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Profile Information

Name: Steven Leser
Gender: Male
Hometown: New York, NY
Home country: USA
Current location: NYC
Member since: Tue Jan 4, 2005, 04:36 PM
Number of posts: 22,454

Journal Archives

A Pump War? (NY Times Thomas Friedman re: deliberate crashing of oil prices by US and Saudis)


Is it just my imagination or is there a global oil war underway pitting the United States and Saudi Arabia on one side against Russia and Iran on the other? One can’t say for sure whether the American-Saudi oil alliance is deliberate or a coincidence of interests, but, if it is explicit, then clearly we’re trying to do to President Vladimir Putin of Russia and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, exactly what the Americans and Saudis did to the last leaders of the Soviet Union: pump them to death — bankrupt them by bringing down the price of oil to levels below what both Moscow and Tehran need to finance their budgets.

Think about this: four oil producers — Libya, Iraq, Nigeria and Syria — are in turmoil today, and Iran is hobbled by sanctions. Ten years ago, such news would have sent oil prices soaring. But today, the opposite is happening. Global crude oil prices have been falling for weeks, now resting around $88 — after a long stretch at $105 to $110 a barrel.


The Russians have noticed. How could they not? They’ve seen this play before. The Russian newspaper Pravda published an article on April 3 with the headline, “Obama Wants Saudi Arabia to Destroy Russian Economy.” It said: “There is a precedent such joint action that caused the collapse of the U.S.S.R. In 1985, the Kingdom dramatically increased oil production from 2 million to 10 million barrels per day, dropping the price from $32 to $10 per barrel. U.S.S.R. began selling some batches at an even lower price, about $6 per barrel. Saudi Arabia anything, because when prices fell by 3.5 times production increased fivefold. The planned economy of the Soviet Union was not able to cope with falling export revenues, and this was one of the reasons for the collapse of the U.S.S.R.”


The price decline is no accident. In an Oct. 3 article in The Times, Stanley Reed noted that the sharp drop in oil prices “was seen as a response to Saudi Arabia’s signaling ... to the markets that it was more interested in maintaining market share than in defending prices. Saudi Aramco, the national oil company, stunned markets by announcing that it was cutting prices by about $1 a barrel to Asia, the crucial growth market for the Persian Gulf producers, as well as by 40 cents a barrel to the United States.” The Times also noted that with America now producing so much more oil and gas, “net oil imports to the United States have fallen since 2007 by 8.7 million barrels a day, ‘roughly equivalent to total Saudi and Nigerian exports,’ according to a recent Citigroup report.”

If the Obama administration is deliberately doing this with the Saudis, I'm totally in favor of it and I think it is just punishment for Russian actions in Ukraine.

And it helps our economy and it is reversible if Putin cuts out the crap, which might be why we saw some reports of the Russian army pulling back from Ukraine. This probably has Putin worried. Seriously worried.

Crashing Oil Prices could crush Vladimir Putin (CNN)


In early March when Russia first sent troops into Ukraine, oil was trading comfortably above $100 per barrel. Now, it's around $81, a level not seen in three years.

That's a tough pill for Russia to swallow since the country relies heavily on oil revenues to bankroll its budget -- over half of the government's revenues come from oil and gas.

"We're probably getting closer to the point of pain," said Phil Flynn, an energy analyst at the Price Futures Group. "It's definitely putting the squeeze on their balance sheet."

The US should be pursuing a renewable energy program as if it is a national security issue, because it is one. Russia and the countries in the Middle East who pursue hostile internal and external policies should be starved of funds. US firms should develop renewable technology and sell it globally.

Blast from the Past Re: Paul Ryan who will be running for the GOP Nomination for POTUS in 2016

I'm going to talk a lot in the next two years on my show/blog/FB Page, etc about the folks running for the Republican nomination for President. Each one of them comes across as a combination of corrupt, dishonest and borderline (or completely) sociopathic, and that's before you get into those among them who have been indicted or investigated for corruption. Take this instance of Paul Ryan who it is said will be running in 2016.

Ryan, like many Republicans criticized the Obama stimulus which we now see has been a part of producing such amazing results turning around the economy. Ryan criticized it, then a freedom of information act request discovered he requested no less than four times to get stimulus money for his district and in those requests characterized the stimulus money as being able to be used economically.


Teabagger brands Obama the Ant Savior! In the name of the Formicidae, the Obama and the holy Insecta

What does the guy who discovered & named the Ebola virus say about the current outbreak...


'In 1976 I discovered Ebola - now I fear an unimaginable tragedy'
Peter Piot was a researcher at a lab in Antwerp when a pilot brought him a blood sample from a Belgian nun who had fallen mysteriously ill in Zaire


After Yambuku, you spent the next 30 years of your professional life devoted to combating Aids. But now Ebola has caught up to you again. American scientists fear that hundreds of thousands of people could ultimately become infected. Was such an epidemic to be expected?

No, not at all. On the contrary, I always thought that Ebola, in comparison to Aids or malaria, didn't present much of a problem because the outbreaks were always brief and local. Around June it became clear to me that there was something fundamentally different about this outbreak. At about the same time, the aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières sounded the alarm. We Flemish tend to be rather unemotional, but it was at that point that I began to get really worried.

There is actually a well-established procedure for curtailing Ebola outbreaks: isolating those infected and closely monitoring those who had contact with them. How could a catastrophe such as the one we are now seeing even happen?

I think it is what people call a perfect storm: when every individual circumstance is a bit worse than normal and they then combine to create a disaster. And with this epidemic there were many factors that were disadvantageous from the very beginning. Some of the countries involved were just emerging from terrible civil wars, many of their doctors had fled and their healthcare systems had collapsed. In all of Liberia, for example, there were only 51 doctors in 2010, and many of them have since died of Ebola.

More at above link

Job Openings hit highest level since 2001 - 4.835 million openings


WASHINGTON, Oct 7 (Reuters) - U.S. job openings rose to their highest level in more than 13 years in August even as hiring fell, the U.S. Department of Labor said.

Job openings were at a seasonally adjusted 4.835 million compared with a downwardly revised 4.605 million in July, the Labor Department said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey on Tuesday. Job openings are used to measure labor demand.

Federal Reserve policymakers have said they are monitoring the JOLTS report as they consider their next step on monetary policy.

Employers hired a seasonally adjusted 4.640 million people in August, down from 4.934 million in July, the report said. August's hiring was 27 percent higher than in June 2009 when it was at its lowest level since the beginning of the recession.

more at above link... it's getting harder and harder to deny the massive improvements in the job market.

Putin Supports Project to ‘Secure’ Russia Internet


MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin appeared on Wednesday to throw his support behind a plan to isolate the Internet in Russia from the rest of the World Wide Web, but said the Russian government was “not even considering” censoring Internet sites.

In a speech to the Russian National Security Council, Mr. Putin said the plan was intended to build a backup system to keep websites in the Russian domains — those ending in .ru and .rf — online in a national emergency.

Mr. Putin said other countries had taken to using the Internet “for not only economic, but military and political goals” and said information security was a priority for the country.

The Russian news media has labeled the plan, some details of which were reported last month by Vedomosti, a Russian daily, a “kill switch” for the Internet, or Russia’s answer to the “Great Firewall” put up by the Chinese.

xpost from GD: Russia halts Student Exchange program due to LGBT Bigotry


Russia Just Banned Foreign Exchange Students From Studying In The US — And They’re Not Happy

Russia's past, present, and prospective participants in a popular U.S.-funded student exchange are lamenting their government's decision to halt its participation in the decades-old program amid Moscow's standoff with the West over the Ukraine crisis.
Moscow's Explanation

Russia's child-protection ombudsman said on October 1 that a same-sex American couple established guardianship over a Russian high school student who was in the United States on an exchange program. Pavel Astakhov said the alleged incident was one reason for Russia's decision to scrap the 21-year-old FLEX program.

More at above link

Russia halts Student Exchange program due to LGBT Bigotry. Student ended up in LGBT household


Russia Just Banned Foreign Exchange Students From Studying In The US — And They’re Not Happy

Russia's past, present, and prospective participants in a popular U.S.-funded student exchange are lamenting their government's decision to halt its participation in the decades-old program amid Moscow's standoff with the West over the Ukraine crisis.
Moscow's Explanation

Russia's child-protection ombudsman said on October 1 that a same-sex American couple established guardianship over a Russian high school student who was in the United States on an exchange program. Pavel Astakhov said the alleged incident was one reason for Russia's decision to scrap the 21-year-old FLEX program.

More at above link

Obamacare and Republican Lieperbole, a transcript from a segment of my Radio show...

Full transcript from my Radio Show of 9/28-9/29 2014. You can also listen to it here--> http://www.blogtalkradio.com/lesersense/2014/09/28/news-about-obamacare-the-republican-lieperbole-supply-side-failures-more

Ladies and Gentlemen, before I get into the specifics of the good news regarding Obamacare I think it makes sense to talk about a couple of things and work up to Obamacare. You see at some point in the future historians will look back at the Presidency of Barack Obama and I think they are going to find it one of the most interesting Presidencies to analyze for a number of reasons. At the top of that list of reasons is going to be the ways in which Republicans concocted their opposition to him.

In articles, I’ve said from pretty early on in Obama’s Presidency, from Spring and Summer of 2009 that the Republicans had two ways to go and their choice was clear. They were faced with this guy who had tremendous popularity, a mandate for change, the first black President all of that and they could either try to ride the wave and work with him and in so doing try to get as many of their ideas incorporated in what was to come as possible, or they could oppose him 100% and try to tear him down and in so doing take themselves down as well and potentially take down the country.

We could tell in March of 2009 with the beginnings of the tea party nonsense that Republicans had chosen the second option.
I say that this option is going to take them down as well because it radicalized the Republican party. There are pretty much no moderate Republicans left. The only appeal that Republicans have to moderate Americans is that after Obama’s policies have been demonized as much as they have been, Republican’s appeal is that they aren’t Obama and oppose his policies. If they score victories in election 2014 that, and low turnout by Democrats will be the only reasons why.

Moderate Americans are not in favor of any part of the current Republican agenda, not the economic, social or foreign policy agenda of Republicans. That is part of the damage that Republicans have done to themselves these last six years and it will make winning the 2016 Presidential election virtually impossible for them.

One of the ways Republicans opposed the President was to make dire and in some cases wild predictions about his policies, predictions that his policies would fail and cause various catastrophies.

The edition of the tea party movement that began in February and March of 2009 was started to oppose the President’s stimulus bill that he put forth to stop the economic collapse that was occurring at that time. The country was losing 800,000 jobs a month when President Obama was inaugurated. That’s the economy he was handed by outgoing President Bush.

It’s hard to imagine now, but the Tea Party and the Republican Party that embraced it said that the stimulus and the rest of President Obama’s policies would not help the economy. Looking back now that seems completely wrong and preposterous. The President’s policies have completely turned the economy around. I mentioned last week how Forbes rates President Obama’s economic turnaround the best and highest job creating since the Second World War. But Republicans said it would fail and make the economy worse. Not only have record numbers of jobs been created, there have been increases in manufacturing, the real estate market has recovered, businesses are doing extremely well and the equity markets are doing well. The President’s policies have brought about both a deep and broad based economic recovery.

And, Republicans have not suffered any consequences for that incorrect prediction on the most basic thing that matters to all Americans, as the saying goes, it’s the economy stupid. One would think that the American people would no longer trust Republicans on the economy after being so badly wrong about whether President Obama’s economic policies would work and would throw Republicans out of office in large numbers but that isn’t happening. Why? Well, as they have with all of their wildly wrong predictions, Republicans are banking on enough time passing between their incorrect predictions and the actual results so that the American people forget what they said.

I apologize for the lengthy preamble but I think it will become meaningful in a moment as we get to Obamacare.

There were so many crazy predictions by Republicans about Obamacare that I can’t get to them all in this piece but I want to focus on two or three that were in the news recently.

One of them that you saw a lot just 6-10 months ago was that not enough young people were going to sign up causing premiums to double or triple in 2015 and thus Obamacare would fail because everyone would then pull out.

First of all we learned early on in 2014 that over 25% of eligible folks under 30 had signed up for Obamacare and that exceeded what was necessary for the plan to be viable. But its one thing to say that, it’s another to see the premiums.

Well the stats have begun to come out about what premiums will be in 2015. The Kaiser family did a study and it found that not only will premiums not go up in the Obamacare policies and exchanges in 2015, they will decrease slightly.

So Republicans were very wrong about that. Are they going to receive any punishment from the voters from throwing ridiculous predictions out there about Obamacare premiums? It doesn’t seem so.

This week, there were two important news stories about Obamacare. One was that new insurance companies are flocking to the exchanges to offer policies for 2015. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced during a speech this past Tuesday at the Brookings institution that the number of companies offering plans on the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchange marketplaces for 2015 will jump to 248, a 25 percent increase over this year, in the 44 states where the numbers are available. So consumers will have additional choices when they choose their policies this year. That’s an interesting situation considering that in various ways, Republicans have been claiming that the economics of Obamacare don’t add up. Well, the free market has spoken, and private insurance companies want to offer their services on the exchange. Apparently the economics do add up. Additionally, stats have shown that for every new insurance option added on a state’s exchange, consumers see a 4% reduction in premium prices. So these additional insurance options will put further downward pressure on premium prices.

The other piece of news that came out this week was very important. Republicans have been claiming that Obamacare will not reduce costs and has been a failure at reducing costs.

Once again, at the Tuesday meeting at the Brookings Institute, Secretary Burwell announced that expanded health coverage under the Affordable Care Act will save U.S. hospitals $5.7 billion this year on the cost of caring for uninsured Americans.

Diving into the report shows that nearly three-quarters of the savings, $4.2 billion, will occur in states that have opted to expand the Medicaid healthcare program for the poor as part of Obamacare. So those hospitals in red states with Republican governors who refused to expand their Medicaid can thank those governors for the losses they incurred treating uninsured patients.

But more to the point, Obamacare is creating massive amounts of savings. And this savings will again be passed on to consumers in the form of lower premiums. We probably won’t start seeing that savings until 2016, but it will be there. Of course, I expect hospitals and insurance companies to take some of that in profits, but a fair amount will be passed on to policy holders as well all across the health spectrum. Even folks who have nothing to do with Obamacare, employer health insurance plans will see decreases in premium prices as a result.

Again, will Republicans be penalized by the voters for being so wrong? I doubt it.

I think we have to coin a new phrase for this strategy by Republicans. They are clearly doing it deliberately. When I thought of this strategy, in my mind I called it Preemptive Orwelian doublespeak. But I have a better term for it, the Lieperbole.

They used the Lieperbole against the stimulus, they used it against Obamacare, even the so called scandals, fast and furious, IRS, and Benghazi were I think examples of the Republican use of lieperbole.

Again, the dynamics of the lieperbole are that you attack the administration’s policies or initiatives or handling of an issue and claim all of these bad things were done or will happen with the goal of driving down the administration’s approval level and creating dissatisfaction with the policy. By the time the truth comes out many months or years later, the truth no longer matters. The public continues to feel negatively about the administration’s policy or handling of the event no matter what evidence comes out later or how successful the policy turns out to be.

You can see how successful it has been. I talked last week about how successful the administration has been with the economy. President Obama’s approval levels should be 60-70% for that reason alone. But Republicans talked for years about how his policies weren’t working. It turns out he did a better and faster job getting out of this recession than Reagan did in the 80’s. Does he get credit for it, no, because of Republican lieperboles.

We will continue to see evidence of Republican lieperboles on healthcare reform as we get closer to 2015. Obamacare has been successful and evidence of that will increase, but the public still has a negative opinion on Obamacare. Why? Why at this point when it is so clear that the policy has succeeded do people have a negative opinion of it?

This cynical tactic by the Republicans works and will continue to work until we all call it out and force them to stop using it by making sure it no longer works.

We’ll be right back.
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