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Senator Susan Collins, after initially saying she would support the Republican nominee, rescinded that comment and now says she does not support Donald Trump.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

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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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