Monday, May 31, 2021


At any given moment in political time there is a larger
perspective possible, but often in electoral cycles, that “big
picture” evades reliable conclusions.

The 2022 national mid-term elections will be primarily
about control of the two houses of Congress --- and whether
the Biden administration will be able to enact its goals and
policies beyond what it was able to accomplish in its first
two years. That much is clear and obvious.

But because voters in each major party are somewhat divided
among themselves, and Democratic control of the U.S. house
and senate is very slight, it is unclear what President Biden
and his party will achieve in the next several months before
they go again to the voters. This is further complicated by the
apparent end to a traumatic national and global pandemic,
and the consequent effort to revive the economy.

A consensus is now emerging that Democratic control of the
U.S, house might be lost in 2022.  Most observers list more
than 40 incumbent Democratic seats as vulnerable, but less
than 20 GOP seats at risk. In addition, reapportionment and
redistricting appears to have given Republicans the advantage
for 5-10 additional seats. But these advantages are so far only
on paper. Actual voting is 18 months away, and present trends
could change to the Democrats’ advantage. On the other hand,
a ”red” wave election might switch 25-50 seats to the GOP
next year.

There is no current consensus about who will control the U.S.
senate in 2023. Each party has 4-5 vulnerable incumbent seats.
With 5 GOP incumbents retiring, the conservatives face an
uphill battle to break the current 50-50 tie, which with Vice
President Kamala Harris’s vote gives Democrats control.
It is sill early enough in the cycle for more retirements. Since
so much money is required for a senate race these days, most
vacancy and vulnerable 2022 races are already heavily
populated with aspiring candidates. As in the recent past, the
quality of he candidates recruited and nominated will be a
major factor in the outcome of the senate races.

There will be some colorful gubernatorial contests in 2022,
including New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin
and Nevada, but Republican dominance of states is likely to
continue. The liberal urban and conservative rural/exurban
divide is expected to persist --- although local elections in
2021 could signal some new rends in these areas.

The biggest unknown about 2022 will be public reception to
the Democratic policies agenda that includes packing the U.S.
supreme court, open immigration, defunding police, growing
anti-Israel attitudes, and energy policies unfavorable to U.S.
consumers and workers --- an agenda which even veteran
liberal pollsters and strategists say now has uneven support
among traditional liberal voters, and  overall majorities
against them in the general electorate.

Copyright (c) 2021 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Breaking Stories - May, 2021

There are a number of breaking news stories now underway,
important in their potential consequences, but which appear
far from resolution.

After years of relative quiet, Palestinian rocket attacks from
Gaza and Lebanon on Israeli cities, as well as civil unrest by
Arabs in major Israel cities, has flared up again. Led by
Hamas, the timing seems confusing because it appears to
have saved Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from
losing his job, just as a coalition of his opponents seemed on
the verge of replacing him.


Although vaccination efforts in the U.S. (“Operation Warp
Speed”) and several smaller nations, e.g., Israel and Uruguay,
have gone well, in much of the rest of the world, inoculations
are going erratically. Reasons for this vary from government
ineptitude or corruption, lack of supplies of vaccines, fear of
individuals for the medical procedure and difficulty in
reaching distant and rural populations. Health officials worry
that the delays might enable new virus variants.


Interest in baseball in the U.S. has been equaled or exceeded in
recent years by other sports such as football and basketball,
but it remains the national game, and a bellwether for public
recovery to post-pandemic “normalcy.” After an abbreviated
2020 “pandemic” season with no fans in the stadiums, major
league baseball has returned to a full schedule and in-person
attendance. 2021 might also be a good year for pitchers --- in
the first month alone, four of them have thrown  no-hitters.

After years of relatively stable prices, prices in some major
sectors such as food and fuel have risen notably. Some
economists suggest Biden administration economic policies,
including higher taxes, new regulations and significant new
government deficit spending programs are the principal
cause of these early signs of inflation. Defenders of the
president contend that his multi-trillion dollar stimulus/
infrastructure spending proposals will prevent inflation.


The Biden administration attempts to downplay the
surge of illegal immigrants at the Mexican border is drawing
not only widespread criticism from Republicans, but from
border officials of his own party, including senior Democratic
Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas. Attempted illegal
entries are reportedly at a 20-year high with no end in sight.
The Biden administration policy of not returning illegals to
their country of origin (reversing the policy of the previous
administration) is also reportedly increasing the surge.

Copyright (c) 2021 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021


The first days of a new presidential administration are like a
dust storm ---  it is always an unclear sight to behold as new
men and women take charge of the federal executive branch.

Joe Biden has now been president for more than 100 days. His
administration, personnel, executive orders, policies, and
proposed legislation have offered few surprises. He ran for
president as a liberal “not-Trump.” a Keynesian who would
raise taxes. a central government regulator, and an advocate
for federal New Deal-styled social welfare policies. In these
matters, he has kept his  promises. Most Democrats, but not
all of them, approve. More radical members of his party in
Congress (e.g., The Squad, Maxine Waters, Bernie Sanders
and Elizabeth Warren) are now clamoring for him to go farther
to the left.

Several areas of crisis or hard challenge have emerged for the
new president. Some of them he inherited; others are of his
own making.

Number one, of course, is ending the pandemic. Thanks to the
hurry-up program of his predecessor to develop vaccines, the
national effort seems to be going well, and approaching “herd
immunity.” Individual states have varying programs, and are
getting some uneven results, but most of the nation should be
vaccinated by late summer. Much less successful programs in
Europe, Asia and South America, however, are causing concern
for possible mutant virus surges.

Simultaneous to the vaccination program is the critical restart
of the economy. Again, individual governors are insisting on
different rules. Mr. Biden has proposed an overall $6 trillion
federal stimulus plan for infrastructure and bailouts. He
asserts that he will pay for this by increasing taxes on the rich
and on corporations while closing some tax loopholes. His
conservative critics contend this strategy doesn’t work because it
discourages new business investment and expansion, causes
layoffs instead of new jobs, reduces general income growth,
and thus ultimately reduces tax revenues. The president is
betting on success with short term measures, but is risking a
recession next year before the mid-term elections.

The new president inherited a relatively quiet Mexican border,
but his pre-election call for open immigration has produced a
sudden chaotic surge. Border Democratic elected officials,
fearing voter backlash next year, are not happy.

Mr. Biden also inherited a positively evolving Middle East
as a number of Arab nations recognized Israel and began
commercial relations with the U.S.’s major ally in the region.
This developing alliance also is a reaction to Iranian nuclear
militarism, but the new administration seems determined
to try to revive, led by John Kerry, a failing treaty made in the
previous Democratic administration with a hostile Iran.

One small but bold Biden foreign policy success was his
statement that Turkish actions against its Armenian citizens
100 years ago was genocide. Turkish governments since that
time have denied culpability. No U.S. president, Democrat or
Republican, has had the courage to declare the historically
obvious. Turkey is now a member of NATO, but often does
not seem to be a reliable ally.

Another bold Biden  international move was his decision to
withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, rejecting the advice
of the military. Saying it was time to end U.S. “forever wars,”
Biden’s move was one favored by his predecessor but not yet

Although he has established a commission to study expanding
the  U.S. supreme court, there appears not to be support for it
in Congress, even among many  Democrats. The speaker of the
house has even said she will not bring it to the floor for a vote.

Many traditional issues of immigration, abortion and guns
continue to divide the two major parties. With a Democrat
now in the White House, the initiative shifts to the liberal
Mr. Biden who has been reversing his predecessor’s
executive orders. Many of these issues, however, will be
ultimately decided in the courts.

It’s too early for report card grades, and for judgments
of success or failure, but President Biden appears to be a
“not-Trump” executive following his liberal instincts, yet
under strong pressure from his left, and from policy
expectations from his party’s New Deal past.

Copyright (c) 2021 by Barry Casselman. All right reserved.