Thursday, October 23, 2008

More Brilliance from the Kennedy’s…

You’ve got to love the Kennedy’s and their self-righteousness…as well as their ability to hold others accountable while conveniently forgetting some of their own family’s challenges over the years.

In today’s Washington Post, Robert Kennedy Jr. was quoted on Monday at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, DC as stating that “That’s when the Republicans used to be good guys.” Kennedy was speaking to a group of children at the bookstore publicizing his new book on former slave Robert Smalls. Kennedy asked the group of children if they knew the political party of President Abraham Lincoln (not a leading question at all) and when they answered “Republican” he made his broad generalization on Republicans. Kennedy further stated to the Post that he had no qualms about the statement, feeling that the children were mature enough to make their own determinations.

Using the same logic we can only conclude that everyone with the last name of Kennedy is a liberal philandering, alcoholic, date-raping murderer…frankly I can barely type that sentence out because it is so ludicrous. Examples like Mr. Kennedy’s clearly illustrate the toxic ignorance that is a growing trend in today’s politics. It’s why both Congress and the Presidency have such low approval ratings. It’s why a good many people in this country cannot stomach the political scene and stay out, leaving an increasingly small pool of capable individuals running for office. In turn, this leaves our government in the hands of an ever increasing number of individuals who are not capable of statesmanship and drop into the gutter of partisan warfare. Liberals like Mr. Kennedy are flocking to Senator Obama, and will likely elect him President, because they feel he is an agent of change that our country desperately needs. Yet, by his ignorant statement and unwillingness to even consider how inappropriate it was to say that in front of a group of children, Mr. Kennedy descends into the very arena that they supposedly want to change.

Will we see any outrage over this statement beyond conservative circles? Will liberals and the media call out Mr. Kennedy and condemn his statement? I think the answer to that question is highly unlikely. Of course, if my statement above had been used to describe Mr. Kennedy’s family, or Mr. Obama's, I can only imagine the moral outrage that would come from it. Unfortunately for Republicans, that’s how it is in the current climate. How we combat it will help decide if the party can recover from what is almost-certain political annihilation on November 4.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Red Wings Visit the White House

The Detroit Red Wings visited with President Bush at the White House Tuesday to celebrate the Red Wing's 11th Stanley Cup victory this past June. President Bush had some nice comments to make about the Red Wings and included a particular poignant statement about Darren McCarty, noting his challenges with alcoholism and how he was worked hard to put his life back together and get back into the NHL. President Bush battled his own alcohol problems when he was younger so there is an interesting connection on this issue between the President and McCarty.

All in all a nice moment for the Red Wings and the President...and given the President's tremendous unpopularity probably one of the few light moments he has as his presidency winds down.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Culture of Corruption

In 2006 the then-Democratic minorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate ran on theme of a Republican "Culture of Corruption" in Congress. They weren't far off on labeling Republicans this way. The GOP had experienced an unusually high number of congressional scandals including the infamous Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal that sent now former Representative Bob Ney, an Ohio Republican, to jail. Other problems came up including a page scandal where former Representative Mark Foley, a Florida Republican, was discovered to have been texting high school pages that worked in the Capitol on some highly inappropriate subjects.

Now it looks like the tables have turned and the big question will be how will the Democratic leadership address this scandal involving, ironically, the lawmaker who replaced Representative Foley. It looks like Representative Tim Mahoney (D-FL) is being accused of paying a former staffer, and his mistress, about $121,000 to stay quiet about the affair. We'll see how this plays out but it is always fascinating to the Hat Trick how politicians always try and play the morality card for political gain and always (always!) get burned doing it. House Republicans impeaching former President Bill Clinton when both the Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and Appropriations Chairman (and incoming Speaker) Bob Livingston (R-LA) were involved in extramarital affairs. Current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) promised that the House of Representatives, under her leadership, would run the most ethical Congress in history. She has already stumbled badly with many ethical lapses in her own caucus including Representative Bill Jefferson (D-LA) current trial on corruption charges. The Mahoney incident doesn't help matters and I think the Democratic leadership is going to have to come down hard on Mahoney, otherwise they will have proven they are no better compared with the Republicans they threw out of office in 2006.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Opening Night Final Thoughts

The Hat Trick is somewhat embarrassed to note that, after posting earlier tonight that the Hockey Night in Canada match-up between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens is always "a great match-up." Unfortunately for the Maple Leafs, they got pounded 6-1. To paraphrase Don Cherry on Hockey Night in Canada…that's not nice and Ron Wilson (the Maple Leaf's new head coach) will remember that. The Hat Trick stands corrected!

In one final thought, the Hat Trick notes that the fourth fight in the Canucks-Flames game has just taken place...good, old school hockey!

Opening Saturday Night in the NHL

The Hat Trick has been privileged in watching some good NHL hockey tonight, the first Saturday night of play in the 2008-2009 season. Already some good games have been played and some are currently ongong.

Of tremendous importance to the Hat Trick is the fact that the Red Wings won their first game of the season, defeating the Ottawa Senators 3-2. It was a close game up until the end, especially during the last minute of the third period when the Senators put an extra attacker on the ice (creating an "empty net" situation…in order to put the extra attacker on the ice you have to pull your team's goalie) and it went down to the buzzer. Ottawa is a though team in the Eastern Conference and I'm pleased that the Wings were able to come out on top. An added bonus for the Hat Trick is getting to hear the national anthem of both Canada and the United States sung so beautifully by the representative from the Canadian Armed Forces…they always perform the national anthems in such a magnificent way.

Other highlights of the night include:

  • The Washington Capitals put together a come-from-behind win against the Chicago Blackhawks, winning 4-2. The Hat Trick considers himself a secondary Capitals fan since it is the only way to get NHL hockey in the nation's capital. I like to see the Caps do well…they have a great arena to play in (the Verizon Center) and have a dedicated, yet small, following. The Hat Trick wishes the Caps well, however the Hat Trick always is loyal to the Red Wings when they play the Caps…which created some problems for the Hat Trick in 1998 when the Capitals matched up against the Red Wings for the Stanley Cup…and got swept by the Wings 4-0. Some of the Hat Trick's friends are still annoyed about that!
  • Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, dropped an honorary puck at the start of the Flyers-Rangers game today. Regardless of how you feel about Governor Palin, it's kind of nice to challenge baseball on the sports connection with politics in America. The Rangers won 4-3.
  • During the intermission between Game 1 and Game 2 on Hockey Night in Canada, Ron MacLean (mentioned in a previous post) had a segment with CBC News on the upcoming elections in Canada this coming Tuesday. Can you imagine that happening in the United States?
  • The Hat Trick currently is watching fun, scrappy, physical game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames on Hockey Night in Canada. Calgary is pummeling the Canucks 3-1 as the first period is winding down.
  • Most importantly...CBC broadcaster was sporting a great suit with a Mickey Mouse tie tonight...classic Don Cherry!

Needless to say, the Hat Trick is enjoying his hockey tonight. More to come on the NHL and the Detroit Red Wings…it allows the Hat Trick to avoid discussing the presidential election in which he is becoming increasingly weary!

Hockey Night in Canada

The Hat Trick is very excited that the NHL season has begun, even if the Red Wings lost their home opener against the Maple Leafs 3-2. As I blogged in an earlier post, there was a lot of emotion at the beginning of the game due to the raising of the banner commemorating Detroit's 11th Stanley Cup victory…plus the fact that the Stanley Cup was in "The House" that night. The Cup also went through some other amusing activities involving the aging rock group Def Leppard.

Tonight…Saturday night to be specific…is the first broadcast for the 2008-2009 hockey season of "Hockey Night In Canada", a staple of hockey for a boy growing up in Michigan. Hockey Night in Canada is produced by the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) and blows away most of the other hockey-related sports programming coming out of the United States…not a surprise given that hockey is the national pastime of Canada. Hockey Night in Canada began as a radio program in 1931, albeit with a different name. In 1952 the CBC began broadcasting Hockey Night in Canada on television, with the first color games being broadcast in 1966.

The format for Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC) is simple…they broadcast a game in the Eastern time zone, usual starting at 7:00pm. Since it is the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, the game always includes a Canadian team, and in many cases, the showcase game will include two Canadian teams playing each other…the Toronto Maple Leafs taking on the Montreal Canadiens is always a great match-up. Following the game in the East, a game in the West usually starts around 10:00pm in the East and, once again, features at least one Canadian team from the Mountain or Western time zone. The addition of the second game didn't begin until 1988 when Wayne Gretsky ("The Great One") began playing for the Los Angeles Kings and this allowed Canadian viewers to see more of him after his glory years with the Edmonton Oilers. The second game only took place when a Canadian team visited Los Angeles and didn't become a regular staple until 1995.

One highlight of HNIC is without a doubt "Coach's Corner" with Don Cherry and Ron MacLean. Don Cherry is a unique guy…with some of the most interesting suits you can imagine. Don Cherry is a former coach of the Boston Bruins and provides tremendous color analysis to all the games going on in the NHL. Until I started watching Don Cherry on CBC I never knew that Canadians referred to former Red Wings Captain Steve Yzerman (who's #19 sweater the Hat Trick still wears proudly to Red Wings games) as "Stevie Y"…he was always "Yzerman" to the U.S. broadcast crews and to many Michiganders as "The Captain" reflecting Yzerman's ongoing leadership of the team as Red Wings captain. Frankly, I find the announcers from the CBC to be so much more interesting compared with announcers on Versus and NBC that broadcast NHL games. I guess it's the fact that it is the country's most popular sport compared with it's increasing decline in the United States. If you every get a chance to see a hockey game broadcast by CBC it is worth watching…and if you get to see Don Cherry then it is a bonus night indeed!

Hockey Night in Canada also has a hold on the Hat Trick for sentimental reasons. Growing up in Detroit in an era as cable was just becoming mainstream, your main TV choices were, like most other U.S. cities, the three major broadcast networks (this was before the advent of FOX) and generally two other independent stations featuring sit-com reruns…in the case of Detroit it was Channel 50 and Channel 20 with Channel 62 available but mostly focused on religious and local access programming (ironically Channel 62 is now the CBS affiliate in Detroit…how things change!). However, in Detroit you could also get Channel 9, the CBC affiliate from across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario. Generally one wouldn't generally watch Channel 9 except to get HNIC on Saturday night, especially when the Red Wings were playing a Canadian NHL team. Sometimes you would stay loyal to the home channel for the actual game but during intermission you immediately changed to Channel 9 so you could get the HNIC crew, especially Don Cherry. Lots of times in bars (the Hat Trick discovered this as he got older) they would show the CBC broadcast instead of the local broadcast. During the playoffs, when both CBC and U.S. stations were broadcasting the NHL playoffs I can't remember a time when Channel 9 wasn't on so we could get CBC. In one memorable example, the Hat Trick went to a local watering hole with the Hat Trick's best friend (since 6th grade, no less) to watch the NHL All Star game in January of 1996. This was during the time when FOX Sports had the broadcast rights to NHL games and used the All Star game to debut the "FOX Trak" which was a puck that had electronics within the puck that allowed viewers to track the puck. The idea was to make the NHL more "watchable" on television, a frequent complaint of some viewers of the game. Well, that cold night in Detroit the reaction to the "FOX Trak" was loud and vocal in this watering hole…"turn it off"…and Channel 9 was immediately put on to watching HNIC to broadcast the All Star game.

After looking back at all that I have written…I had planned a quick, short post when I first started writing…I realize that Hockey Night in Canada is one of the fond memories of childhood and growing up that I still can hold onto. While I've been in Washington, DC for many, many years I've never thought of myself as a local like many of my colleagues who have come to Washington from different parts of the country. The Hat Trick loves football, in addition to hockey, and yet cannot warm up to the Washington Redskins even though the 'Skins have a rich history and loyal following among Washingtonians…for my Detroit readers the Redskins is the top team in DC much like the Red Wings are the top team in Detroit. I guess that Hockey Night in Canada is a way for me to stay connected to what I still feel is my home and my roots…feelings I will probably never have for Washington. While you can never live in the past, sometimes having things that remind you of the past are good…they keep you grounded in where you came from which might help provide you direction in where you want to go. For the Hat Trick, Hockey Night in Canada provides some of those positive memories…keeping me grounded (hopefully) and reminding me of the past and the place and the people that I have come from in my life.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thank You Jimmy Carter, Part II

It looks like former President Jimmy Carter continues to show how NOT to be Presidential. In his latest gaffe, the one-term President (1977 – 1981) placed the blame of the current financial crisis on the shoulders of sitting President George W. Bush blaming spending and the Bush tax cuts as the primary culprits of Wall Street's woes. Carter also notes that deregulation in the financial markets was a major problem that has created our current situation plus noting that eight years ago we had a stable, vibrant economy with a trade surplus.

That's all well and good but President Carter omits a few key points:

  1. The U.S. economy began to go experience trouble in 2000 with the "dot com" bust; President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, handed that problem over to President Bush in 2001. I would argue that the Bush tax cuts in 2001 helped the country avoid sliding into a deeper recession following the dot com bust and the September 11 attacks.
  2. He cites deregulation as a root cause in this issue. The Hat Trick wouldn't necessarily disagree yet I think his jumping on the "need for regulation" bandwagon is disingenuous at best given he is responsible for signing the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 into law which eventually allowed the rise of "low cost carriers" to rise, creating the flying environment of today that we know and love. Carter also fails to note that while many of the regulations that governed Wall Street firms were gutted by a Republican-controlled Congress in the late 1990s they were signed into law by President Clinton, not President Bush. To blame President Bush is preposterous.
  3. Let's talk about President Carter's economy between 1977 - 1981: inflation, inflation, inflation with a good amount of unemployment in there as well. To be lectured on the economy by Jimmy Carter is quite laughable indeed.

The Hat Trick feels strongly about the First Amendment but I find it so disappointing that former President Carter feels the need to be so un-presidential in his appraisals. Once again I think the chip on his shoulder is rearing it's ugly head. While it must not be pleasant for him to remember, there is a reason why he a.) had to fight a primary challenge within the Democratic Party from Senator Ted Kennedy and b.) Was not re-elected in the 1980 General Election against Ronald Reagan.

Whatever President Bush's failings are, and they are many (MANY!), Carter inserting himself into the financial chaos is not helpful, not Presidential and not a genuine display of the facts.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Governor Palin To Drop Puck Saturday

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican Vice Presidential nominee, will drop the puck at the Philadelphia Flyer's home opener against the New York Rangers this Saturday, October 11. Governor Palin, a self-described "Hockey Mom", has interestingly brought together the world of presidential politics and the National Hockey League together…which, as you can imagine, makes the Hat Trick very happy! Regardless if you like her or hate her, it's kind of nice to see some attention given to the NHL for a change as it gets so very little attention when competing with Major League Baseball, the National Football League and the National Basketball Association. Good luck to you Governor Palin and please give some thought to doing a "Gordie Howe Hat Trick" while you're on the ice…the uninitiated to this should check out my February 4 post for the explanation to this very special Hat Trick!

Finally, in an attempt to be bipartisan and include my liberal readers, I will make the first hockey/Governor Palin joke:

"It's a shame the Flyers game couldn't have been against the Ottawa Senators so she could get a little more foreign policy experience…"

Red Wings Defends Stanley Cup Starting Tonight

Tonight, October 9, the Detroit Red Wing commences the start of defending their Stanley Cup with a game against fellow "Original Six" team Toronto Maple Leafs. The game starts at 8:00pm EDT and will feature raising the banner celebrating the winning of their 18th Stanley Cup last June. Much of the team returns for the 2008-09 season with Forward Dallas Drake retiring (after winning his first Stanley Cup in June) and Goalie Dominik Hasek retiring for the second time in his career after a less than spectacular 2008 post-season. Yahoo Sports put together a nice write-up on Red Wings, noting that the team did not make any splashy free agent moves over the free agent period this summer with the exception of signing former Penguin Marian Hossa. This speaks a lot to the depth of the Red Wings with two dominant lines and a host of talented players as Yahoo Sports notes. Goalie Chris Osgood solidified his role as starting goalie after solid regular season in 2007-08 sharing duties with Dominik Hasek and then took over permanently after Hasek floundered in the first round of the playoffs against the Nashville Predators.

The future looks good for the Wings and I'm excited about the news season. I agree with Yahoo Sports that the biggest challenge for the Wings will be complacency…a"been there, done that" approach that could cause an upset with a hungrier team. The Wings have the pieces in place to repeat, which they did in 1998 after winning the Stanley Cup in 1997, so it has been accomplished in recent history. I think complacency has actually been a big problem for the team in recent history…we saw it at the end of several seasons, especially in 2002, 2003 and 2006 when they had a great regular season and then chocked in the playoffs. If they can keep their focus and avoid the complacency issues, plus remain health, I don't see why they can't repeat and win it all again in June 2009.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Hat Trick Returns!

The Hat Trick realizes he has been absent since my last post on September 20. Needless to say the day job has taken priority…and has kept me busy and spending quite a bit of time on Capitol Hill with energy and tax extenders legislation plus some work on the financial bailout. Congress has finally recessed to go home to get themselves re-elected which has cleared up some time for me…mostly to discover where my desk is under the mounds of paper!

A lot is going on in the political world and I will attempt to address some of the highlights in the next few days. In addition the NHL 2008 – 2009 season began last weekend with games in Prague and Stockholm…a great way to increase interest in the sport given the high number of European players that are in the NHL, including the Red Wings Captain Nick Lidstrom from Sweden!

Thanks for your patience as I get back in the swing of things!