Rich Galen
Just when you think the whole world is - or should be - spinning into oblivion, a story gets your attention and reminds you that this is all fixable.

The Congress is stumbling toward sine die adjournment while it squabbles over the tax bill, the unemployment benefit extension, the Don't Ask Don't Tell bill, the DREAM act and the START (redundancy alert) treaty.

Greeks are rioting about government cutbacks. In addition to people throwing rocks and firebombs,

"Ships remained docked at ports, hospitals were working on skeleton staff and ministries shut down as civil servants and private sector workers stayed away."

British students are rioting over increases in tuitions and fees at public universities.

"Thugs fought pitched battles with police, mounted officers charged groups of -protesters, blood flowed on the pavements and fires glowed in the night air as MPs inside the Commons narrowly voted to triple university fees."

There were riots in Russia as "some 5,000 far-right extremists rallied outside the Kremlin over the weekend in Moscow, attacking members of mostly Muslim ethnic minorities before clashing with police."

While in Italy, "50,000 people marched in protest and some pelted riot police with bottles, paint and metal poles after Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi won a confidence vote" in Parliament.

Thank God, then, for the Canadians.

In Calgary, Canada there is a minor league hockey team known as the Calgary Hitmen.

Even in Canada they don't have sports teams named after flowers, butterflies, or Bambi deer.

It seems that 16 years ago, someone had the good idea that at a home game of the Calgary Hitmen close to Christmas, fans should throw teddy bears on the ice after the first goal of the game was stored.

Fifty - FIFTY - local charities had requested teddy bears this year including the Salvation Army, Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter, Boys and Girls Club of Airdrie, and the Alberta Children's Hospital.

All told, the Hitmen were faced with requests for 23,000 teddy bears.

The rink has room only about 16,000 fans.

So, the other night, while all over Europe people were rioting for … whatever they were rioting for, the fans who attended the game between the Calgary Hitmen and the Red Deer Rebels brought teddy bears.

After the first goal, those 16,000 fans rained teddy bears onto the ice - an act of charity which went on for 40 minutes.

The final tally was 23,096 teddy bears.

Every child in Alberta Province who has asked for a teddy bear will get one. With 96 extras for kids who might hot have gotten their request in on time.

As I am typing this, I am watching the debate in the U.S. House on the tax bill. There is no soaring rhetoric. There are no classical arguments, no unique insights, nor high appeals to reason.

Neither, alas, are there any teddy bears. Not one.

Maybe the Canadians have it right. Not the Brits, the Greeks, the Russians, the Italians nor the United States Congress. The Canadians.

I don't know that teddy bears should be the symbol of peace on earth and goodwill toward men, but, until someone comes up with a better one, the teddy bear works for me.

If the North Koreans had hurled teddy bears instead of high explosive rounds at that South Korean Island a couple of weeks ago, we wouldn't need Governor Bill Richardson in Pyongyang trying to talk them down off the ledge.

If the Taliban put teddy bears in public markets instead of IEDs, we could be out of Afghanistan by Memorial Day.

If Iran sent teddy bears to Lebanon instead of missiles, Israel might feel safe enough to make peace with the Palestinians.

If Democrats and Republicans in Congress tossed teddy bears across the aisles of the House and Senate instead of rhetorical dirt bombs we might figure out how to help get the 10 million Americans who want employment, but can't find an appropriate job, trained up and sent off to work.

Good for the Calgary Hitmen. Good for the Canadians.

Maybe you and I can't fund the government for the rest of this fiscal year. Maybe we can't preserve tax rates or extend unemployment benefits. Maybe we can't do any of those things which make the front page of the New York Times or the Washington Post.

But each of us can buy a teddy bear and give it to a child whose eyes will swell with joy and awe; who will hug it to his or her cheek; who will hold it out to his or her mommy or daddy to show them what a wonderful gift they have received.

We've shown we can't fix what's wrong with us. Those children will have to do it. Maybe a teddy bear will be the just boost they need to get them on a trajectory to success.

It's worth a try. That would be a pretty good Christmas present.

For all of us.


Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.