Wednesday, December 30, 2015

How low will oil prices go?

It’s becoming a war of wills between the OPEC nations and the frackers. I’ve long told you in this column that the reason oil prices are so low is because OPEC is trying to put the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, business out of business. This innovative way of getting at oil that was heretofore unattainable caused an oil boom in North Dakota like we hadn’t seen since the early days of the Texas oil rush. That boom is now slowing down, and that’s because oil is now trading for under $40 a barrel. In March of 2012, oil was trading at $125 a barrel.

The question is how long can OPEC hold out? Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s largest member, derives 77 percent of its revenue from oil. Those revenues are down 23 percent over last year. The Saudis have resorted to spending cuts and tax increases to make up the difference. The move only solidifies the theory that they’re trying to keep the oil prices artificially low. They could easily pull back on production and watch prices double in the next year but they won’t.

I reported to you some time back that a Saudi prince remarked that we’d never see $100-a-barrel oil again. The incurious media didn’t bother to ask why. The answer is now obvious. At $100 per barrel, fracking is feasible. The lower the price goes the greater likelihood there is of frackers going bust.

An article on the website says the most expensive oil in the U.S. comes from older wells known as ‘stripper wells.’ These wells only produce a few barrels a day. They become unprofitable at around $40 a barrel. In other words, at the current oil price, these wells will soon be abandoned. Canadian tar sands oil, the primary reason for building the Keystone XL Pipeline, becomes unprofitable at about $30 per barrel.

Although fracking is expensive, it’s not as expensive as, say, the Canadian tar sands. The break-even point for fracking is believed to be around $25 per barrel. So, why is fracking slowing down with prices still hovering around $37 a barrel? The experts say that fracking exploration gets riskier below $60 a barrel. In other words, when oil drops below $60 it becomes less likely that oil companies will explore for new oil through fracking. Also, the more expensive wells have to be shut down.

The oil rig count in North Dakota has dropped from a high of 203 in 2013 to around 130 today. What that means is the oil business is still doing fairly well but the construction business is not. Houses in the boomtowns of North Dakota were being gobbled up as fast as they could be built. Now many sit empty.

Saudi Arabia, the main driver of OPEC, can afford to bide its time while the prices plunge nearer that magic number of $25 when fracking becomes unprofitable. Other OPEC nations cannot. Oil revenues have dropped in Venezuela and that socialist OPEC nation has seen numerous food riots. Angola has seen high inflation and a depreciating currency as a result of the dropping oil prices. While the Saudis are still flush with cash, these poorer OPEC nations are on the brink of collapse.

We’re far from collapsing here in the U.S., and most of us are loving the low gas prices. However, we are not in control of our own destiny. As soon as OPEC has killed off the frackers, the prices will rise once again. We need to take this opportunity to become energy independent once and for all. 

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, 
The Phil Valentine Show.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

It's time for the RINOs to become extinct

It’s time to clean out the dead wood of the Republican Party, starting with Speaker Paul Ryan. A great guy, I’m sure, but not what America needs. This boondoggle of an ‘omnibust’ bill — and yes, I did say ‘omnibust’ — is a clear sign that the Republican leadership just doesn’t get it.

Let’s think back to why the Republicans were given control of the House of Representatives in the first place. Obamacare. They were sent to Washington to stop Obamacare. Have they? Not even close. Oh, sure they’ve had a few symbolic votes to defund it, but everyone knows that’s just for show. The real resolve for stopping Obamacare comes in the funding bills, and they have shown no desire to cut funding for Obamacare even by just a little.

This latest bill was an obvious shout-out to the American people. They may as well have been saying, “Hey, America! We don’t care what you want.” Let’s go over a few of the things this bill does.

It not only fully funds Obamacare, it bails out the failing health insurance companies that have signed up for the exchanges. You’ve probably noticed several big names have pulled out of the exchanges. That’s because these exchanges short-circuit the free market and make all sorts of unreasonable demands on insurance companies who participate. You’ll remember that ‘Big Insurance’ cozied up to Obama when he signed this legislation into law thinking they were going to get all sorts of subsidies. They were lied to. Imagine that. Now they’re bolting and the Paul RINO bill bails them out if they stay instead of letting the market do its thing.

We have all these people struggling to find decent jobs and the RINO bill massively expands the foreign workers program. It also funds Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty program. Oh, and it fully funds sanctuary cities instead of withholding funds until they stop making themselves magnets and getting innocent citizens like Kate Steinle in San Francisco killed. And to add insult to injury, it funds tax credits for illegal aliens.

It funds NSA domestic spying. It extends tax breaks for green companies, race horses, and NASCAR. It continues to fund Obama’s war on coal. It even renews spending on the Department of Transportation’s “stimulus” program.

And at a time when we know we’re letting terrorists come in on visas with little background checking, it continues to fully fund that and the president’s Syrian refugee program.

Remember sequestration? That was the only highlight of John Boehner’s tenure as speaker. He called Obama’s bluff and they actually slowed the growth of spending under sequestration because both sides couldn’t come to a budget agreement. Sequestration has led to a substantial reduction in the deficits. The Paul RINO bill, at the request of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, completely gets rid of sequestration. In fact, Harry Reid in the senate had complained about “poison pill” riders on the legislation. Between Paul RINO and Mitch McConnell, Reid was crowing at a post-passage press conference that the Democrats had three main goals going into the negotiations and “all three goals we had, we accomplished.”

Let me just tell you, when it’s a great day for Harry Reid, it’s a sad day for America, and the Republican leadership made it happen.

It’s not good enough to put Republicans in charge. They have to be fiscally responsible conservatives. Anything less and it’s business as usual. There’s a lot of dead wood that needs to be thinned out in the next election and it needs to start with a wholesale replacement of the Republican leadership.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, 
The Phil Valentine Show.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Our national security is not so secure

I’m not in law enforcement. I’m not a government agent or a secret spy, but I would have sense enough to check the Facebook postings of someone applying to come into this country from the Middle East. Homeland Security did not. Had they, they would’ve found jihadist and martyrdom rantings from one Tashfeen Malik who went on to kill 14 people in a San Bernardino terrorist attack.

It’s not that Homeland Security was lazy. The problem was they were prohibited by the Obama administration from checking the social media of visa applicants. Why? Lord only knows. This same administration has repeatedly defended the collection of phone records on American citizens. They thought it was somehow a violation of foreigners’ civil liberties to look at their social media postings.

Let’s get something straight. Looking at something that’s public is not a violation of anyone’s rights. No one has a reasonable expectation that their Facebook postings are private, even if they post them privately. Anyone who has access to a Facebook posting can copy it and repost it as they please. Our local police actually monitor Facebook and Twitter for tips where teens are having parties and drinking alcohol. If you’re posting on Facebook or Twitter you may as well be posting on a billboard. In fact, more people probably see your posting than would see it on a billboard.

The question is why in the world would this administration prohibit basic police work? No explanation has been given by Homeland Security or the State Department other than it was official policy not to check social media until the fall of last year, and only then in three “pilot programs.” They gave no indication how widespread those pilot programs are.

With 10 million nonimmigrant visas last year, including 40,000 K-1 fiance visas like Malik got, it’s doubtful that more than just a drop in the bucket are being screened via social media. Some say it’s an impossible task to check that many people. Then, perhaps, we’re left with no alternative but to go with Trump’s plan to ban all Muslims until further notice.

That notion rubs many people the wrong way. Instead, they propose that we do it by country so that we’re not singling out one religion, but let’s be honest here. What countries would you single out? Mostly Muslim countries, of course. So you’re not really wanting any different result than Trump. You just want to be more diplomatic about it. That’s a disingenuous gesture. It’s also a dangerous one.

By just banning certain countries you run the risk of allowing dangerous radicalized Muslims into the country from places like the UK and France. Let’s lay everything on the line. We’re trying to stop terrorists from coming into the country and our problem is we can’t tell the good Muslims from the bad. If that’s the case, let’s not play games. By now, you probably know from news reports of a 1952 immigration law that gives the president the authority to ban any “class” of people from entering the country at his discretion.

As a people, we fear being labeled bigots. I get that. However, we don’t need to let the guilt the left lays on us be our guide. We need to let common sense rule the day. I’ve been saying this since 9/11. Somebody poo-pooed in the pool and everybody has to get out until we clean it up and figure out how to keep it from happening again.

In order to keep the pool clean, one thing’s for certain. We’re gonna have to profile.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, 
The Phil Valentine Show.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The gun ban that nobody noticed

I have been racking my brain trying to remember a scarier ruling from the Supreme Court in my lifetime and I’m at a loss. The court’s refusal to hear Friedman v. City Highland Park is mind-boggling. 

Highland Park is a suburb of Chicago. They banned the sale and possession of “assault weapons” and that law was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case, allowing the appeals court decision and the ban to stand. This is problematic on so many levels.

First, what is an “assault weapon?” The military defines an assault weapon as a weapon capable of automatic fire. In other words, a machine gun. Highland Park defines an assault as a semiautomatic firearm. That covers a lot of ground. If you’re not familiar with what a semiautomatic gun is, it’s a gun with a magazine that fires once when the trigger is pulled then fires again when it’s pulled again.

The 7th Circuit claimed the ban was permissible because it “may increase the public’s sense of safety.” Not that it would make them safe. It would make them feel safe. Big difference. Which left me wondering if the citizens of Highland Park would “feel safe” with no churches in their town would this same Supreme Court be fine with obliterating the First Amendment as they’ve now done with the Second?

There were only two dissenting votes on the court. Not surprising, the smartest man on the bench — Antonin Scalia — and probably the second-smartest person on the court, Clarence Thomas. These two men have demonstrated over and over again that they understand the Constitution. The others simply bend the Constitution to their own wishes.

And think about the ramifications of this decision, or lack thereof. Any city will now be able to enact their own “assault weapons” ban and define assault weapons as they see fit. The problem with the original assault weapons ban passed by Congress in the ‘90s was it was all about cosmetics. For example, that assault weapons ban prohibited the ownership of rifles with a grenade launcher mount. Not grenades or even a grenade launcher. A grenade launcher mount. It banned bayonet mounts. Not bayonets, but bayonet mounts. The weapon would certainly be less lethal if someone were coming at you with a bayonet rather than shooting at you, but a bayonet mount sounded menacing so it was banned.

The assault weapons ban prohibited pistol grips. A pistol grip on a rifle doesn’t make it more lethal. In fact, it can be argued that it makes it less accurate. Your aim is going to be much better when you have a stock to press against your shoulder allowing you to look down the barrel. Speaking of stocks, the assault weapons ban banned folding stocks. These make a rifle a little more compact for traveling, but it’s not like it makes it possible to hide an assault weapon in your pants. They banned flash suppressors, too, which do what they sound like they do. They reduce the flash signature of the rifle. Doesn’t make it any more powerful or lethal.

My point is most of the people who want to ban assault weapons have no idea what one is. They see rifles with cosmetic add-ons that make them look like military rifles, but it’s like painting fire down the side of your Nissan Versa. It doesn’t make it any faster.

Hysteria and symbolism are the calling cards of political correctness which, these days, is rotting this country from the inside out.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, 
The Phil Valentine Show.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

It's time for college students to get over themselves

It's a peculiar thing, this notion of being offended. What does it really mean? It’s probably the most subjective phrase in the English language. When someone says ‘That offended me’ it’s implied that whoever did the offending should somehow stop. Such is the state of affairs on college campuses.

Buzz phrases these days are ‘safe spaces’ and ‘trigger warnings.’ It’s the culmination of decades of coddling by liberal professors who found a way to be offended by everything. Now students are rising up to demand that no one say anything or do anything that might upset them, and the target of the ire are, ironically, some of the same professors who taught them this nonsense.

Now they need only proclaim that they’re offended by something and demand that whatever or whoever is offending them be stopped. In reality, that’s the truly offensive part.

The College Art Association and the Modern Language Association conducted a survey recently regarding ‘trigger warnings.’ These are procedures adopted by some colleges to warn students of disturbing topics that may be presented in class. Students who tend to freak out over such topics are allowed to miss the class. Fifteen percent of the professors surveyed said students in their classes had requested trigger warnings.

It’s insanely stupid, I know, but it’s the college professors who have created this atmosphere. Some of them have now formed the National Coalition Against Censorship to combat it. Meanwhile, at Occidental College, the faculty acknowledged their complicity in “structural racism and oppression” and voted on a resolution mandating diversity training and compulsive racial sensitivity training in class. 

It starts even before college. A high school cheerleading captain in Revere, Mass. was disciplined because she tweeted that 90 percent of the city wasn’t legal. The school said she was a racist for saying so.

The president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University had enough. After a student complained that a chapel sermon on love made him feel “offended” and “victimized,” President Everett Piper went off. “This is not a day care,” he blogged. “This is a university. Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic. Any time their feelings are hurt, they are victims! Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them ‘feel bad’ about themselves, is a ‘hater,’ a ‘bigot,’ an ‘oppressor,’ and ‘victimizer.’”

He went on to tell Todd Starnes of Fox News, “The bottom line is that, at the end of the day, I would argue that college is not about safe spaces or being a safe place. OWU is not a safe place.” 

OMG! What a cold, callous, and heartless man. Why, he oughta be ashamed of himself, not coddling these spoiled little brats.

Once Mizzou students were able to get the university president fired, this new-found power spread like wildfire to other schools. Princeton students staged a sit-in to have any vestige of Woodrow Wilson removed from the campus. Forget that he was not only president of Princeton but president of the United States. He was a racist. This particular fight is especially delicious because Wilson is known as the father of modern liberalism. He paved the way for FDR, LBJ, and Obama, and ultimately paved the way for his own undoing.

Wait until these students get a load of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his adulterous womanizing. Using women for sex? Victimizing his poor wife? Tsk-tsk. And don’t get me started on Bill Clinton.

There are people who sit around all day dreaming up ways to be offended. They are not to be indulged. They’re to be ignored.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, 
The Phil Valentine Show.