The Clinton Crisis: Contradictions and Confusion

capture-20161030-154317Never let it be said the 2016 election cycle was anemic, weak, boring or uneventful. We’re down to 9 days and I’ve said no fewer than 5 times a day how glad I’ll be when this election is put to rest in the history books that are bound memorialize anything but the truth.

Each new story raises the insanity monitor a notch or two. Take a look at a few of these tweets. Are we seeing the same irony?

In July, the FBI announced it would not seek charges against Secretary Clinton. A few days later, Clinton said in an interview with Fox News, “Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people.” Ah, he was a good buddy of hers, no doubt. I’m sure it was a delightful and whimsical friendship.

Now, though, Clinton is on the defense in the worst kind of way. Here are a few of the many tweets sent after the announcement was made late Friday afternoon regarding the lost emails and server and how it involves her bestie, Huma Abedin and her husband, Anthony Weiner. Pre-emptive scramble to save her cookies, yes?

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How’s that for loyalty, Director Comey? Did he really think that woman has an ounce of loyalty, a dish of ethics or an ability to even remotely empathize with others?

And then there’s this. Always the hopeful one, Clinton is. What if this week brings daily WikiLeaks drops of HER emails? That could distract her, right?

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The best way John Podesta can be of service to Clinton at this point is by giving her pointers on how to handle the world reading her emails over a Yoo Hoo and a Little Debbie cake. Remember, WikiLeaks hasn’t released a cache of Clinton emails. Yet. A girl can hope, though. Unlike all the other men in her life: her husband, Comey, Kaine and God knows who else…Podesta just hasn’t felt the Queen Clinton sting. I hear it’s pretty horrendous. Still, is this the best use of his time:

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Finally, take a look at this little gem. She is going to do to us what she can’t force Trump to do: make us pay for the college education of anyone who wants to attend. Sound familiar? Does the word “Obamacare” come to mind?

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When it falls apart, as it will if she is elected, maybe she can take a cue from the last time a “sure thing” was passed into law. Maybe Obama can give her a few pointers? Turns out it’s a colossal failure, but what does Obama care? He’s phoning it in at this point.

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The Bad News is that One of Them Becomes President

capture-20161014-175943The good news is we’re now down to days before we can finally come out of this disturbing and disgusting and surreal state of reality we’ve all been forced to endure in various stages for the past year. The bad news is we have days left before we can finally come out of this surreal state of reality. Typically, election season gives Americans an opportunity to explore their options. Who supports the issues that matter to a family? Which candidate will keep us out of war? Which candidate is going to be remembered for the good he or she did for Americans and humanity in general? Each national election brings with it a certain degree of embarrassing revelations, silly bickering and promises that if one candidate is elected over another, the country’s going to hell. That’s not the case with the current season – not by a long shot.

Imagine the worst kind of criminal; one who is the epitome of pure evil with his dark and brutal ways. Imagine the trial and the truly tragic details of his victims’ final moments that emerge each day. You know these details because the trial in its entirety is being broadcast live. Now think about the divide the trial causes between supporters and those who hate the accused. Can you imagine it being any worse than what we’re witnessing in this election? Yeah…me either.

These candidates have made history, no doubt. They’ve divided a nation. They have created the same weaknesses and fears that are usually reserved for a category 5 hurricane headed straight for our hometown.

When you take a step back, and I’m sure many will begin to see this once the election is behind us, there are common denominators in that trial, the hurricane and the election. Pride and money and notoriety and a place in history are those ribbons woven through each. The politicians warning of the hurricane walk a fine line in how they tell people to evacuate (or not), where the storm makes landfall and when to declare states of emergency for the “imminent landfall”. If that hurricane doesn’t make landfall, there goes the credibility.  If the jury finds the defendant not guilty, there goes the perfect conviction record the DA loves to brag about on a daily basis. It all comes down to being right and winning and no shortage of taunts directed to the loser. Losing, to them, is like a death.

These candidates have spewed so much hate in an effort to win that they don’t realize they’ve burned beyond recognition the entire election process and everything our founding fathers intended. Each time a “game changer” breaks into our daily routine, via breaking news emails, Twitter trends and “exclusive interviews with the victim tonight”, we’re forced to factor it into our decision-making process. If we believe everything each side swears is true, we can decide between a rapist and a rapist’s wife. We can choose a murderer if we’d like or maybe a serial sexual harasser. We can choose the candidate whose daughter bought her education or we can opt for the candidate whose children are “destined to turn out like their predatory father”.

There’s no shortage of information from which to make that decision, either. We can believe an Australian computer programmer and journalist who’s hiding out in an embassy to avoid facing his own sexual assault charges. We can also take our pick of an ever-increasing number of women who say they were victims of sexual harassment by their former boss, who’s now wanting your vote. And let’s not forget the women who have, for years (unlike the other candidate’s accusers), insisted a former president and husband to the current candidate raped, molested or otherwise assaulted them. We can believe a “kill list” or we can believe a group of people whose egos convinced them to try out for a reality show years ago because they wanted to be in the spotlight. We have countless audio tapes and no shortage of teary-eyed victims who turn it on as soon as they cameras whir to life.

So successful are their efforts that they have managed to annihilate bonds that were previously stronger than any super-duper new must-have product being shown on Shark Tank. Families are divided. Best friends are now at one another’s throats and are being closely monitored by terrorists everywhere for tips on how to wreak the most damage to the human psyche. Facebook and Twitter are the new battlegrounds and that amazing actor many were convinced should star in every TV show, major film and documentary has now become dirt under a fan’s feet because of his “insults to the fans”.

How in God’s name did we get to the point that no recognizable shred of human compassion and intelligence and goodness and sense of fairness can be found in our political candidates? When did we, as a society, decide it’s OK to treat people in a disrespectful way? It used to be that Facebook was filled with those ridiculous messages of inspiration for humanity: “Tread lightly, you don’t know what challenges he’s had” or “Be kind to everyone. God may be testing you”? No, these days it’s “If you vote for candidate B, you’re white trash” or “Unfriend/unfollow me if you support candidate A”. I admit, there were times when those sugary-sweet memes hit my timeline that I’ve wanted to add a touch of sarcasm, but after this election, I’ll take a timeline FILLED with those cheesy sentiments over the darkness of political memes.

We’ve all hit new lows, not just these candidates and campaign workers. We all have responsibility to the monstrosity this has become. It’s bigger than any of us. If there’s anything at all we can all collectively agree on, it’s that we’re about to emerge from this 10th ring of hell we’ve endured. That’s the good news. The bad news is one of these candidates will win.

Don’t Kid Yourself: We Lose in this Election

 

I’m sure there’s some historical or Biblical reference to the events we’re seeing unfold in contemporary American politics. I’ll leave that to those who can actually make a reasonable connection; I’m more interested in how it’s capture-20160809-191531affecting our daily lives. Horrible, faded and greedy – all apt descriptions of candidates across the political realm. Others may toss in a few more descriptive adjectives: murderous, selfish, evil: all points I wouldn’t argue.

For years, we, as average Americans, may have been passive in our willingness to demand accountability. In many ways, politicians were like celebrities. These glamorous movie stars occupied the left coast while the arrogance that defines the elite politicians occupied the right coast. Somewhere in the middle, the rest of us created our spaces. Lately, they’ve begun invading our space and time and thoughts – and with each intrusion, the celebrities and the politicians feel even more entitled to claim what they never owned to start with: our loyalty.

If loyalty’s not an option, then feel free to never again darken their Facebook or Twitter pages:

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But we always could rely on our politicians to exercise their loyalty to their own parties, right? Really, who demands something they refuse to show in their own actions? Elected leaders, that’s who makes those kinds of demands:

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Senator Susan Collins, after initially saying she would support the Republican nominee, rescinded that comment and now says she does not support Donald Trump. “If I were giving him advice, I would tell him he should own up to making mistakes…and he should stop insulting people.” What’s worse is that she’s considering voting for Clinton.

My favorite display of disloyalty comes not from a politician, per se, but a former John McCain aide, Mark Salter. He’s clearly missed the irony in his statement, “Are we in such dire straits that we must dispense with civility, kindness, tolerance and normal decency to put a mean-spirited, lying jerk in the White House?” What’s interesting is his tweet of “I’m With Her”, which is the rallying cry for Clinton supporters, answers his own question.

While there’s some evidence of Democratic politicians crossing over to support Trump, they’re certainly not advertising it, which makes them smarter on that point alone. After all, they’ve seen the implosion of the Republican Party now that it’s coming apart at the seams.

Is this really what our society has become in terms of leadership, power, strength and everything else that used to define this country? Our own government is suing itself, for God’s sake.

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And what should the residents of Louisiana do now that their governor has sued their employers? Big oil is as controversial as it gets and for good reason, but usually, politicians promise to increase jobs and clear the path for companies to do business in their respective states. The last thing a governor does is jeopardize the future of the nation’s second largest oil producing state. Unless you’re Governor John Bel Edwards. The industry that employs 300,000 people and accounts for more than $70 billion in revenue each year is now in his crosshairs.

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In all fairness, he’s right about the coast being in a major crisis, but haven’t we learned by now that Big Oil just doesn’t care for what the governor is hoping will be an “amicable solution”? Read the story here.

If there’s been anything at all that could remotely be construed as a silver lining, it’s that there have been many truths exposed to the American people. Problem is, the exposure on both sides is so irretrievably broken that we’ve come to the realization that this election no longer has any semblance of a dignified, informed and ethical process. The worst thing for Americans to do is to allow these poor choices to divide us. Ulterior political motives have already caused a division of races, a national debt that is so surreal that there’s no use pretending it could actually be repaid and a massive global stage in which the rest of the world is watching, alternating between shock, disbelief and humor.

Congress shows up when it serves a purpose. They would have us believe they’re battling their contemporaries to secure funding for whatever cause constituents are demanding, but they’re fooling no one. They’re always ready to jump out of their chairs the moment their extravagant vacations begin.

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Meanwhile, the campaigning continues, each new day bringing a new and ridiculous “media created, politician approved” scandal. Just consider the ones from last week – we’ve heard nothing else since these breaking news stories made the rounds and instead, the media has steered our attention to today’s crisis, whatever it might be.

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And now, we’re expected to be prepared later this year to cast our votes for one of the two most disturbing candidates to ever attempt to lead the world’s greatest nation. That old saying that making a real change at the polls is irrelevant: no matter what voters do at the polls, we will most certainly lose.

WikiLeaks and DNC – Wonderful Insanity Awaits

Anticipating the latest WikiLeaks drop over the past couple of days regarding DNC has kept many of us distracted. What I and many others didn’t realize is just how disturbing the truth really is. There are a few things to know if you’re planning on spending the weekend knee-deep in the latest cesspool of American politics.

First, Twitter has been busy manipulating its trending hashtags. #DNCLeaks was the number one trending hashtag and had been since the WikiLeaks drop. It suddenly disappeared and only after users demanded an explanation, it reappeared, albeit altered. #DNCLeaks became #DNCLeak.

The media has suddenly become virtuous and are now ethical bodies that refuse to address such scandalous nonsense. They have other things to focus on – namely anything but the contents in the data leak.

There are many references to Black Lives Matter leader DeRay McKesson, too. Use the search option to get a complete list. Worth a read, to be sure.

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Prepare to be incredibly and permanently changed. The reality slowly seeps in until finally, you can no longer continue to blow off those who say, “The American political system has absolutely nothing to do with who you vote for”. It is indeed rigged. Your voice nor your vote matter.

I’ve spent entirely too much time plundering through what amounts to a small percentage of the 20,000 emails. I feel like I need to scrub my brain. There are more than a few “What the hell…” revelations and here’s one of my very favorite gems – it’s delightful, I tell you – it’s delightful. This is a fundraising email sent out by Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Simple and expected, right? I mean, we all get these pleas for money. It’s the American way: the ones with the most resources turn to those who are not even remotely considered the so-called “Top 1%” and ask for money that will be used against us at some point. Finally -FINALLY – someone fires back. See the original here. (I can’t seem to get the fonts large enough nor a screen shot that’s possible to read in this WP theme).

From: Debbie Wasserman Schultz [mailto:democraticparty@democrats.org]

Sent: Friday, May 06, 2016 2:36 PM

To: Julie Scardiglia

Subject: Join me in Knoxville June 3rd!

Image removed by sender. Democrats]

Friend– As of this week, Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee. The contrast between his values and the values our Democratic candidates defend every day could not be more stark. As Democrats, we have a lot on the line. It is crucial that we push back on the backwards GOP rhetoric and make our voices heard this election cycle. Please join me for a reception in Knoxville, Tennessee on Friday, June 3rd. This is your chance to ask me questions about what the DNC is doing to fight back and to strategize together about how to win in November.

You can RSVP through the following link: https://finance.democrats.org/KnoxvilleReception

Thank you for all you do, and I look forward to seeing you in Knoxville!

Here’s the reply that’s full of wonder and magic:

From: Julie Scardiglia [mailto:jscardiglia@earthlink.net]

Sent: Friday, May 06, 2016 2:45 PM

To: Seminerio, Nick

Subject: 

RE: Join me in Knoxville June 3rd!

DWS, you’re almost as corrupt as $hillary Clinton. I’ve already left the Democratic party—after 32 years. Lots of us have. And you and your direction for the Democratic party are a large reason why.

HRC is the other reason.

It’s coming—the shock you will feel when MILLIONS of us won’t vote for Shillary–PERIOD.

Fuck you.

Finally, Mike Cernovich has done some impressive research on the entire brouhaha. Here’s a link to his most recent piece with five of what he believes are the more damaging revelations. Follow him on Twitter, too.

One of the biggest problems in the entire drop is the way Bernie Sanders was treated. The blatant disrespect of some folks is unbelievable – until you see it in black and white. Then it’s disappointing and serves as an example of how horrible the human condition can truly be.

RIP, Gas and Oil Industry

It’s been a brutal year for the energy sector, specifically those who make their money in the gas and oil industries. With a couple of weeks left in this year, it could get much worse. In fact, it likely will.

The Paris Climate Agreement will no doubt be one of the most earth-shattering events, if not the most earth-shattering event, in our lifetime. No pun intended. It’s not for the reasons most think though. It’s about so much more than a hashtag and world governments tweeting how they’ve saved the earth. In fact, it has very little to do with those grand gestures, much as they are, but rather, it comes down to what’s going on already, the timing and the folks most affected by the agreement.  In fact, for most of us, it won’t mean much of a difference at all. Seriously, I can’t think of a single way that the climate (in the context it’s used today) affects everyday life. Besides, even if I could, there are many who’d argue my way of thinking was wrong. That’s what it is for most of us. Few even bother because everyone is just so sure of what they believe. You can’t change the mind of one who insists the earth is warming no more than you can change the mind of someone who thinks it’s ridiculous silliness. Count me among the latter.

But…ask someone whose bank account is affected. Now that’s an interesting debate!

Just to get an idea of what lies ahead, here are some of the quotes from the past hour or so since the agreement was announced:

Bill McKibben, Co-founder 350.org:

“Every government seems now to recognize that the fossil fuel era must end and soon…Since pace is the crucial question now, activists must redouble our efforts to weaken that industry.”

May Boeve, Executive Director 350.org:

“This marks the end of the era of fossil fuels. There is no way to meet the targets laid out in this agreement without keeping coal, oil and gas in the ground. The text should send a clear signal to fossil fuel investors: divest now.

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Believe me when I say it – there’s not a single oil executive who’s not ready to come unglued.

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I’ve said all year that the fourth quarter was going to be brutal. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that much. Even if the oil industry wasn’t limping along, there was one dynamic that many denied, but was as obvious as a pimple on a 16 year old homecoming queen’s nose: Obama was hellbent on ensuring climate change comes full circle while he’s still in office. And why not? He’s annihilated everything else he’s touched. It makes sense that he’d bet his Nobel Peace Prize on forcing climate change. He’s even taking complete credit for it:

Today, the American people can be proud — because this historic agreement is a tribute to American leadership.

You can read his statement in its entirety here.

So where does that leave gas and oil? Well, considering the losses in recent weeks, especially after the recent OPEC meeting, things are looking as dark as the oil out of the ground. But let’s start with the MLPs. Specifically, let’s start with the MLP that is no longer an MLP. Kinder Morgan was the master limited partnership darling. Up until hours before the giant announced it was cutting its dividends by a whopping 75%, there were folks still singing its praises, certain the moon would fall from the sky before the dividends would be cut. Y’all watch out for that falling moon.

It’s now obvious that the MLPs are indeed exposed to the same threats as any other company in the sector. The threats just appear differently. It’s because everything is so intertwined. But a -42% YTD? That’s worrisome.

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Then, we had the humongous and inexplicable 2 million units of Energy Transfer Equity, valued at more than $34 million, that was bought by the four head honchoes this week. The company’s CEO, Kelcy Warren, bought the vast majority – $32 million. It helped nothing. We’re talking double digit losses in a single day:

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This article from Brian over at Valuentum Securities hits on Friday. There are more than a few unhappy folks. Someone’s lying. If nothing else, download the 10Q and run your own math. If you have money in ETE, you have an obligation to know what’s going on with it.

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Also last week, we learned there’s a good chance (so we’ve been told) that despite what was said weeks ago – export bans were in place for the long haul – there’s now a possibility that those bans might be lifted. Wonderful news, right? Except for the fact that the Paris Climate Deal pretty much makes it moot.

Well, at least we still have big oil, right? Maybe not. They’re all cutting their 2016 budgets – layoffs and CAPEX. The cuts are big. Chevron especially is taking a hard hit.

Think shale’s the answer? Nah. Not even close. We’re not the only ones fracking. It’s still expensive, despite the advances and while all of this drilling’s been done, with plenty of oil waiting to be pulled from Mother Earth, the race is on to see what happens first: the companies go bankrupt (several have already filed) or the need for the oil materializes. We have a huge glut with barges filling up by the hour.

It’s doubtful the Saudis planned it this way, but the reality is if companies begin fracking again, and considering they’ve found faster ways of accomplishing it, it’s going to run the supply right back up, which starts the cycle again: too much supply, not enough demand.

And finally – let’s not forget the politics. Obama now has to return to the good ol’ United States of America and face the politicians who rely on the oil and gas industries to pad their pockets with dirty money.

Let’s be clear: it’s a slow dance and we are most certainly not leading it.

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We’re Broke as the Ten Commandments, but Here’s a Few Billion

capture-20151104-010014The State Department released a presser this weekend on its commitment to the “prosperity, sovereignty, stability, and security of the five Central Asian countries as well as a vision of regional economic connectivity through its New Silk Road initiative.” This assistance includes programs over the next several years to increase these countries’ employment, economic efforts and exports.

Here’s the problem, and it’s one not everyone wishes to delve too far because they worry the questions make them look out of the loop or uneducated somehow. Why are we sending so much money to other countries when our own country is drowning due to a lack of the very same programs we’re furnishing the world? Now, in the past, anytime a question like this was posed, it was met with patronizing answers such as, “It’s just the way things are. It’s part of an intricate political and financial system that’s been in place for years and it benefits the United States as much as it does our partner countries.” Most people would leave it at that, even though that’s the most ridiculous answer “non-answer” ever presented. That’s no longer an acceptable answer. How long are we going to allow this to be enough?

Earlier this year, I wrote about Vice President Joe Biden’s efforts of securing at least $1 billion in aid for the three countries that were sending people to our borders. He’d published an op ed in March asking for $1 billion so that we can save Central America from itself. It read, in part:

“The president and I are determined to address conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and help these countries on their path to economic prosperity. To that end, we requested $1 billion in next year’s budget to help Central America’s leaders make the difficult reforms and investments required to put the region on a more stable and sustainable path.”

We’ve heard nothing else about it and so far, I’ve not been able to find specifics in the newly-approved budget, though it was approved.

To most of us, it’s simple: we don’t give money to people when we can’t pay our own bills. Somehow, those we’ve elected don’t seem to mind giving away money that’s first, not theirs to give and second, that we can’t cover.

These countries are taking money to improve their own infrastructures; they want to improve employment opportunities, foreign trade policies, growth opportunities and their own political/monetary shortcomings. They want your money to do it. Our politicians are happy to oblige, even as our own structures are falling apart. Make no mistake – things are getting hokey.

Donald Trump today accused Janet Yellen of deliberately keeping interest rates low as a favor to Obama. He just said what the rest are afraid to say. Tonight, he’s being accused of alienating his own party. Now, granted, he’s a loudmouth and as my mom says, “He lets his bulldog mouth overload his jaybird ass”, but it doesn’t mean he’s wrong. Let’s take it a step further:

Many companies, especially those in the energy sectors, hired on management personnel with packages that include stock options. These companies know that they’re heading into dark times and so far, we’ve seen layoffs of hourly workers. It hasn’t seemed to affect our unemployment numbers because they’re quietly going about the business of cutting heads a few at a time and in some instances, hiding behind furloughs versus reporting them as layoffs. Now, though, the tough economic times are sticking around, especially with lower oil prices. These companies want to carefully time the layoffs in such a way that they can cut their costs further by ensuring the stocks are low enough to lay off those with stock plans without it affecting their profits. It’s all about the timing. For those who have stock options as part of their employment packages, get ready: let the stock prices guide you into when the next shoe falls.

No one – and I mean no one – is talking about why the Middle East is holding up so well with their determination of higher output of oil. We keep hearing, “It can’t go on much longer.” Here’s a clue: the United States is not the only country that’s fracking. Saudi has been fracking for quite some time. Let me say that again: The Saudis are fracking. There is no way in hell OPEC would put itself out there and call the bluff of the U.S. without knowing it could sustain its efforts long enough to serve its purposes. For those insisting that OPEC countries can’t hold out for much longer are either lying or have money at stake that they’re not ready to concede.

It’s now time to no longer allow ourselves to be hushed with patronizing answers to questions like, “Why are we sending money to nations to improve their economies while we’re worried about our own?” They can sugarcoat it, complicate it, present intricate economic formulas to justify their reasons – it does not change the fact that it is wrong. Haven’t we had enough? How long are we going to take the word of elected officials or financial pundits who have their pride at stake?

Look back over the past year alone:

In September, I wrote:

First, if the Fed finally makes a move and raises interest, it makes the exports moot. The U.S. will not be able to compete with the other countries because it will increase the value of the U.S. dollar. It will also send oil prices tanking yet again – which by now, the damage is so heavy, the exports aren’t going to do much to improve the situation anyway and will likely result in more job losses.

(Remember, the State Department announced two days ago we’re sending money to those Asian countries to help with their exports).

In September, I wrote:

Iran unveiled a new surface-to-surface missile that can hit its targets with “pin-point accuracy” within a range of 310 miles. Iranian President Rouhani had a message for the west, too, “We will buy, sell and develop any weapons we need and we will not ask for permission or abide by any resolution for that.” This comment was made during the unveiling ceremony on live TV. This weapon’s now in mass production.

(Remember, Obama invited Iran to sit in on the meeting last week regarding the crisis in Syria. Iran was gracious enough to lay aside its efforts of annihilating the U.S. long enough to attend the meeting).

In July, I wrote:

We know that Russia is looking for better solutions now that the U.S. has tried to sanction it off the map. You’d think Putin would be working magic to take advantage of the weakness Greece now is showing – and you’d be right.

(Those better solutions are now coming to light. Russia is buying Greece in a classic real estate buy frenzy. Why? It’s simple: Moscow has to maintain its strong relationship with Greece and boost their military power in the eastern Mediterranean to ensure a stable strategic balance. Read about it here.)

Until we’re presented with choices that include no loyalty to anyone but the voters, we’re going to continue to see these no-win situations play out at our expense. This is absolutely not what this nation is built on, yet, in a blink of an eye from a time perspective, our entire national dynamic has shifted and if change doesn’t come soon, we’re setting up a dark future for our children and our grandchildren.

Think the Fed Financial Crisis Doesn’t Affect You?

It’s easy to get lost in all of the rhetoric coming out of Congress and the White House these days. For years, we’ve Wrong Way Signseen nothing but a series of lies, mistruths, selfish mindsets and ulterior motives. All the while, we’ve been forced to sit back and watch it unfold. Amidst all of this, there are the debt ceiling crises that have taken over mainstream media from time to time, only to fade into the darkness when a new and better “breaking news” story hits. Now, as yet another deadline looms, which really is just proof that the elected folks have drastically failed yet again, the repercussions are many. Don’t allow yourself to become indifferent because it seems so familiar. There’s a lot at stake.

Medicare and Social Security

This is a double whammy for seniors and the elderly. For around 70% of Medicare recipients, they’re protected from an increase in their Part B premiums. Part B is the portion of Medicare that oversees doctors and hospital payments. They’re protected because they are not receiving a cost of living adjustment – also known as COLA – from Social Security. Since there’s been no inflation, there are no increases for recipients. The law doesn’t allow Medicare premium increases if there are no COLA increases.

That still leaves 30% of Medicare beneficiaries who will shoulder 100% of the Part B premium increases. That equates to about 7 million seniors and elders. Now, we all know Congress can halt this, but we also know their track record. Couple this with everything else that’s going on: 2016 race to the White House, the absence of a speaker of the house and the general bickering they’re known for, and it becomes worrisome. Oh, and did I mention the deadline is November 2nd?

Remember: they could have prevented this – in fact, they PROMISED we’d not run up to another deadline the last time they run us up to a deadline. This could have been avoided. If you’re wondering what the Obama Administration is saying, you’ll appreciate this: “We share the goal of keeping Medicare’s premiums affordable, are exploring all options, and appreciate the interest and ideas of members of Congress,” said White House spokeswoman Katie Hill.

Shared goals and appreciated ideas. Great.

For those who are facing this 52% premium hike, it equates to around $60 each month. Currently the premiums are around $104.50. They will increase to 159.00 each month.

Who’s at risk?

  • New Medicare applicants in 2016
  • Medicare recipients with incomes over $85,000 or if they’re married, $170,000
  • Low-income income people whose Medicare premiums are paid by state Medicaid programs
  • Medicare recipients who don’t receive Social Security

Even if you’re still working – even if you’re in your 20s, these are the types of problems where Band Aids are applied and by the time you prepare for retirement, you’ll remember decades earlier when no one was willing to do the right thing. Odds are, all of us – no matter our age – have loved ones who will be affected today and tomorrow and next week. This matters to all of us.

Keep in mind a few more things that should provide a bit of perspective as well:

New numbers suggest a full 2/3 of Americans have absolutely no retirement savings. That’s huge…mostly because it’s a far bigger problem than anyone anticipated. Remember the MyRA retirement program Obama introduced last year? Not a single state has implemented it. Not one.

We’re working in the belief that employment is sound. The numbers have been so twisted for so long that it’s actually laughable. More companies are talking (and in fact are already in the process) of layoffs. These higher numbers aren’t all being reported as they should because they’re being referred to as furloughs and not layoffs, so the government isn’t taking them into consideration.

Our stock market is just as laughable. This has become nothing but a heavily modified “ideal” that has no degree of truth at all. Do you realize our financial sector is being determined by a Fed that can’t figure out how it backed itself into a corner, a global economy that’s worse than our own, but doesn’t realize it and backdoor deals and dynamics created to save taxes, keep more dividends and shift and change with very little regulation? Folks are getting rich. I’d say there are about 100 people benefitting from the shady practices built on non-existent foundations. When these strange business structures finally crash and burn – and they will, the taxpayer will be the one to cover those costs. And we will. But right now, we have a bigger crisis on our hands. Our senior citizens need to eat and have access to their medications.