the chance of a miscalculation.

WHOOPS – According to a new Quinnipiac poll, President Obama's approval rating has slipped to 46%, with 45% disapproving.  By contrast, Hillary Clinton is the most popular national figure, with a 61-34% approval/disapproval rating.  That adulation is not deserved, given Clinton's questionable record as secretary of state, but she has an adoring press, some of whose members are possibly guilt-ridden over the way they abandoned her in 2008 for the sainted Barack, come to save us.   Clinton would, as of now, be a formidable contender should she choose to run in 2016.  The glow, though, might not last, especially if some exciting Republicans make their move.

OUT OF WORK, OBAMA FAILED THEM – A Harvard study reports that only six out of ten of those under 30 have jobs, and half of them are working part-time.  Many of these people are still trying to pay off student loans.  And only half of them voted in the last election.  We've been sold the line that they are eternally in love with Barack, but when only half show up at the polls, I really wonder about that.  We may have the makings of a disillusioned, embittered generation that can demand a little respect in exchange for their votes.

February 8, 2013