The ceaseless U.S. propaganda campaign that has relentlessly smeared Russia and particularly Vladimir Putin since he granted asylum to former government contractor turned NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and then derailed the big push for a war on Syria scored big time on Saturday. The 2014 edition of the U.S. Olympic men's hockey team beat their Russian counterparts setting off a wave of raw nationalist fervor and conjuring up memories of the Cold War era. One of the greatest propaganda triumphs of the latter part of the 20th Century was when the 1980 team defied all odds and beat the big red machine at Lake Placid, NY in what was proclaimed as the "Miracle on Ice" sending a reeling nation into jubilation and pride and creating a cottage industry. In the typical unstuck in time, lacking historical context and politically motivated fashion the state-corporate media seized on the win - the final result cemented in one of those ridiculous bush league shootouts that the National Hockey League has adopted to market the sport domestically - to poke a star spangled middle finger into Putin's eye.
It was a tight, hard fought game before a raucous crowd at the Bolshoi Ice Dome including the Russian leader himself in which the U.S. squad benefited hugely from a disallowed goal late in the third period that led to the shootout. St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie then scored four times in the shootout for the final 3-2 tally. Being a hockey fan of sorts there are two things that I despise one being poor officiating and two being those ridiculous shootouts, how better to wreck a good game than ending it in a silly skills contest? In the NHL playoffs there is a thing called overtime and the teams play until one actually wins in honest fashion. The disallowed Russian goal was one of the former, the net was moved off of its moorings by U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings. The problem is not that the net was moved, by a look at the video it clearly was but went unnoticed by anyone until Quick himself pointed it out after he was beaten for the likely winning goal. As in all sports contests fans tend to go off over lousy officiating, a Russian politician's tweet was grabbed and featured in the Washington Post under "Russian Politician Smells a Rat" a propaganda coup.
The post-game results were predictable, the comparisons to the 1980 team and the "Miracle on Ice" were used early and often despite that none of the current members of the U.S. team had even been born yet when Mike Eruzione punched his squad's ticket with destiny. That there is no comparison whatsoever between the teams, in 1980 there were no professional athletes unlike now when every member plays in the NHL which takes a nearly three week mid-season hiatus for the Olympics. The Russian team at that time was an awesome global powerhouse while the U.S. bunch was a scrappy, well-coached collection of amateurs with plenty of heart, it was a historic sports upset that was well deserving of the adoration for a tremendous achievement. It's just hard to get too revved over a collection of highly paid mercenaries who will be back on their own teams come next week. None of this matters though to the pathetic excuse for a media, one of the more nauseating pieces comes from Sports Illustrated:
On the first day of the rest of his life, T. J. Oshie, shootout god, had gained some 50,000 Twitter followers and at least one nickname:
“Now he can talk about his (goals) for the next 30 years,” defenseman Ryan Suter said of Oshie, a comment that also served as a sly dig at the man who scored the game winner in the 1980 Miracle against the Soviet Union and has been dining out on it ever since. “We’ve been giving (T.J.) a hard time in the room. I even told my Dad that. (Bob Suter played on the 1980 Olympic team.) He said that maybe now we can talk about something else for a while.”
Because jibes are the currency of the dressing room, Oshie is now the richest man in Sochi - an American hockey oligarch. He heard the chirping the second he walked into the room after the Russian game on Saturday because, really, no good deed should go unpunished. There are other nicknames floating around – Team USA captain Zach Parise apparently has a beauty – but Oshie is trying to squash them before they leak. Or worse, trend.
“More Twitter followers, that’s about it,” Oshie said when asked about how his life had changed after Team USA’s 5-1 victory over Slovenia on Sunday, a win that gave the Americans a direct berth into the quarterfinals on Wednesday. “I’m still the same guy, the same hockey player, just out here having fun.
Oshie keeps it in perspective, his St. Louis Blues are in the thick of the race in the Western Conference and the most coveted hardware to a professional hockey player is the Stanley Cup. Besides, the win over the Russians was only in the preliminary round, there is the possibility that they will meet again this week but even if the U.S. wins again it will be no "Miracle on Ice". The duel for the gold will probably be between the U.S. and Canada, the Russians are not in the same league as the 1980 big red machine and are saddled with both the perennial choker Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and vicious woman abuser Semyon Varlamov of the Colorado Avalanche.
The real winner of the Olympic gold medal, at least in the propaganda slalom would be the ever abysmal domestic media in The Homeland, they continue to plumb the depths with their ongoing hatchet job on all things Russian. You have to be a serious cynic to find as much humor in it all but how do you not laugh when reading something as idiotic as this from the Washington Post "In Russia, World War II is suddenly everywhere again" that unbelievably slams the Russians for invoking WWII:
The pageant of Russian history presented in the Olympic Opening Ceremonies passed over the Soviet victory in World War II to the consternation of more than a few patriots. But the war seems to be making the news these days more than ever nonetheless.
Russian sacrifices in the fight against the Nazis 70 years ago were stupendous, and feelings still run deep. Every family paid a price, and the war haunts everyday life here in a way that short-memory Americans would find startling. But there’s another side to its legacy: For decades after the war, Soviet leaders sought to reinforce their legitimacy by exploiting the memory of the titanic struggle.
And today the Russian government appears to be turning in the same direction.
President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin has portrayed Russia as being under ideological attack. The West, it says, wants to impose a different and alien value system on the Russian people. Critics say Putin has been warning against demons abroad as a way of shoring up his own standing during uncertain times.
And there could be no more potent denunciation of the West’s alleged motives than to compare them to those of Nazi Germany.
I don't know where to start on this one. It is lost on the writer that World War II references are often used to justify everything in the Homeland, each new war is spun by invoking the “good war” and every foreign leader with which the U.S. establishment has an ax to grind with is the “new Hitler”. As for the west (translation: the U.S. of A.) and comparisons to Nazi Germany I wonder where one would get a crazy idea like that. After all, it's not like our media has become the greatest propaganda machine since the Goebbels era, nor do we engage in illegal invasions of foreign countries, we sure as hell don't have a massive Gestapo like surveillance apparatus spying on our every conversation, text, purchase and email and it's not like we will ever have internment camps here. Those goddamned Russians are totally batshit!
But when it comes down to the theater of the absurd it is hard to beat the surfacing of the political cadaver that is Mitt Romney who joined the Russian bashing on NBC’s Meet the Press with David Gregory on Sunday morning. Mr. ‘47 percent’ being a self-proclaimed authority on all things Olympic after his involvement with the 2002 winter games in Salt Lake City, Utah smacked Putin around for -get this- spending too much money to “cynically, to show off the politicians in a country”. I excerpt the following from The Guardian:
Mitt Romney has condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin for spending billions on the Sochi Winter Olympics, as part of an “unsavoury” vanity project.
However Romney, who made his name turning around the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002 before running unsuccessfully for president as a Republican in 2008 and 2012, risks being accused of hypocrisy. Several officials who worked alongside Romney in Salt Lake City have gone on record accusing him of using the Games for his own political gain.
Romney famously approved a series of Olympic pins bearing his own face, including one in which he was surrounded by official Games mascots beneath the slogan: “Hey Mitt, We Love You!”
Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Romney complained that public funds for Olympics were being used “cynically, to show off the politicians in a country”, and said the International Olympic Committee should cap the amount spent on the Games.
“You don’t need to spend $50bn as Russia has or as China did [for the 2008 summer Games], to put on Olympic sport. Olympic sport can be demonstrated at $2-3bn, and all that extra money could be used to do some very important things in terms of fighting poverty and fighting disease around the world.”
He added: “To take money from some people so that politicians can be puffed up and can be shown around the world is, I think, something that is very distasteful at a time when there is so much poverty and so much need.”
What a stunning bit of hypocrisy given the wealthy elitist's on the record contempt towards the little people. Hell, I suppose if they could exhume Ronald Reagan’s corpse and haul it around the country like some bizarre sequel to Weekend at Bernie's that even the Gipper would be in on the new national pastime of kicking Putin in the nuts. I mean can it get any more absurd than trotting out Mitt Romney who crapped his magic Mormon underwear somewhere between the gross celebration of national ignorance during the endless series of GOP primaries and the fulfillment of the White Horse Prophesy? The guy is a loser and his even his great wealth couldn’t buy enough credibility with the party base (that never trusted the guy in the first place) to take out the vulnerable Obama. So what if Romney was the Big Kahuna at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, what the hell has he done to keep the unconstitutional and illegal NSA out of Utah? Why is it that the LOSERS of U.S. elections can’t just do the dignified thing and go away? John Kerry, John McCain and now Romney all make Al Gore look like a veritable recluse.
The Sochi Olympics can't end soon enough, the state-corporate media needs to get back to covering really important matters like the Kardashians and the Oscar Pistorius trial.