Analysis 01-24-2022


Biden Celebrates First Year in Office
with Extensive Press Conference


Biden held his second press conference of his presidency this week.  And, although it wasn’t one of the publicized reasons, the two-hour long question and answer session was clearly designed to prove that despite stories to the contrary, Biden has the stamina and mental ability to be president.

Biden’s critics still disagreed.  But, this time, verbal gaffes weren’t the biggest problem.

The questions ranged from the Ukraine to politics and the fate of several of his landmark legislative initiatives.  Biden agreed that his “Build Back Better” legislation would need to be cut up into smaller pieces of legislation to pass.

Biden did allude to his plummeting popularity.  Early in his opening statement, Biden said he wouldn’t simply accept the status quo as a “new normal.”

“I’m not going to give up and accept things as they are now…some people call it a new normal. I call it a job not yet finished,” Biden said.

On the geopolitical front, Biden said that the US isn’t yet ready to remove President Trump’s tariffs on China. Concerning a timeline, does he have a deadline for possible removal? “The answer is uncertain,” Biden said. His top trade official is working on it.

And as oil prices continue their climb, Biden said he is doing everything he can to increase available supplies.

Later, he said that it’s not too late for talks with Iran to yield another deal. “There is some progress being made, but it remains to be seen if Tehran will make a deal, Biden said in a news conference Wednesday.

He also confirmed that VP Kamala Harris will be his running mate in 2024.

Biden’s comments on the 2022 election were guaranteed to increase the divide between Republicans and Democrats as well as increase the talk about legitimate elections.

Asked about the 2022 election, Biden said, “Oh, yeah, I think it could easily be illegitimate.”

This statement was quickly corrected by the White House.


The Ukraine

It wasn’t verbal fumbles or gaffs that caused Biden the most trouble during the press conference.  Biden spent a lot of time on the Russia-Ukraine crisis. While he consistently echoed prior assessments given via White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki (that an invasion could come “at any point”), the most interesting new statements from the president gave a bit more detail as to what he’s willing to do or not willing to do regarding “consequences”.

The big question that remains is: given any “incursion” or “offensive” by Russia into Eastern Ukraine, will Biden order a military response in support of Kiev, or will the US stop short by merely ramping up sanctions? Biden began early in the Q&A with journalists by underscoring his belief that Putin is planning to invade Ukraine: “my guess is he will move in,” Biden stated.

Biden then followed it with statements suggesting the White House really is still at the stage of ‘guess work’: “But as Biden himself acknowledged, it’s unclear whether Putin himself has decided what comes next.” He also made a distinction between a “minor incursion” and full-on “invasion” – reportedly angering Ukrainian officials.

“I believe he’s calculating what the immediate short-term and the near-term and the long-term consequences for Russia will be. And I don’t think he’s made up his mind yet,” Biden stressed. He admitted that “I don’t know if Putin decided what he wants to do” – in a bit of a glaring contradiction to all the breathless admin official statements of the last two weeks asserting an “invasion” is coming. There was also this contradiction during the presser:

Biden: Decision to invade Ukraine “will depend on what side of bed Putin gets up on…”

Biden later: “he’s calculating Russia’s interests.”

He suggested a “minor incursion” would elicit a lesser response than a full-scale invasion of the country.

“I’m not so sure he is certain what he is going to do. My guess is he will move in. He has to do something,” Biden said, describing a leader searching for relevance in a post-Soviet world. “He is trying to find his place in the world between China and the west.”

Biden’s prediction of an invasion is the firmest acknowledgment to date the United States fully expects Putin to move after amassing 100,000 troops along the Ukraine border.

Biden then went through different US responses.

“He’s never seen sanctions like the ones I promised will be imposed if he moves, number one,” the president said“It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and not do, et cetera.”

“But if they do what they’re capable of doing with the forces amassed on the border, it is going to be a disaster for Russia if they further invade Ukraine. And that our allies and partners are ready to impose severe cost and significant harm on Russia and the Russian economy,” he added. This might include barring Russia from “anything that involves dollar denominations”; and notably in recent months the West has threatened to cut Russia off from SWIFT – the international banking and dollar transfer system.

Despite the warnings of a major Russian incursion into Ukraine, Biden suggested that any military action would be limited and the cost to Putin would be great.

“The cost of going into Ukraine in terms of physical loss of life for the Russians — they’ll be able to prevail over time but it’s going to be heavy,” he said. “It’s going to be real. It’s going to be consequential. Putin has a stark choice. Either de-escalation or diplomacy. Confrontation and consequences.”

“This is not all just a cake walk for Russia,” he went on. “Militarily, they have overwhelming superiority. And as it relates to Ukraine, they’ll pay a stiff price immediately, near term, medium term and long term if they do it.”

Biden speculated Putin was not seeking “any full-blown war,” but said he did believe he was looking for some type of confrontation.

“Do I think he’ll test the west? Test the United States and NATO as significantly as he can? Yes, I think he will. But I think he’ll pay a serious and dear price for it.”

“He doesn’t think now will cost him what it’s going to cost him,” he said. “And I think he’ll regret having done it.”

Biden’s comments caused an uproar both in Washington and the Ukraine.  Ukrainian officials were deeply disappointed and angered by Biden’s press eventwherein he made a distinction between a potential “minor incursion” by Russian forces vs. an all-out “invasion.”  On Thursday, Ukrainian President Zelensky said, “We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations. Just as there are no minor casualties and little grief from the loss of loved ones. I say this as the President of a great power.”

Zelensky added, “Know that everything is under control, and everything is going according to plan.”

Although the White House tried to clarify the Biden comments, on Thursday the President sought to clarify his words at the start of a press event that was supposed to focus on infrastructure. “I’ve been absolutely clear with President Putin. He has no misunderstanding. If any assembled Russian units move across the Ukrainian border, that is an invasion”.

“Let there be no doubt at all that if Putin makes this choice, Russia will pay a heavy price,” Biden continued. He noted this could also come in the form of a Russian cyber-attack or other form of irregular warfare.

Of course, actions speak louder than words and the US is frantically trying to beef up Ukraine’s military.  US officials confirmed to CBS News that the Biden Administration has given permission to several NATO allies to send emergency shipments of American made weapons – including antitank missiles – to Ukraine to reinforce the country’s defenses.  These allies include Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the United Kingdom.

The thinking amongst many military thinkers is that Putin is waiting until the hard freezes take place so Russian tanks will not be hindered by mud.

Analysis 01-17-2022


America’s Aging Leadership

Can it change or is it a fixture for the future?


Undoubtedly, many Americans were shocked when the national newspaper Wall Street Journal ran an article indicating that maybe Hillary Clinton should run for president in 2024.  The key points of the piece were that President Biden and Vice President Harris are so unpopular that it might be time to consider another candidate like Hillary.

Clinton hasn’t let this opportunity pass her.  In a recent MSNBC interview, she called for “careful thinking about what wins elections and not just in deep blue districts where a Democrat…is going to win.”

Clinton has also taken shots at Biden, saying, “We don’t have a White House that we can count on to be sane and sober and stable and productive.”

Some analysts don’t consider the candidacy viable.

Before anyone gets excited about another Clinton presidency, it’s important to remember that what America is seeing is not a return to better days, but a return to the grey days of the Soviet Politburo, when leadership was determined by who was still alive.

If anything showed the “vibrancy” of American leadership during the Cold War, it was the May Day celebrations where the average age of Soviet leadership was in the 70s.  When Brezhnev died in 1982, he was replaced by 68-year-old Andropov – who was to live for a very short time.

Today, America’s aging leadership makes the Soviet Politburo look young and vibrant.

Joe Biden is the oldest serving president at the age of 79 and is a decade older than the “old” Soviet leaders of the 1970s.

The problem for America is that more questions are being raised about his declining cognitive capabilities.  He answers few questions at events and it’s clear that his staff prefers that he remains in the background.

Biden isn’t helped by Vice President Harris, who is even more unpopular than the president.  No one contemplates removing Biden and replacing him in the Oval Office with Harris.

Biden isn’t the only old person in Washington. Democratic Congressional leadership team is the oldest in history.  Speaker of the House Pelosi who is second in line to be the president – should something happen both to Harris and Biden – is 81.

Senate Democratic leader Schumer is a “youthful” 71.

The backup team isn’t any younger.  House Majority leader Hoyer is 82 and the majority whip Clyburn is 81.  Only one Soviet Politburo member was older in 1982, Grigori Romanov at 83.

In the Senate, the Democrats must rely upon 80-year-old Bernie Sanders to pass the budget.

On the Republican side of the Senate, Republican Minority leader Mitch McConnell is 79 years old.

Republican rules in Congress prevent very old committee chairmen remaining in position because all chairmen are limited to the time, they can chair a committee.  This is a natural limit to leaving older politicians in power.

America’s Deep State leadership is also aging.  Politico reported in 2017 that 30 percent of the civilian federal workforce was over 55.  Two decades earlier, it was only 15%.  Evidently, taking retirement isn’t that appealing to civil servants.

Meanwhile, the Administration point person in the economy is Janet Yellen, who is 75.

Can America operate effectively with aged leaders?  Studies by scientists raise questions about the ability of anyone to operate effectively after 70.  There haven’t’ been studies on politicians, but studies on CEOs show that they become less able to absorb large amounts of information as they grow older.

So, Is America’s leadership too old?

And how did we get there?

America’s system of bringing in new politicians starts at the state level, where local politicians run for seats in the state legislature.  This provides a “back bench” of politicians who gain experience and advance if they do a good job.  A state legislature seat may lead to a state senate seat and then a congressional seat in Washington.

But this system doesn’t work smoothly.  Off year elections impact the parties in and out of power.  For instance, in 2022, Republicans in local state races will probably win more and Democrats will lose more.  Meanwhile, many Democrats are resigning their seats in Congress rather than risk losing in 2022.

However, in 2010, the Mid Term elections devastated the local Democratic Party.  Hundreds of potential Democratic politicians lost their seats as a tidal wave voted against Obama.

Rather than rebuild the Democratic Party at the local level, the Democrats focused on maintaining their seats nationally using incumbency and money.  The cost to the party, however, was that the Democrats lost several state legislatures that they will be hard pressed to recover.

Incumbency is powerful in reelecting politicians.  However, the downside is that it prevents new politicians from coming up.

The other advantage is money, and who has it.  Congressional leaders manage to control much of the political money in the system.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi controls “PAC to the Future” a political action committee that controls and doles out tens of millions of dollars.  The money helps Democrats win House seats, but also gives Pelosi the influence to remain Speaker of the House.

So, is the United States doomed to look like the Soviet Politburo?  No.  Note that the current Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, is 69 years old – not young, but a big change from the Soviet days.

The fact is that age is its biggest enemy of an aging leadership.  As House Speaker Pelosi gets older, she becomes more vulnerable to sickness, mental problems, and internal opposition.

Pelosi and other elderly Democrats are facing more challenges from a small group of progressive House members called “the Squad.”   These include Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep Ilhan Omar, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib.  They have opposed Democratic spending levels and have voted with Republicans to force Pelosi’s hand.

Given the political forces in 2022, there is a good chance that Pelosi will  lose her position as Speaker of the House.  House Majority leader Hoyer and the majority whip Clyburn are also vulnerable to young, congressmen.

The result is that younger Representatives will naturally come to the fore after the election in 2022.

Although it seems that the aging American leadership is set well into the future, remember that, just like Brezhnev, aging politicians will eventually die.  In the meantime, younger politicians like Gorbachev will consolidate power.

And remember how much Soviet and Russian politics changed after Gorbchav came to power,

The current leadership situation is expected to change dramatically in the coming years, especially in 2022 as the sands of time cause even the powerful to fall.

Analysis 01-02-2022


The Biden Agenda in 2022


Biden has been in the White House for nearly a year and by most measures, 2021 has been a disaster.  Inflation is up, Covid isn’t under control, hostilities between the US and Russia have grown, while the China/Taiwan issue isn’t any closer to being solved.  Meanwhile, Americans saw a withdrawal from Afghanistan that demonstrated America’s weakness in world politics.

At home, Biden’s keynote “Build Back Better” legislation is dead. The keynote 2021 election in Virginia, a moderately Democratic state, went Republican.  A Civics poll shows Biden’s approval at 36% and disapproval at 55%.  His approval in the key Democratic demographic of 18 to 35 is 28%.  Hispanic voters give Biden 48 percent approval.  Young Black voters only give Biden 36%.

A recent Zogby poll shows independent voters prefer Republican control of Congress by 45% to 27%.

Obviously, Biden’s key domestic agenda is to boost his poll numbers and solidify support amongst Democratic voters.  Fixing problems like inflation aren’t a top priority at this time.

President Clinton’s economic advisor put it bluntly in a Bloomberg interview.  In talking about Biden’s economic agenda, he called it “a political response.”

“If I thought we could sustainably run the economy in a red-hot way, that would be a wonderful thing…the consequence of an overheated economy is not merely elevated inflation, but constantly rising inflation,” Summers continued.

“There are no examples of successful inflationary policy that has worked out to the benefit of workers.”

No wonder the “Build Back Better” legislation failed.  The $2.2 Trillion legislation would enshrine several Democratic goals like climate change, immigration, health care, and taxes.  There was little for average voters and economists indicated that this bill would boost inflation.  But the death blow came from Democratic West Virginia Senator Manchin who indicated it was too expensive and would not receive his vote.  Since the US Senate is tied 50-50, with VP Harris casting the tie breaking vote, Manchin’s vote to oppose the legislation meant that it was bound to lose 49-51.

The Biden Administration will try to sidestep legislation with regulations that will make some of his leftist Democrat voters happy.  The administration has issued some regulations that will boost inflation, by requiring new cars sold in 2026 to increase their fuel efficiency by nearly 50%.  Biden also wants electric cars to be 50% of all cars sold by 2030, even though they were only 4% of car sales in 2021.  These requirements will drastically increase the cost of automobiles and increase the transportation sector of the inflation index.

Since most American voters base their vote on economic issues, Biden has little choice but to hope to use issues like climate change and immigration to energize Democratic voters to come to the polls in November.  He will also rely upon attacks on the Republicans to sidestep the oncoming midterm landslide.  However, most voters will base their decisions on increasing costs at the grocery store and gas station rather than political ads.


Biden’s International Agenda

It’s a truism that when a national leader is in trouble domestically, he focuses on international issues.  We can expect Biden to do the same.

One area where the Biden Administration has had some success is in checking China’s ambitions towards Taiwan.  In the last year, the US has managed to turn the support of Taiwan into a global issue.  During Biden’s last trip to Europe, he managed to receive commitments from several European nations to deploy warships in the South China Sea theater.

Biden has also had the US Navy transit the Strait of Taiwan in 2021 more than Trump did in 2020.

Now several NATO nations have decided that Taiwan’s independence is critical, especially since Taiwan is a major semiconductor manufacturer.

Last month, the German Navy’s flagship, the FGS Bayern, moved into the Southeast Asia Theater and conducted exercises with the American, Canadian, Japanese, and Australian navies.  Germany has made it clear that they intend to make regular deployments to the region.

The Bayern is primarily an anti-submarine warfare ship, but it also has anti-aircraft defenses.

The Dutch warship HNLMS Eversten was also part of the HMS Queen Elizabeth task force that carried out exercises in the South China Sea area.

Canada also deploys warships to the region.

While the US and NATO have managed to act in unison in regard to China, acting in concert in regard to Russia is more difficult.  Europe is dependent on Russian natural gas and the Biden Administration is trying to wean them from dependence on Russian energy.

Here are the facts that concern the US.  The EU imports 70% of its natural gas.  Russia supplies 35% of the EUs natural gas.  The US provides 16%.  The rest comes from other sources, including the Middle East.

As Europe enters the winter and problems exist with the reliability of Russian natural gas sales, the Biden Administration faces a problem that has international implications.  Natural Gas prices in Europe are up 800% this year.  Much of the problem is opposition by Biden to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Meanwhile, Russia has cut the amount of natural gas transiting through Ukraine.

As tensions grow between NATO and Russia, the Biden Administration is trying hard to be sure that EU nations don’t back down to Russia for fear that they will lose a critical energy supply.  In fact, seven American LNG carriers bound for Asia have turned around and are now heading for Europe.

More natural gas carrier ships are expected to be diverted from China and Asia in the upcoming weeks.  This, may in turn, relieve pressure on Europe’s energy problem and the resultant pressure by Russia.

Of course, Russia remains a problem even without the natural gas issue. Ukraine reports that up to a quarter million Russian forces are currently stationed along the Ukraine border and Putin is insisting that NATO pull its forces back from Russia’s borders.

This is probably a bluff by Putin.  A major invasion by Russia would mean economic sanctions and Russia is more dependent on European business than it was back in the Cold War era.

This is one area where Biden can benefit.  The US is the world’s largest producer of natural gas, and it can move military units in days.  A show of force can probably limit what Putin can do.

While Biden is acting firmly with China and Russia, it is vacillating in the Middle East.  It finds itself wanting a nuclear deal with Iran but can’t be perceived as backing down to Iranian demands.

The US remains committed to eliminating ISIS but with the collapse in Afghanistan, Islamic radicals have a new base.  They also have a weakened Biden who is unlikely to make any dramatic move in the Middle East in 2022.

An important part of the Biden agenda is not mentioned by the media – the president’s declining mental state.  An American president must be seen as decisive.  He must be able to act quickly in the face of Russian or Chinese aggressive policies.

It is quite possible that hostilities could break out due to an escalating move by Xi or Putin.  They may think that Biden will not react if Russia takes a small slice of the Ukraine or Xi invades some small islands in the Taiwan Strait.  And, while there is the international aspect of Biden’s mental condition, there is also the domestic aspect.

Biden is a drag on the Democrat Party’s chances in 2022.  However, VP Harris is even more unpopular than Biden.  Democratic leadership has already floated the idea that VP Harris can be tempted to resign for an appointment to the Supreme Court.  Biden could then appoint a more popular person as Vice President and then announce that he is resigning due to health.

The problem with this solution is that the people handling Biden (the first Lady and the White House Chief of Staff) will not want to surrender power.  How will their desire to remain in power impact the Biden agenda in 2022?

Analysis 12-19-2021


America Starts Production
of B61-12 Nuclear Bomb


On December 2, a little noted Twitter comment was sent out by Jill Hruby, Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) noting that “Last week NNSA completed the B61-12 first production unit…This demonstrates our nation’s commitment to nuclear deterrence.”

The B61-12 that she was talking about is the latest modification of the Family of B61 nuclear weapons that have been the mainstay of America’s air dropped nuclear weapons for over half a century.  Despite critic’s claims that this is a new, more dangerous nuclear weapon, it is really a modification of earlier B61 bombs and has no larger yield than the previous versions.

This version of the B61 has been in development for years.  In fact, it was the Obama Administration that approved the upgrade of the bomb.

The new bomb (not new, but a major modification of previously manufactured bombs) has a new tail unit that turns it into a “standoff” bomb that allows the aircraft to avoid flying over the target and its close-in air defenses.  Since it is more accurate, the engineers didn’t have to increase the yield.

The B61-12 can “dial in” the yield.  It can have a yield as low as 0.3 kilotons or as high as 50 kilotons (about 3 times the yield of the Hiroshima bomb).  It will replace earlier versions, including the B61-3, 4, and 10 tactical versions and the B61-7 strategic bomb.

The B61-7 has a yield of 10 to 360 kilotons and the B61-11 has a yield of 400 kilotons.

The B61-4 bombs will be converted to B61-12 bombs.  The B61-11 Earth Penetrating Bomb will remain in use although the B61-12 also has earth penetrating ability that can take out some underground command and control centers.  As a result, the B61 will be able to meet most tactical and strategic needs.  It will also be able to be mounted on several American and NATO nuclear capable aircraft.

The B61 nuclear weapon can be delivered at altitudes of 50,000 feet to as low as 50 feet (low altitude drops like that from 50 feet require a parachute that quickly stops the bomb and allows it to lay on the ground until detonation).

Less than 200 nuclear bombs are currently stored in Europe.

As successful as the older B61 bomb modifications were, they were becoming too old for reliable use.  The nuclear package contained radioactive materials that decayed, lost some of their capability, and even experienced physical degradation.

As a result, the Air Force and NNSA started a life extension program that replaced non-nuclear components like fuses, batteries, and other electronics on 400 of the bombs.  This was estimated to increase the life of the weapons by 20 years.  The nuclear assembly was also refurbished and rebuilt.

The nuclear components were refurbished and remade at the Y-12 National Security Campus.  The explosive package was produced by the Pantex Plant.  Pantex also re-qualified the nuclear pit.

What makes the B61-12 special is the tail assembly, which can maneuver the bomb in freefall, and inertial navigation system which guides it.  It has an estimated accuracy of approximately 30 meters.  Given the low yield options of 0.3 kilotons, 1.5 kilotons, and 10 kilotons, the bomb can limit collateral damage according to its advocates.

Since the new tail assembly allows the aircraft to launch the bomb before reaching the target the plane and pilot have a better chance of surviving a mission.

The New B61-12 Mission

The production of a modernized bomb gives commanders options they didn’t have before.  It can be used for low yield “clean” tactical uses against armored formations, High yield attacks, air bursts, and bunker busting options.

One of the earliest options for the tactical use of nuclear weapons was to break up Soviet armored formations as they raced across the Central European Plain towards the English Channel.  That option remains with the lower yields, although the Russians are unlikely to overrun Europe with tanks against a larger NATO.

More likely tactical applications of tactical nuclear bombs would be behind enemy lines.  Above ground command and control centers and headquarters would be vulnerable to low yield attacks.  Ammunition storage areas or even supply columns could be attacked with less risk of radiation to nearby civilian areas has been claimed.

It is assumed by US military planners that since the B61-12 has been designed for limited underground bunker busting, it could be used in attacks against critical underground targets.  These are more likely to be further behind enemy lines because the resultant radiation would be more lethal for civilian populations.

They are claiming, given the importance of logistics in supporting an attack, low yield nuclear weapons would be safer if used against an army’s supply centers than forward armored formations that are in close contact with friendly forces.  Supply centers are not mobile and there would be less of a threat to friendly casualties.

The “Dial a Yield” ability also gives commanders more options up to the last second.  A sudden dispersal of an armored unit or a change in terrain could be countered by increasing the yield.

Is This a New Threat?

With the growing tension along NATO’s Eastern border, there is concern that this new bomb makes a nuclear exchange possible.  Nuclear critics say that lower yields make the possibility of a nuclear exchange more likely

Modern conventional weapons are much more accurate than in the past.  In the 1960s and the 1970s, nuclear scientists developed the neutron bomb, which would destroy the massed Soviet armored attacks that were expected.  However, technology made the need for a neutron bomb obsolete.

Modern munitions can target an enemy tank with a laser and destroy it with high probability.  Some artillery and air launched munitions can detect tanks and launch sub munitions that will destroy several armored vehicles with one shot.  Infantry soldiers can carry “fire and forget” missiles that can destroy tanks at a distance.

A NATO soldier with a Javelin anti-tank missile can fire and hit targets 4 kilometers away long before a nuclear armed aircraft can arrive.  They have proved their worth in both Afghanistan and Iraq, especially the Battle of Debecka Pass, where a small American and Kurdish force stopped a larger Iraqi mechanized company.

Given the accuracy of modern conventional munitions, the political cost of a nuclear attack would be high versus the tactical advantage.  Their application would probably be limited to situations where the supply of accurate conventional weapons has run out and the strategic situation is desperate.

Although the B61 bomb family has served the US for nearly 60 years, a look over their history shows the changing nuclear strategy.  Once nuclear weapons were loaded onto super bombers, which carried bombs in the megaton range and were destined for major military and civilian centers.

These megaton yield weapons are no longer needed or even fielded.  The bombers of the superpowers are no longer even capable of entering and surviving the enemy’s airspace.  That mission is given to ICBMs and submarine launched ballistic missiles.

Today’s new B61 weapons rely more on accuracy than nuclear damage.  A 0.3 kiloton is miniscule and is no more powerful than the blasts used in modern surface mining.

In fact, the Beirut explosion last year was estimated to be 1.5 kilotons; five times the yield of the B61-12’s smallest yield.

Analysis 12-16-2021


Summit for Democracy – A Biden Photo-Op?


This weekend the “Summit for Democracy was held in Washington DC, although many only attended via the Internet.  It had been proposed by Biden because “Trump’s foreign policy had damaged democracy so much.”  This, Biden insisted, was a way to help the global growth of democracy.

Of course, there was the question of what a democracy summit was for?  Which nations qualified as democracies?  Who should be invited?  What was the purpose of the summit?  What does democracy mean?  Does it merely mean elections?  Does it require a fair implementation of law to all citizens?  Does it also include a respect for differing opinions and human rights?  Does it include trying to establish democracy as part of America’s foreign policy?

Most important, does America, and other established democracies, practice what they preach?  The American Secretary of State said last spring that it hoped to implement much of its agenda to improve worldwide democracy by rejoining the UN Human Rights
Council – which seems to prove that Biden’s democracy policy was merely rhetoric, not substance.

In many ways, the Biden record on democracy seems to be an attempt to implement the Biden domestic agenda, when he said that America must “lead by example.”  Leading by example for Biden means passing his domestic budget.

One important question is what is this summit going to accomplish?  Doctor Colin Dueck told a panel held at the Heritage Foundation that cancelling the summit and spending the money on submarines to patrol the Taiwan Strait would do more to sustain democracy then this summit.

The questionable goals of the summit were clearly seen in the invitation list.  Europe was well represented as the home of many established democracies.  The Middle East only had two attendees (Israel and Iraq).  Tunisia, which is trying to establish a true democracy wasn’t invited.  The Philippines was invited although they are hardly considered a functioning democracy.  The same held true for the Ukraine, which is considered corrupt, but is a bulwark against Russia at this time.

On the other hand, several of the established democracies are drastically losing their credibility due to the Covid virus.  Australia has instituted internment camps where people find themselves interned even though tests show them uninfected.  There is even a case of an opposition Australian senator (Senator Alex Antic, a critic of Australia’s Covid response) being placed in an internment camp even though he has not been infected.

This same anti human rights behavior can be found in several democratic European nations like Germany, Austria, France, and the United Kingdom.  If the right to petition their government for address of grievances is a part of democracy, then several nations in Europe are not democracies as they are facing major demonstrations over the mandatory vaccinations and loss of freedoms for those who refuse to be vaccinated.  Are militarily clad police used in Paris any more democratic than militarily clad police in any of  the so called totalitarian countries ?

Interestingly, Russia and China, who weren’t invited, were very clear that the host country, the United States, was also failing to keep its own democracy in healthy condition.  Russia accused the US of failing to cover the corporate manipulation of the media and the accusation that the 2020 election was stolen.

China was incensed that Taiwan was invited and maintained that its system was a balance between democracy and development.

Obviously, the reaction by Russia, China, and others shows how much this summit has hit an exposed nerve.

Clearly, the United States is vulnerable when it comes to the issue of operating a model democracy.

One of the issues that America is vulnerable on, yet was a subject of a conference, was media freedom.  The Biden Administration has restricted the American media by not allowing the reporters covering the White House to ask the President questions and carrying out attacks on news agencies that oppose the Biden agenda.

One recent example was the FBI raid on Project Veritas last month over the issue of a stolen diary of Biden’s daughter.  Project Veritas insists that they turned the diary over to law enforcement a year ago.  Besides that, something like the theft of a personnel diary is left to local law enforcement instead of a heavily armed federal police team.

The attack was condemned by both liberal and conservative news groups.  The Committee to Protect Journalists stated, “The FBI’s raids on the organization’s founder and his associated\s represent a concerning overreach by law enforcement.”

They continued, “[it] sets a dangerous precedent that could allow law enforcement to search and confiscate reporters’ unpublished source material in vague attempts to identify whistleblowers.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, the predominant human rights group in the United States called the FBI’s behavior a dangerous precedent.

Project Veritas, a conservative news outlet that specializes in undercover investigations. has fallen prey to other liberal politicians in the past.  A few years ago, Project Veritas filmed members of Planned Parenthood bragging about selling human body parts – a crime.  However, the California Attorney General, who had received $80,000 in campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood ignored the evidence and prosecuted Project Veritas for secretly filming members of Planned Parenthood.

The California Attorney General was Kamala Harris, who is now the Vice President.  Ironically, VP Harris made the closing remarks on Thursday after a panel on preventing and countering corruption.

In Harris’ defense, corruption extends much farther in the United States political system.  Several news agencies have investigated the “soft corruption” of both Republican and Democratic politicians, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Congressman Boehner.

Democracy also includes the right of citizens to speak up and oppose government policy without retribution.
By using the Patriot Act, which was passed to stop terrorists like those who attacked the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, Attorney General Garland ordered branches to investigate parents who oppose certain educational programs.  An FBI whistleblower informed a congressman that thanks to the Garland memo, the Counterterrorism and criminal divisions started to track the threats even though there has been no incident of violence.

This behavior merely adds to the FBI’s reputation of abusing laws like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was used to investigate may American citizens.

These actions, including Biden’s attempt to mandate Covid vaccines and masks without congressional approval, shows that America’s claim to be the champion of democracy is questionable.

So, what will come from this week’s Summit of Democracy?  Very little, if history is a teacher.

As noted, before, much of it is a “photo op” for Biden and his administration.  They will try to craft the summit in ways to forward their domestic agenda – specifically passing the budget and opposing the growing strength of the Republicans in state legislatures.  Expect news reports from White House friendly media sources that by stopping Republican attempts to address problems with redrawing congressional districts (a Constitutional right of state legislatures) is really an important part of improving democracy.

Outside the domestic agenda, there will be little movement.  As we have noted in the past, international conferences can agree on anything, but it is usually legislatures that really make the changes.

Analysis 12-06-2021


Looking at America’s Global Posturing Review


Earlier this week, the Pentagon released its 2021 Global Posture Review, a basic review of how the US Defense Department sees the military situation in the world and how it intends to respond to it. The review is intentionally vague to avoid giving American competitors on the global scene solid information to work on.  However, by reading between the lines, one can get a good idea of what the American military plans to do in the next few years.

Although the review doesn’t focus on it, the biggest change is in the Middle East. It briefly mentions “the end of DoD operations in Afghanistan” and “the Defeat ISIS campaign,” but little else except directing the DoD to conduct additional analysis. It does mention “building the capacity of partner forces.”

The change is much more than that. Since the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the first Gulf War, US attention has been focused on the Middle East. Aircraft carriers that were once stationed in the Atlantic and Mediterranean were pulled to the Gulf region to first counter Iraq and Iran. Then there was the Afghan campaign for the last 20 years.

With US forces withdrawn from Afghanistan and scheduled to withdraw from Iraq by the end of the year, cooperation between Israel and some Arab nations, and more militarily capable nations like Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the region, the Middle East doesn’t need the American military assets that have been in the region for the last 30 years.

Although American aircraft will remain stationed in the region, the aircraft carriers, which were once a major presence in the area, will likely be repositioned, although some exercises by the super carriers will still take place on a regular basis. There will also be a strong presence of surface warships remaining to guarantee free movement through the Strait of Hormuz.

It is likely that there will be a larger American naval and aircraft carrier presence in the Eastern Mediterranean. This represents a return to the Cold War strategy.

An American carrier stationed in the Eastern Mediterranean can be used in strikes against ISIS. With refueling or stops at friendly air bases in the region, American aircraft from a carrier can strike Iran if necessary. But, most important, an American carrier in the Eastern Mediterranean can hit Russian targets that are threatening the Ukraine. This option is more attractive since the rapprochement between Turkey and Russia has faded as Turkey has begun aiding Ukraine.

There are other NATO assets in the area if necessary. France, Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom have aircraft carriers that could be used to bolster American air assets.  In fact, US aircraft have conducted exercises onboard both Italian and British aircraft carriers recently.

American nuclear attack submarines with cruise missiles are also stationed in the Mediterranean.

Nor are American forces the only ones to focus on NATO challenges. British aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales will become the command platform for the NATO Response Force/Maritime in 2022. It will help free up US aircraft carriers for other operations.

The ability to shift American military assets from the Middle East to the European/NATO Theater stresses the growing tension between NATO and Russia over Ukraine. Those tensions were highlighted during the Organization for Security and cooperation in Europe meeting (OSCE) where US Secretary of State Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov met.

While Lavrov warned that Europe was returning to the “nightmare of military confrontation,” Blinken warned of “Serious consequences” if Russia sought conflict with the Ukraine.

Ukraine said that Russia has massed troops along its border. Meanwhile, Russia has arrested three suspected Ukrainian security service agents.

Before the Global Posturing Review, the US has increased its presence in Eastern Europe. At a G20 meeting a few weeks ago, a US briefing indicated that Moscow was preparing for a possible invasion of the Ukraine. Ukrainian military intelligence says Russia has deployed as many as 114,000 forces around the border.

NATO member Estonia has ordered snap military drills and the erection of more barbed wire fencing along its border with Russia. The Estonian government also called up 1,700 reservists to fortify the 40 km border with Russia. Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania have instituted states of emergency along their borders with Belarus, an ally of Russia.

NATO rotates four battalion sized combat units in Latvia, Lithonia, Estonia, and Poland. The US has also moved nuclear capable fighter bombers into Poland.

The Pentagon has reactivated a nuclear unit based in Mainz-Kastel. It will field hypersonic weapons aimed against command-and-control targets in Russia.

The 56th Artillery Command will be armed with “Dark Eagle” long range hypersonic missiles that can reach Moscow in 21 minutes and 30 seconds. The last time the unit had been operational was 1991, as the Soviet Union was collapsing.

In terms of bolstering US forces in Europe, the paper noted that the cap on the number of American forces in Europe has been raised. The US will also retain seven bases in Germany and Belgium that were originally scheduled to be returned to the host nation.

Retaining the seven bases may be more political than strategic. Pentagon review teams have questioned the readiness of some America’s forces in Europe, especially those in the rear. Germany, which was once on the front line of NATO’s confrontation with the USSR is now part of the rear echelon.

The China theater (called the Indo-Pacific in the paper) was another issue. Much was kept out because of security issues. However, current action with allies in the region and what was implied in the paper revealed much.

Much was made of additional cooperation with allies and partners, in this case the United Kingdom and Australia.  It appears that the UK will continue to maintain a major naval presence, including one of its new aircraft carriers. Australia also has an aircraft capable amphibious warship. It also has amphibious capability that has been used in peacekeeping in the Southern Pacific.

Japan’s naval force will also be part of the force that will be used to hem in China. As for Korea, the US will permanently station an attack helicopter squadron and an artillery division headquarters.

One of the unmentioned threats was hypersonic weapons. And, although they haven’t been mentioned, the paper notes how the US will initially counter this threat. The Global Posturing Review recommended expanding the infrastructure in the South Pacific, including the major military base in Guam.

Since Guam like Pearl Harbor in WWII is a critical US facility and vulnerable to hypersonic attack, the US intends to expand its infrastructure facilities throughout the South Pacific. Palau will likely be one of the new bases since they requested one in 2020.

The major partner in increasing American infrastructure will be Australia. Australia has announced that they will spend $750 million to upgrade four of its bases for US-Australian naval operations.

The US will also increase aircraft deployments in Australia. There is also a plan to develop several air base alternates to make it difficult for a Chinese surprise attack.

The Global Posturing Review also mentioned Africa and the threat of violent extremism. The Central and South American section looked at humanitarian assistance and counter narcotics missions.

Of course, the Global Posturing Review isn’t the end. This paper will determine how ships, aircraft, and troops will be deployed and will contribute to the National Defense Strategy.

The paper will also be critical for determining future weapons procurement. For instance, the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) will look at the naval fleet and how it will counter future threats and meet the needs of the National Defense Strategy. That will then be a factor in the 2023 defense budget. During the evaluation, questions will need to be asked like; will more aircraft carriers be needed to meet the administration’s needs, what type of escort ships will be needed and how will those ships counter the latest Russian and Chinese perceived threats?

Analysis 11-22-2021


Tensions Grow on NATO’s Eastern Flank


Although NATO/Russian relations have been tensing since the Russian incursion into Ukraine in 2014, the numbers of flashpoints have escalated recently. Belarus, with Russian help, has raised tensions as they have tried to send Middle Eastern refugees across their border into countries of the European Union and NATO, specifically Poland. In response, Poland has asked for a NATO meeting to consider the Russian action and possible NATO response. Poland has also indicated it will double the size of its army – already one of the largest in NATO.

During the G20 meetings, American intelligence warned that “a high probability of destabilization,” of the Ukraine by Russia may take place this winter. A US briefing indicated that Moscow was preparing for a possible invasion of the Ukraine.

These conclusions were not merely based on the number of Russian troops on the border, but additional intelligence on Russian President Putin’s intentions.

An analyst on Russian military movements told a Financial Times reporter, “Information of our [military intelligence services] coincides with the information of partner countries about the high probability of destabilization of the situation in Ukraine this winter. Ukrainian military intelligence says Russia has deployed as many as 114,000 forces around the border.”

American Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters, “We do know that we’ve seen in the past Russia mass forces on Ukraine’s borders, claim some provocation by Ukraine and then invade and basically follow on through on something they planned all along.”

Another worry according to the French foreign ministry is that Russia has refused ministerial level talks with the Ukraine and Germany on the peace process in disputed parts of the Ukraine border.

It’s not just the number of forces being deployed by the Russians. They have shifted some of their elite forces to use them in any potential conflict with Ukraine.  The 1st Guards Tank Army, which is based around Moscow has apparently been shifted to become an operational reserve for the 41st Combined Arms Army (CAA).  The 41st CAA was originally stationed in Siberia, but has been moved to Russia’s Western Military district, which stretches from Finland to the Russian border with Ukraine. They are near Belarus and the Ukraine.

If war starts with NATO, the 41st CAA would likely move through Belarus towards the Sualki Gap, which is found on the Polish/Lithuanian border. This would link up with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad and break up Polish and Lithuanian defenses.  Then, the 1st Guards Tank Army could exploit any weaknesses and strike towards the Oder River on the Polish/German border.

Russian security forces that would be used to suppress any dissent in entered areas are also mustering near Rostov.

Putin likely believes that a weak American president and Europe’s need for Russian natural gas will cause NATO to dither long enough for Russia to make some significant advances.

What NATO has in Eastern Europe

The one way to make Putin to rethink his perceived incursion plans is to move military assets into Eastern Europe, especially Poland and the Baltic nations.

It is also desired by NATO to improve the readiness of the units already deployed.

NATO member Estonia has ordered snap military drills and the erection of more barbed wire fencing along its border with Russia. The Estonian government also called up 1,700 reservists to fortify the 40 km border with Russia. The drills are to test the national chain of command and its ability to quickly react to any Russian military movement.

Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania have instituted states of emergency along their borders with Belarus.

This spring, the US moved nuclear capable fighter bombers into Poland.

However, official American attitudes towards Russia remain split. American General Milley of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Russia’s movements were “not overtly aggressive. However, at the same time CIA Director Burns had said he had “serious” concerns about the Russian military buildup.  Secretary of State Blinken warned Russia about making a “serious mistake” in the Ukraine.

To back up its concerns, NATO rotates four battalion sized combat units in Latvia, Lithonia, Estonia, and Poland. It has also deployed a brigade in Romania. Meanwhile, the US Congress is pushing Biden to send some air defense systems to Ukraine.

There is even talk of sending an Israeli Iron Dome missile defense system to Ukraine.

The problem is that these NATO units are more of a “trip wire” than a threat to blunt any Russian advances.  A RAND study found that NATO couldn’t successfully defend its eastern members with the current assets. Wargaming indicates that it would take seven brigades to prevent a rapid overrun of the three Baltic nations.

At best, NATO might have three battalions in the Baltic nations – equivalent to about one brigade. The RAND study indicates that it would require an order of magnitude of more forces to be truly effective.  Given America’s ability to rapidly move forces globally, the US Army could rapidly reinforce its units in Eastern Europe – although probably not enough to guarantee victory.

The US and NATO had planned a major deployment exercise a year and a half ago, but it was scaled back due to the Covid pandemic. However, this summer, NATO held a military exercise called Decisive Strike 21. It included 28,000 troops carrying out maneuvers ranging from the Balkans to the Baltic nations.  Later this month, there will be an exercise named Steadfast Jackal 21, which will train the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps.

On the naval side, the British aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales will become the command platform for the NATO Response Force/Maritime in 2022. It will help free up US aircraft carriers for other operations.

Reenter the Cold War

NATO and the US aren’t merely deploying forces in military exercises. The ghosts of the Cold War are making an appearance in Europe again.  The Pentagon has reactivated a nuclear unit based in Mainz-Kastel.  It will field hypersonic weapons aimed against command-and-control targets in Russia.

The 56th Artillery Command will be armed with “Dark Eagle” long range hypersonic missiles that can reach Moscow in 21 minutes and 30 seconds. The last time the unit had been operational was 1991, as the Soviet Union was collapsing.

The Dark Eagle system, which can be transported on a C-130 aircraft, has a maximum speed of 4,000 miles per hour, a range of 1,725 miles and a weight of 16,300 pounds. In addition to the hypersonic missile, the command will also field the ground launched Tomahawk cruise missile.  These cruise missiles are nuclear capable.

Ground equipment for the Dark Eagle has been delivered to the US Army, but the hypersonic missile itself is due for delivery in 2023.

Both the Army and Navy will deploy the Dark Eagle (officially named the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon). The army version will be air and road mobile. The Navy version will be installed on its Virginia attack submarines and later the Zumwalt class stealth destroyer.

The Zumwalt class destroyer, which is difficult to detect can move undetected into enemy coastal waters and then launch the hypersonic missile – giving the opposition only minutes to react.

However, Russia hasn’t backed down. Russia has dispatched two nuclear capable strategic bombers to patrol Belarusian airspace to counter NATO patrols that have reputedly been doubled.

The possibility of a mistake has grown.

Analysis 11-15-2021


Latest Incidents Raise Questions About America’s Submarine Fleet

Does America’s navy need to revise its management style?


The last few weeks have once again raised questions about the quality of America’s navy and nuclear submarine fleet.  There was the incident of an American submarine hitting a sea mount (a mountain totally underwater) in the South China Sea.  It also came out that steel used in the construction of American submarines didn’t meet specification, which could have led to catastrophic failures.

Is this just bad luck? Or is there a fundamental problem with America’s naval management?

A few weeks ago, the nuclear submarine USS Connecticut ran into a sea mount in the South China Sea, causing injuries amongst the crew and forcing the submarine to remain on the surface while it sailed to the Guam for repair.  It is currently in Guam and is expected to sail to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

There are now questions if this multibillion-dollar submarine can even return to active duty.

Although the scope of damages is classified, reports say the forward section of the sub was damaged, including the ballast tanks, which would force it to remain surfaced while at sea.

Information about the collision has not been forthcoming.  The Navy says the collision was with an uncharted sea mount.  However, the decision by the 7thFleet to remove the top two ranking officers and the top enlisted person for, “loss of confidence…sound judgment, prudent decision making, and adherence to required procedures in navigation planning, watch team execution and risk management,” indicate there was more to this incident than hitting an uncharted sea mount.

From the Navy’s statement, it appears that the sub’s commander had an untrained watch team that was conning the sub when the accident occurred.  The statement about “navigation planning,” indicates that proper navigation would have prevented the collision – possibly because there was solid evidence that the sub was transiting dangerous, uncharted waters that could cause a collision.  The statement about “watch team management,” indicates that some of the officers and enlisted on watch weren’t fully qualified.

As we have mentioned before, to cut corners, the Navy has shortened officer training and now requires the ship’s captain to oversee the completion of the junior officer’s training onboard the ship.  Unfortunately, the shortage of officers who can stand watch forces commanders to qualify these junior officers before they are fully qualified to handle a ship at sea.

At the height of the Cold War, Naval Officer Candidate School was nearly six months long. Today, it is only three months long. Courses in navigation, ship handling, damage control, etc, have been nearly eliminated.  Surface line officers do receive additional training at Surface Warfare Officers School, but that is only two additional months – seven months less than the full year given to junior officers in the Cold War era.

Junior officers going to nuclear submarines do receive a little over one year training in nuclear propulsion and shipboard operations.  However, that is far less than training during the Cold War era.

Another problem is the vetting of potential nuclear submarine officers.  During the Cold War, every officer, who was to be sent to a nuclear submarine, was interviewed by Admiral Hyman Rickover, the “Father of the Nuclear Navy.”  These interviews were legendary as Rickover tried to throw challenges at the officers to see how they would react.  In several cases, he would force the officer to sit in a chair that had uneven legs to see how he would react.  Other tactics would include forcing them to stand in a closet or verbally berating them.

These interviews, in addition to adding to the large number of Rickover antidotes, produced a submarine officer who could react to stress and unusual situations.  It also produced officers who would push themselves as well as others to demand absolute perfection.

Rickover’s accomplishments are legendary.  His team designed and built the first nuclear submarine, USS Nautilus, in just three years.  Today, it takes over a decade to build nuclear submarines, even though the plans are already in place.

Rickover’s influence is also seen in the fleet of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers that span the oceans.

Although officers are still interviewed by the head of the nuclear power command, the demand for excellence in all things has declined. And, since there is less of a focus on mathematics and physics in many colleges, it is harder to find naval officers with the rigorous academic background for operating nuclear reactors.

Rickover was opposed to training that left officers unqualified.  He once said, “This system virtually ensures inexperience and nonaccountability.  By the time an officer has begun to learn a job, it is time for him to rotate.”

One of the officers who were able to pass Rickover’s stringent standards was former President Jimmy Carter.  Carter as president was later able to provide political protection to the irascible admiral.

Without Carter’s political protection, Rickover was forced to retire in 1982 and as his management style evaporated; so did standards – not only in officer training, but ship building.  This week, a metallurgist who once was responsible for testing the steel used in US Navy submarines pled guilty to falsely reporting the steel quality for more than three decades.

Ellen Thomas, the former Director of Metallurgy at Bradken, pled guilty of falsifying more than 240 tests during her career from 1985 to 2017.  The test verified the ability of the steel to not fail at -70C, which would guarantee its ability to withstand a collision or other catastrophic event like colliding with a sea mount.

Fortunately for the Navy, none of the submarine hulls manufactured under Thomas’s time at Bradken have failed.

Interestingly, Admiral Rickover retired in 1982 at the age of 82; before the falsifying of submarine steel began.

This is where the management style of Rickover’s probably would have ensured a double check of testing and its documentation.  In 1982, Rickover said in a speech on management, “A major flaw in our system of government, and even in industry, is the latitude allowed to do less than is necessary.  Too often officials are willing to accept and adapt to situations they know to be wrong.  The tendency is to downplay problems instead of actively trying to correct them.”

The case of the faulty steel is an example.  The steel test cards had been obviously altered, but no one discovered this (or cared to investigate the problem) until 2017.  Rickover responded to this lax attitude when he said, “All work should be checked through an independent and impartial review.”

Waiting to find the problem was an anathema to Rickover.  Rickover said, “Every manager has a personal responsibility not only to find problems, but to correct them.  This responsibility comes before all other obligations before personal ambition or comfort.”

The Navy has identified the submarines that have the substandard steel.  Although the Navy has been mum on what actions they have taken, it appears that sub commanders have been told not to push their submarine hulls to the maximum.

As the US Navy faces the problems of substandard steel hulls and undertrained naval officers, the Navy’s top officers must take a different course if they hope to rectify these problems.  In a speech made just before he retired, Rickover said, “It is a human inclination to hope things will work out, despite evidence or doubt to the contrary.  A successful manager must resist this temptation…Although it is not easy to admit what a person once thought correct now appears to be wrong, one must discipline himself to face the facts objectively and make the necessary changes – regardless of the consequences to himself…It is not a pleasant task, but one must be brutally objective in his work.”

One reason Rickover was forced to resign at the age of 82, was that his management style, although successful, was not welcome in many parts of the Navy.  Top officers prefer to avoid responsibility, while enjoying the perks of their position.

As one looks at the collisions at sea by naval vessels in the past few years, it is obvious that the maxims of management by Admiral Rickover have been excised from the Navy management style.

It is assumed that the Submarine incident was a result of spying mission went wrong in a sensitive location, China must be pleased with such outcome since similar spying mission may be halted until further notice.

Analysis 11-11-2021


Republicans Shock Experts in Off Year Elections


One of the few near- truths in American politics is that the party in control of the White House incurs losses in off year elections.  That was true in 2021.  However, it’s also true that Republicans did much better than expected in 2021.

Not only did the GOP turn Democratic Virginia, Republican by winning the top three statewide elections (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and State Attorney General) they also recaptured the House of Delegates from the Democrats.

While there were Democratic wins, there were other surprising GOP victories (or near victories). As of this writing, the race of New Jersey governor appears to have gone for the Democrat by the narrowest of margins, even though New Jersey is a reliable Democratic state.  Even the New Jersey Senate President is in a close race with a truck driver, who has never run for office.

Pennsylvania, who went for Biden in 2121, only elected Republican judges this year.

New York City, which is overwhelmingly Democratic, saw four City Council seats go Republican (another one is too close to call).  One of the winners, Inna Vernikov, a Ukrainian native, won, in part thanks to Trump’s endorsement and robocalls for her.

These surprising GOP wins were seen across the country.  Seattle, a Democratic stronghold voted for the Republican candidate for District Attorney.  She had promised to clamp down on rioters who caused damage to property.

Republicans also did surprisingly well in county school board elections, where voters made it clear that they didn’t like school curriculum of racial theory, transsexual politics, and socialism.

And, just as scary for Democratic strategists, the Hispanic vote in Virginia went to Republican Governor elect GlennYoungkin by 54%.  Democrats have been counting on Hispanics to be a reliable Democratic voting bloc.

What happened?

Of course, off year elections typically go for the party out of power since it a way of voicing disapproval of the current party in power’s agenda.  But the swing to the GOP was more than mild disapproval this year.

With Biden’s approval rating in the low 40s and his disapproval rating in the high 50%, this election was a referendum on his policies and how well he is governing.

Clinton advisor James Carville once said in 1992, “It’s the economy stupid.”  He was right.  Economic issues always take precedence in election issues.

Unfortunately, for the Democrats, the economy is in bad shape – and getting worse.  The economy is slowing down (only 2% growth) and inflation is going out of control.  And that doesn’t even address supply chain failures and the lack of vital goods on store shelves.

The Biden Administration is claiming that the fault is the Covid pandemic and consumer spending.  However, their claim that all problems are due to the Covid epidemic is not convincing to voters.

Another facet of the Covid issue is mask mandates.  While Americans were willing to wear masks for a while, they are growing tired of the masks and the forcible vaccine inoculation rules.  While Democratic states have maintained mask mandates, Republican states like Florida, have removed them. Most American voters think that the government is going too far in its regulations.

This brings us to the philosophic aspect of this election

A recent Gallup poll shows that Americans don’t trust the federal government to handle domestic and international affairs.  Less than a third of those polled say that they are satisfied with the way the nation is being governed.  55% trust the American people more to makes the right decisions.  Only 37% trust the legislative branch and only 44% trust the people in public life.

This was seen in the issue that first came up in county school boards, racial theory, transsexualism, sex education, and socialism.  But it came to national attention, when some school boards tried to equate the dissent of parents to domestic terrorism and Biden’s FBI started investigating the parents.  It peaked when the Virginia Democratic candidate for governor said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”  Those twelve words probably sunk McAuliffe’s campaign and energized the suburban vote that is normally the swing vote in elections.

The election is over and the damage is done.  What is going to happen now?

Biden’s agenda is in tatters now that the political chemistry has changed dramatically.  Democratic congressmen and senators can stay the course and take their chances in the next election.  For many, they represent safe Democratic districts or states and their continued support of Biden, and his agenda is unlikely to mean a defeat in 2022.

However, the Democrats have razor thin majorities in both the House and Senate, and they can’t afford to lose any votes.  And this is where the moderate Democrats are a major threat to Biden.

About 60 House seats are controlled by Democrats but are tossups.  These are represented by moderate Democrats, who must look towards their own reelection campaigns.  IF they support the current Democratic progressive agenda, they are quite likely to lose.  And, since only about 6 seats are needed by Republicans to control the House, the chances for Republican control of the House are very good in 2022.  That means that these congressmen and congresswomen must moderate their voting patterns if they want to stay in Washington.

There is another option; retire.  Democratic congressmen who have grown used to the power of being chairmen of powerful House committees may not want to stay in a Republican controlled House.  Instead, they may very well decide not to seek reelection and take their government pension.

Without the advantage of incumbency, these seats, especially the vulnerable seats, could easily go Republican, especially if the rule holds that the party out of power does well in the mid-term elections.

The thing to watch is who decides to retire in the next few months.  Expect more Democratic retirements than one sees in most years.

Who Are the Winners and Losers?

Not all winners and losers were on the ballot.  Two winners were moderate Democratic Senators, Senator Joe Machin (D, WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D, AZ).  They had opposed the Biden agenda’s cost despite the attacks by their fellow Democrats.

Machin agreed with GOP Senate Minority Leader, on Wednesday, that economic issues like inflation were a major concern for voters.  The senator said, “When you look at southwestern Virginia…That’s my entire state…they’re concerned about inflation, high costs making it more difficult for them.”

The same holds for Senator Sinema, who has been steadfast in holding down the costs of the Biden agenda – a stand that will help her win reelection in 5 years in Republican Arizona.

Another winner is the Virginia Lieutenant Governor elect Winsome Sears, the first Black Woman to win the position in Virginia.  She was born in Jamaica and joined the United States Marine Corps.  She is a naturalized American.  She went into politics after building a successful business.  She works in a women’s homeless shelter for the Salvation Army.

If it wasn’t for her status as a naturalized American citizen, she would be a strong candidate for President or Vice President.  However, don’t be surprised to see her run for the Senate or even join the Cabinet of a Republican president.

The losers are top level Democratic politicians who went all out to support the Democratic slate in Virginia, only to see their candidates lose.  This indicates that people like Senator Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, Obama, and Biden don’t have the “coattails” it takes to bring committed Democratic voters out on Election Day.

One possible victim may be Speaker of the House Pelosi.  There are serious questions about her husband’s financial dealings.  She is 81 years old and there have been questions about her ability to manage legislation going through that chamber.  And, she has faced opposition in the past for the Speaker’s job.

Should the Republicans take over control of the House, there is a good chance that Pelosi will face a serious challenge for her control of the House Democrats.

Of course, she may decide to retire before the 2022 election.

There is also the question of Biden, his heath, and his ability to remain in the White House.  If he is seen as dead weight to Democratic chances in 2022 or 2024, there may be pressure to force him to retire or to use the 25th Amendment to make VP Harris the Acting President.

Undoubtedly, there are already discussions about Biden’s future in some smoke-filled rooms in Washington now.  Who knows what these top-level Democrats are thinking?

Of course, one must keep in mind the political axiom, “A week is an eternity in politics.”

Analysis 11-01-2021


Don’t Expect Much from the G20
or COP26 Meetings


Diplomatic events are well scripted to look like successes.  Press release drafts are circulated long before the meeting starts, and prepared speeches merely reflect what was agreed upon beforehand.

The same is expected at the G-20 and COP26 meeting.  There will be signs of unity, and all will claim that new pledges of cooperation are historic.Don’t believe them.  There are loads of fractures.  France has recalled its ambassador from its oldest continuous ally, the United States, over the Australian nuclear submarine deal.  That’s serious for a relationship that goes back to the time when the US was just a group of British colonies rebelling against Britain.

Just to show that it isn’t picking on the US, France just this week, detained the trawler of its oldest, historical enemy, the British, over a fishing rights dispute.

Germany, on the other hand, is pushing for a European Union army that will allow it to bypass its NATO allies.  And Germany didn’t earn points with its NATO allies when German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer seemed to advocate a “first use” nuclear policy when she said that NATO is “prepared” and ready to activate its nuclear arsenal against Russia.

Meanwhile, the President of the United States will be attending in the most politically weakened condition ever.  Polls show many Americans think that Biden is mentally incapable to be president and his favorability numbers are collapsing.  Meanwhile, his domestic legislative agenda is in tatters thanks to fractures in his party and bipartisan opposition.

Don’t forget that there is inflation and shortages bedeviling Americans.

G20 will also have to solve the maze of travel restrictions and regulations hampering travel in this age of Covid.  And the smaller nations are complaining about un-kept promises to donate Covid vaccines to lesser developed nations.

The first meeting will be the G-20 meeting this weekend in Rome.  Obviously, the Covid pandemic will top the agenda and many of the smaller nations will push the major countries to make good on their pledges to send vaccines.  The Director General of WHO expressed his anger when he said, “But the concentration of these tools in the hands of a few countries and companies has led to a global catastrophe, with the rich protected while the poor remain exposed to a deadly virus.”

The big decision coming out of the G20 meeting will be a promise to send more Covid vaccines to the lesser developed nations.  However, like many of the promises coming from international meetings, the reality will lag far behind the promises.

The COP26 meeting in Scotland was to work out a new international agreement on climate change.  However, international events and the non-attendance of Russia’s Putin and China’s Xi imply that any agreement will not be worth much, especially since China is the world’s biggest polluter.

Other heads-of-state that aren’t expected to attend the COP26 are India, Japan, Brazil, South Africa, Iran, and Mexico.

The COP26 had been billed as one of the most important events in the past few years.  The goal was for world leaders to come up with a concerted effort to reduce emissions and tailor a mechanism for implementing the Paris agreement to contain global temperatures.

As many as 25,000 delegates are flying in on small private jets – making it a major pollution event itself.

Many of the attending nations have no real intention of following through.  China has moved back to coal fired generators as the current supply of electricity is insufficient for current economic growth.  Australia, the world’s largest coal exporter disagrees with the IPCC’s goal to shut down all coal fired plants.

India has made it clear that any agreement on reducing carbon emissions will depend on Western nations and their willingness to provide major subsidies to poorer nations (India included).

Even American climate envoy John Kerry has pessimistically stated, “There will be a gap between the commitments attendees are expected to make at the summit and actual commitments necessary to make the 1.5-degree scenario happen.” (temp of the planet)

There is also the reality that commitments made by delegates in Scotland will not be ratified back home.  In the case of the United States, the Paris Accords were never passed by the US Senate, which means that they don’t have the authority of law.  And, with an evenly split US Senate, there is no doubt that any agreement Biden makes in the next few weeks on climate change will not garner the 67 votes in the Senate necessary to ratify the agreement.

The same political problem is found in the Western democracies, who will need the agreement of their legislatures, and who will find strong political opposition as voters learn the cost of these agreements.

Whatever is agreed upon at COP26, it will face a harsh reality when the delegates get home.  Already citizens in Europe are facing the prospect of a cold and dark winter.  They are also facing the reality that “Green” energy isn’t meeting the needs of the Europeans.

The CEO of Blackrock, Steven Schwarzman, admitted this week that,” Many British residents are being faced with the fact that they may need to ration heat and could be faced with the chilling reality that lives could be lost if this winter is as cold as forecasters are predicting.”

“We are being told we are facing a propane Armageddon,” he continued.

In Europe, natural gas is $29 per million BTUs, compared to the US, where natural gas is only $5 per million BTUs.  Can the regular British citizen afford to pay the steep electrical prices this winter?

Coal, which was once the anathema of energy production is suddenly becoming popular again as European power producers bring coal powered plants onboard again.

The same is happening in the United States, which is a major producer of coal.  Even though American supplies of natural gas are good, power companies are hedging their bets with coal stockpiles because natural gas prices are too high to produce electricity at economical prices.  According to Bloomberg, American coal supplies are the lowest since 1997.  Currently coal produces 25% of America’s electrical power.  However, that number is expected to climb this winter as power plants are expected to burn 19% more coal this year.

The biggest problem isn’t the lack of coal reserves in the ground, but the number of coal miners who can produce enough coal this winter.

Escalating energy prices will also hurt food prices at the same time cold weather will be pounding the northern hemisphere.  The price of the traditional Thanksgiving turkey in America has risen 21.91% in the last year.

Will the average person tolerate that?

Blackrock CEO Steven Schwarzman is pessimistic.  He told CNN, “When power goes out, people are not going to be happy.  And, people are really not going to be happy if it goes out for an extended period of time…we will soon see very unhappy people all over the globe…you’ve got real unrest [in the developed world] …This challenges the political system and it’s all utterly unnecessary.”

In many ways, it seems that the delegates at COP26 are emulating the Roman Emperor who fiddled whole Rome burned.  Recent attempts to increase “Green” energy while decommissioning “dirty” energy sources have left many without reliable energy sources during high usage periods like winter.

Not only is heating impacted, but there are also reduced supplies of gasoline, which are expensive when they can be found.  This in turn increases the cost of transportation of food and other necessary goods.

Demand for “clean” transportation has also cost Americans.  In California, where container ships are piling up off the coast, only “clean emissions” trucks that have been produced in the last three years are eligible to pick up containers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.  This, in turn has left thousands of containers sitting in the port because they can’t be moved.

And, since there is a shortage of computer chips, the companies that produce trucks can’t increase production.

Given the wide range of problems right now, the regulations being pushed at COP26 not only seem difficult, but dangerous to a population that can’t afford food or heating and is on the verge of protesting and rioting.