William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 10:45 P.M. ET: 

REMARKABLE – The New York Police Department, whose efforts and strong leadership have reduced the murder rate by 80% over the last 20 years, will now start to field test a large but portable device that can spot concealed handguns.  Very few people are permitted to have concealed carry permits in New York City, so the overwhelming number of guns potentially spotted by the device will probably be illegal.  The device has been developed in cooperation with Scotland Yard.  Gee, why is it possible for New York to be so innovative, while Chicago drowns in blood?  And why was a promising device like this not even mentioned by the "task force" assembled by Joe Biden?  There are doers and there are talkers.  Fortunately for New Yorkers, the NYPD has doers in charge.

WOMEN IN COMBAT – The secretary of defense has decided to issue orders permitting women to be placed in a number of combat units from which they've previously been excluded.  According to the Washington Post, the new policy was recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, based on the performance of women in Iraq and Afghanistan.  You may be sure that this change will be debated rather loudly in the coming months.  On the one hand, we want to see the potential of military women fully exercised.  On the other, how will Americans react, in a future conflict, to large numbers of female casualties?  This is a very complex subject, not given to sloganeering.

YOU HAVE TO LAUGH – Nobleman John Kerry, our next secretary of state, is pledging to divest himself of some financial holdings to avoid conflict of interest in his new post.  Among his investments are positions in oil companies, despite Kerry being one of the Senate's most religious advocates of the global warming bit.  He also has a cut of the Canadian company that would benefit from the Keystone Pipeline.  Mr. Kerry, meet Mr. Gore.  Hypocrites forever, and mighty proud of it.

RYAN SPEAKS – Breaking his silence about the election, Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, still a member of the House, said today that his side lost because of ineffective communication, not because of ideas.  Ryan said the GOP must do a better job of explaining itself in the future.  Presumably, he did not address the question of how the party gets its ideas across through the filter of a press that is openly rooting for the other side.

January 23, 2013