One thing is becoming clear at the end of August: The summer doldrums are over, and volatility is increasing big time.
It's not only the situation in Syria that is causing the increase in volatility. Congress is coming back, and that means the debate over the debt ceiling will heat up. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said that if Congress doesn't act, the U.S. will reach the debt limit in mid-October. He then told CNBC that President Barack Obama will not negotiate over the debt limit.
(Read more: Lew: Obama not negotiating over debt limit)
But Republicans are already drawing a line in the sand. Some, like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, have said that they are willing to see a government shutdown unless Obamacare is defunded.
There is always a lot of big talk ahead of these increasingly common Washington crises, but the problem is, the market listens to it. So over the next few months, expect larger swings in the markets, and don't be surprised if the direction becomes increasingly hard to gauge.
So what does this all mean for traders and investors? My advice is three-fold.
First of all, keep focused on the long-term picture. After all, the government has always found a path forward, even if it looks relatively hopeless.
Remember the fiscal cliff? As we approached the end of the year, the market became increasingly convinced that the two sides couldn't come together. But just as all hope appeared lost, an 11th-hour compromise led the Dow to rally 300 points on the first trading day of the year.
(Read more: Investing: Don't let fear flatten your portfolio)
My second piece of advice: Keep your stops tight! It doesn't matter if you're bullish or bearish; big swings could end up costing you big money. To minimize the effects of fall volatility, you have to manage your positions effectively.
Third of all, take a page from Chuck D—and try not to believe the hype!