Week of February 1, 2023

Ukraine to get Tank Shipments


What are they getting, how are they going to use them, and will they help?

In the last week, the political logjam that prevented the sending of tanks to Ukraine seemed to break up. Britain is sending Challenger IIs, Germany is sending Leopard 2s, France is sending AMX 10s, and the US is sending M1 Abrams tanks. Additionally, Germany has agreed to allow other countries using the Leopard 2 to send them to Ukraine.

Two factors seemed to help bring about the agreement – Ukraine’s aggressive move against corruption amongst high ranked officials and the jointly timed agreements by the US and Germany to send some of their tanks.

But many questions remain about Ukraine’s ability to push the Russians back.  And, there is the growing concern about escalation – even up to nuclear war.


New Shipments

The critical shipments are Main Battle Tanks (MBT) which are expected to dominate the older Russian tanks.  The other shipments are Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) which allows infantry to keep pace with the fast moving tanks, dismount to carry out missions the tanks can’t do, and provide covering fire for dismounted infantry.

CHALLENGER II.  This British tank is one of the best in the world and the British were the first nation to promise to deliver tanks.  It has highly advanced armor that is still a secret even after three decades.  It also has advanced optics and communications to target the enemy.  Britain has promised a dozen tanks (a squadron).

The biggest weakness is that only a dozen are being sent to Ukraine and Britain has few Challenger IIs to allow it to send a sizable number to turn the tide against the Russians.  They however are sending other equipment to equip the armored unit.

AMX 10 RC.  The French are sending a light tank clone.  Unlike a tank, it runs on wheels instead of treads.  It uses 105 mm ammunition which is unique to the French.  It can’t defeat an MBT, but can destroy lighter medium tanks.  However, it is fast on roads and is designed for reconnaissance.  Unfortunately, it is slow on the muddy type of terrain that may be found in Ukraine.

The French are moving to a newer tank design, so this tank will become obsolete.  The French are intending to send about a dozen.

M1 Abrams Tank.  This American tank was designed for a war between NATO and the Soviet Union, so it makes for a good fit in the Ukraine War.  31 are being sent, which will make up a battalion.  It is powered by a gas turbine, which can use kerosene, and various jet fuels.  It has excellent optics, thermal imaging, and stabilization so it can fire even while moving.  It uses the same secret armor that the British Challenger II uses.

Many consider the Abrams to be the best tank in the world.

The downside is that it requires lots of maintenance and a qualified mechanic requires three months of training, although the tank crew can learn their job in a month.  It requires a good logistics system to remain combat ready.

Another problem is that the US will not be sending tanks from its prepositioned reserves in Europe, which means that it will take several months to field them in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s allies are also sending Infantry Fighting Vehicles.

M2 Bradley.  This American IFV was designed in the 1980s, although it has been modernized many times.  However, the US is retiring the Bradley, so the US may be sending many more in the future.

The Bradley was designed to withstand the radiation of tactical nuclear warfare.  Its armor was designed to defeat the cannon of the Soviet BMP, which was its probable opponent at the time.

It carries the TOW anti-tank missile, which can defeat Russian tank armor.  It also has a 20mm chain cannon which can penetrate the armor of lighter armored vehicles.

The US is sending 50 M1 Bradleys to Ukraine and current video of these vehicles on trains indicates that some of them may very well be in Ukraine already.

Marder.  This is a German IFV.  It was designed to operate with the German Leopard tank and has the same level of protection and mobility as the Leopard 2.

Germany has 390 Marders in service and many more in storage.  They have indicated that they will give 40 to the Ukrainians.  Since the Germans consider them a defensive weapon, they haven’t had as many political problems as exporting the Leopard II to Ukraine.

Leopard II.  The future of Ukraine’s rearmament program this year depends on the Leopard II.  Like the American M1 Abrams and British Challenger II, it is considered a world class MBT.  And, since there are 3,600 built and there are over 2,000 in various European countries, it promises the number of tanks that would dramatically change the balance of power in Ukraine.

Now that Germany has authorized sending this tank to Ukraine, several European countries (plus Canada) have promised over 100 tanks to create 2 to 4 Leopard battalions.



Much has been made of the time it would take to train tank crews.  However, depending on the level of training, the time can take as little as 4 weeks or as long as several months.  However, American officers who have worked with the Ukrainians say the Ukrainians are fast learners.

Basic training for a tank crew can take as little as a month.  This includes classes on operating the vehicle, using the cannon, and basic tactics.  The problem is that this doesn’t teach crews to operate in conjunction with other tank crews at the company or battalion level.  This requires additional training and training exercises up to the battalion level.

If Ukraine intends to train its forces in battalion or brigade level maneuvers, the time goes up exponentially, although the ability of the tank crews also increases exponentially.

If Ukraine intends to create new units and field all the tanks, IFVs, artillery, logistical support vehicles, engineers, etc. as a cohesive combat team, it will take months.



One reason that training a large unit takes time is that the NATO countries are teaching Ukrainians the doctrine of combined arms.  Combined Arms Operations use combinations of infantry, mobile firepower, offensive and defensive fire, engineers, and aviation assets to defeat the enemy.

This is something the Russians haven’t been able to master.  They tend to use tanks, artillery, and infantry separately, which is inefficient because no single arm of the military can decisively defeat a determined defender.  An example was the fighting north of Kiev, where the Russian advance was bogged down in the Pripyat Marshes because they had to rely on armored vehicles travelling down a single hard top road.  Infantry covering the flanks on foot would have made the drive more successful.

As new tanks and IFVs are delivered to Ukraine, they will have to be integrated into new units that can carry out combined arms operations.

The number of MBTs and IFVs will impact how the equipment is used and deployed.  For instance, the British Challenger II tank unit is too small for frontline service.  It will probably become a mobile reserve in the north of Ukraine.

The American Abrams tank won’t be operational until the tanks are delivered in several months.  Until then, American equipment will be limited to a mechanized infantry role using the Bradley IFV.  The Bradleys could operate independently against infantry and Russian IFVs like the BMP.  One Bradley tactic is to dismount the soldiers from four Bradleys and then move the vehicles to an oversight position where they can cover the infantry with its 20mm chain gun and anti-tank missiles.  The Bradleys also use a hunter-killer team of one tank and three Bradleys.

The future of the Ukrainian offensive against the Russians depends on the Leopard 2.  Two to four Leopard 2 Brigades, along with IFVs like the Marder or Bradley could have a serious impact.  The tracked tanks and IFVs could cut through the muddy terrain of Zaporizhia to the Sea of Azov.  This would cut off the land bridge to Crimea. This type of offensive would be ideal for vehicles like the Bradley or Marder.  They would cover the flanks of the tanks and be able to dismount their infantry if there are tactical obstacles slowing down the armor.

The key to winning this war is for the Ukrainians to capture or seriously threaten Crimea.  The promised armored vehicles could help Ukraine to do that. But Russian are threatening to attack these new shipments on route, time will tell if the Russians succeed in destroying or damaging the shipments before reaching the battle front.

Week of January 25, 2023

Does the Biden Secret Documents Case Create a “Tipping Point?”


Has the Biden secret documents affair reached critical mass?  It seems so.

Biden’s approval numbers, which had started inching up are now back down into the high 30% range.

The media, which has given some of Biden’s behavior a pass, are starting to ask serious questions that are upsetting the president even though there is no threat that he will be impeached.  He snapped at a reporter on Thursday, saying that this line of inquiry was beginning to “bug” him.  He added that he “had no regrets.”

Eventually, he will have regrets.  Not only has he given Republicans plenty of political ammunition, but the affair also gives more visibility to the Hunter Biden influence peddling issue.

In addition, Biden has stopped the Democrats from attacking Trump on the issue of keeping classified documents.  The fact is that Democrats are anxious to bury this issue, even if it lets Trump off.


What is the Law on Classified Documents?

Generally, there are three levels of classified documents: Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret.  However, some agencies have additional levels of classified documents.  There is also a difference between agencies of what definition there is for each level of classification.

The lowest classification is “confidential. It is defined as information that would “damage” national security if disclosed.

The next highest level is “secret,” which is defined as causing “serious damage” to national security if disclosed.

The highest level is “top secret”, which is defined as causing exceptionally grave damage to national security if disclosed.

The problem is deciding what fits into each category and who should have these classifications.  As of 2019, 1.25 million individuals have a top secret clearance, even though few of those people will need that level of clearance.

Although no one knows for sure, about 50 million documents are classified each year.  Most are national security documents.

No one knows how many documents are classified because there is no central depository for these documents.

So, who oversees classifying and declassifying documents?  It is the president, who as head of the executive branch and Commander-in-Chief of the military has sole authority.  He may designate some of his authority to others like the National Archives, but the courts have made it clear in several rulings that the sole authority in the Executive branch of the government resides in the president.

Where does that leave the Vice President?  Nowhere.  Constitutionally, the Vice President is not part of the Executive Branch.  His only Constitutionally authorized job is President of the Senate – a legislative function.  He has no other authority unless the president is dead or declared unable to hold office.

The Vice President has no authority to hold classified documents or to declassify them.  He has no authority to demand that the president confide classified information to the Vice President.

An excellent example of this was the secret of the atom bomb during WWII.  Until Franklin Roosevelt died, Vice President Truman was unaware that the US had built an atomic bomb.  It was only after becoming president that he was let in on the top-secret project.

Although Obama could allow Biden to read and keep classified documents in his secure office, Biden was Constitutionally unable to classify or declassify documents – unless authorized by Obama.  And any authority granted by Obama to Biden ceased at noon January 20th 2017.

This clearly leaves Biden in jeopardy.  He had no authority to hold those documents, especially in unsecured places like his home.  Meanwhile Trump had the authority to declassify any documents he wanted until Noon January 20, 2021.

The National Archive may claim that it is the authority on classifying, but constitutionally, that authority resides in the office of the president and has only been granted to the Archives and can be withdrawn if the president so desires.


So, What Happens Now?

Clearly, the Department of Justice will find its hands tied in this case.  Biden appointed Attorney General Garland is politically limited.  He can’t indict Trump with Biden’s behavior ignored.  There’s also the possibility that the courts would find for Trump.

The biggest problem for the Department of Justice and the FBI is the growing perception that there are two types of justice – one for the elites and one for the public.  While Trump’s home was raided by the FBI, the DoJ wouldn’t allow FBI agents to look at the Biden documents in question.  Voters have noticed that, and it is damaging the reputation of the FBI.  In fact, it is so serious that there are calls by some Republicans in Congress to abolish the FBI.

Who benefits the most?  This is where the theories come.  There is a solid argument that some Democrats worried about Biden’s mental health and likelihood of losing the presidency in 2024 want to sully his reputation so another candidate will win the nomination and the election.

Unfortunately, the Democrats don’t have a plausible alternative.  VP Harris is considered incompetent to be president and other alternative options like Bernie Sanders are too old.  California Governor Newsome may seem too radical for Middle America and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is fumbling his duties as seen in the recent airline snafu.  Other potential candidates who would normally announce in the coming months will be forced to hold back.

On the Republican side, Trump comes out looking better.  The documents issue seems to be a case of “everyone else is doing it.”  The FBI raid on Trump’s place shrinks in importance as is clear that the FBI gave Biden preferential treatment and is now trying to justify not using the FBI as they did with Trump and his home.

There will also be questions about Hunter Biden and the FBI hiding evidence of his influence peddling.

Rest assured that the Republican House of Representative will keep the classified documents issue alive and tie it into the behavior of Hunter Biden.

China, which already has problems with its relations with the US, will find itself trying to justify the location of some of the classified documents in the Biden Think Tank, which was funded to a large part by the Chinese.

This affair has weakened Biden and he knows it.  Not only has this benefitted his likely opponent, Trump, he now has a Republican House majority to deal with.  And, probably worse of all, the once friendly media is asking questions.

Tipping points in a presidency are to be feared.  For Nixon, it was the release of the oval Office tapes.  For Carter, it was the Iranian Hostage Crisis.

This week is the halfway point of the Biden presidency.  If he can’t turn things around, this affair can not only impact his domestic agenda, but also how other countries like Russia and China view him.

Week of January 17, 2023

New Speaker of the House Elected


Usually voting for the Speaker of the House is exciting as watching paint dry.

Not this time.  The vote went 15 rounds; something that hadn’t happened in a century. However, it didn’t go as long as the 1855 speaker vote which went 133 ballots and took two months.

Although much of the focus by the media looked at the 20 Republican holdouts that forced the 15 ballots and the split in the party, the changes forced on new Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy were ones that were favored by most of the Republican caucus.  The difference was that many Republican congressmen didn’t want to hold the House speakership hostage to the rules changes that were proposed.

The concern of the 20 holdouts was the movement of the Congress from its Constitutional role.  In the role laid out in the US Constitution, it was to be a deliberating group that had the primary role in passing the government budget as well as other laws.

That role had disappeared.  Changes in the House Rules virtually eliminated debate.  Legislation was basically crafted by the House leadership – primarily by the Speaker of the House.  Votes by the House of Representatives were perfunctory.  Congressmen didn’t have time to read the proposed legislation and amendments weren’t allowed.  The result was massive bills totaling thousands of pages that no one could understand.  Pet projects could be snuck in without anyone questioning them.  This process also kept the legislation from becoming public until it had passed.

The result was a burgeoning budget deficit and a national debt of over $30 trillion.

But House leadership on both sides liked these rules, especially former Speaker Pelosi, who didn’t tolerate public debate and dissent.  And it was the 20 Republican congressmen that decided to hold out their vote for McCarthy that decided it was time to change the rules.

One of the rule changes was one that gave Speaker Pelosi more power by making it harder to make a motion to vacate the chair – a parliamentary way to control a speaker who was trying to force legislation that wasn’t favored by the House as a whole.  Now the new rule allows one House member to make a motion to vacate the chair.

Although a motion to vacate the chair would probably not pass, it is a tool that keeps a speaker in line with the wishes of the majority.

One of the biggest problems with the legislative process today is that massive spending bills are moved to the floor of the House without giving members a chance to study them.  The Republicans wanted 72 hours to study the bill before a vote.  They also wanted to eliminate the omnibus bills and separate the funding of the government into over a dozen separate bills.

In addition to separating the appropriations bills, the new rules give House members the chance to propose amendments to bills that had gone through committee and were now on the floor for debate.

Republican congressmen also wanted major changes in budget and tax procedures.  They wanted a three-fifths super majority for any increases in tax rates.  They also wanted the Congressional budget office to analyze a bill’s impact on inflation.

One rule that kept congressmen from being held accountable for increasing the debt was the Gephardt Rule that automatically increased the national debt when a budget resolution was passed.

The House also voted this week to rescind over $70 billion to the Internal Revenue Service that was to hire 87,000 IRS agents.  Although the bill is expected to die in the Senate, it will likely show up in the 2024 IRS budget legislation, where it will likely pass both the Senate and House.


Political ramifications


There is a saying that “What goes around comes around.”  And this Republican majority congress will use some of the same legislative and investigative tools that Pelosi did.

One of the first changes is that the files of the January 6th investigative committee will be made public, especially 14,000 hours of Capitol riot video that the House Democrats didn’t want to release.

One new subcommittee is the Weaponization of the Federal Government.  Polls show that a majority of American voters think the FBI is a tool of the White House to punish its enemies.  This subcommittee will be modeled like the Church Committee that investigated the illegal actions taken by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Church Committee discovered that the CIA was partnering with telecommunications companies to monitor Americans on CIA watch lists – something that the FBI is being accused of today.

This new committee will likely also look at suspicious FBI actions as well as harassment of conservatives by the IRS.  Other targets are Homeland Security, the NSA, the Department of Justice, the ATF, and the CDC.

Congressman Cole told his fellow House members, “Similar to the situation that confronted America in the 1970s, in recent years we have witnessed abuses of the civil liberties of American citizens committed by the executive branch…Often for political purposes.”

Cole continued, “The American people deserve to have confidence in their government…And they deserve to know that they will not be labeled a domestic terrorist for advocating for their children in front of a school board.”

Democrats were in opposition.  Democrat Representative Jerry Nadler said, “this is a violation of separation of powers and it’s also very dangerous.”

Congressman Jordan will be chairing the committee.  There will be 9 Republicans and 6 Democrats on the Committee.  The members will be appointed by Speaker McCarthy, just as Pelosi picked the members of the January 6th committee.

In the last few years, Pelosi used her power to strip some Republican congressmen of their committee assignments.  Now it seems that McCarthy will return the favor by booting Representatives Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, and IIhan Omar from their committees.

Schiff and Swalwell are one the Intelligence Committee and Omar is on the Foreign Affairs subcommittee.

McCarthy said, “Swalwell can’t get a security clearance in the private sector,” referring to Swalwell’s affair with a Chinese spy.  “It’s not like it’s anything new…Remember, this is Nancy Pelosi, this is the type of Congress she wanted to have.”

Although the new rules are set for this Congress, the future of the rules is cloudy.  The Republican majority is tenuous and a Democratic majority in the future is likely to make changes that would better suit a strong Democratic Speaker of the House.

If, however, the Republicans can maintain their majority in Congress, the new rules may have a longer life.

Week of December 30, 2022

Zelensky Visits Washington


It must rank as one of the fastest visits by a foreign leader in American history.  Ukraine President Zelensky arrived one day to address Congress and left the next day to visit the president of Poland before returning home.

Not by chance was the annual appropriations bill due for a vote in both the Senate and House during the next two days – a bill that gave Ukraine billions in economic and military assistance.

Make no mistake, addresses by foreign leaders before Congress are political.  Sir Winston Churchill holds the record for addresses to Congress and obviously, the ones during WWII were appeals for arms, just as Zelensky’s address in front of Congress was an appeal for arms and money.

But Biden needed the right backdrop for Zelensky’s appeal for money

But joint meetings of Congress aren’t set up by the president.  They are controlled by the legislative branch, and scheduled by the Speaker of the House, which allows for some political bickering between Republicans and Democrats if the While House and speakership are controlled by different parties as will happen next month.

There is no better example of politics being used in a joint meeting of Congress than General Douglas MacArthur’s farewell address to Congress in 1951.  MacArthur wanted to pursue an aggressive strategy against the Chinese in North Korea.  President Truman wanted a more moderate policy.  The disagreement led to Truman firing MacArthur.

Congress, which had several political disagreements with Truman used a joint meeting of Congress to hear MacArthur blast Truman’s failure as a leader.

The speech is one that has partially entered the lexicon, especially the quote, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”  His most direct attack on Truman was, “War’s very object is victory, not prolonged indecision.  In war, there is no substitute for victory.”

“But, once war is forced upon us, there is no other alternative than to apply every available means to bring it to a solution,” he continued.  It is advice that every Pentagon and White House should listen to.

Many thought that this was the opening salvo for a run for the presidency.  However, it was his former subordinate, General Dwight Eisenhower, who won the White House the next year.

Ukrainian President Zelensky was aware of the historical implications of his speech and the world leaders who had spoken from that same podium.  He quoted President Roosevelt’s Day of Infamy speech:

“The American people in their righteous might will win through absolute victory,” he pledged, followed by the promise that Ukraine will achieve “absolute victory.”

Zelensky clearly wanted to cast the war into one that impacts the welfare of the whole world, including the United States.  “Your money is not charity,” but an investment in “Global Security.”

He also pushed for American arms, especially tanks and fighters.  He said he has never asked for American soldiers to fight for Ukraine.  However, he asserted, “I can assure you that Ukrainian soldiers can perfectly operate American tanks and planes themselves.”  The claim that Ukrainian air force pilots can operate US aircraft may be a bit of hyperbole.  It usually takes US pilots years to master sophisticated aircraft like the F-16, much less the F-35.

The speech was met with considerable bipartisan applause.  Some Republican congressmen were absent, not to show displeasure with Zelensky, but to catch flights home as a major weather storm was forecast across most of the nation.  As members of the minority (until two weeks from now), their vote would have no impact on the omnibus funding bill that was on the verge of being passed.

Zelensky’s speech was to guarantee that the assistance for Ukraine would not be eliminated in last minute negotiations over the budget.

While American sentiment supports Ukraine, there is concern about the burgeoning federal budget and the blank check given to the Ukrainians.

The US is sending a Patriot missile battery as part of a $1.85 billion weapons package.  One billion dollars comes from dwindling American weapons stockpiles and $850 million will come directly from American industry as part of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.

The US has held off on sending a Patriot missile battery due to its secret technology.  However, the recent infrastructure attacks by Russia across the Ukraine have appeared to change minds in the Pentagon and White House.  It will likely be stationed to protect Kiev.

The type of weapons being sent indicate how the Pentagon views the chances for gains during the winter, when the ground is easier to move upon.  In addition to munitions, the US is sending 37 Cougar Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, 120 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles, and 6 Armored Utility Trucks.

The mix of vehicles indicates that the Pentagon and Ukraine are focused on a mobile war this winter.  Vehicles with tires are ideal for winter combat in areas that are normally muddy.  Unlike tracked vehicles like tanks, wheeled vehicles will not tear up the ground. These vehicles might be ideal in carrying operations in the “neck” of the Crimean Peninsula, where there are considerable water hazards.

Since the major link between Crimea and Russia is the Kerch Strait Bridge, which links Crimea and Taman Peninsula, can be cut as it was a few months ago, the Ukraine can cut off Russian forces on the Crimean Peninsula and “starve” them out.  However, if Russian forces are determined to hold the Crimea and the Russian Navy can support them, it may make more sense to carry out attacks against the Russians in the Eastern part of Ukraine.  This territory was ideal for mobile warfare during WWII.

Although Ukraine has the tactical advantage now, Russia is larger, and a war of attrition is not a good strategy for Ukraine.  Unless Putin is eliminated from the scene, which is not a viable development, lost Ukrainian land must be recaptured through force of arms.

Zelensky’s trip to the US and address to Congress (and the American people) has bought a few months of arms assistance.  But even NATO’s arsenal is not bottomless.

This tranche of weapons must show some results in the next few months.

Week of December 19, 2022

Attacks on U.S. Electrical Infrastructure
Increase after Midterm Elections


The American midterm elections are over, Biden’s approval poll numbers are slowly ticking up, and Washington politicians are settling down to two more years of shared power –Democrats wresting control of the Senate (Despite Senator Sinema of Arizona becoming an independent) and Republicans gaining power in the House of Representatives.

However, the situation in the US is not calm.  In the past few weeks several attacks have been made on the electrical infrastructure on both coasts; implying that this isn’t one extremist or a small group, but a nationwide threat.

This wasn’t totally unexpected.  Just before the attacks in North Carolina, the Department of Homeland Security warned that groups driven by a “range of ideological beliefs,” could be targeting America’s infrastructure.

“Targets of potential violence include public gatherings, faith-based institutions, the LGBTQI+ community, schools, radical and religious minorities, government facilities and personnel, US critical infrastructure, the media and perceived ideological opponents,” the bulletin said.

The warning nearly covered every group, so it didn’t help identify any potential suspects.

The attacks on electrical infrastructure aren’t new, so the DHS warning didn’t provide any additional information.  It could be argued that right wing extremists are a more likely suspect as attacks against the electrical infrastructure have occurred during Biden’s and Obama’s tenures in the White house.

In April 2013, a group staged an attack on California’s Pacific Gas & Electric Company’s substation in Silicon Valley.  The attackers used high powered rifles to knock out transformers.  The also attacked a fiber optics junction that would interfere with communications and send out an alarm.

Fortunately, the power didn’t go out, although $15 million in damage was caused.

The result was that PG&E spent over $100 million in hardening the substations and installing intruder alarms.

Despite investigations by company, state, and federal investigators, no one was arrested for the attack.

However, in February 2022, three white supremacists pled guilty to planning to attack electrical substations across the nation.  Their plan was to so severely shut down the nation’s power grid that it would be out for months – thus causing a civil war.

A man from Utah also pled guilty to damaging three substations in 2019.  The attack caused power outages in two Utah counties.  The man is currently serving time for the attack.

The current wave of attacks on electrical facilities started during Thanksgiving week in the Northwest.  One of the substations was at Clackamas, Oregon.  Two Cowlitz County Washington substations were hit earlier in November.  The FBI said that at least five substations were attacked at that time.  They used rifles to shoot equipment, hand tools to cut fences leading into the substation.  They also started fires inside the substation.

The attack that has caused the most inconvenience to the public was in North Carolina.  The outage hit about 45,000 homes.  Gunfire on Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend caused significant damage to two substations.

This week, there was more gunfire at the Waterlee Hydro Station in Kershaw County, South Carolina.  No serious damage was done, and no homes lost power.

States that have been threatened with electrical power infrastructure recently include Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin, Tennessee, California, and Maryland.

Given the attacks on electrical substations and fiber optic lines, it’s clear that groups opposed to the government and possibly hoping to encourage a civil war have been planning attacks for years.  However, shutting down the whole power grid would be much harder to accomplish.  And any successful attack may cause more animosity by citizens towards the extremists.

Hardening substations would be difficult.  They are usually in remote areas and open to the outside to dissipate the heat coming from the transformers.  This makes them an attractive target for extremists.  They don’t need a team to carry out the attack.  One person or a small number of extremists could easily carry out the attack.  These extremist groups could be so small that it would be difficult for law enforcement agents to infiltrate them.

Closed circuit cameras are being deployed, but since a competent person with a high-powered rifle can hit a substation from a kilometer away, it would be difficult to detect them.  The same applies to motion sensors, which can detect a person coming close to a substation but would have a hard time detecting the difference between an attacker and a deer.

Brick walls represent a simple solution since they would hide and harden transformer substations.

However, one of the major problems is that substations are stationary, and an extremist group can study the target at their leisure.

Law enforcement is hindered without informers inside the groups.  If the attackers take precautions, cover their faces, collect their expended brass, not brag about their exploits on social media, and keep their vehicles away from any cameras, their chances of being caught are small.  Law enforcement must rely on good investigative work and hope for a break.

In the meantime, power companies must harden their substations and build backup systems that will prevent power outages if one substation is attacked.

Another strategy is the same one used in guerrilla warfare – win their hearts and minds by changing attitudes.

Power companies have a bad reputation as power costs go up and there is a threat of one’s power being cut off for falling behind in their bills.  It didn’t help that an official for Bonneville Power Administration told customers this week that the cost of repairs would be passed on to customers.  Such an attitude only hardens the lines between customers, who are already seeing higher electric costs, and the power company, who come across as bad guys.

Of course, the power companies need customers paying their bills to remain in business, but a little flexibility may be needed.  A power company that shows compassion to a delinquent customer may find that they know something about the attackers.

The same is true with the FBI.  Currently polls show the FBI is seen as a law enforcement agency that enforces the wishes of those in power.  An FBI seen as the tool of justice, not those in power, might encourage a citizen to provide the lucky break.

One just must remember how the FBI treated the computer repairman who tried to turn in Hunter Biden’s computer.  Citizens may want to assist, but do not want to be harassed by the same agency they wanted to help.

It’s safe to say that attacks on electrical infrastructure will continue to happen during the Biden administration.  And the power companies will remain in a reactive mode until all the substations are hardened.

The only question is if these extremists will discover the weak point that could lead to a catastrophic failure that could spark the civil war that these groups want.

Week of December 11, 2022

Assessing the Biden Macron State Visit


One way to assess the success of an American – French state visit is to look at the joint statement coming from the meetings.  If the focus is on the historic, long-term alliance of France and America going back to the American Revolution, there weren’t any major achievements coming out of the visit.

This week’s joint statement by Macron and Biden started off by reviewing the “relationship founded on more than two centuries of friendship.”  It went on to talk about “shared commitment to democratic principles, values and institutions.”

The fact is that the French American relationship has been rocky.  France and the US have been allies since 1778, but there have been rough times.  There was the Quasi War of 1798 – 1800 fought between the US and France in the Atlantic Caribbean, and Mediterranean.  There was the intervention in Mexico by the French during the Second French Empire and the placing of the emperor Maximillan in charge.  In WWII, US forces fought Vichy French forces in Africa.

Since WWII, French President DeGaulle pulled France out of NATO’s military structure.  France has refused in engage in some NATO military operations.  When Australia switched to American submarines instead of using French submarines, France recalled its ambassador to the United States for the first time in their 200+ year relationship.

However, for all the “sound and fury,” both nations have retained close relations and even continued joint military operations, including closely operating their nuclear aircraft carriers.  And American President George W. Bush thanked the French Navy (and the French aircraft carrier DeGaulle) to Operation Enduring Freedom in 2002.  It is also carrying out air support missions in the Black Sea.

Clearly, like siblings, they are close, but do have their differences.

Clearly, the Ukraine was the major topic.  That was highlighted by the fact that Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu was part of the French delegation to Washington.

The concern was less about the status of the war than lessons to be gained from the war and how it would impact France and the US.  The Ukraine War is the first major industrialized war on the European continent since WWII. Although the US is discovering that it has less ammunition and weapons reserves than it would like, France has a bigger problem.

After the Cold War, France reshaped the mission of its military.  It was geared for fast mobile engagements in former French colonies in sub-Saharan Africa.  It also lacked depth.

Based on the level of attrition in the Ukraine war, the current French Army would be quickly decimated in a few months.  For instance, Russia is losing 10 tanks a day and the Ukraine is losing 2 tanks a day.  Since France has just over 500 tanks, even with losses equaling Ukrainian tank losses, it would be losing about 12% of its tank force in a month.

This doesn’t even consider the lack of spare ammunition.

France has been working with the US and Germany to speed up the production of ammunition, spares, and replacement weapons.

France has been involved in a program called “Scorpion,” that will upgrade its armored forces by 2040.  But it is more than building new vehicles like the Jaguar light armored vehicle and the infantry vehicle, the Griffin.

France, Germany, and the US know that modern warfare like that seen in Ukraine will quickly go through vehicles (and large amounts of money).  And they know that it may take years before replacements will be ready.

This was part of the discussions between French and American defense officials this week.

The answer for the French is to develop armored vehicles based on commercial vehicles like truck chasses.  Not only are they cheaper than specifically designed military vehicles, but commercial vehicle factories can also be quickly reconfigured to produce them.

Military vehicles designed from commercial products will also have better access to replacement parts.

The French are also eager to learn about US military technology the merges intelligence and communications.

One sticking point is China, which the US sees as a potential enemy, but France considers a partner.  Can Europe benefit from industrial alliances with the US, without penalties like those that were in the “Inflations Reduction Act (IRA) and the “Chips” Act.  Macron said Wednesday evening that these pieces of legislation would, “only work if there is coordination between us.”

Macron also warned that the US risked “fragmenting the West” with its climate law.

Biden stepped back and admitted the climate law had “glitches.” He noted that tax credits would favor American electric vehicles, while discriminating against European manufacturers.

One area of discussion that was mentioned in the joint statement, but wasn’t addressed in detail was the concern that Europe will face a critical energy shortage, combined with rising energy prices.  They addressed “diversification of Europe’s natural gas supply,” but spoke of “reducing overall demand for natural gas in alignment with climate objectives.”

How this is going to keep Europeans warm when winter starts in a couple of weeks wasn’t explained.  Talk about reducing natural gas prices avoided the issue of the increasingly high prices caused by heavy regulations.

The phase out of coal was mentioned in the joint statement without mentioning that some nations like Germany are increasing their mining and use of coal for power generation this winter. While Germany wasn’t at the meetings, this push to reduce coal mining while Europe is facing a cold winter will obviously be mentioned in future meetings with Germany.

The joint statement avoided the sensitive issue of Australia’s decision to stop purchases of French technology – a subject that led to the first recall of the French ambassador in Franco-American history.  The paragraph on Indo-Pacific issues only noted that, “The United States intends to increase its support and material contributions to air, and maritime deployments conducted by France and other European nations in the region.

Note that Australia wasn’t mentioned – probably to assuage France’s feelings.

The joint statement also included “feel good” statements on a variety of subjects.  These were shoehorned at the end when most readers would be likely to ignore them.  The final paragraph said, “Through technical and scientific exchange, the United States and France intend to deepen their collaboration on shared priorities such as health, the environment and emerging technologies, including biotechnology, quantum science, and artificial intelligence.”

It’s interesting to note that the last paragraph on health, the environment, and emerging technologies, “including biotechnology, quantum science, and artificial intelligence,”was only 33 words long.

The first paragraph focusing on France and America’s long relationship was 180+ words long.

Clearly, based on the focus of the joint statement, little was achieved, especially on areas of disagreement.

Week of December 06, 2022

Economic Sanctions: 215 years
of Failed American Diplomatic Efforts


“History repeats itself, but in such cunning disguise that we never detect the resemblance until the damage is done.” Sidney J. Harris

215 years ago, this month (December) the fledgling United States instituted a foreign policy that failed then, continued to fail during several confects, and promises the same failures as nations debate the price that Russia should be allowed to sell its oil.

Someone in the State Department should take a course in American Diplomatic History and read up on the 1807 Embargo Act.

Ever since the beginning of the American Revolution, the Americans believed that not buying goods from Britain would pressure them into granting independence.  For ten years, the Nonimportation Agreements passed by several groups including the Continental Congress in 1774 created non import and non-export committees.

As we now know, the American Revolution was won on the battlefield, not by economic sanctions.  But the idea that commercial retaliation would work had ingrained itself into American Foreign Policy.  In 1806, during the Napoleonic Wars, the US Congress passed an act that limited the importation of some British goods. The act was delayed for a year to negotiate with the British.

Instead of cooling passions, Congress passed the Embargo Act in December 1807.  While it punished Great Britain by restricting British imports, it caused more harm to American farmers, merchants that traded internationally, and American shipping.  British and French merchants that had large inventories of American cotton just raised prices.

American efforts at economic sanctions would eventually lead to the War of 1812.

American economic sanctions have reached heights of ridiculousness.  While the US And Germany were at war, they both needed Switzerland – Germany for banking and the US for precision clockworks for bomb fuses.

While the Axis powers allowed smuggling of clockworks to the allies, the Bank of International Settlements, under American BIS president Thomas McKittrick, still handled foreign exchange transactions for the German Reichsbank.  These transactions were necessary for Germany to import tungsten from Spain and Portugal.

While assisting German financial transactions, McKittrick was also passing information on to American intelligence.

At the other end of the tungsten pipeline was a British Naval Intelligence officer, who monitored those tungsten movements to Germany – while gambling at a Lisbon casino with the senior German intelligence officer for Portugal.  His name was Ian Fleming the future creator of British spy James Bond.

However, modern American economic sanctions haven’t gone as smoothly as a James bond caper.  For four decades, Iran has smuggled its oil out of the country in exchange for gold, nuclear components, and military items.

American economic sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine are proving no better.  While causing inflation and threatening a winter without heat in Europe, it  is weakening relations with several American allies that need oil and can’t afford it.

Meanwhile, Biden is pushing “Green Subsidies” that help American industries, while punishing European industries at this economically sensitive time.  A senior European official told Politico, “If you look at it soberly, the country that is profiting from this war, is the US because they are selling more gas and at higher prices, and because they are selling more weapons.”

Talks have broken down amongst European diplomats on the cap on oil prices coming from Russia.  Poland has rejected a price of $65 a barrel as too “soft,” while Greece insists it will not consider any price less than $70.

The debate has been going on for a while.  The EU has proposed a cap on Russian oil of $65 – $70. Poland wants a cap of $20 and say that $30 is too high.  The Baltic nations agree.  But, Cyprus, Greece, and Malta say $70 is too low.

The market price for Russian crude is running at about $70, which means that any oil cap will mean nothing.  In addition, the US is close to issuing Chevron a license to pump oil in Venezuela, which could help ease oil prices.

Poland notes that the cost for producing a barrel of Russian crude oil is just $20, so any price higher than that rewards Russia.  Cyprus, Greece, and Malta have large shipping industries and fear that too high a price cap will destroy the shipping industry.  If the cap is too low, they want compensation.

For all this talk, it must be remembered that the nations must agree unanimously.

And, for all this talk, even the diplomats can’t figure out how to prevent cheating.

Ironically, a book was written in 1776 that explained economics and how it is harder to employ economic sanctions than one thinks.  It is called “The Wealth of Nations” and it was written by Adam Smith.  It was the first modern study of economics and while it was well received in Scotland and Britain, it must have been embargoed because it would have explained the fallacy of American economic sanctions to American diplomats.

Whenever there are economic sanctions imposed, creative minds find a way around them.  Officially full oil tankers could be partially full.  The invoice would be for the full tanker, but the amount delivered would be less – giving the Russians a higher price than allowed.

Of course, that would rely on some collusion by companies and nations, but that happens now.  Malaysia, who cooperates with oil producers like Venezuela and Iran, seems to be exporting more oil than it produces.  Undoubtedly the extra oil comes from other sources.

Greece also appears to be cheating as its tankers carry our ship-to-ship oil transfers.

OPEC could also benefit if Russia cuts back production.

All of this must be solved by December 5th as that is when the oil embargo takes effect if there is no solution.

Meanwhile, these sanctions are hurting American relations with some of its European allies.  America is pushing the oil cap proposal, which isn’t hurting the American consumer as much because energy prices are much lower in the US than Europe.  European nations would like to see more American fuel exports – at the lower American prices.

Oil caps are also threatening the European energy markets, which could cause long term damage to the free market.  Earlier this week, the European Commission issued a statement declaring a “safety price ceiling” for gas prices of $280 dollars per megawatt hour.

This move is designed to act as an “instrument to automatically intervene on the gas markets in case of extreme gas price hikes.”

Energy traders are more sanguine.  The European Federation Traders said, “Even a short intervention would have severe, unintended and irreversible consequences in harming market confidence that the value of gas is known and transparent.”

Ironically, the one time the US didn’t employ economic sanctions, they benefited.

At the beginning of the American Civil War, the Confederacy decided to employ economic sanctions against France and England to persuade them to recognize the rebelling states.  Since the South was the biggest supplier of cotton to the textile industries of France and England, they assumed that economic sanctions would put economic pressure on the two countries.

However, 1860 saw a bumper crop of cotton that filled the warehouses in Europe.  Merchants in England and France merely raised prices, which increased their profits.

Meanwhile, textile manufacturers began looking for other sources of cotton and discovered Egypt.  While the Confederacy was forced to burn surplus stockpiles of cotton, its former clients were buying from Egypt.

American diplomats really need to study their own diplomatic history.

Week of November 30, 2022

Deciphering the 2022 Midterm Elections


After a week of counting votes, it appears that there are some solid results.

However, like the quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, there was “sound and fury signifying nothing.”

Or as close to nothing as possible.

Nationally, the Republicans and Democrats switched control of Congress.  The Republicans have narrow control of the House of Representatives, while the Democrats have narrow control of the Senate.

Few things changed at the state level either.  Republicans control 56 chambers of state legislatures, while Democrats control 39 chambers.  Democrats lost 16 state senate seats, while Republicans gained 24.

There was little to show a general trend.  In Arizona, which took over a week to release results, the Democrats won the highly visible governor’s race and Senate race.  However, Republicans retained the state senate and legislature despite the amount spent by Democrats.  Three Democratic House of Representatives seats were flipped to Republican so the Arizona congressional delegation going to Washington is now controlled by the GOP.

The same trend was seen nationwide, with voters seemingly splitting their votes.

However, the flipping of the House and Senate will have an impact.  The narrow Senate Democratic majority will allow Biden to nominate judges without trouble or relying on the VP’s tie breaking vote.  And, if Biden dies during his term, it will be easier for Harris to nominate and receive confirmation of her choice for Vice President.

Meanwhile, the Republican controlled House will have some unique powers.  Since all budget and revenue bills must originate from the House, Republicans can restrict funding for agencies that have abused their powers like the FBI.  They also get to pick the Speaker of the House, who is second in line for the presidency.

While there is little Democratic leadership change in the Senate, Senator Schumer (D. NY) is expected to remain Senate Majority Leader.  However, the Democratic minority leadership in the House of Representatives is expected to change dramatically.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer have announced that they will step aside to allow younger leadership to head the new Democratic minority.  The expected Democratic leadership is expected to be Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark, and Pete Aguilar.  The new Democratic leader, Jeffries is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus – which indicates a move to the left by congressional Democrats.

However, a more progressive Democratic leadership will count for little with a Republican majority.

There may very well be a fight over who the new Speaker of the House will be, since the Republican majority is so slim and some Republican members have announced they will not vote for Representative Kevin McCarthy.

In an attempt to limit the power of a McCarthy speakership, the Republican members have voted for new rules that limit the speaker’s power, which increased dramatically during Pelosi” speakership.  It allows a majority of the GOP caucus to remove the speaker, instead of giving that power solely to the House Majority Leader.

Since the Republican majority is so slim, the new rule says the Republican Caucus must agree to a motion to remove the Speaker, which prevents the Democrats from joining a few dissident Republicans to elect a different Speaker.

Other rules that will come up before the Republican Caucus will strip more of the powers garnered by the Speaker under Pelosi.

Given the sharing of power, don’t expect any major and controversial legislative bills to pass in the next two years.  In some cases, Biden may try to rule through executive action, although the Supreme court has ruled that these changes in regulations are a violation of Congress’ constitutional power to pass laws.

This leads us to the 2024 election.  While Democrats had the advantage in 2020 with fewer Democratic senators up for reelection, 2024 has changed the mathematics.  Only 10 Republican seats are up in 2024, while 21 Democratic seats are up in 2024.  In addition, two independent senators that caucus with the Democrats are up for reelection.

One of the independent seats up in 2024 is held by Senator Bernie Sanders, who is a potential presidential candidate for the Democrats.  If he decides not to run for reelection to pursue the presidency, that makes the open seat more competitive.  Democratic leadership may try to dissuade him for another presidential run to protect the seat and lessen a fight for the presidential nomination.

While the Sander’s seat is far down on the list of presidential issues, the top of the list belongs to Trump and DeSantis.

Although Trump announced that he was running for reelection as president this week, the chemistry has changed dramatically.  DeSantis’ dramatic victory in Florida on Election Day has many Republicans looking at his potential as a presidential candidate.

In what must worry Trump, his popularity has dropped like a stone, while DeSantis has gained in polls of Republican voters.

An Economist poll taken this week showed that 51% of Republicans prefer DeSantis, while 33% preferred Trump.  Both Trump and DeSantis are viewed favorably by Republicans.

A primary poll in Texas showed Trump dropping 14% between October 23rd and November 13th.  Meanwhile DeSantis gained 14% and is now at 43%.

The runner up is former VP Pence at 5%.

Of course, it is the primary elections in each state which will have the greatest impact and Trump doesn’t look any better at the state level.

Iowa, which has the first in the nation caucus, has Desantis at 48% and Trump at 37%.  Trump has lost 15% since August 13th, while DeSantis has gained 11%.

New Hampshire, which holds the first primary has DeSantis at 56%, while Trump is at 30%.  DeSantis has gained 7%, while Trump has lost 8%.

DeSantis can count on the delegate rich Florida.  DeSantis gets 56%, while Trump gets 30%.

In what may be a harbinger of the December 6th runoff election for Senate, Trump gets 35% versus DeSantis’ 55%.  Since Republican senate candidate Walker is a good friend of Trump, it appears that Trump may not have the popularity in Georgia to help Walker win.

It’s early in the 2024 GOP presidential race and there are no popular candidates outside Trump and DeSantis.  Even Texas favorite sons Senator Cruz and Governor Abbot couldn’t break 4%   in their home state.

It appears that Republican voters are willing to move away from Trump if the alternative appeals to them and the candidate has a chance to beat the 2024 Democratic nominee.

However, two years are a long time in politics.  Right now, DeSantis is the Trump alternative, but we don’t know who will inspire Republican enthusiasm a few months from now.

Since Trump has the most enthusiastic base now, as more candidates jump into the race, expect DeSantis’ polling numbers to sink as the “lukewarm to Trump” base is split between several candidates.

Currently DeSantis is ignoring Trump and focusing on running Florida.  That makes sense as there are two years until the presidential election.  That freezes other presidential contenders as they wait to see how DeSantis moves in the polls.  Will he stay in competition with Trump, or will he fade?  If he fades, we can expect other Republicans to join the race for the GOP presidential nomination.

Unlike Shakespeare’s quote from Macbeth, the 2024 presidential race will be “Sound and Fury,” signifying something.

Week of November 21, 2022

The Red Ripple Depleted


Young people who want to have a career in politics usually take courses in “Political Science” in college.  But these midterm elections showed that there is no “Science” in political science.  Rather it appears to be more of a dark art that no one understands.

Everything for a Red Tide of Republican victories was there.  75% of Americans think the country is on the wrong track.  The top issues were inflation, crime, and the economy.  Biden is extremely unpopular.  Polls showed Republican strength in typically Democratic areas like New York, which sent Democrats like Obama, the First Lady, and the president to shore up their support there.

But, everyone was wrong.  The Democrats underestimated their strength and the Republicans overestimated theirs.

However, it wasn’t as simple as that.  While most voters think that Biden is suffering from cognitive problems, they voted for the party, not against the unpopular president. However, the Cook Political Report noted that Republicans had won six million more votes than Democrats in House races.

The battleground state of Pennsylvania proves how hard it is to develop a model for this midterm election.  While senate candidate Fetterman won Bucks County by seven ponts, the Republican congressman Brian Fitzpatrick beat the Democrat Ashley Ehasz by ten points.

Four counties that voted for Trump (Berks, Cumberland, Luzerne, and Beaver) voted Democrat in the governor’s race, but backed Republican Oz in the senate race.

In many ways, the election was a vote for the status quo.  Incumbents tended to win, even in the face of serious challenges.  But, Mike Lawler defeated Representative Sean Maloney the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman – an unheard accomplishment

The GOP won the House, but the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives is so narrow that it will be hard to pass any Republican initiatives, even if they could pass it through the Senate.

So, how did the various parts of the mid-term elections go?


Republicans had hopes of defeating some Democratic senators and gaining a narrow majority in the Senate.  However, the path to a Republican Senate seems difficult, but not impossible at this time.  The Democrats flipped a Republican Senate seat in Pennsylvania.  Now Republican hopes to gain control of the Senate lie in Nevada, Georgia, and Arizona.

Senator Kelly of Arizona seems to have a comfortable lead of about 5%, which he will need as the votes remaining to be counted are Republican rich ballots that were turned in on election day or were mailed in right before election day.

In Nevada, Republican candidate Laxalt is ahead of Masto, but there are still a lot of Democrat rich votes from the Las Vegas area to be counted.

Georgia will need to have a runoff on December 6 since neither the Republican nor Democrat won 50% of the vote.  Since the Libertarian candidate won enough votes to force the runoff and Libertarians tend to be closer to Republicans philosophically, this may give Republican Walker a slight edge.

However, remember that a majority in the Senate may not be enough.  Republican Senator Romney didn’t endorse his fellow Republican Nevada senator Mike Lee and backed a Democrat turned independent Evan McMulllin.  He is seen as a loose wheel by his Republican colleagues and could turn around and vote Democrat on some issues.

On the other side of the aisle, there are Senators Sinema of Arizona and Manchin of West Virginia.  Both have disagreed with the Democratic majority in the past two years and can be expected to make passage of Democratic budget bills difficult.

Then, there is Vice President Harris, who can cast a tie breaking vote in the Senate.

No matter who wins the majority in the Senate, they will have a hard time passing meaningful legislation.

House of Representatives

The Republicans will capture a narrow majority in the House.
That means a change in Speaker of the House, who is second in line to become president if something happens to the president – more likely with someone like Biden in the White House.

The new Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, who is the current minority leader, and not a favorite amongst more conservative Republicans.

A narrow Republican majority in the House will mean that it’s up to Republican House leaders to “whip” Republican congressmen in line to pass legislation.  This was a specialty of current House Speaker Pelosi, and it remains to be seen if the GOP can develop the same skills.

Since budget bills must originate in the House, this means that the GOP will have more influence in funding during the next two years.


The better than average Democratic results in the election seems to have improved Biden’s chance for a second term.  The day after the election Biden held a press conference and made it clear that he intends to stay on course.

“We’re just getting started,” Biden said.  “I’m not going to change direction.”

When asked about running for reelection in 2024, the president indicated that he intends to be on the ballot, but the final decision hasn’t been made yet.

One item on the Republican agenda will be an investigation into President Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.  However, the elder Biden argued that it was time to move on and unify.  “I can’t control what they’re going to do.”


The midterm elections weren’t kind to President Trump.  When polls were showing a major Republican win on election day, Trump hinted at a “big announcement.”

With the mediocre GOP results, Trump has put off that “big announcement.”

While Trump’s endorsement worked well in the primaries, they didn’t have the same magic in the general election.  Endorsed incumbents won but endorsed challengers like Oz didn’t.

The biggest problem coming out of the election was the reelection of Republican governor DeSantis of Florida.  DeSantis is seen by many as a solid conservative without the brash “mouth” of Trump

22 years ago, Florida was the key to victory in the 2000 presidential election.  George W. Bush won Florida and the presidency by about 300 votes.  Since then, Florida has been considered a battleground state.

On Election Day, DeSantis won the state by about 60%.  He defeated a former governor Charlie Crist, who was a former Republican.  In the process, he won Miami-Dade County by 11% – which is usually a Democratic stronghold.  Biden had won Miami-Dade County by 7% two years ago.

Any Republican governor that can bring in Democratic voters like that is a strong candidate to win the nomination in 2024.

In the end, Republicans will want to back a candidate that can win.  DeSantis has shown that he can win, even in traditional Democratic areas.

The Trump influence may be over in the GOP.

The Next Two Years

Don’t expect any major movement on the legislative front.  As of this time, it looks like the Democrats will have marginal control of the Senate, while the Republicans have marginal control of the House.  Budgets and debt ceilings will pass because they are required.  Compromises will be made to get enough votes to pass.

Meantime, President Biden will continue in his cognitive decline.  His handlers will want him to stay in power, but the party will start looking elsewhere.

Beto O’Rourke of Texas can be counted out.  He has lost senate, governor, and presidential elections, while spending over $160 million in campaign contributions.  Stacey Abrams of Georgia should be considered out of the running after losing two elections for governor of Georgia.

Governor Gavin Newsom was reelected as governor of California, and as the Democratic governor of the nation’s largest state is a possibility, even though he has said no in the past.  However, he may jump into the race if Biden is out and there is a dearth of presidential candidates.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg remains a possibility.  However, his time as Transportation Secretary has been lackluster.

Vice President Kamala Harris.  As a Vice President, she has done little, especially as the person responsible for the Border.  Polls show her as the one with the inside track, but much of that is from name recognition.  Polls show that her support isn’t strong.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is from Michigan and has just won reelection.   She comes from the Rust Belt, the former center of American industrial strength.  She might have the ability to reach out to the Midwest as most Democrats can’t.

Senator Bernie Sanders is 81 but shows more strength and mental capability than Biden.  He remains the favorite of the far progressive wing of the Democratic party.

There are others like Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Amy Klobuchar, but their Senate terms are up in 2024 and they might prefer the near certainty of winning reelection than the uncertainty of a presidential campaign.

We have mentioned Trump and DeSantis as presidential possibilities, but there is another potential candidate who is governor and who has won in a state than has gone Democratic.  His name is Virginia Governor Youngkin.  He will finish his first year in office in January and he has a majority of voters saying he is doing a good job.

What happens in the Republican race for the presidential nomination will depend on Trump.  To beat DeSantis, he will have to show that he can win again and bring Democrats and Independents back.

Trump has strong points.  He is a non-stop campaigner.  He has money and his own jet aircraft (which has just been renovated).  His comments about the Washington elite that controls the nation resonates with voters.

He only has one real weakness – his mouth.  He alienates potential allies and can be mercurial.

Therefore, DeSantis looks good to many Republicans.  He is Trump without the rough edges.

No matter what, the next two years will be interesting.  Just don’t expect them to follow the clear-cut rules of political science.

Week of November 07, 2022

Who is going to win the Senate in 2022?


It’s pretty much a given that the US House of Representatives will be won by the Republicans in November.  However, it’s the race for control of the US Senate that has everyone’s attention.

Currently, the US Senate is tied with both Republicans and Democrats holding 50 seats each.  Vice President Harris votes in case of a tie, which gives the Democrats the edge.

The Democrats also have an edge as only 14 Democrat seats are up for election, while 21 Republican seats are up for election.

Does that mean the Democrats are going to keep control of the Senate?

Probably not.  But there are no guarantees.

Although nothing is sure in politics, one nearly solid rule is that the party in power in the White House will lose in the midterm elections.

That, and the fact that the polls are showing that the Republicans are taking the lead in many races in these last few days, indicates that the Senate probably will go Republican in a little over a week.

It’s not just the Republicans that believe that.  Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer (D, NY) was caught on a hot mike on Thursday telling Biden that chances are slim for Democrats in the Senate.

Why is control of the Senate so important?  It is the Senate that confirms many of the decision makers in government like judges, cabinet members, military officers, and other senior members of the administration.  If the Republicans control the Senate, many people requiring Senate confirmation might not be confirmed because their politics might not be liked by Republicans.

The Senate also has an important role should Biden die or resigns because he is unable to continue as president.  Then the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution handles the transition of power.  If Biden dies or resigns, VP Harris becomes president, and it is her job to nominate a new Vice President.

Picking a new Vice President while the Senate is under Republican control would be harder than if the Senate were under Democratic control.

Right now, the tide is going against the Democrats.  As proof, just watch where the money is going.

Florida is considered a swing state, but the Republican senator Rubio is ahead, and the Democrats are conceding the state and moving advertising money to Washington State, which is usually considered a solid Democrat Senate seat.  They are also sending money to Colorado, Georgia, Nevada, and Arizona – all previously considered leaning Democratic

Another sign of Democratic problems is where the President and Vice President are visiting in the last few days before the election.  Traditionally, the President and Vice President go to swing states in the final days before the election.  However, the VP is going to traditional Democratic areas to solidify support instead of going to swing states.  Biden or the First lady is going to Democratic New York, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico in order to turn out the Democratic base.

Senate seats to watch

Pennsylvania.  Many election models are now giving the Republicans the edge in capturing the Senate.  If that happens, the reason will be the collapse of the Fetterman campaign in Pennsylvania.

Republican Senator Toomey was retiring so it was seen as a possible pickup by the Democrats.

The ticket also favored the Democrats.  The Democratic candidate was John Fetterman, who is the current Lieutenant governor of the State and won that position with 58% of the vote.  The Republican candidate was Mehmet Oz, a celebrity doctor without any political experience.  Oz did have former President Trump’s support.

The chemistry of the election changed in May, when Fetterman had a stroke that kept him off the campaign trail for weeks.  Instead of withdrawing from the campaign and allowing the Democratic Party to pick a new candidate, Fetterman remained in the race.

It soon became obvious that Fetterman was still recovering from the stroke, including an inability sometimes to understand people speaking to him.

The Fetterman – OZ debate showed Fetterman’s stroke weaknesses and post-debate polling showed a strong movement towards OZ.  The only question is if there were enough early ballots for Fetterman to offset the current OZ advantage.


Those who though that Arizona was now a Democratic state with Biden’s close win there in 2020 appear to be wrong.  The Republican candidate for governor is Kari Lake is ahead by double digits and is frequently described as a “female Donald Trump.”

This makes freshman Democratic Senator Mark Kelly very vulnerable.  Although he was a Navy pilot and a Space Shuttle pilot, he lacks luster.  He is also anti-gun in a state that ranks first in firearm enthusiam.

Kelly is running against Blake Masters, who was a venture capitalist who is supported by billionaire Thiel.  Masters is gaining ground less from his own campaign and more from the rising Republican tide.

Despite Thiel’s support of Masters, Kelly is outspending Masters by a 10 – 1 margin.  Kelly is receiving last minute money from the Democrats concerned about losing the Arizona seat

This should be an easy win for Kelley, but currently the polls show he is statistically tied with Masters.


This is a traditional Republican state that went for Biden in 2020.  The Senate seat is currently held by Democratic Senator Warnock.  Warnock is the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King once served as pastor.

In a state where college football is a passion, Republican candidate Herschel Walker has positive name recognition, despite facing a controversy about his position on abortion rights. He was a former star running back for the University of Georgia, a Hall of Fame football player, and represented the US in the 1992 Olympics.  In addition to owning a food company, Walker is a friend of Trump, who has endorsed him, been a major donor, and has campaigned for Walker frequently in the last few months.

Probably the most telling statement on how the Georgia Senate race is going is the “hot mike” statement by Senator Schumer to Biden.  He told the President, “The state where we are going down is Georgia.”


Nevada is normally a Democratic state thanks to Las Vegas.  The rest of the state is Rural Republican territory.  However, migration from other states in the last few years, especially California, has narrowed the margins between Republicans and Democrats.  Unaffiliated voters are the largest voter group in Nevada now.

Biden won Nevada by 2.4%

While the Nevada economy is in terrible shape, Democratic Senator Cortez Masto has focused on abortion rights.

Republican candidate Laxalt is focusing his campaign on inflation, which is hurting the working-class voters.

The Democrats should retain this seat but could lose it in a Republican tidal wave.


It was once said that “As Ohio goes, so goes the nation.”   Today, however, Ohio is trending Republican as the large cities that were once the bedrock of the Ohio Democratic Party are losing voters.

The seat is currently held by Republican Senator Portman, who is not running for reelection.

Democratic candidate Ryan is currently a Democratic representative from Ohio.  His focus is on blue collar issues and restoring the Ohio industrial base.

The Republican candidate is J.D. Vance, who was a Marine from 2003 to 2007.  He is a former venture capitalist and has been endorsed by Trump.

Recently, Ohio has voted Republican by 5 points or more.  However, if economic issues can help Democrats, this may be the state to count on.

If these states are going to help the Democrats, the polls need to reverse course soon.  A USA Today poll showed Republicans with a 4-point lead over Democrats in a generic ballot.  This figure has also been confirmed by a New York Times poll.

Inflation is the key concern and voters see Republicans as best to handle inflation.

Although things can turn around, the “smart/ bet” money is on the GOP winning the Senate next week.