Monday, March 31, 2014


Here are some quick commentaries on a variety of
current news events:

challengers from their own political party, so the
expectation by some pundits that Hillary Clinton will
be nominated for president by acclamation in 2016
does not seem very realistic. If, however, the electorate
is leaning heavily to the Republicans by late 2015, and
“Obama-fatigue’ is rampant, those Democrats who
might make a serious challenge could cede the nomination,
and look ahead to 2020. Bill Clinton was the beneficiary
of this kind of thinking in late 1991, and several first-rank
Democratic presidential aspirants, most notably Mario
Cuomo and Dick Gephardt, took a pass. A recession and
Ross Perot intervened, however, and President George
H.W. Bush’s “certain” re-election fizzled. Ironically, the
major Democratic challenger to Mrs. Clinton in 2016 would
likely be Mario Cuomo’s son, Andrew, now governor of New
York, as was his father in 1992.

ALTHOUGH MUCH SPECULATION for 2014 has a focus
on the numerous currently-held Democratic seats that
might be won by Republicans, and possibly giving the GOP
control of the senate as well as the house, there are at least
two Republican-held seats that might be won by Democrats.
Michelle Nunn, a moderate Democrat, could win in
Georgia where the GOP does not yet have a candidate,
and GOP minority leader Mitch McConnell faces a serious
race with Democrat, Allison Grimes, in Kentucky. In addition,
the North Carolina senate seat, currently held by Democrat
Kay Hagan, was originally thought to be a likely takeover,
but again, the GOP has not yet settled on a strong candidate,
and the opportunity might be lost next November.

IN IOWA, HOWEVER, the Democrats have experienced
their first Delaware (2010), Nevada (2010), Missouri (2012)
and Indiana (2012) “moment” (all of the preceding were
blunders made by Republican senate candidates). Iowa
Congressman Bruce Braley, the putative Democratic nominee
for the open senate seat in the Hawkeye State , unburdened
himself of the opinion that the other Iowa senator, Chuck
Grassley “was only a farmer and never went to law school.”
It has to be remembered that Iowa is a farm state and that
99% of its citizens are not lawyers. The Iowa contest,
previously rated “likely Democrat” is now suddenly “too
close to call.”

Udall, a Democrat, has declared that he would make his
“yes” vote for Obamacare again, if he had the opportunity.
This strategy, in a state where Obamacare is unpopular and
controversial, might be the most contrarian approach of all
in 2014, especially since the Republicans seem to have settled
on a strong candidate, Congressman Cory Gardner, who is a
vocal critic of Obamacare. Certainly, it is the most LOL
campaign idea of the cycle. Watch this race.

regained its lead in snowfall for cities over 100,000 population.
As of March 30, the “Gem City” had received 137+ inches of
snow. Located on the southern shores of Lake Erie, the city
is always one of the major U.S. recipients of the well-known
meteorological “lake effect” that produces heavy snowfall
along the shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

his hitherto feckless confrontation with Russian President
Vladimir Putin? If he continues to ramp up sanctions
against the former Soviet regime’s recent annexation of
Crimea from Ukraine (and its current veiled threats
against the rest of Ukraine and Estonia), he might just
provoke a diplomatic turnaround in Eastern Europe. German
Chancellor Angela Merkel could play a major role in this
by bringing her European Union colleagues with her in an
overall Western sanctions program. In spite of his recent
actions and statements, Mr. Putin’s national economy would
likely face serious problems if there were major sanctions
and drop-off in trade with the U.S. and Europe. Mr. Putin’s
trump card of the oil and gas he supplies to Ukraine and
Europe could be offset in part if the U.S. continues down the
road of energy self-sufficiency, and new gas supplies to Europe
became more available.

Speaking of Crimea, local officials are concerned that the
region’s vital tourist industry (four million visitors a year,
many of them from cruise ships on the Black Sea) might
evaporate in the coming season because of the political crisis.
Among many sites, the museum at Yalta featuring the wax
figures of Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin is empty of visitors
these days. Seven major cruise lines have already cancelled
stops in Odessa (Ukraine), Sevastapol (Crimea) and Yalta

On a more positive tourist note, the 350-year grand tradition
of world’s fairs and international expositions still continues,
despite a drop-off in recent years. The next one is scheduled
for Milan, Italy in 2015: followed by Astana, Kazahstan in
2017; and Dubai in 2020-21.  Latest potential entry is the
Twin Cities of Minnesota (Minneapolis/St. Paul) which is
preparing a bid for 2023.

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

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