The #NeverTrump Crowd Owes President Donald Trump An Apology

donald-trump-3Before launching into this piece I know wonderful conservatives who are part of the #NeverTrump ideologues. I also have close, personal friends – even mentors – who are still part of this movement; but now for the good of the country, California and professional reputations I implore all of you to let prudence be your guide. Stop your continued misguided, ridiculous and frankly embarrassing behavior and admit he is a great, conservative president who actually stands up and fights for what is best for the United States and California.

Let’s review what President Trump accomplished in one week. He got Judge (now Associate Justice) Neil Gorsuch onto the Supreme Court, and according to Senator Tom Cotton (a former member of the 101st Airborne, served in Iraq and Afghanistan), “Restored America’s credibility in the world,” after striking Syria over their chemical weapons attack. Senator Cotton further remarks:

“It’s also telling that the strikes in Syria occurred while President Trump dined with President Xi Jingping of China since the president has repeatedly expressed his concerned about North Korea and expects China to restrain Pyongyang.”

No fan of President Trump, Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, echoed the same sentiments as Sen. Cotton, that Trump understands the rough and tumble world of international diplomacy. He one-upped President Xi by making him wait an hour for his arrival at their recent summit the same way Ronald Reagan first greeted Gorbachev on a cold winter day wearing only a suit while Gorbachev was bundled in a heavy top coat and scarf. Trump understands what Obama didn’t, and the Chinese have begun changing their behavior after the summit, when it was reported by Reuters that China is turning back North Korean coal (North Korea’s main export) from their docks.

“But wait,” the #NeverTrump crowd will say, “Donald Trump is an ally of Putin and aligned himself with his crude behavior against American interests by wanting normalized relations with Russia.”

Sen. Cotton takes issue with that line of reasoning from the #NeverTrump crowd when he further stated in an op-ed for the New York Times (not the biggest President Trump fans by the way):

“Russia’s geopolitical standing has taken a severe blow. Mr. Putin was powerless to protect his client in Damascus. Moscow now faces a Hobson’s choice of empty words of condemnation or escalation on behalf of a global pariah, which risks further American action. After years of Russian aggression being met by empty American words, now Mr. Putin finds his credibility at stake.”

Or, as my former graduate school professor Victor Davis Hanson recently opined about “redline threats” in a brilliant article titled, “Ancient Laws, Modern Wars,” when smaller nations (Russia, China, North Korea, Iran) believe deterrence is nothing more than hollow words – which the former administration gave the U.S. and the world – then wars such as World War I are the outcome. Words need forcible actions and this president and his secretary of state are proving that on a daily basis.

Even a former high-ranking Obama administration official despaired over the moral depravity and ineptitude of her former colleagues and boss who knew chemical weapons were still in Syria, lied about it anyway, and did nothing to stop this latest chemical attack – except having the Treasury Department:

“Quietly introduce last minute treasury sanctions against Syrian officials involved in chemical warfare. Assad in particular.”

In other words, President Obama’s administration, led by former Secretary of State John Kerry (Kerry said, “100 percent of chemical weapons are out of Syria”), knew Putin and Russia had done nothing about Assad’s chemical weapons, continued the myth, or are such gross incompetents they had no idea that Putin’s government didn’t keep their promises to remove Assad’s chemical weapons.

That would mean the 16 U.S. government intelligence agencies, “that work separately and together to conduct intelligence activities considered necessary for the conduct of foreign relations and the nationals security of the United States,” never spoke with, wrote a memo of, or even had an underling relay that information (chemical weapons still exist in Syria) to President Obama, his national security team (led by Susan Rice), or former Secretary Kerry.

But the Republican purists and #NeverTrump crowd will still argue and debate President Trump’s merit as a leader, policymaker and how he isn’t presidential enough for their liking. As Dennis Prager articulates in a recent column: “Purists Kill Whatever They Believe In,” whether health care reform (Obamacare is still law costing hundreds of billions in taxes, wages and premiums), no hope of tax reform (also costing hundreds of billions), or not having the ability, reasonable level of competency and skill to actually govern, which purist Republican are demonstrating right now in California and the U.S. Congress.

Why wouldn’t he go to Twitter to bash his own party and the press? Given the above example does any reasonable person believe he will receive fair coverage by the press and his own party at this time?

Ironically, his tweets of Sweden being overrun by terrorist-immigrants and President Obama spying on him have more truth than falsehoods to them. Read Eli Lake’s piece in Bloomberg on Obama officials spying on Trump transition team members where NSA Susan Rice was behind breaking the law and high-ranking national security officials (Deputy Defense Secretary Evelyn Farkas) admitted to spying on the incoming administration along with high-ranking officials from the National Security Council, Department of Justice, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA.

But Trump is a buffoon and un-presidential, correct? Now the Swedish Prime Minster has said, “His country will never go back to the days of mass immigration,” after the failed asylum seeker (who launched the recent Swedish terrorist attack) was let in Sweden without being vetted. The #NeverTrump crowd and Republican purists owe President Trump their deepest gratitude for their safety, because he doesn’t seem so wrong after all – now does he? And whom do you trust – the eloquent, former law school professor or the rough and tumble real estate developer?

Yet Republican policymakers are still blaming President Obama while not working with Trump for their inability to pass any of the above changes. This was confirmed by Congressman Frank Lucas (R-Ok.) to Politico when he said, “Clearly President Obama gave us a common focus. Now that he’s gone, we have to govern.”

Congressman Lucas and his ilk should be voted out of office. Either govern or at least support the president, because members like Congressman Lucas and California State Republican Senator Anthony Cannella are killing the Republican Party while making the case for the continuation of leftism perpetuated by the Democratic Party.

Using the reasoning that the enemy of the good is the perfect, here are a few questions for the #NeverTrump crowd: Who else was going to beat Secretary Clinton? I voted for Cruz and supported Rubio wholeheartedly until he dropped out of the race, but if it weren’t for Trump in Florida, Rubio loses, to the detriment of Florida and the country. Were Drs. Thomas Sowell and Victor Davis Hanson wrong for supporting Trump? Are they stupid, unwise, without domestic or international knowledge or simply non-prudent bumpkins? Not hardly.

Final question for The National Review and The Weekly Standard folks and California policymakers who didn’t support Trump, and still lost: After your high-priced and overpaid columns, speeches, lectures, luncheons, dinners, conferences, radio and television appearance along with week long cruises around the world, where you are all speak and no action, what would you have done if Hillary Clinton had won and the Democrats were in control?

Because for 99.9 percent of the world under assault from the U.S. and California Democratic Party over social issues (abortion, gay marriage – support it or else – transgender rights – also support it or else, and global warming – unfortunately, support it or else) not to mention the disaster that is taking place around the world echoed by Victor Davis Hanson and for California, written extensively by Joel Kotkin over its forthcoming financial and societal meltdown there are few options over our intrusive, leviathan government. What are your answers? As opposed to we hate Trump’s tweets and he isn’t Reagan?

Trump is confronting Russia, China, North Korea and Iran the way Reagan confronted Russia. Secretary Tillerson is exactly what is needed to deal with those four bastard countries. The day of niceties red-reset buttons with Russia are over.

Here’s what today’s Democrats are giving us: Higher taxes, horrible racist, crime-infested cities, poor infrastructure, failing universities and public education, higher taxes, global warming policies costing trillions and most Republicans go right along with it like lambs to the slaughter. Is it any wonder the country elected Trump? Paradoxically, these same Republicans and the #NeverTrump crowd still haven’t repealed Obamacare, cut taxes or begun rebuilding the military – it’s been Trump – and it’s why you owe him an apology. Begin working with him, and start preparing for the foreign policy disaster that is coming our way when California implodes and China/North Korea, Russia or Iran attacks us.

Todd Royal is a geopolitical risk and energy consultant based in Los Angeles.

How Iran and North Korea Could Wreck California’s Energy-Dependent Economy

Iran OilIt’s difficult to ascertain what non-OPEC, and even some OPEC members will do about future supply cuts and how this will affect the California economy. According to energy trader Martin Tiller, “90 percent compliance is a good sign for OPEC, but Venezuela, UAE and Iraq aren’t following commitments.” Contrary signals are also coming from Nigeria and particularly Libya. New specters of doubt have also been raised whether Nigeria will be able to deliver vast amounts of new oil to the market. This is all good news for OPEC though prices are still struggling to reach the $60-70 a barrel range because of oversupply problems. The market is having a tough time finding equilibrium, and U.S. shale producers are ramping up production, causing prices to stay in the mid 50s. These are all interesting aspects of energy markets, but there are other factors for California to consider moving forward with the state’s energy and economic portfolios.

What California policymakers should begin concerning themselves with more than President Trump’s energy policies, shale producers and OPEC compliance are the two dynamics that could make oil jump significantly in the future – the geopolitical rumblings coming from Iran and North Korea.

These geopolitical-investment risks are financial pieces not being mentioned enough by state agencies responsible for energy regulation, large energy companies such as Chevron based in California, the Legislature and Gov. Brown. Both countries have upped their belligerence towards the world community, and that doesn’t bode well for consumers, which could add further hardship onto California’s economic fortunes.

Recently, the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) reported the discovery of multiple new fields with 30 billion barrels of crude reserve, and the Iranians are ramping up production to Europe in spite of other OPEC members cutting back production. NIOC also wants to boost oil production up to 4 million barrels a day.

Higher exports and increased oil production gives Iran billions in additional resources to cause global disruptions. However, the major uncertainties for California and world energy markets are whether the Iranians continue flouting United Nations ballistic missiles sanctions. These actions by a powerful nation and member of OPEC reveal the underlying significance and implications of future California energy developments. With California being one of the largest economies in the world, the economic forecasting entities (whether private or public) need to begin analyzing the Iranian dynamic.

California decision-makers also need to understand that Iran is not the pre-sanction weakling they once were, but instead is a rising global energy powerhouse with the means and capability to develop any type of military weapon system they deem necessary for the regime’s survival.

The western world led by President Obama, with California’s backing, and Iran began pursuing détente towards normalizing relations in 2015 with the nuclear weapon agreement between the P5 + 1. California markets welcomed those stabilizing signals, but that isn’t the case anymore. Iran is now a Middle East hegemonic force that has to be recognized by California citizens, public officials, energy investors and firms.

Nicholas Hereas of the Center for a New American Security believes:

“In order to confront Iran or push back more fiercely against it, you may find you’re in a conflict far more far-reaching and more destructive to the global economy.”

This plausible scenario could cause California gas prices to return to the days when wars in Iraq, continued Sunni-Shiite tensions and Hezbollah (an Iranian military proxy) fighting Israel in Lebanon caused oil to rise above $100 a barrel. Only focusing on supply and exploration & production (E&P) profitability without considering geopolitical-investment risk is either a boom or a curse for California. Hedge funds have taken historic long bets on oil rising, but wars and conflicts cause markets and governments to move in unforeseen ways. And with companies such as PIMCO and other investment management firms based in California this could open up our economy to a host of unforeseen risks.

This is why the Institute for the Study of War in a recent report said:

“For the first time in its history, Iran has developed the capacity to project conventional military force for hundreds of miles beyond its borders. This capability, which very few states in the world have, will fundamentally alter the strategic calculus and balance of power within the Middle East.”

These are turbulent winds to not take Iranian threats seriously. Having state investment pension risk equations that don’t account for how Iran acts in the Middle East now that their influence stretches from Tehran to Mediterranean while simultaneously fighting conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen seems misguided. Moreover, they command tens of thousands of proxy militias, and without factoring these real-world facts into the price of servicing California’s trillions of dollars of debt doesn’t seem prudent either. Unfortunately, political risk and production are now equal partners when it comes to Iran and California’s economic stability.

North Korea is never mentioned in relation to California oil prices, but could very well be the biggest reason gasoline prices skyrocket at the pump. Thae Yong-ho one of the highest-ranking officials in the North Korean government to ever defect ardently believes Kim Jong-un would attack the U.S. with nuclear weapons if his regime were on the brink of failure. Mr. Yong-ho further elaborated the North Korean leader lives a secretive, isolated life that includes no one having the location of where he even lives. Kim Jong-un is further painted:

“His ability to wreak harm should not be underestimated if his very survival were threatened he would lash out and destroy whatever he could and once there was an effective nuclear arsenal the leader would be prepared to use it.”

In early February, North Korea tested a ballistic missile, which could be used to further its quest for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could eventually strike California. A U.S. Pentagon spokesman, Navy Captain Jeff Davis stated:

“North Korea openly states that its ballistic missiles are intended to deliver nuclear weapons to strike cities in the United States, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), and Japan.”

For California officials to not imagine a scenario where North Korea has the ability to strike major oil producers and consumers doesn’t seem shrewd. The difficult part for California energy regulators, energy firms, and consumers are how to measure the likelihood of North Korean belligerence into our economy?

Additionally, China is now angered that North Korean and Iranian sanctions placed on those countries have now affected Chinese firms. China has close economic and diplomatic ties with both countries, but particularly North Korea whom they share a border with on the northeastern part of China. North Korea needs China since they are its biggest trading partner along with its main source of food, arms and energy. Despite all this, China has allowed North Korea to continue multiple nuclear tests, and doesn’t appear likely to stop them anytime soon. This seems a perfect opportunity for Gov. Brown to push for closer ties between China and California to counter this risk.

Long-arching trends have been building up between North Korea and western-aligned nations for decades. At least Iran has OPEC to constrain them, but seemingly North Korea only has China to keep them from having a negative enduring impact on the global economy. Therefore, would China allow North Korea to fire off an ICBM towards California if that would have a lasting impact on their ability to grow their economy without abundant fossil fuel availability? The South China Sea standoff is just one example when confrontational geopolitics and economic trade collide – and the results can be disastrous – unless properly managed.

Relative oil and gas price stability has returned since prices have risen the last few months, but 2017 could see energy upheaval. Likewise energy asset prices for California could swing wildly, not at all, or somewhere in between. But geopolitical tumult could cause everything within the California energy value chain to wildly escalate; catching the state flat-footed the way the housing crisis in 2008 caught many banks off guard. The economics of oil and gas can manifest frustration in many ways, but what California officials at the local, county and state level shouldn’t overlook are how Iran and North Korea are shifting global conditions and energy markets.

Todd Royal is a geopolitical risk and energy consultant based in Los Angeles.