Did you get your tickets to the Olympic events of your choice? No? Not going to the Olympics? Maybe you can’t afford to go. What a shame. Turns out there are unoccupied seats all over the place. [http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/07/28/olympics-officials-confront-rash-of-under-attended-events/] No-one seems entirely sure why the seats are empty; maybe the tickets for those seats were sold in blocks to corporations and the purchasers didn’t end up sending enough personnel to fill their sections. Or maybe people took one look at the military, mercenaries, and their assorted collective hardware hired to protect the venue and decided it just didn’t look like it was worth all the hassle. Hell, London even has its own teen-aged Nazi Youth involved in guarding the games. [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2172194/Olympic-security-firm-trains-3-300-teenagers-guard-Games-284m-debacle.html] Perhaps the opening ceremony creeped out a bunch of people and they went home immediately after. [http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/07/20/olympic-torch-brought-to-london-by-commando-descending-from-military-helicopter/] Empty seats at the Olympics. All those millions spent (thanks, London!) and no-one to cavity-search. Life is full of mystery.
But we can be thankful that here at home, we get to watch our own sporting events: the Congressional Olympics. We’ve got Hide the Bill, the Bill Switcheroo, Dark of Night Bill Passing (this one is fun – turns out Congress is really good at passing bills while the lights are out – they can read bills and vote in complete blackout conditions like bats homing in on insects. Reserved for elite bills that Americans might particularly object to.) We’ve got your Battle of 10,000 Amendments, Bribe the Congressman, and Liar’s Gamble. When those get tiresome, there are always the ever-popular Executive Order Runaround and the Filibuster Fake. No end of games on which to spend your money – and trust me, these will all cost you plenty.
In the latest midway game, the carny barkers drew our attention to the “Audit the Fed” bill which just passed the House in a 327-98 vote. Well, finally they are going to do something the people overwhelmingly support. Polls show 75% of Americans want the Fed audited and the results made available to the public. The Fed operates in almost complete secrecy (they only release full transcripts of their meetings after five years) and the public is sick of it.
In the very limited audit conducted by Bernie Sanders last year, it came out that the Federal Reserve had loaned out over 16 trillion dollars in interest-free money to the largest financial institutions between 2007 and 2010. [Coincidentally, the US debt now stands at over 15 tt. And bear in mind that the GDP for the entire US in 2011 was only slightly more than 15 tt bucks.] The Fed has now agreed to backstop the derivatives markets, which now stands at a notionally valued 1.2 quadrillion dollars. The partial audit also found that:
• The Fed gave huge bailouts to foreign banks, including Gaddafi’s Libyan bank, the Arab Banking Corp. of Bahrain, and the Banks of Bavaria, Korea and Mexico
• The Fed bailed out hedge funds, McDonald’s and Harley-Davidson
• The Fed threw money at “several billionaires and tens of multi-millionaires”, including Christy Mack, the wife of Morgan Stanley’s John Mack, billionaire businessman H. Wayne Huizenga, and Michael Dell, co-founder of Dell Computer, hedge fund manager John Paulson and private equity honcho J. Christopher Flowers
Moreover, there is strong evidence that the Fed’s decisions are often influenced by conflicts of interest. The non-partisan Government Accountability Office calls the Fed corrupt and riddled with conflicts of interest. Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz agrees, saying that the World Bank would view any country which had a banking structure like the Fed as being corrupt and untrustworthy.
This is sporting event, however, and Congress does not intend to actually allow the Fed to be audited. It turns out that it is the Senate Democrats who will stop this bill. It is their turn to be the bad guys in the Toss the Bill Wrestling Match.
[…]Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said the Senate will not consider the bill, effectively killing its chances of becoming law.Some Democrats caution an audit would open the central bank to political interference, but [Ron] Paul argues taxpayers should have total transparency in federal spending.
“We should have privacy for the individual, but we should have openness of government all the time. We’ve drifted a long way from that,” Paul said Tuesday on the House floor.“I think when people talk about independence and having this privacy of the central bank, it means they want secrecy.”
The vote comes amid speculation that recent bad economic news will prompt the Fed to take new action to strengthen the economy. The bank could embark on a third round of “quantitative easing” — an asset-purchase plan intended to further reduce interest rates.[…]
Democrat Timmeh Geithner, Treasury Secretary and tax cheat, once stated that auditing the Fed is a “line that we don’t want to cross” and that if we did audit the Fed it would be “problematic for the country”. Of course that is what he thinks. Timmeh hates audits. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke (a Democrat, by the way) has warned the Audit the Fed bill could expose the Fed to “political pressures”. Which is very funny, given that Bernanke has politicized the Fed more than any other chairman in the Fed’s history. His report to Congress last week was full of political suggestions, straying into areas the Fed is not supposed to comment on. This article is a very good summary of his comments and well worth reading in full: http://wsws.org/articles/2012/jul2012/bern-j18.shtml Here, I’ll give you a brief summary of his remarks in my own words:
“I don’t know nothing about LIBOR or what Timmeh knew about LIBOR. I wouldn’t tell you nothing even if I knew something, which I don’t, you fucking jakes. Economy? Economy sucks. Going to keep sucking. Too bad for you guys. I can’t do anything except print money. I’ll make the following suggestions even though I am not supposed to comment on political matters – austerity for everyone. Except the rich. You need to keep the Bush tax cuts in place and cut the welfare queens off at the knees. No job creation. Fuck job creation. Fuck you. See ya, wouldn’t want to be ya.” – Bernanke, as interpreted.
Barney Frank, a Democrat, said,“This is a way to shake your fist at the big bad Fed, and it’s not a good way.” – [http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2012/07/25/house-passes-ron-pauls-audit-the-fed-bill/?blog_id=8&post_id=16822]
“[…]Some Democrats, generally less critical of the Fed, say such audits would undermine the Fed’s independence and erode market confidence in the central bank. ‘That will politicize the making of such policy, and I think it’s a bad way to go,’ said Steny Hoyer, the number-two Democrat in the House.[…]” – http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/25/us-usa-fed-audit-idUSBRE86O1IX20120725
And to reiterate, it is the Senate Majority leader, Harry Reid – a Democrat – who won’t bring the bill to the floor of the Senate, although he supported similar bills over the years. This all reminds me of 2006, when Americans voted in a majority of Democrats, thinking that it would put an end to Bush and his illegal, dangerous policies. Instead, the first announcement the famous Democrat, Nancy Pelosi, made after the elections was “Impeachment is off the table”. Congress has been at these games a long time. It is about time for all of us to recognize that governing the US with any real effort to attend to the needs of her people is the last thing on the minds of these very special Olympians. They are exhibited as the freaks in the midway shows to draw the crowds – behind the scenes, the Bearded Ladies take off their false hairpieces and report their take to the carnival owners. We are not the owners; we are merely the marks.
See? No need to travel to London to watch some games being played.