Saturday, August 28, 2021

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Media Biden Remorse?

Although the U.S. Afghan withdrawal has not yet fully played 

out, the so-called establishment media appears to have 

already abandoned its year-long cheerleading of Joe Biden, 

candidate and now president.

Mr. Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops was not popular

with many in the military, neo-conservatives, and a number

of our allies, not to mention the Afghan government, but a

a majority of Americans does support in principle our leaving.

Former President Trump wanted to withdraw, but apparently

was constrained by a secure way in arranging the departure of

U.S, troops.

The drama now taking place is producing, much to the Biden

administration's discomfort, a series of negative visuals and

issues, including chaotic scenes at the Kabul airport where

U.S. citizens and Afghans who helped the U.S have gathered to

be evacuated. This has been complicated  by terrorist

threats and a tragic suicide bomber attack, killing Americans,

Europeans and Afghans.

That attack put focus on the fact that the Taliban who now

control the country, and negotiated the U.S. withdrawal, do

not seem able to control terrorist groups such as Al  Quaeda

and others who might pose a threat against the West, as

happened on September 11, 2001.

President Biden’s own presentation of his policy and the

evacuation has been inconsistent and muddled, and he has

even avoided taking questions from the usually friendly

media. His early assurances of an orderly and successful

withdrawal/evacuation have been wrong so far. The

premature abandonment of allied air bases and huge

quantities of planes, helicopters and military materiel

seems disastrous.

A few commentators defending the president contend that

all this was unavoidable, and that the bottom line will be 

that we will be out of Afghanistan — which is what the

American public wanted.

But most in the media, including Mr. Biden’s friends on

editorial pages and in the print/broadcast commentariat do

not appear to accept that rosy assessment. Visual memories

of the chaotic evacuation of Saigon in Viet Nam persist

almost 50 years later, and the notion of leaving Americans

and their Afghan friends behind seems unacceptable.

The precipitous withdrawal of U.S. troops, accompanied by

pullouts of British, French and other troops, also creates a

very large strategic and political vacuum in the region,

affecting Russia, Iran, Pakistan, India, China and southeast

Asia. It isn’t really clear yet what the consequences will be.

The Taliban themselves seem unlikely to want to precipitate

a U.S. military return, but as already noted, they seem

unable to control jihadist and terrorist groups in their midst

who might provoke with another 9/11.

Afghan women and minority groups are certain now to 

suffer under Taliban rule.

In the past, the media ignored Mr. Biden’s problems. But

this one might be different.


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

Wednesday, August 18, 2021


As the U.S. moves toward digital money and away from

metal coins and paper currency, an earlier age of odd

coinage is further forgotten except by numismatists who

collect them.

Today, our coinage includes the penny, nickel, dime,

quarter. half dollar and dollar. One hundred fifty years 

ago., there were many more coin varieties in general 

circulation, some of them with odd denominations

that might seem strange in 2021.

In fact, most Americans have not ever seen a half penny,

two cent, three cent, half dime or twenty cent coins.

The earliest U.S. general circulation coins were minted 

in the 1790s. Prior to that colonial coinage circulated,

and after independence, each state state provided its

own coins. After 1789, a national coinage was needed,

and official coins with “United  States of America” on 

them appeared, including the half penny, penny, half

dime, dime, quarter, half dollar and dollar.

The copper half penny circulated from 1793 to 1836.

The silver half dime was used from 1794 to 1873. The

modern nickel five cent piece was introduced in 1865.

A copper two cent piece was introduced in 1864, but

was discontinued in 1873. A silver three cent piece

circulated from 1851 to 1873, and a larger nickel three 

cent coin was used from 1865 to 1889.

Form 1875 to 1878, a silver twenty cent piece was in


U.S. gold coins were minted from the nation’s 

earliest days in a variety of denominations, 

including a dollar in the precious metal (1849 to 1889),

a half eagle ($5.00), eagle ($10.00) and double eagle

($20.00). Like the lower value coins in copper, nickel

and silver, gold coins also came in odd  

denominations, including $2.50 (1796-1929), $3.00

(1854-89, and briefly ,$4.00 (1879-80). The latter gold

coins, called “Stellas,” were minted in very few

quantities, and are today extremely valuable, often

selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars in the

rare coin market.

Indeed, silver and gold coins,  especially the latter,

now have a metal value that notably exceeds their

stated value, and command premium prices in the

numismatic market. (Rarity and coin condition

determine the exact price.)

These days, vending machines, parking meters and

laundromats are increasingly using plastic for use,

as are most retail stores and restaurants for payment.

Bills are paid via the internet or check. The pay

telephone is virtually extinct. Some places won’t even

accept cash.

 Is the time coming soon when whole generations of 

Americans will have not ever have seen a coin or a

dollar bill, and will regard them as strange as most

Americans do today about the three cent piece?


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


Friday, August 6, 2021

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Coastal Surprises

Only a few months ago, California and New York, the largest
and 4th largest states, were considered the bluest of the blue
(Democratic) strongholds in the nation with governors who
were popular figures with potential national ambitions.

Today those governors are in very serious political trouble,
and either or both could be soon out of office.

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom faces a September 14
statewide recall vote, the first such recall since Governor
Gray Davis, also a Democrat, was ousted in 1983.

The recall ballot is in two parts. First, voters are asked for a
simple yes or no on whether to remove. If the largest number
is ”no,” the recall fails, and Newsom remains in office --- and
the second part of the ballot is moot. If, however, the “yes”
vote wins,  Newsom is immediately out of office, and
replaced by the candidate receiving the largest number of
votes on the second part of the ballot which will list about
one hundred candidates!

In 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger topped that list, and became
governor. In 2021 so far, black conservative radio show host
Larry Elder leads in most polls. Polls of the recall until
recently indicated that Newsom would likely keep his office,
but new polls indicate that the “yes”vote is about even with
the “no” vote and gaining.

It’s now quite possible that heavily liberal blue California
could wake up on September 15 with a very conservative
governor who would serve until next year’s regular election.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo was charged with
improper behavior, but denied the allegations, and refused
to resign. An impartial investigation initiated by his own
state attorney general was just published, and found him
guilty in several instances. Cuomo still refuses to resign,
but virtually all of his local, state and national support in
his own party has evaporated --- with President Biden,
Speaker Pelosi, and both New York senators all calling for
him to step down.

If and when Cuomo leaves office, New York Lt. Governor
Kathy Hochul would take his place for the rest of his term.
Hochul was a moderate Buffalo Democrat when chosen to
run with Cuomo, but has supported his more progressive
policies. She would likely face the even more progressive
state attorney general and others for the Democratic
nomination next year. Republican hopes to win the
governorship are dim despite the New York Democrats’
problems this year.

The New York general assembly has begun impeachment
proceedings against Cuomo, and the assembly leader has
said Cuomo no longer has the support of most of the
legislators. The governor’s support in the state senate
likewise appears to have faded.

In the face of such mammoth opposition, and various
legal actions, it is difficult to imagine Cuomo remaining
in office much longer.

In the two very large states on the U.S. west and east
coasts, it has been an unexpected political year.

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