Oil Prices: Something Isn’t Right Here

22 Feb 2012

Oil prices are higher than they should be.  Supply is up.  Demand is down.  Other than Iran, there is not much in the way of fear that would spook the speculators.

Once Again, Speculators Behind Sharply Rising Oil and Gasoline Prices
[McClatchy/Truthout, 2/22/2012]

Historically, financial speculators accounted for about 30 percent of oil trading in commodity markets, while producers and end users made up about 70 percent. Today it’s almost the reverse.

A McClatchy review of the latest Commitment of Traders report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates oil trading, shows that producers and merchants made up just 36 percent of all contracts traded in the week ending Feb. 14.

So speculators have increased their market share. Let me see if I can take an educated stab at this.

If they are putting more money in the oil pot, then they must think that demand is low now, and will rise for Spring Break and the summer driving season. So they are banking on demand rising, and companies raising their prices like they normally do. Therefore they plan to make money from the increased revenue.

Or maybe there’s a plot to raise gas prices by flooding the oil market with speculators. Normally speculators are 30% of oil trading and now they are at 64%? Strange.

What speculators do not control is demand – and their plan could fail if the people decrease their demand based on high prices. $4.00 per gallon (in mid America) was where demand largely decreased the last time prices were this high.


The Taliban is not Our Enemy

16 Feb 2012

Primary enemy is al-Qaeda not Taliban, says Panetta [Deccan Herald, 2012/02/16]

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has said that al-Qaeda is the primary enemy of United States in the Af-Pak region and those part of the Taliban who support al-Qaeda is also American target.

Just highlighting the change in scope regarding the Taliban.


The Underwear Bomber – Arguing in Favor of Incompetence

16 Feb 2012

Nigerian underwear bomber to be sentenced in Detroit [Manorama Online, 2012/02/16]

Abdulmutallab’s lawyer, Anthony Chambers, earlier this week asked for a lighter sentence, saying the mandatory life sentence was too harsh for an attempted bombing that killed no one.

“Given the circumstances and what did NOT occur in the instant matter it is fair to say that the mandatory minimum sentence of life imprisonment is excessive and grossly disproportionate to the conduct,” Chambers said in a court filing, emphasizing the word “not.”

So – he should NOT get a life sentence because he is an incompetent terrorist.

He deserves the death penalty for even attempting an act that would have been a major catastrophe. Why should taxpayers fund his life behind bars?


Drone Attack Kills Six Suspected Taliban Fighters in Pakistan

16 Feb 2012

‘Drone raid’ kills fighters in Pakistan [Al-Jazeera, 2012/02/16]

Here’s the real story that no one talks about.

The New America Foundation think-tank in Washington says drone strikes in Pakistan have killed between 1,715 and 2,680 people in the past eight years.

The attacks have angered the Pakistani public, since many civilians have been killed in the raids.

Did you know President Obama is killing civilians? And that he has killed approximately 2,000 people?


President Obama’s Minority Strategy

16 Feb 2012

2012/02/15 – The Obama Campaign’s Minority Blueprint [National Journal]

This is an election article about what the Obama camp predicts they need to win the election. It’s all about race. Here’s a likely summary of their goal for 2012.

In 2008, Obama carried 80 percent of all non-white voters. If he matched that percentage in 2012, and those minority voters increase their share of the vote to 28 percent, he could win a national majority with just 38 percent of the white vote.

Remember that President Obama is giving up on the white working public as far as the election goes. Now we know why.

2011/11/27 – The Future of the Obama Coalition [NY Times Campaign Blog]

But preparations by Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white working class.


NIC Opinion: What’s the 2% Payroll Tax Really About?

16 Feb 2012

I just posted the previous entry, and then the thought popped in my head.  What are we really negotiating with this 2% payroll tax cut?

It is 2% taken from Social Security.  For someone making $100K a year, that’s about $40 per week.  For a $50K salary, we are talking $20 a week.   This is not a boat load of money, but if you are barely scraping by – I get it – it’s needed.

But what are we really doing?  This 2% is really us being paid with our own money.  The purpose of Social Security is to be a safety net for the retirement years.  You pay in now, you get back later.  That’s how it is designed.  So this 2% is really our money designated for retirement, that we are getting today.  This is like changing how much of your paycheck is diverted to your 401K fund.   We were taking 6% of our check for retirement.  Now we are taking 4%.  What a joke this is that is played on the American people.  The payroll tax cut is really about how we are allocating our money for retirement.


Deal Reached by Congress for American Employees to Retain 2% Earmarked for SSI

16 Feb 2012

House-Senate deal reached on payroll tax measure [MSNBC]

The $150 billion measure represents a tactical retreat for Republicans, who were generally unenthusiastic about the legislation but eager to move beyond the issue. With the campaign season starting, they don’t want Obama and Democrats in Congress to be able to claim that the GOP was standing in the way of a middle-class tax cut.

The theme of this article is the caving of the Republicans – assuming that this is an accurate article. Check out these clips from the article…

The pension provision was watered down from a version sought by House Republicans, and tentatively agreed to by key Democrats, that would have required current federal workers to contribute more to their defined benefit pensions.


GOP leaders had jump-started the talks over the weekend by dropping a demand that the tax cut be paid for with spending cuts.


But the prevailing instinct among Republicans was political survival and not wanting to look like they were getting in the way of an election-year tax cut. “Not going to do this again, but if it gets us through the year, gets this issue off the table, it’s worth doing this way,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.


Negotiators also dropped House-passed language that would have forced low-income people to have Social Security numbers in order to get government checks by claiming the children’s tax credit, a move that was aimed at illegal immigrants and caused a furor among many Hispanics.


Republicans also dropped a proposal requiring unemployed people to seek high school equivalency degrees to obtain benefits.

You get the idea. I also understand that concessions from the Democrats would not be reported accurately.

If I were in leadership, I would fight for a long term measure, instead of having the repeated illusion of Obama and the Democrats getting their way.

One thing is that the 99 weeks would be reduced to 73 by the end of the year – at least for now.