June 5, 2007

Flashback To Impotence

The Bush administration has rightly scotched the idea of a revival for a particularly inane Jimmy Carter policy -- the Olympic boycott. Both the White House and the USOC have immediately rejected a suggestion by Governor Bill Richardson that the US boycott the Beijing Olympics for its indifference to the genocide in Darfur:

The Bush administration and American Olympic officials are rebuffing calls to consider a boycott of the Olympic Games in Beijing next year to protest China's sluggish response to the genocide in Darfur.

The U.S. Olympic Committee pointedly rejected the idea of a boycott, which was floated by Governor Richardson of New Mexico on Sunday night during a debate for Democratic presidential candidates.

"We completely disagree with the point of view expressed by Governor Richardson," a spokesman for the committee, Darryl Seibel, said yesterday. "The Olympic movement is about sport, not politics, and, as has been demonstrated in the past, boycotts accomplish absolutely nothing other than to unfairly penalize athletes who have spent decades preparing for that moment."

For those who don't know, Richardson proposed an Olympic boycott as one of his actions to force China to apply pressure on Sudan. Apparently, Richardson spent 1980 in a coma. Jimmy Carter tried the same tactic on the Soviet Union after its invasion of Afghanistan, and it did absolutely nothing.

Well, that's not entirely true. Even though a number of nations joined us in the boycott, not one single Soviet soldier got withdrawn from Afghanistan. However, it did have the effect of making us look impotent, a feat that Carter had already accomplished in Teheran the year before. It did bring us ringing condemnation for using a sporting event as a political tool. In other words, it made us look like idiots.

In 1984, however, the Soviets returned the favor. This time they got all of the criticism while we scooped up most of their medals. I lived in LA at the time, and believe me, none of us missed the Soviets that summer. We had a great time, only marred by the addition of synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics as "sports".

What would an Olympic boycott do, anyway? China isn't guilty of anything but a sin of omission, for which we should then sanction half of our trading partners -- at least half. Besides, China relies on Sudanese oil, and the net economic effect of an Olympic boycott would be negligible in comparison to a loss of Sudanese crude. It's laughable on its face, almost as laughable as the idea that an Olympic boycott would force a surrender by the Soviets to the mujahideen.

Richardson has provided an instructive moment. Apparently there is no policy hatched by Jimmy Carter that is too stupid, too useless, too impotent not to get a second try by Democrats wanting to run for the presidency.

Addendum: Besides, if we want to boycott an Olympiad, we might want to select the London games in 2012. At least then we wouldn't have to see their new logo:

I had to stare a long time to realize that the logo reads LO 12, for London Olympics 2012. Stephen Bayley at the Telegraph calls it "a puerile mess, an artistic flop and a commercial scandal," which is putting it lightly. Does that thing come with batteries and a volume knob?

UPDATE: The Yell informs me that the logo reads "2012", and links to this Telegraph media presentation. Apparently, the logo afflicts anyone in motion; I suggest that Londoners stand absolutely still until it dies.


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Comments (23)

Posted by Matt Boden | June 5, 2007 7:50 AM

May have to keep staring, I think it's 2012...no wait, LO12...no, wait, 2012...uh, who cares; it's ugly either way.

Posted by The Yell | June 5, 2007 7:50 AM

If we really wanted to punish China, shouldn't we send Carter to their Olympics?

You didn't stare long enough. It is "2012". Yes, the '2's don't match.

It's supposed to be incredibly awesome and modern and inspiring when you see it fully animated. As here


Contrast that "modern" 2007 animation with Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing" video from the first Reagan Administration...


Posted by Roy E | June 5, 2007 7:58 AM

It does look like a structure crumbling - An apt metaphor for Britain?

Posted by PersonFromPorlock | June 5, 2007 8:10 AM

I thought at the time that the USOC should publicly make Mr. Carter an offer: "We'll tell our athletes to wait four years if you'll tell us what you expect the boycott to do... and agree not to run in the next presidential election if it doesn't work."

I suspect the boycott would have quietly disappeared.

Posted by rbj | June 5, 2007 8:19 AM

Worst. Logo. Ever.

I remember hearing talk about an "Olympics truce" during the '02 Winter games, based upon the false belief that all the Greeks stopped fighting during the ancient games, but that the evil George W. Bush would hear none of it. Yet it's the Dems who like politicizing the games.

Posted by Clyde | June 5, 2007 8:25 AM

Well, this is the country that produced the guy who glued 8,601 diamonds on a skull and called it art. If that's the winning design, heaven only knows what the rest of the entries looked like!

Posted by Tom Shipley | June 5, 2007 8:27 AM

Worst. Logo. Ever.

If it is the worst logo ever (and I actually don't hate it as much as most), then this is certainly the worst mascot ever.

Posted by bulbasaur | June 5, 2007 8:28 AM

The five rings are symbolic to me of the prying eyes of BushCo and Karl Rove violating my civil rights with their so-called war on terror every waking moment.

Posted by NahnCee [TypeKey Profile Page] | June 5, 2007 8:39 AM

bulbasaur, if your civil rights were *really* violated wouldn't you be either disappeared or locked up and removed from where you could get to a computer and the internet?

Posted by bulbasaur | June 5, 2007 9:11 AM

NahnCee, BushCo is waiting until the day before Inauguration, 2009. On that day, blue-helmeted stormtroopers will canvas the globe, breaking down doors. I envision them sedating me and then placing me in quarantine, then BushCo will declare martial law and it's all over, right there, my friend. All you have to do is look on the Internet, it's all right there, man.

Posted by Cicero | June 5, 2007 9:43 AM

Someone else already provided a link to what I still believe is arguably the worst mascot ever, Izzy from the '96 Olympics in Atlanta. I remember thinking, What the &$%@! does a blob of blue toothpaste have in common with Atlanta? Why not a phoenix, or a peanut, or a peach? No, we get this annoying blue slug. Aagh, I still get upset thinking about it.

Posted by Grey | June 5, 2007 9:45 AM

This link has man on the street reaction to the logo. Of the only people who lijked the damn thing, it sounds as if they are American.


Posted by Only_One_Cannoli | June 5, 2007 12:14 PM

bulbasaur ... ;-)

Awful logo. Almost as if a tasteful, stylized British Isles logo vomited out meaningless, equal-sized, angular, fuchsia doo-hickies with the weight of the abstract 00 blob smashing the poor little 2 underneath, ripping off its little arm in a violent clash of olympic proprotions before the designer asked the important question "um ... any idear where I should put the li'le trademark symbol?".

Posted by Eric | June 5, 2007 12:42 PM

I've read three wonderful criticisms of it. Samizdata.net described it as a building at the moment of demolition, perfect metaphor for modern British society. A commenter at the UK Telegraph described it as a post-modern SS lightning logo.

I read that the design committee was inspired by graffiti all over London. Seriously.

In that regard one of the commenters at the Telegraph mentioned that this should be considered plagarism because they've seen that image all over the inside of men's restrooms scratched into the stalls. Then I read someone describe it as Lisa Simpson giving a bj. I can't help it now, everytime I look at it that is exactly what I see.

Posted by KauaiBoy | June 5, 2007 12:48 PM

I wonder what the second choice was----a smiling Prince Charles. I heard someone say the logo is designed to have youth appeal---if true, younger people are a lot dumber than I assumed. This thing looks like it can cause seizures.

Posted by NahnCee | June 5, 2007 1:28 PM

Best description I've read is "Lisa Simpson giving a blow job" ...although I think it looks more like Maggie, but that would be too icky.

Posted by swabjockey05 | June 5, 2007 1:33 PM

Eric: You may need to seek some professional help, shipmate.

Posted by The Yell | June 5, 2007 3:39 PM

It's like the Rabbit in the Moon, isn't it...once you spot the pattern you need a conscious effort to ignore it. Swabjockey is right, it may well take professional help...Thanks a lot, cousins.

Posted by Ryan | June 5, 2007 7:14 PM

My first impression was a person on the left kicking the guy on the right in the cajones. Maybe it was my own image association of Europe with soccer....

Posted by The Yell | June 5, 2007 7:26 PM


I had no idea when I posted the link this morning, but at least 10 cases of epileptic fits are being reported in the UK from people who watched that animation. It apparently violates industry guidelines against rapidly flashing colors.

You should probably take it down...


Posted by Joshua | June 5, 2007 9:44 PM

When Beijing was awarded the Olympics it was controversial in itself, because of China's own dubious human rights record. So of all the things to call for a boycott of the Beijing Games over, Richardson picks Darfur? He is one of my favorite Democratic candidates, but this lowers my estimation of him by a notch or two.

Posted by PJ | June 5, 2007 9:52 PM

"Lisa Simpson giving a blow job" - absolutely.

Posted by Clyde | June 6, 2007 9:09 AM