Show me the money: When keeping it hot goes global

Show-Me-the-Money

Whew, can you smell that? Of course you can’t now, but wait a few minutes. There it is…there it is. Now let it settle. A ninja just passed some strong smelling evidence of garlic, grain and milk from the night before…and then disappeared.
Silencers are the deadliest of all gasses. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve eaten something that comes back to surprise you in a gastrointestinal kind of way. I call it the dirty ghost. It’s the noxious trail of tears that you leave in your wake as you cleverly maneuver yourself away from the scene of the flatulence crime.
Even stink would say that stinks!
Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about another gas.
Natural gas.
Russia and the United Stated are the world’s top producers of the stuff. The United States, thanks to new technology (see fracking) has recently unseated the one-time champ of all time. Russia still has the upper hand in the global economy though as they are obligated, by contract, to provide natural gas to all of Western Europe. Without their gas supplies many parts of Western Europe would simply freeze during the often harsh winters.
Now, before you get started, the United States, under then President George W. Bush, because of a belief that our supplies were dwindling, considered importing natural gas from Russia. We had a real world problem. How do we prevent half of our country from freezing if we run out of natural gas during a harsh winter? Russia was a practical solution, albeit a risky political alliance.
Now the suits in Washington have started their collective finger pointing and ideological saber rattling against what Russia is doing in Crimea. By referendum, albeit true or fake, Ukrainians in Crimea, most of who are ethnic Russians, have voted to rejoin the Russian Union. In other words they want to become part of Mother Russia again.
So what’s the big deal?
Most Americans are unaware that Crimea is a small peninsula in the Black Sea that is north of Turkey and East of Romania. Had it not been for the recent Winter Olympic Games in Sochi most Americans wouldn’t even know where that part of the world is. Needless to say it’s not a region of the world that holds any strategic geographical advantages for the United States, unless it’s about……..natural gas. Crimea is the home of a major natural gas pipeline that comes from….wait for it, wait for it, RUSSIA.
So what does this have to do with anything? One of my all-time favorite Arizona Cardinals, Rod Tidwell, said it best when he exclaimed, “show me the money!”
The president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, has never really been an ideological friend of the United States. Big deal, we’ve never really been an ideological friend of his either, so we’re even. However, whenever he starts to flex his muscles everyone in the European Union, and thus America by default, starts to take notice. This is no different (even though I find it somewhat hypocritical for us to get involved in the internal affairs of sovereign nations, but that’s a different topic.)
A few weeks ago, Speaker of the House John A. Boehner said

“One immediate step the president can and should take is to dramatically expedite the approval of U.S. exports of natural gas. The United States has abundant supplies of natural gas, an energy source that is in demand by many of our allies, and the U.S Department of Energy’s excruciatingly slow approval process amounts to a de fact ban on American natural gas exports that Vladimir Putin has happily exploited to finance his geopolitical goals. We should not force our allies to remain dependent on Putin for their energy needs.”

So, if we don’t want our allies to become dependent on Putin, then who do we want them to become dependent on? It should not go without notice that Halliburton, yes, Halliburton has started exploring for natural gas in Poland and Shell Oil just signed a contract that allows them to explore for natural gas in, wait for it, wait for it….Ukraine!
In other words, become dependent on us, not them.
There’s a valid argument for price competitiveness of the global market for natural gas. Anytime there’s a monopoly on anything you’re asking for rampant corruption. I get that. But Boehner’s statement goes both ways. If Putin is using his resources to spread his geopolitical goals, then won’t the United States do the same? And as much as I hate to say this everyone in the world doesn’t, nor should they, aspire to live our way of life, nor do they want to live a Russian life.
In the end I fear this is, once again, about the almighty dollar. Rod Tidwell was right. We want access to Russia’s global market for natural gas. Russia wants to keep those markets. In the interim, as always, we have to create a boogey man who wants to kill us. To me, this one is simple. It’s not about politics. It’s about money. It’s about money that comes from the sales of natural gas.
And it stinks!

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Dear Republican Party…a love letter

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Hi. How have you been?
When I was flipping through the television channels the other day I saw you. I sat down to watch. I listened. It’s been awhile since I let you back in. After we broke up it was hard for me because, well, we were so close before. I couldn’t bear to even hear your voice, let alone see you. The distance was good for my own sanity, but not for reasons that you might think.
I didn’t want it to end, and I don’t think you did you either. At least that’s what you said, but we both knew that it couldn’t continue the way it was going. We were fighting too much.
There was a time that I believed that we were going to last forever. We were like peas and carrots, like okra and collard greens, like cheese and macaroni. We were loyal to one another. Inseparable is what we used to say to each other.
I was ready to do what it took to stay.
Ours was a romance that was never supposed to happen anyway. I had only dated people my parents and peers approved of, and so did you. I think the danger of it all helped make our bond stronger. I still remember the first day we met. I thought you were beautiful in a way that I had never even considered admiring before. You were new, fresh, bold, and alive. You thought I was chasing you just for the benefits.
But you were wrong. I really liked you.
You took the time to get to know me, to know my fears and my feelings of inadequacy. You took me whole, flaws and all, and still answered the phone when I called you the next day.
And then we fell in love.
We both wanted the same things. We were both impatient and wanted what we wanted now. No excuses. No long speeches. No acts of appeasement. We had both grown tired of the status quo.
We wanted the real.
Do you remember the time we both stood outside in the rain registering voters? It was you, me and an ironing board along with a bag full of voter registration forms. I would go chasing after people as they tried to avoid us “You said you were going to sign this,” I’d jokingly yell at them. They’d start to laugh as I cut off their escape route and give them a pen to sign. Then you would walk up behind me and their entire facial expression would change, like I had done something wrong.
I knew that it hurt you. I wish I could’ve made it go away.
But you put on your tough face and said that it didn’t bother you, “that people had a right to choose or reject.” But I knew that it bothered you deeply because you kept talking about it later on when it was just the two of us. I understood. No one likes being rejected for who they are and what they believe. I had dealt with that every day of my life and it had deadened parts of me. I had learned to deal with it. You took a different approach. You weren’t able to handle it that way. You said that was unacceptable, and you wouldn’t have it. I found it particularly refreshing that you took a different approach to something neither of us had control over. I had never thought enough of myself to question what I had been bred into believing was an unfortunate reality.
But that’s what made us work. We were in the trenches together, changing the world one person at a time. I had your back and you had mine.
Then things started to change. I don’t know if it was me or if it was you. You said that I stopped looking at you the same way. I said that what you wanted from me was unsustainable and unrealistic. When people disagreed with us you began saying things like “they’re stupid,” or “that’s typical.” Those words came from pain, not from your heart. I knew the difference. I knew who you really were. But I guess eventually you just got tired of feeling like you had to defend yourself.
Still, I found a problem with your new resolve.
“So, why do you say they’re stupid?”
“Because THEY are. THEY are never going to change,” you said.
“What makes us any different than them,” I asked.
That’s when you said the words that cut me like a hot, fiery blade.
“You’re not one of them. You’re different.”
I never forgot those words. They put a sour taste in my mouth, like I had been forced to swallow an old dirty boot.
Did I have to be ontologically distinct from the masses that looked, lived and thought like I used to think in order to be in the “in crowd”? That really opened my eyes and made me think, what made me the “other” in your eyes.
And was I the “other” in the eyes of my peer group as well?
You started becoming hypersensitive and ham fisted about ideals, IDEALS. The ideals became more important than the people they were designed to help. In other words the message became more important than the vehicle. It seemed that you became obsessed with countering the ideas of others and saying why they weren’t good for the common good of everyone.
And you became very angry and defiant. You weren’t the same anymore.
That’s when we began fighting more. Every word that we said to one another became a problem. If we weren’t with your friends you were very short and rude. I didn’t know you anymore.
You said the same about me.
When I saw you on TV the other day my heart became sad because I know that we had something really special at one time.
Just the other day my girlfriend asked me “why did you break up with your ex?” I didn’t have an answer that was sufficient. On TV the other day I found myself agreeing with some of the things you said. It felt good. Maybe one day we’ll meet up again. I would like that.
Until that time I wish you well.
Sincerely,
Your former boyfriend