Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Our National Disgrace: the United States Congress

Sorry to take time out here to vent, but, after watching less than ten minutes of DC delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton vain attempts to vilify Toyota executives in a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee made me ponder the usefulness of this formerly-august body.

This is the gang of 535, with a national approval rating hovering around 20% that has taken as much money from lobbyists as legally-allowed (and probably more), sat back and watched as the banking interests took over and nearly destroyed the country's economy, and hasn't done much of anything useful or in the best interests of the American people since the early 50s, or, most of my lifetime.

Listening to the moronic Barney Frank drool his way through Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's required testimony today was quite enough. Frank and his fellow goof-balls proved they have about the same working knowledge of financial matters as your average 3rd grader, and even that might give 3rd graders a bum rap.

But this Toyota nonsense is the ultimate disgrace of our country. I feel I must publicly apologize to the people of Japan for the actions of our congress and other government regulatory agencies. I'm sorry, Japan! I didn't vote for any of these fools, and they certainly don't represent me or my beliefs.

Dragging the head of Toyota and other executives before a congressional committee is just a continuance of the massive government smear campaign designed to make people stop thinking about our destroyed economy and throw blame on the "evil" Toyota executives.

It's the worst kind of race-baiting and every member of that committee should resign in disgrace. Toyota's problems may be serious, but they're surely not any worse than other carmakers faults. The timing of this entire sordid folly seems just about appropriate for the idiots who are supposed to be "serving the people." Just months ago, General Motors and Chrysler received - and haven't yet paid back - billions of dollars from taxpayers to salvage what was left of their disastrous businesses.

Soon thereafter came rumors of Toyota's "sudden acceleration" issues, and the game was on. Now congress, attempting to look serious, brings Toyota execs in to be chastised publicly. It's just one more sad day - piled upon hundreds if not thousands before it - of congress publicly displaying their absolute incompetence.

Is there any wonder why so many "tea parties" and splinter political groups have emerged over the past few years. Congress has abrogated their authority, shirked their responsibilities and now can only pander to the lowest, most base emotions of the public throng. They are a national disgrace and the sooner they are run out of office and out of town, the better.


Down on Wall Street, markets got an unexpected bump up early in the day. Without any reason, the Dow jumped about 90 points in a span of about 20 minutes, right around 10:30 am. The other indices were also goosed higher, presumably by insiders or the notorious PPT, right during Bernanke's testimony.

These kinds of moves have gotten to be old hat by now, and accepted as normal by most market participants, but they are surely designed to keep stocks grinding along and not falling into the slop where many of them belong.

Yesterday, the news on two fronts - housing and consumer sentiment - sent the indices screeching into a hole. Today, without any catalyst, they practically erased all of Tuesday's losses, which is why I have been out of stocks mostly since 2007, and now, permanently. There's no rhyme nor reason to the equity markets currently, thus, there's no reason to be even one penny invested in stocks. There will be a fall this year, and it's likely to rival the collapse from September 2008 to March 2009, regardless of the efforts of big money players or government miscreants.

The only data release of any importance was negative: New home sales for January fell 11.2% month-over-month in their worst monthly downturn since January 2009. So, naturally, stocks should go up?

Dow 10,374.16, +91.75 (0.89%)
NASDAQ 2,235.90, +22.46 (1.01%)
S&P 500 1,105.24, +10.64 (0.97%)
NYSE Composite 7,030.67, +56.07 (0.80%)

Advancers slaughtered decliners, 4443-2038. New highs: 254; new lows: 59. Volume was moderate.

NYSE Volume 4,734,957,000
NASDAQ Volume 2,119,022,000

Commodities traded in different directions. Crude oil, even after the government reported that inventories rose by 3.03 million barrels, gained $1.24, to $80.21. To point up just how manipulated and corrupt the crude oil futures exchange is, here is an article expressing the opinion that crude rose because the dollar was weak. The article also points out that the American Petroleum Institute announced Tuesday that crude inventories had fallen by 3.1 million barrels.

Up, down, who cares? As long as the oil barons continue cashing their checks. No need to worry that persistently high fuel prices over the past seven years have helped cripple the US economy.

So, if the weak dollar caused oil prices to rise, why then, did gold lose $6.40, and drop to $1,096.80. Apparently, gold is no longer tracking the dollar and responding inversely to it. Or, maybe it's all just speculation, fun and games. Incidentally, silver was up 17 cents, at $15.98 per ounce.

And just so I know the world isn't completely off its axis (although close to spinning out of control), I see Fast Money is back on the air on CNBC. What, no curling? Maybe somebody actually took my impassioned plea from yesterday seriously.

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