Rich Mayfield: No. 1 spots the U.S. doesn’t want
All eyes are looking to the Far East this weekend as the Beijing Olympics begins.
Fans from around the world will be rooting their athletes on to victory. By the end of the competition, proud patriots from 205 countries will have had the chance to sip from the cup of nationalistic pride.
Something like $40 billion has been spent on stadiums and infrastructures by the good folk in Beijing to make this year’s Olympiad really special. I suspect the 1.5 million Beijing locals who were evicted to make room for those stadiums and infrastructures aren’t particularly impressed, but everyone has to make some sacrifices, right?
Here in America, many of us are anticipating certain victory in basketball, where we have fielded 12 of our richest professional athletes to bring home the gold in this quadrennial gathering of amateurs. But why quibble over minor matters when, for the next two weeks, we can bask before our TVs as men and women, much fitter than me and probably you, will add to our nation’s already Olympic-leading collection of 2,197 gold, silver and bronze medals.
Of course, America would be even further ahead if medals were allocated for accomplishments outside of this year’s limited Olympic venues …
If only implementing capital punishment was a means of healthy competition!
Although 60 countries still maintain the death penalty, the U.S’s chances of garnering a medal in this closely monitored contest is hampered only by the enthusiastic work of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and China who, together with our own stalwart team of executioners here on the home front, are responsible for 88 percent of the world’s state-sanctioned killings. With Texas continuing to inject lethal dosages despite international protests, we just may squeak by for a bronze.
But we are looking a little better in the less competitive torture categories. Our recent accomplishments in water-boarding and “enhanced interrogation” techniques might give us the edge over the Sudanese, who have been training extra hard in Darfur.
The loss of Coach Rumsfeld was quite a setback but with 260 detainees in Guantanamo still to practice on, our chances for gold are looking good.
In the race for the coveted Climate Clogging medal, China appears to have an insurmountable lead with enviable examples of smog encrusted environments and water-borne pollutants. However, the Chinese’ recent expenditures of more than $21 billion to clean up their largest city, along with some ill-advised factory and highway closings, may open the soot-covered door to a U.S. silver. Keep a stinging red eye on this race!
As for the over-hyped clash between Iran and America for the Incompetent Leadership medals, I would want to remind those of us already counting on the gold here that there are other, equally unskilled heads of state bungling about the planet.
Venezuela, Zimbabwe and North Korea are all fielding pretty impressive candidates this year. But given the eagerly anticipated end to you-know-who’s tenure, I’m hoping for a sentimental vote in our direction on this one.
The long-awaited contest that culminates with the Irrelevant International Criminal Court medals pits Serbia against Sudan with both countries fielding extraordinary teams of dramatically violent dissenters and deniers. Again, the U.S. stands a fairly good chance on this one, but only if President Bush continues to protect members of his administration from criminal prosecution by denying the legitimacy of the ICC.
“This is a body based in The Hague where unaccountable judges and prosecutors could pull our troops, our diplomats up for trial,” Bush explained a few years back.
Finally, I’m pinning my biggest hope for gold in the highly competitive Lining Your Own Pockets race. What with Exxon Mobil announcing their biggest quarterly profits ever and Halliburton International receiving billions of dollars in uncontested military contracts, both our ex-oilman president and Halliburton alum vice-president look to enjoy their new retirements with nary a worry while we can chalk up one more medal for the good old U.S.A!
Rich Mayfield is the author of “Reconstructing Christianity: Notes from the New Reformation.”