Adolf Hitler

Trump: the peril and limit of the 'moron' vote


In the spirit of Chris Rock at the Oscars on Sunday night, let’s get right to it, the elephant in the room. In this case, the room is decorated with the five Olympic rings and the elephant — ever-so-figuratively, given that he is running for the Republican presidential nomination — is Mr. Donald Trump. Straight talk: if Mr. Trump were to win the general presidential election in November, it’s difficult to draw up a scenario in which that would play well for Los Angeles’ bid for the 2024 Summer Games.

Donald Trump at a campaign rally Monday in Valdosta, Georgia // Getty Images

In the 2024 Olympic campaign, Los Angeles would seem, right now, to have a lot going for it. LA has all the ready advantage of being the center of all that is SoCal, plus the huge boost of not having to build hardly anything to get ready for a Games, plus the full attention of the International Olympic Committee's focus on technology and innovation -- California being home to Facebook, Google, Apple, Twitter, Snapchat, Disney and more. Look, if California were a nation, it would boast the world's eighth-largest GDP. And, of course, ridiculously great weather.

All IOC elections are unpredictable. Just the same, LA stands at least a reasonable chance of convincing the IOC to bring the Summer Games back to the United States for the first time since 1996 and Atlanta.

And then there's Mr. Trump.

It is the case that, over the years, Mr. Trump has been linked with elements of the Olympic scene, in particular New York’s bid for the 2012 Games. At the same time, his political rhetoric, and in particular over the past several months, has — this is being gracious — hardly been in keeping with the Olympic values.

The Olympic movement is about building bridges between people. Mr. Trump talks about walls.

At its best, the Olympic movement promotes dialogue, understanding and a more peaceful world. On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump is often about — again, being generous — intolerance.

Here is a prediction:

By September 2017, when the IOC picks its 2024 winner, Hillary Clinton will have been the U.S. president for about eight months. Mrs. Clinton has long shown significant support for the Olympics — as First Lady through the 1990s and then, in 2005, via in-person support as New York senator at the IOC vote at which London won out for 2012. Significantly, Mrs. Clinton has longstanding ties with LA24 bid leader Casey Wasserman and mayor Eric Garcetti.

Los Angeles is vying with three other cities for the 2024 Games: Paris, Rome and Budapest.

Be assured that Mr. Trump is already the subject of much discussion in Olympic circles. Bet that his name comes up many times over at the three-day IOC’s policy-making executive board meeting starting Tuesday in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Bet, too, that Mr. Trump’s political ascent puts the U.S. Olympic Committee and the LA24 people in a delicate position. On the one hand, it’s presidential politics — what is the USOC or LA24 to do? (Answer to rhetorical question: nothing.) On the other, it’s American politics, which carries a disproportionate weight, the U.S. president nominally being leader of the free world, and all that.

Keep in mind, always, that the IOC is European-dominated. Thanks to a round-up published Monday in the New York Times, we can be perfectly clear that Mr. Trump "elicits shock and biting satire" in any number of European nations, including Germany (Der Spiegel front cover, “Madness: America’s agitator”), Britain (580,000 sign petition seeking to ban him from the country), France (Liberation: “Trump, From Nightmare to Reality”) and Spain (letter from imaginary 16th-century king to Trump advising him to “consider bringing back the Inquisition”).

Jean-Marie Le Pen, the 87-year-old founder of the far-right French National Front, who as recently as last year referred to the Holocaust as a “detail” in the history of World War II, had this to say Saturday on Twitter:

Translation: “If I were American, I would vote for Donald Trump … but may God protect him!”

Mr. Trump has a “budding bromance” with Russian president Vladimir Putin, according to that same article in the Times, citing — among others — favorable comments on RT, the Kremlin-funded broadcaster.

For those who might be unfamiliar, Mr. Putin is by any measure one of the most important figures in the Olympic and international sports scene. That’s what happens when 1. you are the president of Russia, 2. you spearhead the spending of a reported $51 billion to organize the 2014 Winter Games and 3. you are in line to stage the 2018 soccer World Cup.

It’s no secret President Obama is not a significant personality in the Olympic world. After campaigning in person in 2009 at the IOC vote in Copenhagen at which Chicago, the president’s home town, went out first, Rio ultimately prevailing, the president seemingly has had enough of the IOC. Recall the politically charged delegation President Obama sought to send to Sochi? Featuring, among others, Billie Jean King (who ultimately made the closing ceremonies)?

Maybe that helps explain the Russian love for Trump. Then again, maybe the Kremlin ought to take a second look at Mr. Trump’s Facebook account. Here, from just after those Sochi Games, and does this express the foundational Olympic values — friendship, excellence, respect — or what?

Screenshot 2016-02-29 17.06.13

Who knows, of course, what a Trump presidency — perish the thought — might really mean for the Olympics? Mr. Trump, for those keeping track of his Olympic connections, ran with the Olympic torch in New York on June 19, 2004.

Donald Trump running a leg of the 2004 Athens flame relay in New York // Getty Images

As part of the New York bid, Mr. Trump appeared in a 2002 film that played at least a small role in the USOC decision to pick New York — over San Francisco — as the 2012 U.S. entrant. Later, as the New York campaign rolled along, he was photographed signing a balance beam.

He also opted last summer on Twitter to weigh in on Boston’s failed 2024 effort:

Heading into the Super Tuesday series of primary elections, Mr. Trump may well be in position to win the Republican nomination.

But the odds of him winning the general election are about as likely as that 9/11 tale he tells in which “thousands and thousands of people” — in New Jersey, with a “heavy Arab population” — “were cheering as that building,” referring to the World Trade Center tower, “was coming down.” That never happened.

About as likely as his plan for a wall to go up between Mexico and the United States, and Mexico paying for it — as if, former Mexican president Vicente Fox saying, “I’m not going to pay for that fucking wall,” and offering this about Trump, among other things, “I mean, he reminds me of Hitler.”

Speaking of references to fascists, here is Trump himself favorably retweeting a post — from, as it turned out, a parody account — that included a quote widely attributed to Mussolini.

In the end, the odds of Mr. Trump winning are about as likely as the real-ness of another urban legend he has related, about Muslim extremists being killed by a World War I-era general with bullets that had been dipped in pig’s blood. That never happened.

There are many, many reasons not to vote for Mr. Trump. On the campaign trail, he has revealed himself to be a racist, a bully, a misogynist, a serial liar, someone who throws insults at the handicapped and the Pope and decries the press — and much, much more.

None of this seems to have made a significant imprint in certain precincts of the American electorate, where anger and discontent are manifest.

If you went to public high school — guilty — you come to understand, maybe even just by looking around each morning in home room, the delight in the American system: when you turn 18, and if you register, you get to vote. As the former LA Times columnist T.J. Simers used to love to say, these people live among you.

Even so, for presidential voting purposes, these are the real questions: how many morons are out there, and how many of those morons will actually vote?

The Onion, the satirical news site, put it this way in a story posted Tuesday, a report on a made-up 36-year-old delivery driver from Youngstown, Ohio: " 'I'm Trump All the Way,' Says Man Who Will Die from Mishandling Fireworks Months Before Election."

As Bill James, the father of sabermetrics, the empirical analysis of baseball, put it in a recent blog post, referring to Trump’s status as reality-TV star for the last 20 years and expertise at attracting media attention:

“Trump gets a grossly disproportionate share of the attention, and thus a disproportion share of the idiot vote.”

James also wrote:

“I don’t think that Trump can win, frankly, because I don’t think there are enough morons to elect him. A certain percentage of the American public is just morons; that’s the way it is.”

During this primary season, as James makes clear, the other Republican candidates are playing right into Trump’s hands. What Trump is doing is winning a plurality of a Republican electorate divided multiple ways — that is, at least until after Tuesday, there are still five guys in the race, one of whom, Dr. Ben Carson, has a less-than-zero chance of winning.

This fractionality is essential to understanding what’s going on, as James outlines:

“When you divide the public in two and then divide the voters in one of those halves among five candidates or more, a candidate can win by dominating the moron vote because it only takes about one-seventh of the total population to take the ‘lead’ under those circumstances. But when you’re talking about needing 51 percent of the whole population, rather than needing 30 percent of half of the population, you run out of morons. I hope we will; I hope Trump will lose because I hope that he runs out of morons to vote for him.”

President Obama may not be a big hit in the Olympic world, but he — and President Reagan, too — understood better than almost anyone in the past several decades what a presidential election is about.

It’s not fear, Mr. Trump’s calling card.

It’s hope.

That is the essence of the Olympic spirit, too, and it’s why the election this season of Mrs. Clinton — for all her debate-worthy flaws — is so important.

"Despite what you hear, we don’t need to make America great again — America hasn’t stopped being great. But we do need to make America whole again," Mrs. Clinton said Saturday in South Carolina, mocking Trump's campaign slogan, as the website The Hill reported.

"Instead of building walls, we need to be tearing down barriers. We need to show, by everything we do, that we really are in this together.”

Boston 2024 is doomed: be done with it


The U.S. Olympic Committee should yank the 2024 Olympic bid from Boston, and now. This is a bad situation. It's almost guaranteed to get worse. The damage to the USOC’s brand and its future is verging toward grave, and that would be intolerable to anyone who thinks reasonably and cares about the Olympic movement in the United States of America. Doubling down on Boston would be a very, very bad bet.

The USOC has spent the past five-plus years, since getting kicked in the pants in October, 2009, when Chicago was booted in voting for the 2016 Summer Games, tirelessly working to rebuild its brand, particularly internationally, working on person-to-person relationships and building goodwill. Now, in the space of not even three months, the whole thing is devolving perilously.

Since picking Boston for 2024, it has become abundantly plain to everyone behind the scenes that the Boston bid seemingly sold the USOC a bill of goods; that it has become all but impossible for the bid to recover from the hole in which it now finds itself; and that the only way out for the USOC, despite the pain, is to admit it made a mistake, dump Boston 2024 and assess its options.

Boston 2024 chair John Fish, left, along with Rich Davey, center, and David Manfredi, right, appear before a hearing at Boston City Hall earlier this month // photo Boston Globe via Getty Images

One option is to sit out 2024 entirely.

Again, the hole is deep. This has to be acknowledged.

At the same time, it’s still early in the 2024 process, and 2024, for a variety of reasons, should be the Americans’ time. Emphasis: should.

That’s why the better option would be to take a cooling-off period, say 60 to 90 days. After that, the sensible thing would be to do what the USOC should have done in January: make Los Angeles the bid city.

The only way that works, however, is to declare Los Angeles — which it rightfully is — “America’s Olympic city,” and to make it plain now, in 2015, that LA will be the bid city for 2024, and if a 2024 bid falls short, for 2028.

The International Olympic Committee tends to like humble second-time bids, a strategy that has not been the American way.

A cooling-off period, meanwhile, would give the USOC and LA leaders a chance to strategize — about everything from communications to finance to finding an entirely appropriate role in the bid for Anita DeFrantz, the senior IOC member to the United States.

If Agenda 2020, IOC president Thomas Bach’s purported reform plan, means anything, it means creativity and flexibility — the right to implement change to protect your brand and, most importantly, your athletes.

Right now, you’ve got a majority of the people of the city of Boston saying, in essence, we do not want the athletes of the world to come to our city. They may not know that’s what they’re saying. But in Olympic-speak, loud and clear, that is what they are saying.

If I am the USOC, that is not who I want as my partner.

Starting place in assessing 2024: there are big-picture, and conflicting, data points.

One, the Summer Games have not been been in the United States since 1996. Also, NBC just paid $7.65 billion for the U.S. TV rights from 2021 to 2032. The first Summer Games? 2024.

Two, Bach is German. During his term as IOC president, which will almost assuredly stretch from 2013 until 2025, the IOC members will get one chance — and one chance only — to give him a German city for the 2024 Games.

Incredibly, the German Olympic confederation for 2024 selected Hamburg instead of Berlin.

Berlin — what an amazing city — could have upset everyone’s calculus.

Hamburg — assuming it passes a referendum, and there’s no guarantee —  would still be a strong candidate, for the obvious reason.

Then there’s Paris. Paris is Paris.

And Rome. Same.

And this: the Summer Games have never been away from Europe, the IOC’s traditional base, for more than 12 years. Never, ever. The Games were in London in 2012. In 2016 they will go to Rio de Janeiro. In 2020, Tokyo.

In 2024 — hello, Europe?

Always be mindful that one of the jobs of the IOC president is to cobble together the strongest field possible. This has special resonance for 2024, after the disaster that is the 2022 Winter Games race, now down to just two, Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan.

There’s a school of thought that Bach wanted Boston all along to ensure a stronger international field. This argument goes that Los Angeles, with its glitter, celebrities, perfect weather, 17 days of beach and Hollywood parties and technical merit that connects powerfully with Agenda 2020, might be so killer attractive that it could break that 12-years-back-to-Europe cycle.

Just to be super-obvious about this: Los Angeles has an Olympic stadium proven (1984, 1932) for ceremonies and track and field. Boston? It’s got no suitable stadium. There is no such thing as a pop-up Olympic stadium. Why has the IOC never voted for such a proposal? Because it is ridiculous.

What is Boston proposing? A pop-up stadium. Thanks.

Rome, Paris, Hamburg — maybe even, as time may tell, Budapest and Baku, Azerbaijan.

So, Boston is the one that got named by the USOC in January. To the surprise of many.

Even though — and this must be stressed — insiders knew all along that key USOC players wanted Los Angeles.

There were, in January, multiple failures at the USOC board meeting.

There were failures of leadership.

The board should have been lined up behind LA from the get-go. That is the way it works in the Olympic world — see Bach’s performance orchestrating the full IOC in Monaco in December, when he rammed through all 40 points of Agenda 2020, scheduled for two days, in one.

There were USOC staff failures in January — you can read the board minutes and intuit who swayed the board.

As March turns to April, It’s naive to think the USOC isn’t already asking hard questions about what ought to be done.

It’s not going to be fun when this goes down but it has to be done.

And, again, now.


First, timing.

Almost every article that has been written about the proposed referendum has missed the basic point.

It’s not that the Boston people have suddenly been touched by Olympic lightning and want to have a referendum. It’s that they want to have it in November, 2016.

That is 14 months past the decision date.

The USOC has to submit an "applicant" in September, 2015.

A ballot measure in November, 2016, that tanks — and this one almost surely would tank — does the USOC no good. All it would do is leave the USOC in the worst of all positions.

Why would the measure tank?

Because anyone who works in politics — or covered it for years — knows it is a basic rule that a referendum’s chance of success is abysmally low when polling starts out under 50 percent.

As Kriston Capps writes in Citylab, the referendum “narrows the chance that Boston will host a Summer Olympics from unlikely to vanishingly small. Boston voters are bound to turn it down.”

A recap of the polling numbers from January to March: 51 percent to 44 percent to 36 percent in favor of the bid.

The numbers opposing the bid have gone the other way: 33 percent to 46 to 52.

The margin of error for the poll is 4.9 percent.

Boston 2024 has said time and again that no public funds would be used to stage the Olympics. But 65 percent of people there believe public funds will be needed.

“I don’t know a single person who believes that — that they’re going to build a soccer stadium and all these other facilities at no cost to the taxpayer,” Mike Barnicle, the former Boston newspaper columnist who is now an MSNBC contributor, told the Washington Post. “No one believes that.”

Just for comparison: before the USOC decision, the poll numbers in LA, depending on whether you wanted the LA city or USOC poll, were 77 or 78 percent in favor of the Games. You want higher numbers? Poll a group of golden retrievers and ask if they like bacon.

Big whoop if a November, 2016, referendum in favor of Boston 2024 is 50 percent plus one. To be credible, the IOC wants mid-60s. To be honest: it really wants 70 percent or better.

It’s virtually unheard-of to move up from the 30s to the 60s in a year, and Boston 2024 doesn’t have a year. The old political saying is that it would take Elvis and Jesus to make that happen, and — as the saying also goes — neither is available.

Let’s look at other Olympic measures around the world, just to see how they have been received recently:

St. Moritz/Davos 2022: (In March 2013): fail, 52.7 against. Vienna 2028 (March 2013): fail, 72 percent against. Munich 2022 (November, 2013): fail, 51-59 percent against in four localities. Krakow 2022 (May 2014): fail, 69.7 percent against.

Note that only one of these four took place after the 2014 Sochi Games, with its associated $51 billion price tag.

Obvious question: if these four have gone down in flames, why would Boston be different? American exceptionalism?

We haven’t even gotten to what a Boston referendum might say, or the wording, or any of that. Frankly, for this conversation, it’s a moot point — immaterial.

More real talk:

The ‘no’ side in Boston can go so ‘no’ in a campaign. What is the ‘yes’ side supposed to say? It can’t run a vigorous anti-‘no’ campaign. That’s what normal campaigns do. Not in this context, though. That would not be in keeping with the Olympic values.

Beyond which, as this space has pointed out previously, the Boston bid has virtually no communications strategy.

One small point to illustrate how awful their communications have been, and then the larger point.

Small: the weekend before this one, the bid sent out a tweet — since deleted — of Top 10 Olympic-related movies with this message: “Get inspired. On your couch. #LazySunday #Boston2024”

No. 1 on the list: “Olympia,” by Leni Riefenstahl, the German filmmaker who had a close association with Adolf Hitler. Another feel-good flick on the list: “Munich,” No. 7 on the list, the 2005 Steven Spielberg-directed thriller about the hunt for the Black September terrorists responsible for the abduction and murders of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Munich Games.

One can hardly find words to describe how tone-deaf, and off-message, this tweet could possibly be for a bid committee.

Good thing it has hardly been seen internationally. Well, until now.

Larger point:

All along, the Boston bid’s message has been diametrically opposite from what it should be.

It is: bring the Games to Boston so we can improve Boston.

It should be: let us in Boston show how via the Games we can make the world better.

This is fundamental bid messaging 101. Just incredible that it's so backward.

More real talk:

Whatever the Boston bid team said to the USOC in December that then became the focus of the board debate in January, this is the case now:

The plan is far from finalized.

Because of that, the budgets can’t be. That’s just logic.

Because of that, no one knows what needs to be built, who’s going to pay for it and why they need it. Or, elementally, should want it.

Just as a for instance: did anyone bother to ask the folks in and around Franklin Park, the planned site of equestrian and pentathlon, if the Olympic agenda met community needs?

Beyond all of that, the would-be Olympic enterprise in Boston is met time and again with suspicion because of widespread memory about the Big Dig, the highway mega-project that for almost everyone in the area screams cost overruns and more. With that, you're supposed to sell an Olympics? In the aftermath of Sochi?

Following on from that:

How is Boston 2024 supposed to raise money for a referendum? And who would then be working on a bid when so much time and energy would be focused on that existential referendum?

The Boston bid committee is a 501 (c)(3). That means it is allowed to raise money for charitable purposes but broadly speaking may not participate in political campaigns. A 501 (c)(3) can engage in limited lobbying with respect to a ballot initiative but lobbying must be an “insubstantial part” of its overall activities — say, 3 to 5 percent.

Obviously, Boston 2024 would need to do way more than that.

That means any real political activity relating to a ballot initiative would have to be done by a separate entity. That could not be a 501 (c)(3).

Which would you rather donate to? The one you can get a tax-deduction for? Or not?

Let’s say that Boston 2024 chair John Fish does the work-around and creates a political action committee to raise funds. That may solve the logistical challenge. But that just feeds right into the very essence of the communication problem confronting the Boston 2024 group as it is already —right or wrong, fair or not, that it’s a group of elites who only are looking out for themselves and don’t really care about the best interests of the public.

Already, there is talk in European newspapers — in Italy a few days ago — of how Boston is on a slippery slope.

Coming up soon, there’s a big meeting in Miami of what’s called PASO, the Pan-American Sports Organization. There will be maybe a dozen and a half IOC members there.

Better for the USOC to cut its losses now. Because what is the USOC supposed to go to Miami and say?

“The Games fit into Boston’s long-term planning?”


It’s hard to admit a mistake but worse when the mistake metastasizes.

The USOC is the steward of the Olympic movement in the United States. It has a responsibility, and now it must do what must be done.

Boston 2024: a Cool Hand Luke problem


Maybe the Boston 2024 bid could have gotten off to a less promising start. Though it’s hard to see how. The latest dose of dismal news, a WBUR poll released Thursday evening: 36 percent of Boston-area voters support bringing the Summer Games to Boston in 2024. That’s down from 44 percent in a poll last month. The poll also found that 52 percent now oppose the bid. That’s up from 46 percent in February.

The poll of 504 registered voters was conducted March 16-18, according to WBUR, and contains a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

Just for reference: the International Olympic Committee, as a rough rule, wants to see bid-city poll numbers standing at or near 70 percent. Easy math: 36 percent is about half that. So that’s where things stand in Boston.

As The Captain says to Luke in the 1967 classic, "What we've got here is failure to communicate"

For entertainment value, according to a story Thursday on Xinhua, the poll numbers in Zhangjiakou, the would-be co-host city for most snow events for the Beijing 2022 Winter Games bid, a town about 120 miles northwest of Beijing — over there, they’re 99.9 percent in favor of the Games.

When the IOC evaluation commission comes to Beijing and Zhangjiakou next week, you bet they’ll be treated to scenes of happy Chinese!

Boston? What if an IOC evaluation commission were to come to town now?

Well, democracies tend to be, you know, a little different. And that’s — OK.

Indeed, it’s more than OK. Which is totally the point here.

The upside for the Boston bid is this: it’s March 2015.

The IOC won’t vote until the third quarter of 2017.

And, as U.S. Olympic Committee chief executive Scott Blackmun rightly pointed out in a teleconference last week with reporters, there’s lots of time for the Boston 2024 people and the USOC to get things right.

It’s little wonder people are cranky in Boston. They’ve just had the worst winter ever. The winter has been so bad a majority would probably be against puppies.

But seriously.

Blackmun also made another hugely relevant point last week.

No one, he said, remembers the London 2012 bid in 2003 -- two years before the vote.

Well, a few of us, who have been at the Olympic bid scene for years, do.  That's when the London bid was run by the American executive Barbara Cassani, who was well-meaning, indeed, and put down a solid foundation but didn’t have what it took to get the bid across the finish line. Some of us well recall the kick-start the next year at the Palais de Beaulieu convention center in Lausanne, Switzerland, when Seb Coe took over.

From there the bid took off. The rest, as they say, is history.

The problem with the Boston bid right now is hugely self-evident.

It’s not John Fish.

It’s communication.

There is, like, virtually none.

It's like Strother Martin says to Paul Newman in the 1967 film classic "Cool Hand Luke": "What we've got here is failure to communicate."

An Olympic bid is a political campaign of the highest order. This is big-boy and -girl baseball. As a reminder: the very first call the president of the IOC, Thomas Bach, got when he was elected in 2013 was from Vladimir Putin. So let’s not kid ourselves about the magnitude of the likes of who can be involved in the Olympic dynamic.

One would think the Boston people would have been, from the get-go, prepared to step into this scene and run like the wind.

But no.

One reads in the Boston Globe about bid-committee salaries of $300,000, $215,000, $182,500, $175,000 and more, and you wonder why ordinary people are — outraged?

One reads, too, in the Globe that Northwind Strategies and Keyser Public Strategies are pulling down $15,000 monthly for their communications advice. Another company is making $9,000 per month; yet another is getting $5,000.

Let’s see: that’s $44,000 per month for communications advice.

That’s a lot of cash. Perhaps it is going for the community meetings now ongoing.

Now here’s the question: what do any of these communications strategists know about winning an Olympic bid?

The guess: pretty close to nothing, zip, zero, nada.

If the question was put to any of them, who is Lydia Nsekera, where is she from and why is she increasingly influential within the IOC (and FIFA) --  how many could answer (and without looking it up)?

Not that anyone owes me anything, but after 16-plus years of covering the Olympic movement, and especially having covered every single Olympic bid campaign since 1999, you might think that at $44,000 per month, someone might want to, you know, maybe give me a shout. Maybe I might know something.

It has been crickets since the USOC chose Boston.

Northwind did issue a news release Thursday night after the WBUR poll numbers came out. Here is the deadly-dull opening sentence:

“In response to recent polls relative to public support for Boston hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Boston 2024 today highlighted its increasingly successful grassroots programs and a recent independent economic impact analysis as evidence that public support is set to rise steadily in the months ahead throughout the Commonwealth.”

Makes you want to stand up and cheer, right? No. It makes you want to slump down in your seat and go, what? That's because it's 50 words long, most of them a mouthful apiece, and you want to scream.

By the way, the USOC has been relentless that this is supposed to be America’s bid. Why the ongoing focus on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts? Hello? Those of us out here in the rest of the country would like to remind you that there is sentient life west of your town, and you should start acting like it. Like, immediately.

Not only is that release dreadfully long and impossible to dissect, it came out hours after the poll numbers. Since it’s not a secret there was going to be a poll, why wasn’t a release worked up ahead of time -- so that it could go out when the numbers themselves went out? This isn't rocket science.

In that same vein, the bid is getting abused on social media, especially by No Boston 2024 community activists. If I am the opposition right now, I am laughing at how easy it is. For them, it must be — fun.

The bid has almost zero positive presence on Twitter, in particular. How can this be? In 2015, when a bid that is supposed to be stressing how smart it is — with purported connections to brainy universities — can’t have some whipsmart college kid at a keyboard? Seriously?

So, now a pause and a deep breath.

As Blackmun said, there’s a long way to go.

Boston caught a huge break earlier this week when, for reasons unfathomable, German Olympic officials opted to put forward Hamburg instead of Berlin for 2024.

Crazy. Berlin would have had an unbelievably great narrative. The emphatic end of Hitler. The stadium where Usain Bolt ran 9.58 and 19.19. The rise of a fantastically cool city after the Cold War. The joy of the 2006 World Cup all over again. And so much more.

But what do I know — all that against a northern European port city?

Maybe Hamburg is the Boston of Germany. So, whatever.

What Boston needs is someone who gets how to communicate, and now.

That person needs to be someone who also knows the Olympic scene, and now.

Yes, 2017 is a long time away, and in some ways it is, but if you are Boston 2024 things cannot keep going this way.

Because Paris is likely going to be out there very, very soon. And Paris is not Hamburg.

Some unsolicited suggestions:

Inevitably, there will be pressure on Patrick Sandusky, the USOC communication chief. Sandusky is not, repeat not, the guy for this job. He already has a big-enough job.

Jill Geer at USA Track & Field knows her business. She is tough and professional and knows New England. She also will kill me for suggesting her, because she just moved her family back to Indianapolis, but she would be a great choice.

At the U.S. Olympic Committee, there are two first-rate options, both Sandusky deputies:

Mark Jones has already spent weeks in Boston. Mark is solid, solid, solid. He would be great.

So, too, Christy Cahill. Christy knows her stuff as well and, intriguingly, she reminds a lot of people of Jackie Brock-Doyle when Jackie took over everything comms in London. Now Jackie is revered across the United Kingdom as the expert she has proven herself to be.

While the Boston 2024 people sort this out, they should reach out, too, to Stratos Safioleas, who is as good at social media as anyone in the Olympic world. If they want to then hire someone at MIT or Harvard or wherever to help Stratos out, fine. But first get Stratos on board if you’re interested in stemming the carnage on Twitter.

Big picture — Olympic bidding is, again, a distinct world way beyond the local give-and-take of Boston politics. You have to think differently.

This should have been so obvious. That’s why you got chosen in the first place, isn’t it?

By the way, Ms. Nsekera is an IOC member (since 2009) from Burundi. She is since 2014 chair of the IOC’s women and sport commission. Since 2013, she has been an elected member of the FIFA executive council.

If you had to look all that up, or you didn’t know that Ms. Nsekera was earlier this week in New York at the United Nations, you need to get out of this game and into another. Maybe local politics is more your thing. Because Olympic bidding is truly for professionals only, who know and understand what’s at issue. There are billions of dollars at stake and communications needs to be a huge priority.


2024: LA's time again?


Shutters on the Beach, the Santa Monica hotel, is one of those Southern California legends. The beautiful people go there, and for excellent reason. You get there by heading west down Pico Boulevard until it dead ends at the sand. The president of the University of Southern California, C.L. Max Nikias, had them in full roar Wednesday evening for an alumni event at Shutters. It was not even two and one half years ago that USC announced a $6 billion fundraising campaign. Already, the president said, the university is more than halfway to its goal.

A few blocks away from USC itself, the 73-story Wilshire Grand Hotel is going up at 7th and Figueroa streets, a $1-billion downtown Los Angeles complex with 900 rooms and 30 floors of office space. It will be the tallest building west of the Mississippi River.

2014-01-29 12.04.00

Just steps away from that, of course, is the LA Live complex, anchored by Staples Center, where the Lakers, Clippers and Kings play, and where ESPN has its West Coast studio. The Ritz-Carlton and Marriott there have already become destinations. In 2011, it’s where the International Olympic Committee held its Women and Sport conference; just a few weeks back, USA Swimming’s Golden Goggles gala took place in the same ballroom.

There really can be little doubt Wednesday why USA Track & Field chose Los Angeles — over Houston — as the site of the 2016 U.S. Olympic marathon Trials.

In short: LA is rocking, especially downtown LA, which used to be dreadful but is now staking a claim to be hipster central.

The intrigue, really, is whether the U.S. Olympic Committee will see what is becoming increasingly obvious as it weighs not only whether to get into the race for the 2024 Summer Games but what U.S. city to pick: Los Angeles just might be — again — the right place at the right time.

There’s only one Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Athletes from all over the world want to compete there, to make history, the way it was made in 1932 and 1984.

It’s why there could be only place for the announcement that the marathon Trials were coming to LA — the famed peristyle end of the Coliseum.

It was just after 12 on a glorious January afternoon, the California bear flag swaying overhead to one side, the American flag on the other by those three stately palm trees reaching up high into the sky.  The new Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti, fixed LA’s place in the sun for one and all, saying, “Los Angeles is the western capital of the United States, the eastern capital of the Pacific Rim and the northern capital of Latin America.”

To be clear, the USOC is in no hurry to make any sort of announcement. The IOC won’t pick a site until 2017. The USOC has more pressing concerns — like the impending Sochi Games — before it resumes its focus on 2024.

Yet as the IOC members begin arriving over the weekend in Sochi for the meetings that precede next Friday’s opening ceremony, the issue of what the USOC will do for 2024 will be gathering increasing relevance.

Sochi and the Rio 2016 Summer Games are seen by many within the Olympic movement as “adventures.”

In 2018 and 2020, the Games will be in Asia, in choices seen as involving less risk, in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and Tokyo.

The 2022 race is just now taking shape. But insiders are already suggesting it would be little surprise to see Almaty, Kazakhstan, and Beijing emerge as frontrunners. Both, again, are seen as choices involving less risk. The IOC will pick the 2022 city in 2015.

Again for 2024 — at this very early stage, the IOC is known to be keen to be soliciting a U.S. bid.

The USOC wants in only if it has the closest thing to a guarantee — of course there is no such thing — that it is going to win. It can not afford another debacle like Chicago 2016 or New York 2012.

If the USOC jumps in, the obvious question is, what city gives it the best chance?

Chicago? With its amazing lakefront? And great technical plan for 2016? Not likely. The mayor was President Obama’s key adviser when Chicago got bounced.

New York? The new mayor seemingly has other priorities.

Boston? Not once over the last year has even one IOC member been heard to say, you know what, I would really, really love to spend 17 days in Boston, Massachusetts. Also, if Mitt Romney — who, genuinely, did a first-rate job running the Salt Lake 2002 Games — is serious about getting back into the Olympic scene, advising the Boston 2024 people, he had better brush up on some reading. He told Fox News two weeks ago that the Munich Games had issues with Hitler; the Munich Games were in 1972, 27 years after Hitler’s death. (Mr. Romney’s staffers: see Berlin, 1936.)

Dallas? The state of Texas could for sure meet the IOC’s financial guarantees. But not a chance Dallas can win. Among its several challenges, beyond being in the American South, and the South is where Atlanta is, and the IOC still recalls Atlanta 1996 all too well: the first thing that comes to mind for some who don’t know about Dallas is, believe it or not, the JFK assassination. Not a positive vibe for an IOC election.

Houston? Not running.

There is sound reason to consider San Francisco, and seriously. It has technology assets the IOC, bluntly, needs. It is typically seen as every European’s favorite American city, and the IOC is heavily dominated by European interests. USOC board chairman Larry Probst is based in the Bay Area. Moreover, San Francisco has never played host to the Games and LA, of course, has done it twice.

It’s that twice-before thing that, over the past several bid cycles, has been a considerable strike against LA.

Now that London is a three-time host, though, that has opened the door for LA, and perhaps in a big way.

A significant faction within the IOC is known to favor New York and LA, and if New York truly ends up being a non-starter — that tilts things considerably.

The New York thing is all about the 2012 bid. It’s about what people remember.

LA: the same, and more. Given all the uncertainties in our uncertain world, it may be, as a symposium at the LA 84 Foundation last Saturday suggested, that the IOC needs Los Angeles — the same way it did in 1984, when Los Angeles was essentially the only city in the world that wanted the Olympics, and 1932, the first Games to last 16 days and the first with an athletes’ village.

The Games, it must be understood, are part of the fabric of civic life in Los Angeles.

Olympic Boulevard? That’s 10th Street. Named after the X Olympiad, the 10th Olympic Games, in 1932.

For most Angelenos, the period from the moment Rafer Johnson lit the cauldron in 1984 until the day Rodney King was beaten by police in 1991 were golden years in Southern California, and they want a new version of those years.

The LA city council, the county board of supervisors, other local political figures — they all support the idea of a 2024 Games. There’s no political opposition. Only support.

To emphasize that point, Garcetti keeps a 1984 LA Olympic torch in his office. How many mayors do that kind of thing? For real — not for show.

Thousands of would-be Olympic athletes train in Southern California. Hundreds of Olympians live in the area.

You want shopping? There’s Beverly Hills and more. Disneyland? Right. You want celebrities, Hollywood, the beach? Check, check, check.

The weather? Only perfect.

That blockbuster hotel complex going up downtown? Yang Ho Cho, who runs the South Korean conglomerate, Hanjin Group, is not only a USC trustee — he led the winning Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games bid.

In an era in which the IOC is avowedly seeking to minimize costs, 85 percent of what’s needed for a 2024 LA Games is already on the ground.

And then, of course, there’s the Coliseum.

Garcetti, speaking in Spanish — the mayor is so fluent he asked a reporter whether she wanted a question answered in English or Spanish — called the Coliseum “a grand symbol of Los Angeles’ Olympic history,” which is, of course, the essence of the thing.

USC now has a 98-year master lease for the place. They’d have to put a new track inside; it’s football-only now. But, you know, these things can be worked out if that’s what everyone wants.

The mayor, back to English, said of the 2016 marathon Trials, “This is a great thing on its own.” And then he also said, “Los Angeles is truly a great Olympic town.”


The back story of the 1936 Winter Games

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany -- Most everyone knows how Jesse Owens went to Berlin and won four gold medals at the Summer Olympics in 1936. As the legend goes, Owens showed Adolf Hitler a thing or two about the Nazi myth about superiority. Birger Ruud of Norway is also one of the greatest Olympic athletes of all time, a great ski jumper who could also beat you at alpine racing. Moreover, his story is one of incredible personal courage. After his time in the Olympic spotlight, he spent 18 months in a Nazi prison camp and then, upon release, joined the Resistance, where he used his unmatched ski skills to find and hide ammunition dropped from British aircraft.

It is no accident that the photo of Ruud's moment of triumph in the ski jumping event at the 1936 Winter Olympics, here in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, high in the Bavarian Alps, makes for perhaps the emotional centerpiece of an unprecedented exhibition that brings to light not just the story of those Games – but, more importantly, the back story.

Here in the photo are the three Olympic champions: Ruud, the winner, just as he had been four years before, flanked by the bronze medalist, Reidar Andersen, another Norwegian, and the silver medalist, Sven Eriksson of Sweden. Here, too, is the then-president of the International Olympic Committee, the Belgian Count Henri de Baillet-Latour. And over on the right side of the photo -- here is the jarring note that underscores the great lie of the 1936 Winter Games, the notion that sports and politics don't mix: Karl Ritter von Halt, the organizing committee president, snapping a sharp stiff-armed Nazi salute.

It's not a pretty picture. Indeed, it's jarring. But it is an honest photo. It happened. And that is precisely why it's on display, now, after 75 years, along with dozens of other photographs and other materials that confront the ugly history of the 1936 Winter Games, the town's mayor, Thomas Schmid, said.

"We really said that for this 75th anniversary we need to talk about this openly -- the 'dark side of the medal,' he said, referring to the title of the exhibit, which opened here Feb. 15 and which the Museum of Tolerance has already expressed interest in bringing to Los Angeles.

"We can't make it go away," Schmid said. "But we can show how Garmisch-Partenkirchen has changed."

The 1936 Berlin Summer Games have, over the years, been the subject of extensive study. Not so the Garmisch-Partenkirchen Winter Games just months before.

Building upon the success of the 1932 Los Angeles Games, the 1936 Berlin Games announced the emergence of the modern Olympics as a worldwide phenomenon.

A confluence of factors explains why -- the expanding reach of communication technologies, the attempt by the Third Reich to use the Berlin Games as a massive propaganda exercise, the power of the film "Olympia" by Leni Riefenstahl, Jesse Owens' four medals and more.

To this day, of course, the 1936 Berlin Games remain a source of enduring controversy.

Again, the reasons are complex. The Riefenstahl film, for one. Just to pick another, many of the stories from Berlin have remained alive: Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller, the only Jews on the U.S. track team, were denied sure gold medals when they didn't run in the 400-meter relay; they were told the day of the race they would not run, for reasons never made clear.

In comparison, the 1936 Winter Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen -- it's as if they hardly happened.

And yet, as Charlotte Knobloch, the leader of the Jewish community in Munich and Bavaria, put it, those Winter Games hold significance that deserves to be fully, deeply understood:

"People have, of course, gladly glossed over the fact that this was a most revolting show of propaganda, a nasty deception of public opinion worldwide, under whose guise the very first signs of the Shoah," the Hebrew word for the Holocaust, "could already be detected."

Why look back now at 1936?

Munich is bidding for the 2018 Winter Olympics. An IOC inspection team is in Germany this week; the full IOC will pick the 2018 site in a vote on July 6. Annecy, France, and Pyeongchang, South Korea, are also in the 2018 race.

The Munich candidacy proposes to hold ice events -- skating and curling -- in the city. The snow events -- skiing and so on -- would be in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Thus the impetus to re-visit 1936, the mayor and others stressing that the 2018 process affords the opportunity for reflection, perhaps even healing.

In February, meanwhile, the 2011 world alpine ski racing championships were held here in "Gapa," as Garmisch-Partenkirchen is colloquially known on the ski circuit. Some 100,000 euros, roughly $138,000, from the championships' cultural budget -- supported by the German federal ministry of the interior -- was allocated to fund the exhibition.

That took care of the logistics.

As for the will to get it done:

This exhibition is the first of its kind in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Not once in 75 years has there been anything like it, according to Alois Schwarzmuller, a retired local high-school teacher, long-time community activist and one of the exhibit's primary curators.

For decades, he said, most of the archives were locked away in communist East Germany. It was only after the fall of the Berlin Wall that one could even get at the files, he said.

Then more time had to pass. It just did, he said.

"The first generation -- they were the Nazis ... They did not allow us to go behind the wall.

"The second generation -- in community politics, they told me it was only a sports event," Schwarzmuller said, meaning the 1936 Winter Games. "There was nothing else.

"Now I think it's time. We have a generation that wants to be informed."

The way the story has been largely understood for the past 75 years, Schwarzmuller said, is that the 1936 Winter Games offered near-perfect organization, an array of new buildings and impressive competition venues.

Reality check:

The Games served as cover for a brutal dictatorship that oppressed political opponents and that harassed, humiliated and disenfranchised Germany's Jews. That is "the dark side of the medal":

-- A photo depicts Gapa-area road signs above another announcing, "Jews not welcome."  Such "not welcome" signs disappeared by the Feb. 6, 1936, opening ceremony. They came right back after the Games.

Baillet-Latour, the IOC president, had encountered numerous such signs on a visit to the area just four months before the Games. He was "especially horrified," historian David Clay Large writes in the sole chapter devoted to the 1936 Winter Olympics in his first-rate book "Nazi Games," to see too that "the speed-limit markers on dangerous turns included explicit exemptions for Jews, thereby encouraging them to kill themselves."

-- A photo shows Hitler at the 1936 Winter Games opening ceremony. Some number of the Austrian team "unmistakably" shouted out, "Heil Hitler!"  as they left the stadium at the end of the ceremony, Large writes, causing Hitler to "gaze wistfully" across the border. Innsbruck is just a few kilometers away.

-- A photo of von Halt, the Winter Games organizing committee chief, is accompanied by a striking caption. It says, in part, that von Halt took part in 1936 and 1939 in visiting concentration camps in Dachau and Sachsenhausen. "As a convinced national socialist," it says, "he approved suppression of political opponents and the destructive anti-Semitism that was done by the brown dictatorship since 1941. At the collapse of Berlin he sent in the last hours very young soldiers and old men to fight hopelessly against the Red Army."

"We need to tell people what happened," said Christian Neureuther, who having grown up in Gapa is something of local ski royalty and whose voice thus carries locally, nationally and even abroad. He raced at three Winter Games. So did his wife, Rosi Mittermaier, and she won three medals, two  of them gold, skiing in 1976 in Innsbruck. Their son, Felix, skied at the 2006 and 2010 Winter Games.

"Everyone thinks the 1936 [Winter] Games were fantastic and beautiful," Christian Neureuther said. "The truth comes out here -- the two sides of the medal."