Saturday, August 14, 2004

Bush takes credit for Olympic Movement

In one of the more bizarre twists of the Presidential campaign, George Bush's most recent T.V. campaign ad (being run in "battleground states") takes credit for the triumph of the Olympic Movement (or Triumph of the Will? -- see below), citing the growth in the number of "free nations" participating from 40 to 120 since 1960, although Bush wasn't in power for most of that period. (The number of nations participating in absolute numbers also grew dramatically during that 40-year period, a trend Bush had absolutely nothing to do with, although he tries to take credit for it anyway.) The definition of "free nation" seems a little bit stretched to me as well. Most observers would consider a "free nation" to have free and fair elections, but those same experts would probably question whether some of the newly Bush family mafia-controlled countries really have "free and fair elections."

Take Jeb Bush-controlled Florida, for example. There's a good deal of evidence (see earlier post) that the 2000 elections weren't exactly free and fair.

Take Kuwait, which has just banned Fahrenheit 911 for distribution there, because it insults Bush and the leaders of other "friendly" nations like Saudi Arabia, and it is apparently illegal to insult Bush and other friendly nations in Kuwait, or at least to do so in cinema.

The T.V. ad takes credit for the fielding of (tiny) Olympic teams by "free" (i.e., Bush-family controlled) Iraq and Afganistan. How much did we spend buying up these countries? USD 75 Billion? USD 120 Billion just this year? I think it was more than that; the Bush Administation has been sketchy with the numbers, and the price keeps going up, along with the long-term committment of more Billions. How many schools could we have built for this money? How many sports-facilities for future Olympians?

For USD 120 Billion, we ought to be able to get Iraq and Afganistan a few Olympians on an Olympic Team. Its not that, you know, when you've got billions and billions of US taxpayer dollars to spend. Even Greece is sending a baseball team, made up of Greek-American baseball players, so with enough money (for persuasion in the form of various incentives and commercial tie-ins) you can qualified atheletes to reflag to play for you. Many Olympic atheletes are reflagged, having immigrated for work, marriage, or other reasons. Others play for a different country that where they live, because the sports facilities are better in their new country of residence. The main thing is just getting the permission of that country's team so you can represent them there.

Heck, Bush probably spent more money producing the campaign TV commerical bragging about how a "free" (read Bush-family controlled) Iraq now has an Olympic (soccer/football) team, then it actually cost sending some Iraqi soccer/football team over to Athens. (That is apparently all "free" Iraq sent.)

Nor is Olympic competition the most accurate indicator of a healty democracy, or even that of a prosperous nation. The Soviet Union, well known for its political freedoms and fair elections (not), was a real Olympic powerhouse.

The Soviet (and satellite East German) dictators saw the Olympics in political terms as a potential Cold War propaganda coup (trying to convince the world that the Soviets were Uebermenchen who could not be defeated on the Olympic and real battlefields). They screened every child for athletic talent, and then create special elite atheletic schools to train those children with athletic promise for potential Olympic roles, often beginning at very early ages.

Since Olympic training was effective a military endeavor, it should not surprise anyone that the Soviet and East German coaches often placed their proteges on regimes of special drugs to build physique. These drugs and blood dopeing would leave the system long before the games (or were engineered to be undetectable by the technology of that day) even if they endangered the lives or fertility of their "soldier" atheletes. This was the Cold War, and war is hell. (Following the almighty dollar, many of these coaches, incidentally, moved to China and the United States after the cold war ended.)

It's ironic that the Bush Administration has chosen to follow in the Soviet Union's footsteps in trying to use an Olympic team to disguise unsavory realities back home in Iraq and Afganistan.

What's even more ironic is that the Bush Administration, with all of our American know-how, has done a far less convincing job than the Soviets or East Germans ever managed.

Incidentally, there was one other "strong leader" and that infamously used the Olympic games to promote a militaristic agenda. Hint: It happened right before World War II, and an infamous propaganda film about it was made by one Leni Riefenstahl.

And that brings up another issue. Did you know you need to be either hand-picked by a Republican operative or sign an oath of fealty to Bush to get into a Bush campaign event? (This is not true of the Kerry events, where Bush goons have gained admittance.) Entrants are reportedly examined for possible anti-Bush items, like anti-Bush t-shirts or buttons (or even supporting positions that disagree with the Bush line, like pro-abortion buttons or t-shirt.) Those unfortunately enough to show up with a t-shirt that runs afoul of Bush family political dogma reportedly have their tickets unceremoniously publically shredded by Republica goons, after which they are then expelled -- unusual steps given that Bush is not just a candidate, but the President as well, whom many citizens would like to hear speak even if they don't support him enough to sign a contract swearing fealty.

This explains why, despite the polls, Bush events look like a Wagnerian opera filmed by Leni Riefenstahl, with attendees practically eating out of his hand and worshipping him as the Messiah, or The Leader (which has a nasty German translation). These are either Republican operatives or some unfortunate souls who believe the Republican propaganda that Bush was hand-picked by God to deliver us away from 911 (a situation many now realize was created by Bush negligence).

It's unfortunate that the self-proclaimed "war President" has tried to use the Olympic dove, torch, and rings, traditionally symbols of peace and fair-play on the atheletic field, to promote an agenda of militarism and fraud.

One of my darkest set of Amazon recommendations ever. Riefenstahl's Nazi propaganda masterpiece Olympia is still shown today because of its visual stunning promotion of the Olympic games. It demonstrates the political, propagandistic power of both cinematic images and of the Olympics themselves: