Saturday, June 28, 2014


Unless there is a totally unexpected medical breakthrough,
I will not be able to re-read this article on June 28, 2064. It’s
possible, but I am not counting on it. (My father, blessed be
his memory, did come within several months of reaching 100.)

The real question is, of course:  Will anyone now alive be
able to re-read this article 50 years from now? And further:
Will any human person be alive 50 years from now?

This is not an article about an apocalypse. I am not predicting
global catastrophe. I am not closing any books on the human
race. Annihilation is truly remote, although for the first time
in our understanding it is not out of the question.

What this article is about is how the present time will appear
half a century from now to those who might read about or study
these times.

We do this all the time with the past, often using great historical
events as an excuse to do it. There is, for example, an enormous
disgorging of opinion about the Great War, or World War I, going
on this month and week, the centenary of that singular conflict
of the 20th century. I’ve thrown my two cents into this cauldron
of opinion, suggesting that World War I did not actually end, but
has continued for a violent century to the present day.

There now seems to be some agreement that, whether it ended
technically, or still continues, the “Great War of 1914” still
insinuates its aftermath throughout the globe today.

An international movement of anti-nationalism arose long ago,
and today follows a course of ending national borders, local
laws and customs, and imposing international standards, rules
and laws on the earth’s more than 7 billion persons.
Included in this movement has been the “global warming”
environmental cause, and the attempt to transform the
economic European Union into a genuinely political union
with no national sovereignty. Previously, the League of
Nations and its successor, the now-failing United Nations,
were perceived as vehicles that might go beyond peace-keeping
to some kind of international sovereignty.

All of this anti-nationalism and its “one world” idealism were
primarily understandable reactions to the violence, suffering,
depravity and inequality in the world, especially in their 20th
century forms and the human carnage which resulted.

At the same time, this idealistic movement in its various forms
came almost entirely from elites in various parts of the
so-called “developed” and industrial world. Rarely were whole
electorates consulted or persuaded to go along. Some of the
ideologues of this movement ranged from far left to far right,
and in far too many cases only disguised totalitarianism and
further suffering and deprivation of the masses living on the

As we observe the centenary of “incident” at Sarajevo today,
an incident which became the excuse to set off a “war to end all
wars,” we observe notable but limited advances in the world’s
economic state, even as the technological advances have been
astonishing. Democratic capitalism has grown and flourished,
but is under attack from within by bored and insensate elites
who have become addicted to romantic abstractions which are
neither democratic nor capitalistic.

Marxist-Leninist-Stalinism, which masqueraded under the
rubric of “communism” had a shelf life of about 70 years;
fascism lasted less than 30 years. Both were inherently
totalitarian. Their successors on the right and the left have
little coherence.

The United States of America, for more than 60 years now the
dominant military and economic power in the world, appears
to be going through a short period of hesitation (some would
call it a retreat) following a period of intense intervention in the
world defending not only its interests, but the cause of free
markets, human rights, democracy, and enabling nations and
societies across the globe to survive and recover from natural
disaster as well as political disaster. Some American elites are
tiring of this role (and claim they are supported by public opinion
polls), but it is not clear whether or not the electorate will reward
this impulse in the long run.

This national hesitation, begun during and in the aftermath of
the Viet Nam War, and exacerbated in the recent U.S. role in
the Middle East, is understandable, but the nature of life on this
planet in the early 21st century suggests to some others that
an American leadership role in the world, “unpleasant” as it might
be at times, is vital in the foreseeable years ahead.

Fifty years from now, the quandries, choices, and political
ambiguities of our own time will have become history. Almost
certainly by then it will be quite a different world, and by then,
role of the United States, of Europe, of China, of Russia, of India,
and perhaps of some other emergent national entities and global
forces will have dramatically changed in ways we cannot now

We can only hope that the Great War of 1914 will by then have
been submerged into the DNA of world history, and no longer
be the active pathology it is today.

Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Reality Arrives At The Oval Office

June has been the cruelest month for President Barack
Obama in the Oval Office.

His foreign policy is in a shambles. Some of his
appointees have not been well-received in the U.S.
senate (where his own party has increasingly
heavy-handed control). Republican challengers and
incumbents are winning primaries in senate races which
might bring back GOP control. His plan to force his
version of immigration reform in the U.S. house has run
aground. His I.R.S. stands accused of using their
power and leverage to go after his political opponents.
His N.S.A. has admitted snooping widely on private
citizens. His Obamacare plan, in spite of a public
relations effort, is about to implode on rising rates.
The U.S. supreme court unanimously by a 9-0
vote (including all the justices he appointed) rebuked
and reversed his attempt to appoint officials illegally,
and now the speaker of the U.S. house, backed by a
conservative majority in that body, is suing him for his
illegal and presumptive actions as president.

How did Mr. Obama and his administration go
apparently so wrong?

The blame for this might be shared by a so-called
mainstream media which has operated as a claque
to his performance in the White House, cheering him on
without reservation, assuring him he could do no
wrong, attacking his critics in his stead --- all this
creating an unprecedented cocoon of psychic security
around his presidency. And after all, he received the
Nobel peace prize, although it was admittedly only in
anticipation of all the wonderful things he was going
to do. (His claque, it seems, had an office in Oslo.)

Reality and history have perhaps caught up with Barack
Obama. The presidency is not a plaything. The chief
executive cannot ignore the rest of the government and
decide he alone can determine what are the interests
of the nation.

It will be interesting to observe how he will respond to
these turns of events. He can still accomplish good things,
but his track record is to bow to the applause of his
claque, and ignore everyone else.

November can be an even crueler month, and is not that
far away.

Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Is Hillary The Weakest Frontrunner In Modern Times?

This is the second time Hillary has been the prohibitive
frontrunner for her party’s nomination for president. This
time (in contrast to 2007-08) she seems even stronger in the
polls. Moreover, this time she does not yet seem to have a
significant challenger, and most commentators on both the
left and the right seem ready to concede her the nomination.

And yet, there is a recurring and very persistent negative
aura about her candidacy, based on her record, her health,
and most importantly, her performance so far as the putative
choice of the national Democratic Party.

Her new book, and its accompanying book tour/appearances,
have been a public relations disaster, the exact opposite for
which it was intended. Rumors, and I stress that they are so
far just rumors, about the state of her health abound in the
media, and not just in the hostile conservative media.

It is not even an unspoken truth that the primary force of
her candidacy is that she would be the first woman president.
That is certainly not a bad motive; in fact, it is a good thing
that we break down barriers to the highest office in the nation.
We have already had the first Catholic president and the first
black president. It is only a matter of time when we have the
first woman president, the first Jewish president and the first
Hispanic president. But surely, religion, race or ethnicity
should not be the primary or only qualification for president.

I will not here enter a detailed discussion of the quality and
performance of her experience and preparation for the
presidency. It is unquestionably much greater than that of
the current White House occupant. On the other hand, it is
also very controversial.

As for her health, she must convincingly persuade the
public that she is able to endure the punishing pressure
and schedule of the presidency. The days of hiding health
problems of presidents and those who seek the presidency
surely must be over. Going back to President Grover
Cleveland’s secret cancer operation in the late 19th
century, President Woodrow Wilson’s dehabilitating stroke
early in the 20th century, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s
rapid physical decline twenty years later, President John F.
Kennedy’s fatal case of Addison’s Disease forty years later,
and President Reagan’s perhaps onset Alzheimer’s at the
very end of his second term, these pathologies did nothing
but diminish their presidencies.

Since that time, the daily demands of the presidency have
only increased manifold. Whatever one thinks of President
George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, each of them
were vigorous and in good health. For the period from
January, 2017 to the next four and eight years, the executive
challenges to the next president will likely be even greater.

Hillary Clinton has no visible individual challenger in her
party with a year and a half to go before the actual next
presidential contest begins.

Her primary opponent so far seems to be herself.

Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Friday, June 20, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: A Centenary Which Has No Past Tense

I have envisioned, and have sometimes written about,
a radical historical notion which I hold, namely, that the
“Great War” (more often now called World War I) which
centenary we now observe, did not ever end, but instead
pours out its hideous and seemingly endless violence, like
the rivers of deadly lava from a volcano, throughout the
civilized world today.

I have just read a brilliant essay “The Foul Tornado: On
The Centenary Of World War I” by Peter Hitchins, a
columnist for London Mail, published in The American
While Mr. Hitchins does not put his acute
observations specifically in the terms of a modern
“hundred years war” (that is still going on) as I have, the
conclusion of his analysis can only be the same, i,e., what
was set in motion in July and August, 1914, remains in
motion today.

In some of my past short essays on this subject, I singled
out the literally wrong turn the chauffeur of Archduke
Franz Ferdinand’s car took that July day in Sarajevo,
Serbia --- and which resulted in its wrong course going to
the street where the young anarchist assassin Princip was
standing, having by then given up hope he could shoot the
archduke. This, of course, became the incident which led
directly to the declarations of war weeks later. Mr. Hitchens,
however, more profoundly reviews the political figures who
made the war happen, and their motives. In so doing, he
abandons a lot of conventional historical cant, and gets
to the larger forces at play in this tragic drama that would
not only kill so many millions, young and old, of several
generations, but forever undermine the course of Western
civilization, including its culture, its psyche, and perhaps
(yet to be determined) its survival.

Mr. Hitchins brilliantly discards the historical debris which
has continued to obscure the fundamental motivations and
causes of that war. That the German Kaiser Wilhelm was
the principal figure in precipitating the war is not disputed,
but as Mr. Hitchins points out, the German argument was
not with Britain, France or any part of western Europe, but
with and to the east. The kaiser’s ambitions were not
original, but were the product of many decades of
respectable “liberal” German thought, the desire for the
wheat fields of Ukraine and the oil fields of eastern Europe
and Asia. The real fight, then, was between Germany and
the czarist Russian empire. The assassination in Serbia
was only a pretext through which the kaiser brought in
Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman (Turkish) empire on his
side. Mr. Hitchins persuasively shows that Britain and
France had no true interests in this rivalry, certainly not
interests justifying going into such a devastating war. The
British cabinet was not even  informed of the virtually
forgotten old treaty which was used as the premise for
declaring war until after the fact, and French national
hauteur and self-important presumption far outweighed
any real interest it had in becoming part of the conflict.

(I might note that it is only fitting that the act which
precipitated actual hostilities was the mobilization of the
Russian army by the weak and clueless Czar Nicholas II.
Until that moment, war might have been avoided.)

The unspeakable, unprecedented and ultimately wasted
loss of life, property and civilization which followed in the
savage, murderous battles on the western and eastern
fronts were not of course just the result of a chauffeur’s
wrong turn, but of the shortsighted and histrionic
presumptions of a few men in charge throughout Europe
and of a campaign of pseudo-nationalistic public relations
and, ultimately, empty romanticism.

As befits Mr. Hitchins’ insight that the primary conflict in
1914 was between Germany and Russia, is the notation of
how the Russian Marxist revolution (November, 1917) was
fomented by Germany (which sent Lenin to Petrograd by
sealed train), and that the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (which
removed Russia from the war) could have led to a German
victory. Of course, an internal economic collapse prevented
the kaiser from reaping the  immense advantage he had
gained by ending the war on much of the eastern front, a
collapse precipitated by the lack of the very resources
German ambitions had sought from the beginning of the
war, as well as the consequential entrance of the United
States into the war in 1917, and its subsequent timely
contribution of men and materiel to the Allied Powers on
the western front where the economic cost was so heavy
to the Central Powers (led by Germany). Beginning with
a revolt of the German navy on the Baltic, an insurrection
arose in Berlin and other German cities where an
impoverished and weary populace refused to continue the
war. A final and successful offensive by the German army
on the western front thus did not happen.

As Mr. Hitchins and others point out, if there had been no
World War I, there would have almost certainly been no
communist revolution in Russia, no Treaty of Versailles,
no Nazi takeover of the Weimar republic, no Hitler, no
Stalin, and no World War II. The disillusionment of
generations of modern Europe and North America would
not have happened, the artificial and contrived borders of
Europe and the Middle East would not have been drawn,
the Moslem Ottoman empire would not have ended when
it did, and thus, the whole course of global civilization
to today would have been much different.

But what makes Mr. Hitchens’ essay so particularly
interesting is his conclusion that the status of the
European Union today, and the German domination of it
under the democratically elected Angela Merkel, is not that
different than what was sought by Kaiser Wilhelm and his
German circle in 1914, nor is it changed that the primary
conflict today in the West remains between a
German-dominated Europe and a newly-aggressive
Russian sphere-of-influence empire being recreated by
Vladimir Putin.

If you then add that the confrontations today in Asia
(China, India, Pakistan, Korea, Indonesia, Japan), the
entire Middle East, and Africa are consequences,
continuations and work-outs of what was set into motion
by World War I, its immediate causes and its aftermath,
the notion that the Great War did not truly end on Armistice
Day, 1918, but goes on and on in the present, and goes on
and on into the future, is inescapable.

The question is not only when will this immense and most
terrible of all wars truly end, but perhaps most disturbing
is the question, can it end?

Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Recent events in Iraq have produced an outpouring of
criticism of U.S. foreign policy in the region, and
no little indignation from Iraqi war veterans and their
families about their sense of imminent loss for the
sacrifice of lives and American economic expenditure
in the region.

As a frequent critic of President Obama’s foreign policy,
I might be expected to join in on these laments, but I do not
choose to do so at this point because events in world affairs,
especially in areas of extreme and seemingly permanent
conflict are rarely understandable at their outset.

There can, in other words, be no valuable “overview” of
what will be the destination of a chain of significant
events where consequences “on the ground” are so
complicated as they are in Iraq. All we have now is an
“underview” of these events.

I, and others, have often used a chess game as an analogy
for foreign policy because increasingly each move in such
policy produces a greater variety of countermoves or
reactions. The best chess players can “see” the possible
moves of their opponents far ahead of current play,
anticipate them with planned moves of their own ahead of
current play, and thus produce the desired result of victory.

In the past, foreign policy actions were taken by heads of
state, military leaders and tribal groups in a manner much
more predictable than seems to occur today in which
independent figures, smaller terrorist groups and
extra-national forces can be noticeable players in the
international “game,” and thus upset conventional
strategies and anticipations.

Specifically in Iraq, the historic and enduring conflict
between Sunni Moslems and Sh’ia Moslems appears as
the engine for the sudden change in logistics there, and
this conflict has different “rules” than do the
expectations of a new kind of democracy in the region,
or even the standing conflict between the U.S. and Europe
on the one hand, and Iran on the other.

From the outset of his administration, President Obama
now it is clear,  intended to change the chemistry of the
Middle East theater of events. So did, President George W.
Bush, incidentally, after September 11, 2001, but with very
different premises. In each case, the U.S president saw
the “chess match” get away from him, as unexpected and
unintended consequences  multiplied on the Middle East
chess board.

At a certain point in a chess game, the outcome becomes
inevitable, and a losing player often concedes before an
actual “check mate.” No one has that kind of true overview
now of events in Iraq. All we have is the underview of
events as they unfold, with such curious circumstances as
the government in Tehran and the government in Washington,
DC being on the same side (but with different motives) of
trying to preserve the government in Baghdad.

Similarly, as the recent “Arab Spring” collapsed in Egypt,
the government in Cairo and the government in Jerusalem
found common interests against forces which opposed or
confounded them.

It ain’t really chess, of course (a chess board does not have
human pieces in play), but in trying to decipher what is likely
to happen in the world, it is better to have an overview than
an underview.

Let’s see more of where this is going. Then we’ll talk.

Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Democrats Divided --- In Massachusetts?

Martha Coakley, who leads in all the public opinion polls
in the race for governor of Massachusetts, was soundly
defeated for party endorsement at the recent Bay State
Democratic convention by the state treasurer Steve
Grossman. To add political injury to insult, she barely got
more delegate votes than a third, first-time and unknown
candidate. It is unclear who will win the September primary,
Coakley or Grossman, although she must for now be the

Virtually all the candidates at the convention expressed
similar liberal views. Mr, Grossman, in fact, indicated his
support for single payer healthcare. Mrs. Coakley’s
problem with delegates stems from her upset defeat by
Republican Scott Brown in the U.S senate race in
Massachusetts in 2010.

I mention this not because Massachusetts will now elect
a Republican governor (although this most liberal state has
done so on numerous occasions), but because there will be
almost no mention of this in the Old (sometimes called the
Mainstream) Media. This fading media institution has been
too busy calling attention to the intraparty challenge to
Republican Thad Cochran in Mississippi, and to the intraparty
defeat of U.S. house Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia,
each at the hands of so-called “Tea Party” activists. The
motive of the Old Media establishment, a clear double
standard, is a desperate effort to reverse a coming electoral
disaster for the Democrats and the Obama administration this

I do not suggest that there is a liberal crisis in Massachusetts.
Delegate support for Mr. Grossman was a clear case of
activists' desire to put their strongest candidate on the ballot.
Massachusetts Democratic primary voters, in fact, might
disagree in September, and put Mrs. Coakley on the ballot.
What I do suggest is that Republican voters and activists
are doing the same thing as their Democratic counterparts
--- resisting on occasion conventional wisdom, polls, and
incumbency in favor of choices they the voters prefer.  (Yes,
immigration reform was the immediate issue in Virginia,
but the real underlying issue was that Mr. Cantor had “lost
touch” with his constituents.)

The fact that Republican primary voters have been choosing
incumbents and mainstream conservative candidates over
more radical and riskier candidates in most (but not all)
cases so far this year is the real story, notwithstanding the
“sensation” of Eric Cantor’s upset loss. “Tea Party”
supporters should feel good about their victories in
Mississippi and Virginia not because they now have
“momentum” or dominate their party, but because their
party is paying attention, and trying to include them. If Mr.

Cochran loses the run-off in Mississippi, his GOP replacement
will likely win the senate seat. The same is true for Mr. Brat,
the primary winner in Virginia. Either Mr. Grossman or
Mrs. Coakley will likely be the next governor of Massachusetts.

None of these outlier races, will mean much in the net outcome
in November. The real bottom line is that the Old Media will
continue to lose readers, viewers and listeners as its bias and
desperate efforts to rewrite history sink to new and
embarrassing lows.

Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: A Silver Lining In Eric Cantor's Loss?

Since everyone is a bona fide political analyst these days,
there will be a plethora of explanations of why Republican
U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost the nomination
for re-election in his Virginia district in his own party primary.

I would like to suggest that the loss, while a real one obviously
for Mr. Cantor personally and his leadership colleagues in the
U.S. house, just might be a net plus for his political party.

The primary issue as the provocation for his defeat was
clearly his leadership role in proposed immigration reform.
Mr. Cantor won his primary in 2012 with more than 70% of the
vote, and had for years enjoyed broad GOP support in his
district, including among the very groups who appeared to
turn against him this time. Since immigration reform was the
major issue for most of these latter GOP voters, it is inescapable
to avoid the conclusion that immigration reform was the
“catalyst” in this political story.

First, let me repeat what I have consistently written in recent
years: I strongly support immigration reform, and I oppose
any notion of blanket returning current “illegal” immigrants to
their nation of origin (but illegal criminal immigrants should
be expelled). The 10 million-plus “illegals” currently living in
the U.S. should be given a legal status, and be required to pay
taxes, and to observe all the other rules of those who legally
live in this country. At the same time, I strongly support a
massive overhaul of border control, and effective measures to
stop any more illegal immigration now. Furthermore, conferring
legal status should not mean instant or even quick citizenship

This was similar, I thought, to the intentions of the U.S. house
leadership, including John Boehner and Eric Cantor, in their
continuing quest to fashion a reasonable, fair and prudent
reform of U.S. immigration policy. I favor immigration reform,
but I also recognize the responsibility of political leaders to
persuade voters that reform is good and necessary.

The problem with Boehner and Cantor, despite other
excellent leadership qualities, has been their less-than-stellar
public communications on this and other issues, thus often
isolating themselves not only from members of their own
caucus in the U.S. house, but also with significant numbers of
grass roots voters in their own party across the nation.

So-called “tea party” activists and voters have often been
identified by an unsympathetic liberal media as the “culprits”
in the current divisions in the Republican Party, and at the
outset of the 2014 mid-term election campaign, this media
attempted to exacerbate GOP voter disagreements into a
successful insurrection against the party “establishment,”
thus making conservative success at the polls in November,
2014 less likely (as happened in some U.S. senate races in 2010
and 2012).

In the primary season so far, this for the most part has NOT
happened. Particularly, in competitive 2014 U.S. senate races,
Republican and conservative voters across the country have
resisted the impulse to nominate ultimately weak candidates.
In fact, on the same day that Mr. Cantor lost, Lindsay Graham
of South Carolina won his primary with more than 50% of the
vote. Senator Graham has been criticized by some activists for
not being conservative enough. In Mississippi, incumbent GOP
Senator Thad Cochran, similarly criticized, has been forced
into a run-off against a “tea party” conservative opponent,
and might lose the nomination as a result, but his opponent
would still be the favorite to keep the seat in Republican hands
in that very conservative state.

Democrats and their media friends, of course, would like the
Cantor defeat to re-ignite the “tea party” revolution, and divide
the Republican Party. One issue that might have helped do this
was trying to force immigration reform in Congress before the
mid-term elections. This issue is no longer on the table after
Mr. Cantor’s defeat, and thus might be a silver lining for the GOP.
Mr. Boehner and Mr. Cantor both led their caucus into abandoning
another government shutdown, another refusal to raise the
debt ceiling, and more fruitless attempts to repeal Obamacare,
so that the 2014 election could be a national referendum on
President Obama, his administration and his policies.

Their success with this, however, was followed by a curious
determination to force through immigration reform before the
2014 election, thus risking turning off some valuable grass roots
support. Whether one agrees with them or not, a number of
conservative voters have serious questions about immigration
reform, especially reform designed by the Democrats. Boehner and
Cantor did not made clear the difference between their idea of
reform and the liberals’ version of it. Conservative resistance
has been loud and ongoing, including in Cantor’s district. The
responsibility for Eric Cantor’s defeat is thus his own. Probably,
his leadership role has caused him and his political advisers to
lose touch with his district. There is really no other credible
explanation for a popular and genuinely conservative incumbent
to lose his own party re-nomination by such a wide margin.

Candidly, “tea party” voters needed at least one notable victory
in this election cycle, and now they have it. If Republican leaders
are skillful, they will not panic, but learn from Mr. Cantor’s
political mistakes, and move on to the election ahead. As I have
said many times, the “Tea Party” arose on legitimate economic
grievances.  A few of them now are show-offs or have tried to
take the tea party movement in non-eonomic dirctions, but if the
Republican Party wants to succeed in 2014 and 2016, it cannot
afford to turn these conservative voters off and away.

The primary season is now almost over. Most Republican
incumbents have made efforts to appeal to the various factions
in their party, and most GOP challengers this year, especially
in competitive U.S. senate races, are outstanding. Eric Cantor’s
loss might well be the exception that demonstrates the rule that
this is a year with voter momentum that rejects administration
policies in Washington, DC.

Only if the Republican leadership fails to continue its attempts
to integrate all of its grass roots voter support, need the defeat
of Eric Cantor be more than just a curious historical footnote.

Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Susana Martinez!

The governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez, has been
gaining national attention in recent years. First elected
governor in 2010, she had spent the previous 25 years as
a public prosecutor, including three terms as the elected
district attorney in her home county. She was the first
Hispanic woman elected a state governor in the nation.

Enormously popular in her home state, she is heavily
favored to win re-election this year. A divorced Roman
Catholic, she has remarried, and has one son. She is
54 years old and an attorney. She has been a consistent
pro-life economic conservative who advocates reduced
government spending and lower taxes.

In 2012, she was frequently mentioned as a possible
Republican vice presidential choice, but in 2016, she will
likely be one of the front runners for the post, no matter
who the GOP nominee is. There is also some political
speculation that she could be a dark horse presidential
candidate herself.

With the growing likelihood that Hillary Clinton will be
the Democratic nominee for president in 2016, Governor
Martinez becomes one of the logical frontrunners to be
on the Republican ticket.

Martinez’s parents were legal immigrants to the U.S.,
and her great grandfather was the legendary revolutionary
general of the 1910 Mexican revolution, Toribio Ortega,
who led one of the first bands to take up arms that year
against the Mexican dictator.

Since it is so very early in the 2016 presidential race,
especially in the contest for the Republican nomination,
it is particularly speculative to discuss possible GOP
vice presidential nominees. But Governor Susana
Maritnez’s background, experience and public record are
so pertinent to likely GOP aspirations in the next election
for control of the White House, it seems inevitable that
Americans of all parties will now become much more
familiar with this formidable American political figure in
the months ahead.

Mark my words.

Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


The latest state primary results confirm a notable pattern
of voting by Republican voters nationwide. In Iowa, a U.S.
senate candidate who had support across the range of
conservative opinion won a stunning primary victory
against three other candidates, two of whom had been
ahead of her at the outset of the campaign. In Mississippi,
an aging incumbent GOP senator trailed a more
conservative opponent, although a run-off in three weeks
will be necessary. In the case of Mississippi, either of these
candidates would be a heavy favorite in the general election
against a Democrat (barring the unforeseen).

Liberal media commentators apparently like to report the
GOP primary contests in terms of "establishment" vs. “Tea
Party” upstarts, perhaps with the motivation of provoking
the disastrous results of some insurgent GOP primary
winners in 2010 and 2012 who went on to defeat in races
the Republicans were expected to win.

Conservative voters do not seem to be cooperating with
liberal aspirations for the U.S. senate races so far this year,
and are routinely choosing strong and solid challengers in
the most competitive races for seats now held by Democrats,
including West Virginia, South Dakota. Montana, Louisiana,
Arkansas, Colorado, North Carolina and Oregon.

In fact, in Iowa where Joni Ernst just won the primary with
a surprising more that 50% of the vote, it is her Democratic
opponent, Congressman Bob Braler, who has made the
biggest gaffe of the year (by attacking popular GOP Iowa
Senator Chuck Grassley). Ernst might soon be the favorite
in this open seat race formerly held by a Democrat.

To be sure, there are noticeable differences among GOP
factions this year, as there were in 2010 and 2012, but
grass roots Republican voters seem to be so upset with
Obamacare and the Washington, DC Democratic
administration, as well as the dictatorial leadership of
Senator Harry Reid in the U.S. senate, that they are
resisting temptations to defeat their own incumbents
in the hope of more political “purity.”

Not only that, more and more “establishment” Republican
candidates seem to have recognized the impact of the
libertarian wing of their party, especially on economic
issues, and are attempting to move their way as the
campaign season unfolds.

Should the GOP win back control of the U.S. senate, and
increase their current control of the U.S. house, however,
expectations will be high by the various “wings” of the
GOP for follow-through and success in the next session
of Congress as Republican majorities confront a
lame-duck Democratic president. Lacking the White House,
a political party can usually only hold back any new
initiatives from their opposition, so expectations might be
have to be delayed until January, 2017.

Speaking of Barack Obama, he seems to be the best ally
the Republican campaigns could have just now, as he
walks into controversy after scandal after political disaster.

His latest, an ill-considered trade-for-terrorists, seemed
self-delusive and it feeds on the growing public
disillusionment following the VA hospital scandals, the
failure to build the Keystone pipeline, Crimea and Syria,
Benghazi, and of course, Obamacare. The desertion
from the White House now not only includes many
vulnerable Democrats up for election this year, but also
a growing number of liberals looking ahead to 2016 and

But, once again, I caution that these trends, while long
developing and so far persistent, are not the final word
on 2014. That will be spoken five months from now by
the ultimate commentators, the voters. In the meantime,
the Democrats will try to regroup and recover. There is
much more in this story yet to be told.

Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 2, 2014


I have written before about my year of student life in Spain
in the mid-1960s, and the often fascinating, but at the same
time, claustrophobic experience of living in that historic
ancient kingdom reduced to post-World War II isolation,
dictatorship and poverty.

That student year was at the tail end of the notorious regime
of Francisco Franco, “El Caudillo,” the fascist dictator who
overthrew a short-lived and mostly incompetent Spanish
republic that followed the end of the Spanish monarchy a few
years before in a coup in 1931.

The year I was attending the University of Madrid was also
the 30th anniversary of the Franco regime, and it was
celebrated as “treinta anos de paz” or “thirty years of peace”
in the national celebration that took place. On December 14,
1966, Franco appeared before the Spanish parliament (El
Cortes) to declare and sign the “Organic Law” that set down
the rules for his succession. Franco, a royalist, had wanted
a king to follow him, and so he negotiated with the Spanish
“pretender” in exile, then living in Portugal, to have his young
son return to Spain, be educated under the direction of Franco,
and then become actual king on Franco’s death. The pretender,
a bitter opponent of Franco who was, in turn, disliked by the
Spanish dictator, agreed, and the teen-age Prince Juan Carlos
returned to his homeland.

I was in the huge crowd in front of El Cortes that day when
Franco arrived in a black limousine to sign the new law of

Although I never met the prince, I became aware of him when
on the University campus I often saw a string of black official
cars parked in front of university buildings. I had become
friendly with a young Spanish painter and his family soon after
arriving in Madrid, and it turned out that the painter’s father
was a member of the Spanish general staff. This man, who later
became infamous as the “commandante de Madrid,” informed
me that the black cars were the entourage of the young Prince
Juan Carlos, then attending classes at the university. He also
described the prince with the epithet “Juan El Breve” or Juan
The Brief, the nickname then circulating among the general
staff, because it was believed that his reign as king would soon
be soon ended by a fascist takeover of the government.

Soon after I left Spain to return to the U.S., Franco died, and
the prince became king. Free elections were held, and a leftist
was chosen as prime minister by a very liberal parliament.
As expected, elements in the military were unhappy with the
direction the newly democratic Spain was taking, and a “golpe
de estado
” or revolt was staged in Madrid by taking over the
parliament by a military faction. As sympathetic military
divisions were moving to solidify the revolt, the young and
allegedly "weak" king was isolated in the royal palace with his
wife and young children. A fate for them similar to that which
befell Russian Czar Nicholas II and his family (in 1918) might
have then happened, especially when it was learned that the king
was not willing to support the insurrection.

But the young “weak” king was made of much tougher stuff
than his military coup leaders imagined. He called the
division commanders of Spain’s army, and demanded as
“Yo El Rey” (I’m your king) their loyalty, and a rejection of
the golpe de estado. Their elaborate plans of the fascist revolt
were shattered when the army commanders fell in line with
the king, and Spanish democracy was saved. Overnight, Juan
Carlos was a national hero, and he quickly became one of
Europe’s most popular monarchs. Although his role as chief of
state was largely ceremonial, his stature following his
courageous defeat of the army revolt gave him enormous
popular influence in Spanish life.

A few years ago, there was a reprise of his popularity when,
while in South America presiding at a conference of
Spanish-speaking government leaders, the late dictator of
Venezuela Hugo Chavez was rudely making defaming remarks
about the Spanish government. King Juan Carlos then, in front
of the world’s TV cameras, interrupted Chavez, saying “Why
don’t you shut up!” It was vintage Juan Carlos, the former
prince who had been given the derisive nickname “The Brief,”
but who was now in his fourth decade as king of Spain.

 Juan Carlos’ personal life over the years, however, had
suffered some decline. He had several children, and one of
his daughters married a famous commoner who subsequently
was accused of a massive fraud. The scandal eventually also
led back to the princess. During the recent economic downturn
in Spain, the king, a man who had always enjoyed the “high”
life went off on a secret African safari, accompanied allegedly
by his current paramour, and it became a cause celebre when
the king was injured on the safari, and had to return suddenly
to Spain for treatment. The king subsequently apologized to
the nation, but his reputation and national regard was no
longer the same.

Now 76, and in obvious declining health, the king has just
announced his abdication in favor of his eldest son, Prince
Felipe, a figure generally held in respect in Spain. With a vote
for secession of the Catalan province ahead, ongoing national
economic problems and a general doubt about Spain’s and
Europe’s future, perhaps Juan Carlos has decided wisely the
moment for a change.

There were mountains and valleys in his long reign, but there
was nothing “brief” about the kingship of Juan Carlos.  I think
he will be remembered for the mountains he climbed in
saving Spanish democracy and in standing up to a South
American dictator, and the valleys of scandals will become

Whatever history writes, however, there can be no doubt that
he survived his doubters and detractors in a long reign of true
peace and democratic growth of his old kingdom in the
contemporary world.

I still have not met him, but now perhaps some day soon I will.
I will show him my University of Madrid I.D. card, and invite him
for a beer, a few tapas, and some talk about the days when Spain
was not free, and students were dreaming about better days ahead.

Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.