Détente as a new Winter Olympic Event?
The United States is not going to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Neither is any other participating country for that matter. Russia’s new hard-line anti-LGBT laws, unconditional support of the Assad regime in Syria nor the granting of asylum for Edward Snowden will slow down, let alone halt, the games in Sochi.
This brings up an important question: How did poor Vancouver get dragged into this? The Canadians don’t want it back there. The Vancouver Sun doesn’t even have the attempt by some to relocate the Games there as a main story on the front page today. The online version of the paper, however, does have a report several headlines above the Change.org’s petition story that reads: “Miami Beach teen caught spraying graffiti dies after shock from police Taser”. This is the level of excitement that British Columbians have when considering the prospect of hosting their 2nd Olympic Games in 4 years.
When you do find the report, it does quote Vancouver City Councilman Geoff Meggs as saying a 7 month lead time to get Vancouver ready as an Olympic Plan B is “not like putting fresh sheets on the guest bed.” The story continues: “I can understand the intention, but practically I don’t see how it could happen,” he said Wednesday, noting Vancouver had seven years to plan the 2010 Games. “I think lots of people in Vancouver would love to have the Games again, but it’s a question of who would pay for it and how it could possibly be done, and I don’t think we know the answer to either of those questions,” he said. Clearly It would seem in some quarters that if American celebrities want Russia to be put on notice that their government is doing unfair, cruel and inhumane things to innocent people (which it has been doing since the days of the czars), then maybe those same celebrities better starting writing some big checks to the City of Vancouver. Fast.
Many people, especially activists on the left, are under the delusion the Olympics are about competition, athletic spirit and national pride. They’re not. They’re about money. Lindsey Vonn made $2.5 million after the 2010 Winter Games. Apolo Ohno made $1.5 million, Bode Miller made $1.3 million and all three of these individuals are still earning huge sums years after the flame was extinguished over Vancouver. Truly these are the lives that will be in tatters if they can’t participate in Sochi next February. Make no mistake, the decision of whether to boycott the Olympic Games is absolutely not about salvaging the egos of athletes who have “trained their whole lives for this moment”. Neither Moscow nor Washington nor any other government honestly gives a damn about the training amateur athletes do in order to excel in their sport at Olympic levels. If by some bizarre twist of fate the games are boycotted or cancelled, I’m quite certain the thrill of having the chance, just the chance, to compete in world championships, endorse breakfast cereals and pose in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue will make these young people quite content.
Nobody despises the actions of the Kremlin lately more than I do. Russia’s record on human rights has been abysmal for generations and Vladimir Putin shows no sign of wanting to buck the trend. So if anyone wants the Winter Games in 2014 moved out of Russia, don’t listen to people like Stephen Fry, George Takei or disgruntled NSA and State Department officials who are still fuming over the fact that they couldn’t get Snowden in handcuffs. Also, enough with the whole 1936 Berlin Olympics comparison either. Jacques Rogge and his bunch at the IOC aren’t buying what the media is selling so let’s drop that one, shall we? Petitions to the White House will be completely and utterly useless. The U.S. Government will do what it feels is in the best interest of the country and wondering whether or not to participate in a Russian Olympics isn’t high on the list. You want to send petitions? Send them to the boards of directors of Nike, McDonald’s, GE, Coca-Cola, Reebok, Omega, Dow Chemicals, P&G, Samsung, British Petroleum, Rolex, Verizon, Gatorade and Adidas. If anyone has a say on the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the Olympic Games, they do…
GOP Tests the Meaning of Insanity
Sometimes I simply cannot adequately express an opinion in the way it really needs to be said. As such, in honor of the 40th (that’s right…40th) time Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have tried in vain to repeal The Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) on August 2nd and House Speaker John Boehner’s recent statement on July 21st that “Congress should not be judged on how many new laws we create but on how many laws we repeal”, I offer this assessment of the idiocy currently plaguing the Lower House in Washington. In its zeal to simply oppose and dismantle anything and everything the President supports, I give you the words of the sublime Dana Milbank of The Washington Post. His words speak more eloquently, and bluntly, than I can on this lunacy…
GOP tests the meaning of insanity
By Dana Milbank
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Post
July 18, 2013
WASHINGTON — Well, this is embarrassing.
Republicans have made so many attempts to repeal “Obamacare” that the scorekeepers have lost count.
“Republicans,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., “voted to repeal it 40 times.”
“Their 38th vote to repeal,” Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, tallied Wednesday on the House floor.
“Thirty-nine times,” declared New York Rep. Louise Slaughter, the ranking Democrat on the Rules Committee.
“The House has tried nearly 40 times,” the White House asserted.
Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, wasn’t sure. The chairman of the Ways and Means Committee’s health subcommittee referred to criticism that “Republicans are trying for the 38th or 39th time to repeal Obamacare.”
Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon observed that “my good friend, the chairman, couldn’t even reference exactly how many times they’ve tried to repeal it.”
But let’s not pick on Brady. All the tallies fall well short of the actual number of times Congress has voted to repeal all or part of Obamacare. It has done that — are you sitting down? — 67 times.
According to Glenn Kessler, The Washington Post’s fact checker, there were 37 votes to scale back Obamacare before two votes Wednesday in the House. But those 39 don’t include the Senate, where Reid’s office has documented 28 votes, all but a couple in the form of Republican amendments. This might explain the new findings that Congress is holding more votes than ever but passing fewer bills.
The 66th and 67th attempts went much like the previous 65, except for a mid-debate recess so that lawmakers could have their official photograph taken on the House floor.
“This bill is unraveling before us,” exulted Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, reported that “the train is not coming off the rails; it’s already off the rails.”
On the Democratic side, Rep. John Dingell of Michigan responded by saying, “Einstein observed that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again with the full expectation that the results are going to be different.” Actually, the quote is probably apocryphal — but Einstein didn’t live to see the 113th Congress.
The proposals on the floor Wednesday were relatively mild: One codified the delay in the law’s employer mandate already announced by the Obama administration, and one extended the delay to the individual mandate. And Republicans weren’t entirely logical or consistent in advancing these proposals. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, accused the Obama administration of ushering in “socialism,” while Brady argued the contradictory position that the White House is “just listening to the voices of business” and ignoring “Joe Six-pack.”
But Republican lawmakers were clear about one thing: The tally of attempts will continue to rise.
“Postponing the two mandates are only the latest steps to repeal Obamacare,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida said on the floor.
Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana explained that “each day this law is delayed gives us more time to seek its total repeal.”
The overkill isn’t irrational. As The Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff noted, research shows that people resist regulations more vigorously if they think the requirements will eventually be repealed. “If it’s 37, 38, 39, I don’t care,” Rep. Rich Nugent, R-Fla., said this week. “If we do it 100 times, sooner or later we’ll get it right.”
And so Republicans continue to tee up the repeal votes — far more than anybody realized.
“Thirty, 40 times we’re talking about repealing it,” protested Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y.
Or was it, as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., posited, “the 38th time”?
“I kind of lost track,” confessed Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C.
It’s OK, Congressman. So did everyone else.