Thursday, December 11, 2014

So the price of oil suddenly plummets by more than 40 percent from June of this year to early December. Suddenly oil-related stocks are taking a dive, and all manner of experts are proclaiming that we will have a plentiful supply of oil potentially for years to come.

Don't be quick to swallow this line. Indeed, if you have a little cash to play with, you might just want to call the experts' bluff.

Yes, our domestic production of oil has soared recently. According to OPEC and, more importantly, Saudi Arabia, projections for consumption in the coming year are on the lower end. But does anyone really believe that simply because of our increased ability to use fracking technology and shale deposits, that America has in a matter of months witnessed a lasting shift in the availability and price of oil? In six months? Really?

If there is any commodity that has proved capable of sneaking up on even the experts and suddenly posing a major shift in cost, it's oil. Time and again this has happened.

But to witness the selloff of oil-related stocks on Wall Street, and to read the predictions that the bastions of the energy sector have permanently now ceded their positions as leading indicators of the market -- all this suggests a rush to judgment about "permanently" lower oil prices. Those who ignore this reasoning could stand to make a great deal of money in the future.

The idea that we are witnessing a sudden, life-changing moment of transition to cheap and plentiful oil for years to come is harder to believe when one considers the various circumstances that surround this alleged shift.

First, there are the geopolitical benefits and drawbacks that a glut of oil brings to assorted nations. Several astute publications have focused on the impact this drop in oil prices has on nations such as Iran, whose rhetoric and actions have sparked concern about dire attacks on Israel. Iran's economy is being deeply affected by the decreased value of oil, and in a fairly quick period of time.

Then there is Russia, which perhaps surprisingly has played along with OPEC in not cutting oil production levels. But that decision is more out of necessity, in that a decision to go it alone in pulling back on production would likely not increase prices on a global level.

Numerous nations see advantages to Russia enduring a steep and immediate decline in the value of oil, a mainstay for its economy. Vladimir Putin's swaggering ways have needed to be reined in, and a sharp decline in oil prices might just start that process.

As for the big oil companies who have seen their stock values drop in recent weeks, there may well also be a silver lining. Several of the big-name corporations have announced or are already implementing cost-savings plans to make their companies leaner and meaner.

For consumers this has been the equivalent of a tax break; more spending money in their pockets, and just as Christmas season swings into full gear. Yes, spending reports for this season have not been as promising as expected, but then again this drop in gasoline prices took place so quickly that many didn't realize they had extra money until the media started to focus on the issue.

Cruz: "Our Friends No Longer Trust Us and Our Enemies No Longer Fear Us"

Daniel Doherty  / Townhall Tipsheet

On Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) spoke at the 9th Margaret Thatcher Freedom Lecture at the Heritage Foundation.

Among other things, he discussed the Anglo-American “special relationship,” ways both countries can work together to combat Islamic terrorism, and the numerous foreign policy blunders committed by the current administration.

“We’re gathered here today to talk about one of the greatest resources that America’s traditionally enjoyed, which is the power of friendships across the globe,” he began.

“One of the sad legacies we’ve seen over the last six years is the fraying of friendships and alliances across the world,” he continued. “Today, the consequences of the Obama/Clinton foreign policy is that our friends no longer trust us and our enemies no longer fear us. That is profoundly dangerous for America and is profoundly dangerous for the world.”

However, he also noted that alliances, not unlike relationships, can change over time. For example, he addressed the strange fact of history that Great Britain was America’s “first major enemy.”

“The ties of language and culture and values that stretch across the Atlantic proved far stronger than the unpleasantness that took place between 1775 and 1850,” he said. “Perhaps our strongest bond is a shared commitment to the democratic principles that have survived since antiquity.”

He continued:

“Our friendship is so profound today that the very notion that we were once sworn enemies seems so strange as to be laughable,” he declared. “Indeed, we have weathered some of the darkest hours together: fighting in the 20th century through the trenches of two world wars as well as side-by-side winning the Cold War.”
Congress Raises Concerns about Terrorists But Ignores Terrorist at the Top
Members of Congress sent a letter to the U.S. Treasury Department that expresses concerns over Hamas leaders being given safe harbor in Qatar and Turkey. That’s great but the guy at the top of the totem pole who has been receiving safe haven in Qatar for years isn’t mentioned once in the letter.

The issue of U.S. NATO ‘ally’ Turkey and declared ‘ally’ Qatar being supporters of officially designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) Hamas is becoming the elephant in the room Congress is finding increasingly more difficult to ignore. The letter calls for sanctions to be imposed on any “entity or nation” that backs Hamas.

According to the letter (h/t WFB), which is bipartisan and signed by the chairmen and ranking members of two separate subcommittees, states:
Qatar’s $400 million donation for Gaza reconstruction in 2012 bolstered Hamas’ credibility in Gaza and may have directly supported Hamas-backed entities. Qatar also allows Hamas’ top leader, politburo chief Khalid Mishaal, to operate out of its territory knowingly and with impunity. It was even widely reported in the press that Qatar threatened to deport Mishaal if Hamas had accepted an Egypt-backed ceasefire agreement to end this summer’s conflict in Gaza.
We are concerned about the ties between Qatar and Hamas, and we commend you on your speech before the Center for a New American Security, where you stated that, “Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas,” and that press reports indicate that the Qatari government is also “supporting extremist groups operating in Syria,” further adding to the instability of the region. As you noted in your speech, there are private fundraising networks in Qatar that solicit donations for terrorists. Qatar, in your words, is “a permissive terrorist financing environment.”
While it’s good to see Congress taking notice of the relationship between Qatar an Hamas as well as that country’s harboring of a Hamas leader, the one figure conspicuously absent in the letter is Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who is much higher up the Hamas food chain. Qatar has been harboring al-Qaradawi for years. As is quite obvious, Meshaal and al-Qaradawi are quite cozy together:
Return Of The Reagan Dem
By DICK MORRIS /Published on 
The irrelevance of the modern Democratic Party to the needs of the average American summon memories of the 1970s and likely presage an entire new crop of 2016 "Reagan Democrats" who will defect from their party.

Today, as in the '70s, the Democratic Party has been hijacked by the "less is more" psychology, which focuses on esoteric issues like climate change rather than the core questions of growth, jobs and incomes. The "era of limits" talk that animated the remarks of the likes of Jimmy Carter and Jerry Brown in that decade have returned to a central place in the Democratic catechism.

In Joel Kotkin's excellent book The New Class Conflict, he calls the intellectual leadership of the party the "liberal gentry," a group equally made up of Silicon Valley and Wall Street hedge fund types. The Democratic mantra has shifted from "growth" to "sustainability." This change is not so much a difference in emphasis as a reversal of direction. Despite dreams of green jobs, the environmental policies of this administration impede growth, particularly in the manufacturing sector.

The Wall Street ties of the new Democratic Party have led to massive income inequality. Kotkin notes that under President Obama, 95 percent of the income gains have accrued to the top 1 percent of the country while 93 percent have experienced no income growth. Under former President Clinton, 45 percent of the income gains went to the top 1 percent. Under George W. Bush it was 65 percent. Kotkin notes that the disaffection of blue-collar working-class voters stems from the preoccupation of the Democrats with the views of their elite donors rather than of their lower- to middle-income voters.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) echoed the themes of Kotkin's criticism when he lambasted Obama for choosing to stress healthcare over the economy as the central theme of his first term (a decision as fateful as that of Bill Clinton -- under Hillary Clinton's influence -- to focus on healthcare rather than welfare reform).

There is nothing more emblematic of this elitist pre-occupation of the new Democratic Party than its embrace of amnesty for illegal immigrants. The Congressional Budget Office has concluded that immigration is likely to lower median wage levels -- or at least stop any increase -- for the next decade. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka shared these concerns.
Terror State “Palestine” Becomes Observer in International Criminal Court, Can Seek Probe into War Crime
Pamela Geller / Atlas Shrugs

The International Criminal Court is criminal. Evil is made possible by this kind of sanction. This is debased, savage and evil.

iccWhy not give the the Islamic State observer status? They are richer and hold more land than the “Palestinians.”

Palestine Becomes Observer in International Criminal Court, Can Seek Probe into War Crimes
By Mugdha Variyar, IBT, December 9, 2014 (thanks to Lookmann)
The International Criminal Court accepted the status of Palestine as a ‘non-state observer’ and inched closer to be able to investigate war crimes perpetrated in the  Nablus, Palestinian Territories Protesters run in front of an Israeli military bulldozer during clashes with Israeli troops following a protest against the nearby...