Did The Saudis And The US Collude In Dropping Oil Prices?

The oil price drop that has dominated the headlines in recent weeks has been framed almost exclusively in terms of oil market economics, with most media outlets blaming Saudi Arabia, through its OPEC Trojan horse, for driving down the price, thus causing serious damage to the world’s major oil exporters – most notably Russia.

While the market explanation is partially true, it is simplistic, and fails to address key geopolitical pressure points in the Middle East.

Oilprice.com looked beyond the headlines for the reason behind the oil price drop, and found that the explanation, while difficult to prove, may revolve around control of oil and gas in the Middle East and the weakening of Russia, Iran and Syria by flooding the market with cheap oil.

The oil weapon

We don’t have to look too far back in history to see Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter and producer, using the oil price to achieve its foreign policy objectives. In 1973, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat convinced Saudi King Faisal to cut production and raise prices, then to go as far as embargoing oil exports, all with the goal of punishing the United States for supporting Israel against the Arab states. It worked. The “oil price shock” quadrupled prices.

It happened again in 1986, when Saudi Arabia-led OPEC allowed prices to drop precipitously, and then in 1990, when the Saudis sent prices plummeting as a way of taking out Russia, which was seen as a threat to their oil supremacy. In 1998, they succeeded. When the oil price was halved from $25 to $12, Russia defaulted on its debt.

The Saudis and other OPEC members have, of course, used the oil price for the obverse effect, that is, suppressing production to keep prices artificially high and member states swimming in “petrodollars”. In 2008, oil peaked at $147 a barrel.

Turning to the current price drop, the Saudis and OPEC have a vested interest in taking out higher-cost competitors, such as US shale oil producers, who will certainly be hurt by the lower price. Even before the price drop, the Saudis were selling their oil to China at a discount. OPEC’s refusal on Nov. 27 to cut production seemed like the baldest evidence yet that the oil price drop was really an oil price war between Saudi Arabia and the US.

However, analysis shows the reasoning is complex, and may go beyond simply taking down the price to gain back lost marketshare.

“What is the reason for the United States and some U.S. allies wanting to drive down the price of oil?” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro asked rhetorically in October. “To harm Russia.”

Many believe the oil price plunge is the result of deliberate and well-planned collusion on the part of the United States and Saudi Arabia to punish Russia and Iran for supporting the murderous Assad regime in Syria.

Punishing Assad and friends

Proponents of this theory point to a Sept. 11 meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi King Abdullah at his palace on the Red Sea. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, it was during that meeting that a deal was hammered out between Kerry and Abdullah. In it, the Saudis would support Syrian airstrikes against Islamic State (ISIS), in exchange for Washington backing the Saudis in toppling Assad.

If in fact a deal was struck, it would make sense, considering the long-simmering rivalry between Saudi Arabia and its chief rival in the region: Iran. By opposing Syria, Abdullah grabs the opportunity to strike a blow against Iran, which he sees as a powerful regional rival due to its nuclear ambitions, its support for militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah, and its alliance with Syria, which it provides with weapons and funding. The two nations are also divided by religion, with the majority of Saudis following the Sunni version of Islam, and most Iranians considering themselves Shi’ites.

“The conflict is now a full-blown proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which is playing out across the region,” Reuters reported on Dec. 15. “Both sides increasingly see their rivalry as a winner-take-all conflict: if the Shi’ite Hezbollah gains an upper hand in Lebanon, then the Sunnis of Lebanon—and by extension, their Saudi patrons—lose a round to Iran. If a Shi’ite-led government solidifies its control of Iraq, then Iran will have won another round.”

The Saudis know the Iranians are vulnerable on the oil price. Experts say the country needs $140 a barrel oil to balance its budget; at sub-$60 prices, the Saudis succeed in pressuring Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, possibly containing its nuclear ambitions and making the country more pliable to the West, which has the power to reduce or lift sanctions if Iran cooperates.

Adding credence to this theory, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told a Cabinet meeting earlier this month that the fall in oil prices was “politically motivated” and a “conspiracy against the interests of the region, the Muslim people and the Muslim world.”

Pipeline conspiracy

Some commentators have offered a more conspiratorial theory for the Saudis wanting to get rid of Assad. They point to a 2011 agreement between Syria, Iran and Iraq that would see a pipeline running from the Iranian Port Assalouyeh to Damascus via Iraq. The $10-billion project would take three years to complete and would be fed gas from the South Pars gas field, which Iran shares with Qatar. Iranian officials have said they plan to extend the pipeline to the Mediterranean to supply gas to Europe – in competition with Qatar, the world’s largest LNG exporter.

“The Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline – if it’s ever built – would solidify a predominantly Shi’ite axis through an economic, steel umbilical cord,” wrote Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar.

Global Research, a Canada-based think tank, goes further to suggest that Assad’s refusal in 2009 to allow Qatar to construct a gas pipeline from its North Field through Syria and on to Turkey and the EU, combined with the 2011 pipeline deal, “ignited the full-scale Saudi and Qatari assault on Assad’s power.”

“Today the US-backed wars in Ukraine and in Syria are but two fronts in the same strategic war to cripple Russia and China and to rupture any Eurasian counter-pole to a US-controlled New World Order. In each, control of energy pipelines, this time primarily of natural gas pipelines—from Russia to the EU via Ukraine and from Iran and Syria to the EU via Syria—is the strategic goal,” Global Research wrote in an Oct. 26 post.

Poking the Russian bear

How does Russia play into the oil price drop? As a key ally of Syria, supplying Assad with billions in weaponry, President Vladimir Putin has, along with Iran, found himself targeted by the House of Saud. Putin’s territorial ambitions in the Ukraine have also put him at odds with US President Barack Obama and leaders of the EU, which in May of this year imposed a set of sanctions on Russia.

As has been noted, Saudi Arabia’s manipulation of the oil price has twice targeted Russia. This time, the effects of a low price have hit Moscow especially hard due to sanctions already in place combined with the low ruble. Last week, in an effort to defend its currency, the Bank of Russia raised interest rates to 17 percent. The measure failed, with the ruble dropping another 20 percent, leading to speculation the country could impose capital controls. Meanwhile, Putin took the opportunity in his annual televised address to announce that while the economy is likely to suffer for the next two years and that Russians should brace for a recession, “Our economy will get diversified and oil prices will go back up.”

He may be right, but what will the effect be on Russia of a sustained period of low oil prices? Eric Reguly, writing in The Globe and Mail last Saturday, points out that with foreign exchange reserves at around $400 billion, the Russian state is “in no danger of collapse” even in the event of a deep recession. Reguly predicts the greater threat is to the Russian private sector, which has a debt overhang of some $700 billion.

“This month alone, $30-billion of that amount must be repaid, with another $100-billion coming due next year. The problem is made worse by the economic sanctions, which have made it all but impossible for Russian companies to finance themselves in Western markets,” he writes.

Will it work?

Whether one is a conspiracy theorist or a market theorist, in explaining the oil price drop, it really matters little, for the effect is surely more important than the cause. Putin has already shown himself to be a master player in the chess game of energy politics, so the suggestion that sub-$60 oil will crush the Russian leader has to be met with a healthy degree of skepticism.

Moscow’s decision on Dec. 1 to drop the $45-billion South Stream natural gas pipeline project in favor of a new pipeline deal with Turkey shows Putin’s willingness to circumvent European partners to continue deliveries of natural gas to European countries that depend heavily on Russia for its energy requirements. The deal also puts Turkey squarely in the Russian energy camp at a time when Russia has been alienated by the West.

Of course, the Russian dalliance with China is a key part of Putin’s great Eastern pivot that will keep stoking demand for Russian gas even as the Saudis and OPEC, perhaps with US collusion, keep pumping to hold down the price. The November agreement, that would see Gazprom supply Chinese state oil company CNPC with 30 billion cubic meters of gas per year, builds on an earlier deal to sell China 38 bcm annually in an agreement valued at $400 billion.

As Oilprice.com commented on Sunday, “ongoing projects are soldiering on and Russian oil output is projected to remain unchanged into 2015.”

“Russia will go down with the ship before ceding market share – especially in Asia, where Putin reaffirmed the pivot is real. Saudi Arabia and North America will have to keep pumping as Putin plans to uphold his end in this game of brinksmanship.”

Source: http://oilprice.com/Energy/Oil-Prices/Did-The-Saudis-And-The-US-Collude-In-Dropping-Oil-Prices.html

By Andrew Topf of Oilprice.com


None Dare Call It Treason 50 Years Later

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

I recently asked John A. Stormer, author of the 1964 bestseller, None Dare Call It Treason, if he thought President Barack Obama was a Marxist. “He’s two things,” Stormer told me. “Is he a Marxist or is he a Muslim? He is really involved in both of these things. He’s anti-American.”

Obama’s policies have benefited enemies of the U.S. across the spectrum, from Muslim to Marxist. All of these anti-American forces have made dramatic gains under Obama. This means that the situation is far worse for America than when Stormer wrote his seven-million-copy bestseller.

Stormer’s book was described at the time as an exposé of how the U.S. government was ostensibly “fighting” communism with its right hand, while actually aiding, supporting, and promoting communism with its left. The book was self-published at a time when the U.S. was opposing communism in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, but doing business with countries like the Soviet Union, which were supplying the enemy that was killing American soldiers on the battlefield.

The difference now, as we have seen with Obama’s recognition and bailout of the Castro regime in Cuba, is that the U.S. government doesn’t even pretend to be anti-communist anymore. Obama has made the U.S. into a facilitator of international communism.

Our troubles are compounded by the spectacle of “conservatives” who pretend not to grasp what is going on. Columnist George Will writes at National Review that Cuba is a “geopolitical irrelevancy.” He says, “Cuba’s regime, although totalitarian, no longer matters in international politics.”

Will must have missed Vladimir Putin’s visit to Cuba in July, when he had meetings with brothers Raul and Fidel Castro and participated in a ceremony at the Memorial to the Soviet Internationalist Soldier. It is a tribute to Soviet soldiers who were stationed in Cuba in the early 1960s and died there. Putin forgave most of Cuba’s debt to the former Soviet Union.

Before that, in May, investigative reporter Bill Gertz noted that Cuba and Russia “concluded a security deal” aimed at bolstering “intelligence and military ties” between the two countries.

Will must have missed that dispatch.

But Russia isn’t the only U.S adversary that considers Cuba geopolitically relevant.

Toby Westerman, editor of International News Analysis Today, wrote a 2012 column noting that Communist China regards the island of Cuba as “strategically located for the interception of U.S. military and civilian satellite communications,” and that “China’s spy service also cooperates closely with Havana’s own world-class intelligence services.”

Westerman added, “The value Beijing places upon the information acquired via Havana can be seen in the October 2011 visit to the island by General Guo Boxiong, Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission. Guo’s presence in Cuba underscored that China has a special military commitment in addition to a sizable economic investment in Cuba.”

Considering the damage that is being done to the United States, and the failure of “conservative” columnists such as George Will to recognize it, we are reminded that the title of Stormer’s book came from the famous John Harington quotation: “Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”

But it gets worse.

Just two days after Obama announced his new Cuba policy, Raul Castro received the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Dmitry Rogozin, during an official visit to Cuba on the occasion of the 12th Session of the Cuba-Russia Intergovernmental Commission.

Will should be advised that all of this is being covered in the English-language version of the official Cuban Communist Party paper Granma. The information is not a national security secret.

The Cuba-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on economic-trade and scientific-technical collaboration held a meeting designed to “advance tasks and objectives established during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Cuba in July…” The objective, according to Granma, is “to realize agreements in order to increase exchanges in diverse spheres” and “address key areas of interest to both countries.”

While Raul Castro’s talk of a “new economic model” in Cuba has been trumpeted far and wide by the U.S. media, his December 20 speech to the “National Assembly of People’s Power” said this does not mean that capitalism will be tolerated. He said the “guidelines” for the new economy make it clear that “The economic system which will prevail in Cuba will continue to be based on the people’s socialist ownership of the fundamental means of production, governed by the socialist principle of distribution, from each according to his/her capacity to each according to his/her contribution.”

He referred to “the irreversibility of socialism in Cuba.”

To understand the strategic significance of Obama’s change in policy toward the dictatorship in Cuba, Castro said he will be participating in the Seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama on April 10-11, 2015. The event is managed by the Organization of American States (OAS), a group that used to be dedicated to promoting democracy in the hemisphere.

How things change.

In January 1962, the OAS was an anti-Communist organization, having established a “Special Consultative Committee on Security Against the Subversive Action of International Communism.” The group declared, “The principles of communism are incompatible with the principles of the inter-American system.”

It passed a resolution declaring, “The present Government of Cuba has identified itself with the principles of Marxist-Leninist ideology, has established a political, economic, and social system based on that doctrine, and accepts military assistance from extra-continental communist powers, including even the threat of military intervention in America on the part of the Soviet Union…”

Nothing has changed over the years, except that Russia has replaced the Soviet Union and international communism has made dramatic gains in the hemisphere.

Another big change, of course, is that the U.S. President is either a Marxist or a Muslim. Take your pick. Perhaps, as Stormer says, anti-American is the best description.

Referring to Republican Senators Rand Paul (KY) and Marco Rubio (FL), Will writes, “As they brawl about Cuba, a geopolitical irrelevancy, neither seems presidential.” But this is the kind of debate that we desperately need to have. It will determine if the U.S. is a force for good or evil in the world. Senator Paul has sided with Obama and Castro. Senator Rubio has come down on the side of freedom.

This debate will not only determine if the Republican Party remains pro-freedom and anti-communist, but whether the United States will stay true to Ronald Reagan’s vision of a world free from communism.

It is troubling, 50 years after the publication of None Dare Call It Treason, that we have to go through this debate all over again—this time with the stakes even higher.

One thing is clear at this point: we need a new generation of conservatives in the media willing to take a stand for freedom, and to conduct a review of the “death of communism.”


Forum: What Are Your Predictions For 2015?

The Watcher’s Council

Every week on Monday morning, the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum with short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture or daily living. This week’s question: What Are Your Predictions For 2015?

The Noisy Room:

1. Gitmo will be emptied and closed.
2. The Republicans will facilitate and fund the full implementation of Amnesty.
3. The Republicans will facilitate and fund the full implementation of Obamacare.
4. The Republicans will support and assist Obama with the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
5. Riots and violence will increase across the US and you will see a nationalization by Obama of our police forces.
6. Net Neutrality and censorship will be implemented on the Internet.
7. There will be a stock market correction or crash.
8. Inflation will begin to spiral out of control.
9. The dollar will be replaced as the international monetary standard.
10. Christians and Jews will see increased persecution worldwide.
11. Russia will bring more satellite countries into the fold and will encroach on Europe.
12. ISIS will march on and spread the Caliphate further.
13. China will expand their military.
14. Venezuela will finish going bankrupt.
15. Russia, China and Iran will gain a much bigger toe hold in South America.
16. There will be a rapid rise in the illegal alien influx, cartel violence and border skirmishes.
17. There will be a major terrorist attack in the US.
18. IRS abuses will get even worse in the coming year.
19. Taxation will increase on many fronts.
20. Employment will continue to diminish for Americans and all economic indicators will be further manipulated by the government and become utter fabrications of reality. It will be one aspect of a massive propaganda blitz by the US government to keep Americans docile.

My last prediction is that I will not be invited to any cocktail parties as I can clear a room in 10 seconds flat. 😉

The Right Planet: I’m not really one to make predictions, since I always seem to be wrong. But, I’ll take a stab at it …

  • The national debt will continue to skyrocket (as always) and nothing will be done about it.
  • Obama will continue his racial agitation, despite the fact he’s the first “black” president in U.S. history who promised a “post-racial” America.
  • The radical left will continue to search for the next Michael Brown in order to in order to whip even more racial animus.
  • Obama will continue to dismantle the military.
  • The GOP establishment will do nothing to stop Obamacare, despite campaign promises to the contrary.
  • Another massive new wave of illegal immigrants.
  • The GOP establishment will continue to push presidential candidates like Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, despite the base’s lack of enthusiasm for these establishment types.
  • The left will push for Marxist radicals like Elizabeth Warren as their next presidential candidate in 2016.
  • Despite the fact the GOP won a major victory in the 2014 midterms, they’ll still act like they lost.
  • Obama will unleash the most radical agenda ever seen in the history of the United States, because he feels he’s got nothing to lose.

Sorry, I think it’s going to be a sh*tty year for the USA. And I think it’s only going to get worse.

Laura Rambeau Lee at Right Reason: 2015 is shaping up to be a defining year for America. Lame duck President Obama will continue to push through executive orders, further undermining the balance of power and the rule of law. Even with Republican majorities in the House and Senate, I don’t see them effectively challenging him. One or two will speak out, but will be vilified as radical right extremists by the left and also by the establishment GOP.

I am afraid the events at the end of 2014, with thousands of people protesting against the police in Ferguson, MO and New York, are a precursor of things to come in 2015. The left will continue its agenda of dividing our country by race, religion, class, and cries for social justice.

As we head into the 2016 election season, younger voters will become involved in the political races based on social issues, such as same sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana and align themselves with Democrat candidates or Libertarians. Conservative Republicans will need to find a strong voice who will speak out for fiscal restraint, smaller government, and traditional values, or we can expect to see Jeb Bush being propped up as the frontrunner.

As the world continues to become more dangerous, we will be drawing down our military and will be unable and unwilling to get involved.

While we have seen a little improvement in the job market and the economy, as new regulations roll out expect small businesses to take a bigger hit and many will close their doors for good. The cost of doing business in this country has become punitive for the average small business owner.

I hope I am wrong and the Republican led Congress will work towards gutting Obamacare, cutting punitive regulations from the EPA and CFPB to name a couple, and not approving any funding for Obama’s illegal amnesty action, but I just don’t see it happening.

JoshuaPundit: Hmmm… OK, domestic politics.  I’m not prepared to predict how the new congress will behave, but I will say that if it simply becomes business as usual, you will see a major revolt by the Republican Party base to the extent where we may end up with a third party that ultimately replaces it. That’s almost certain if the GOP leadership tries to foist someone like Jeb Bush on the party as a presidential nominee. I actually expect the new Congress to attack some areas, like EPA regulations that restrict coal. And don’t be surprised if you see increased opposition to the president’s amnesty bill, especially when it comes to attacking its funding. It was the one area Boehner left open, not because he wanted to, but because he had to give the conservatives in Congress something in order to get votes to pass cromnibus in the House.

Don’t be surprised if the Supremes gut ObamaCare. What will happen after that is anyone’s guess, since the health insurance industry has been monkeyed with almost beyond repair and will take some time to come back.

I also predict that we will see increased tension between the president and the new Congress, especially when it comes to his appointments, investigation of the various scandals surrounding the White House, his amnesty and the funding of certain presidential executive orders.

I think the GOP nomination will boil down to a choice between Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush. I don’t think Dr. Carson will run in 2016, nor will Ted Cruz as much as I ‘d like to see him do so, but I’m happy to be wrong on that one. Either one may end up as VP candidates.

I see the chances of Hillary Clinton running as no more than 50-50, because of her health, her unpopularity with the party’s far Left progressives  and because of continued revelations on how horribly she ran the State Department, including the Benghazi fiasco. Elizabeth Warren is a more likely choice, I think.

Other domestic predictions; I regret to say that I think we’re headed for a major terrorism attack, along with a huge scandal concerning our domestic intel setup. I see it as being an attack that the media will attempt to paint as being carried out by a so-called ‘lone wolf’, but will in reality be one aided and abetted by our overseas enemies, just like 9/11 was. I hope I’m wrong on that one.

The economy will continue about how it’s been, but probably with slightly higher interest rates come midyear. The economy is a colossal con, with real unemployment and real CPI inflation far higher and our growth and GDP far lower than we’re being told, but so far we remain the best game in town in terms of relatively safe foreign investment. The reckoning will come in very gradual stages after Obama is safely out of office.

Baseball will have a resurgence next year. This year was about getting rid of the stench of the steroids scandal.

Foreign Affairs; We will continue to flail around in Iraq, with this president gradually increasing troops on the ground. His real objective is to have Iran doing more of the fighting against the Islamic State, with the result, of course, that Iran will control Iraq as part of the nuclear armed Shi’ite bloc they wish to create. 2015 will also likely be the year that Iran explodes a successful nuclear weapon unless Israel stops them. Obama will not.

Syria may well see a cease fire and an arrangement between Assad and IS to share the country, midwifed by Putin. The way things are now, neither side can win, but both sides need time to consolidate their gains and lick their wounds.

Israel will continue its move to the right politically, with Naftali Bennett continuing to rise in popularity. Israel will continue to expand its increasingly closer ties with India, China and East Asia. The EU will continue to become more hostile to Israel, perhaps even to the point of sanctions by countries like Ireland, the UK (at least in the short run), Spain, Portugal,  Scandinavia, Belgium, the Netherlands and France. Other countries like Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Italy, the Balkan states and other eastern European countries will simply ignore any sanctions.

While the Obama Administration will likely veto the current UNSC resolution to unilaterally force a Palestinian state by the Palestinian Authority, the Obama regime will almost certainly abstain and allow another one to pass if it’s put before the UNSC after the Israeli elections in March. The Obama team is attempting to interfere in the Israeli elections to get the Left wing Labor Party elected and they will want to see if they can mange it before taking the political flak of allowing a UN diktat to pass… which would be opposed vociferously by Congress.

Of course, once that happens, the relationship between America and Israel is going to change quite a bit, which was what this president has wanted all along. Since getting Labor/Hatnua elected with enough seats to form a governing coalition is highly unlikely, I think that scenario is what we’re ultimately looking at. Expect continued terrorist attacks on Israel in this current Third Intifada, which will be followed by a major crackdown boo-hooed by all the usual suspects.

Russia will likely attempt to assert its authority over one or more of the Baltic States… not by invasion, but by simple intimidation ala’ Finland. I’d say Estonia is the most likely target.

Japan and  Australia will rearm and increase their defense spending.They will also increase their security cooperation, which will likely include Vietnam and the Philippines. Germany will do the same; expect for an enlargement of the Bundeswehr and security coordination with its neighbors like Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

Expect UKip to do exceptionally well in the British Elections. And while French elections aren’t until 2017, unless the socialists and the extremely unpopular Hollande is forced out, expect Marine Le Pen’s right leaning Front National (FN) to continue to gain massive ground.

Rhymes With Right: Well, my friends, after having had a mixed year making projections for 2014, I’m once again at it. I’ll once again stare into that foggy crystal ball and catch a glimpse into the future — undoubtedly with mixed results. Each of my four categories will have a prediction that I feel is almost certain to come true, one I feel is somewhat more iffy, but still probable, and one that is a long-shot and will in twelve months be seen either as prophetic genius or utter folly.

World Affairs

  • Safe Prediction — Benjamin Netanyahu will remain Prime Minister of Israel following a challenge by a more secular and more leftist coalition. The reason for his success — which will not be expected only weeks prior to new elections — will be a renewed campaign of terrorist attacks on civilians in the wake of the UN recognition of a “State of Palestine”.
  • Not-So-Safe Prediction — Continued North Korean anger over The Interview will lead to more attacks on the American entertainment industry. The target? Online streaming services renting/selling The Interview and Team America: World Police.
  • Long-Shot Prediction — King Abdullah of Jordan is overthrown in an Islamist coup.

National Affairs

  • Safe Prediction — Barack Obama will continue to govern using the same playbook as the late Hugo Chavez, issuing executive decrees and usurping Congress’ lawmaking role despite the restrictions on executive power contained in the Constitution.
  • Not-So-Safe Prediction — There will be an unexpected resignation from the Supreme Court at the end of the 2014-2015 term. This will set the stage for a major confirmation fight and, after the rejection of Obama’s nominee, an effort by the President to make a recess appointment to the High Court.
  • Long-Shot Prediction — A bipartisan immigration reform bill will be passed by both houses of Congress and be signed by the president. It will have broad support among the American people, but will be rejected by both the progressive wing of the Democrat Party and conservative wing of the Republican Party in Congress.

Texas Affairs

  • Safe Prediction — Despite strong opposition by the grassroots, Joe Straus is again selected as Speaker of the House in the Texas Legislature. When the filing date for the 2016 primary passes in December, a record number of well-funded conservative challengers will have filed to run against incumbent legislators in the Republican primary.
  • Not-So-Safe Predictions — The resignation of Steve Munisteri as Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas will result in the election of Tom Mechler by the State Republican Executive Committee. The selection of the current RPT treasurer will be more about interim stability than the long-term direction of the state party, with everyone looking toward a major floor fight at the 2016 convention between former Harris County GOP chairman Jared Woodfill and Dallas County chairman Wade Emmert in which the grassroots will make their voices heard.
  • Long-Shot Prediction — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick surprises political observers by being an even-handed consensus builder as the presiding officer over the Texas Senate.

2016 Presidential Politics

  • Safe Prediction — As 2015 ends, the GOP will have a spirited race for the presidential nomination underway, with the leading contenders being Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Rand Paul, followed by Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal and Paul Ryan.
  • Not-So-Safe Prediction — Chris Christie does not seek the Republican presidential nomination.
  • Long-Shot Prediction — As 2015 ends, the Hillary Clinton juggernaut faces unexpected difficulties in the race for the Democrat presidential nomination. These will come in the form of leaked documents from Hillary’s time as Secretary of State, a new Bill Clinton sex scandal that raises questions about Hillary’s sensitivity to women alleging sexual abuse/assault and an unexpectedly strong challenger from the Left.

The Glittering Eye: For many years at The Glittering Eye I would do an annual predictions post. Last year I gave up the practice. It wasn’t because my track record wasn’t pretty good — it was around 85% right — but because like everybody else I never managed to predict the really big stories of the year.

However, I’ll get into the spirit of things and give you one prediction. The Supreme Court will decide in favor of the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell with a vote of 5-4, Justice Kennedy concurring with the majority. That’s the case challenging the paying of federal subsidies to individuals who live in states that did not set up their own healthcare insurance exchanges.

Well, there you have it! Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum and every Tuesday morning, when we reveal the week’s nominees for Weasel of the Week!

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