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:

Facebook

Facebook

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:

capture-20160809-181354

Senator Susan Collins, after initially saying she would support the Republican nominee, rescinded that comment and now says she does not support Donald Trump.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.

capture-20160809-171651

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.

capture-20160809-190629

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.

capture-20160809-181735

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.

capture-20160809-181136

 

capture-20160809-181248

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.

capture-20160723-030152

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.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

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

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
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.

capture-20151213-020746

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:

capture-20151213-020611

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.

capture-20151213-025349

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.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

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.

The Oil Export Ban

capture-20150915-134910It’s always fascinating to see how things unfold in this country in terms of politics and money. For decades, there has been a ban on oil exports. When profits begin tanking, we start hearing the big dogs barking about how unfair it is. Not surprising, the barking resumed with the big oil players pushing Congress to ease the ban in recent months. On the surface, that’s reasonable. But going a bit deeper, it’s anything but.

What Got Us Here?

First, it’s important to know a few of the “minor” details (according to those supporting the lift) that got us here. Keep in mind, though, it’s the long term repercussions that are going to haunt us. This is increasingly clear with these latest moves:

Note: I realize a lot of this is not on the evening news. God love the mainstream media – it has its hands full letting us know how many times Donald Trump sneezes over the course of a day. Power on, MSM, power on! (Yes, it’s ridiculous.)

China’s Imports

China is one of the world’s biggest oil importers. Sixty percent of the oil it uses is imported from other countries. This is important because:

In October, China will launch its own oil benchmark using its own currency. China and Russia are both ditching the dollar. It will compete with London’s Brent and our West Texas Intermediate (WTI) benchmarks. It has its challenges, according to Reuters, “If China’s crude futures don’t immediately attract enough liquidity and markets are still as volatile as now, then traders could get really burned and would quickly stop trading Chinese crude futures.” If China was in as bad shape as everyone insists, why would it risk the new ploy? Just as the U.S. has manipulated our stock market for years, so has China manipulated its own. Things are never as they truly seem on some Dow ticker.

OPEC Scores

Last week, I wrote that there was no way OPEC was going to change its tactic on production because it had come too far to back out now (despite those insisting it had no choice but to ease its production). We learned that today not only has it NOT considered cutting production, but it’s getting ready to double down. In its monthly report, it said, “In North America, there are signs that U.S. production has started to respond to reduced investment and activity. Indeed, all eyes are on how quickly U.S. production falls.” Score one for OPEC. This move has annihilated what’s left of the still-expensive U.S. shale industry.

The Export Ban

Those are two very big reasons why many of the oil companies want the export ban lifted. But what happens if this goes through and the ban is lifted?

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.

And by the way – how many countries, in this current environment, are going to turn to the U.S. anyway? The Obama presidency has pissed the world off over the past seven years. Iran has wasted no time buttering up other countries to buy its oil when the inevitable lifts of the sanctions occur. And as for us, we’ve spent the past few weeks sweet-talking Greece (yes, Greece) into not allowing Russia in its airspace to deliver equipment to Syria. It’s insane: Russia was Greece’s only “BFF” during the difficult months it faced earlier this year. Do you really think this tiny country is going to say, “Yeah, Obama. No problem” after the love affair it developed with Russia recently? No. The answer is no.

There’s one caveat: there exists a small possibility that even a small rate hike can result in global financial unrest, making oil the least of the world’s problems. The reality is no matter what the Fed does, there are going to be financial repercussions both here at home and around the world.

One recent study released in July by Consumers and Refiners United for Domestic Energy, or CRUDE, finds that the cure of the export is going to be worse than the disease: “Allowing the export of crude would cause domestic gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, and heating oil prices to increase, in addition to other negative impacts like increasing the United States’ trade imbalance.” It also reads, “American consumers and businesses will take a major hit if Congress lifts export restrictions.” You can read the entirety of the report here.

And yes, there are many who say this is simply not true. You may know them: BP, Chevron, Exxon, etc. They care little about what happens to the smaller oil companies, which are opposed to the end of the ban. These smaller American oil companies rely on this ban for their success. This would result in layoffs in an entirely new area of the energy sector that had been somewhat protected over the past year.

Finally, and this is important. We keep seeing the unemployment rate dropping, even though most of us are looking around and wondering who’s finagling the numbers? There’s no way the job market is improving and in fact, it’s deeply troubled, even if the government won’t admit it. Maybe there’s a reason why:

Instead of “laying off” employees, many companies and most certainly within the oil industry, are instead issuing “furloughs”. This results in the same thing as layoffs: it eases the payrolls of struggling companies without it affecting their employment numbers. In other words, they’ve found a way to lay off without cutting the number of employees, which makes Obama happy: he’s vehemently opposed to the entire oil industry anyway, but it’s a win-win for him: he gets to tout the lower unemployment numbers while also keeping up his not-so-secretive dislike of the oil industry. This is going to come back and bite some in the most uncomfortable way possible.

In the end, this export ban being lifted may result in absolutely nothing changing. You don’t make big changes like this in the middle of a crisis, just as you don’t make decisions based on fear. If gas prices indeed begin to climb because of this ban being lifted, you can be sure the consumer “unknown factor” will most certainly reveal itself at the polls next year.

It’s Time for Geopolitical Crises to Become U.S. Priority

Never before have there been so many simultaneous problems around the world that the U.S. is either indifferent or clueless that it’s even happening.

Going back just three weeks, take a look at what’s been unfolding right under our noses.

August 23– Iran unveiled a new surface-to-surface missile that can hit its targets with “pin-point accuracy” within a range of 310 miles. Its name is Fateh 313. 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. Rouhani then said not only had the missile been successfully and extensively tested, but that it’s headed into mass production.

Remember, the nuclear deal hasn’t been finalized, which, to Iran, means it’s under no obligation until capture-20150906-170659everyone’s signed off on it (and maybe not even then). While the politicians continue with their ongoing temper tantrums, this is what Iran’s been up to.

The same day Iran made its announcement, China conducted its fourth, and possibly final test of what some say is the most dangerous nuclear weapon developed to date. The DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, can easily hit the U.S. China is secretive; so much so that a year ago, the U.S. believed this phase of the development was only in the planning stages.

Also in late August, Russia and China conducted many military drills in the Sea of Japan. While it doesn’t take much to figure out the common denominator between these two countries, this bilateral naval exercise had one purpose: to warn the U.S. This isn’t the first time the two countries have come together; in fact, they’ve been performing these military exercises for years. The difference this time is they’ve ramped it up significantly. Daniel Bushell, a journalist on one of the Russian ships said it was an “unprecedented show of military cooperation”.

Late last week, we learned the final signatures are in place for that massive $400 billion gas and oil deal between Russia and China.

We all know about the Russian bombers coming within 45 miles of the west coast on the 4th of July. But two days ago, one of Russia’s vessels was seen off the coast of Georgia, right where our nuclear submarines are stationed. While Russia’s trolling the east coast, China has at least 5 ships off the Alaskan coast. Think about that for a second. Both our east and west coasts are being compromised by Russian and Chinese military.

Late Friday, there was talk of possible U.S. sanctions for China as early as this month. It’s no secret that China and Russia have hackers who quickly obtained the kind of information that could be catastrophic to Americans. The Los Angeles Times says the two are “aggressively aggregating and cross-indexing hacked U.S. computer databases—including security clearance applications, airline records and medical insurance forms—to identify U.S. intelligence officers and agents.”

Let’s not forget Syria. From Natasha Bertrand:

While the US has been selling the Iran deal to Congress, Iranian military mastermind Qassem Suleimani violated a UN travel ban by visiting Moscow to speak with officials.

Russia appears to be taking advantage of the fact that, while US officials condemn Assad’s barrel bombs, chlorine bombs, and strategy of acting as an air force for the Islamic State, the Obama Administration does not seem to be concerning itself with the Syrian regime.

The reality is these countries have already compromised us as a nation. China’s manipulating its own currency to the point that it affects our markets. Autopilot with wild fluctuations is one way to describe it. OPEC has accomplished its objectives to a large degree, as evidenced by tanking prices in the energy sector and both Russia and China are so close to our shores that it’s scary. As far as OPEC pulling back, don’t count on it. There is no way the cartel would have set this up only to bail at this late stage and when the grand plan is beginning to pay off. Saudi has something the U.S. doesn’t: cash. It can hold out far longer than they’d have us believe.