William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 7:31 P.M. ET:

EMBARRASSING –  Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate and a leader of the pro-Israel forces, has given his okay to Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense.  The official blessing came after a long talk between the two in which, hilariously, Hagel apparently backtracked on virtually every stand he ever took since the age of two, including his preference in tricycle colors.  Schumer is one of the most ambitious, self-promoting men in Congress.  (There's an old saying that the most dangerous place in Washington is the space between Chuck Schumer and a microphone.)  Does he really believe Hagel has made an honest confirmation conversion, or is he just protecting his position in the Democratic Party?  Schumer's endorsement will give cover to other Dems, who have doubts about Hagel, to vote for him.  He will be confirmed.  Let's see how long his conversion lasts then.

THAT DAMNED GLOBAL WARMING – Los Angeles broke a temperature record yesterday, with the mercury dipping to 35 degrees.  California is in the midst of a historic cold grip.  Al Gore has gone into seclusion to figure out how global warming caused all this.  The fact is that, with all the talk of climate change, some of the change has occurred in the cooling direction, especially in countries like Britain, where it's reported that there may not have been any warming for 20 years.  Maybe we'd better figure this out before we commit trillions to the climate-change religion.

BACKLASH – We're seeing more and more of these stories, where parents and even some school administrators push back against the leftist line being promoted by some teachers and schools of education.  From Fox:  "A school district in Wisconsin said they will review a high school diversity class that exposed students to radical leftist thinkers and promoted a critical race theory that alleges white people are oppressors."  The course will not be taught again until it is fully examined and evaluated.  Parents complained, properly, that it amounted to indoctrination, not education.  More parents should examine what their kids are being taught.  They'd be shocked.  The new superintendent of schools for the district seems like a level-headed guy who says that a balanced approach, with a variety of views, is called for, and he is right.

THIS TELLS THE STORY – From NorthJersey.com:  "Retail sales for Christmas 2012 were significantly weaker than expected, with sales in November and December increasing only 3 percent, missing a forecast of a 4.1 percent gain, the National Retail Federation reported today.  The federation, which is hosting a gathering of more than 27,000 retailers from around the world this week at the Javits Center in Manhattan, said the results proved that all of the fiscal-cliff talk and economic uncertainty in December scared shoppers from spending."  Welcome to the recovery.  I hope you enjoy your stay.

January 15, 2013