William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 10:36 P.M. ET:

I'M STILL HERE – Hillary Clinton says she is ruling out retirement once she leaves the State Department.  Odd comment, as no one suggested retirement.  It's clear she's trying to crush any impression that her recent illness rules out any future run for the presidency.  It's also been announced that she will testify before Congress on Benghazi within two weeks.  It's important that she leave government on a high note, and with a smile, not as a sickly individual under a cloud.  Bill can help her with the cosmetics of the approach.

HER COMPETITOR – Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York is seen as Hillary's main competitor for the 2016 presidential nomination, although I wouldn't rule out someone from the Obama wing of the party.  Today Cuomo delivered his state of the state address, and went ballistic over gun violence, clearing making an early appeal to the left wing of the Democratic Party.  He pledged that New York would have the toughest regulation of assault weapons in the nation.  Cuomo remains popular, although the sluggish recovery from Hurricane Sandy and the near hysteria of his gun-control comments today will tarnish the image. 

THE HAGEL WATCH – Most observers we've read believe that Chuck Hagel will be confirmed as secretary of defense, despite widespread misgivings about him in both parties.  An interview surfaced today in which Hagel appeared to agree with the premise that America is the world's bully.  Great for an American defense secretary.  But the pro-Israel forces are moderating their opposition to Hagel, believing he'll be confirmed, and that they don't want to antagonize him too much.  That may make confirmation easier.  There is considerable apprehension at the Pentagon that Hagel is being brought in to take a hatchet to the place.  He's already on record as favoring major defense cuts.  Bad choice, but Obama still has clout with his majority in the Senate.

VULGAR –  You all know about that newspaper here in New York that published the names and addresses of legitimate, licensed pistol owners.  It turns out that a number of people on that list are law-enforcement and correction officers.  We now have reports that some of the prison guards, as they walk down the corridors of prisons like Sing Sing, are being taunted by prisoners who shout out the officers' names and addresses, which they got from that newspaper.  These men now fear for their families.  Great journalism, don't you think?  What a public service. 

January 9,  2013