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I’m baaack!

I was thinking this morning what funny excuse I could come up with for my lack of posts over the last month and a half.  And, I wish I could tell you I came up with something.  But anything I thought of was either not funny “I didn’t have time,” implausible “I would have posted, but my computer ate my keyboard” or just downright wrong “There just hasn’t been anything interesting to talk about.”  So, after looking at all the options, I decided to just stick with something simple…nothing.  That’s right.  No excuses.  I think, looking back at the world of sports and politics in the last month or so, we have all had more than our fill of excuses!  (Now wasn’t that a great way to transition to the meat of this post?  I haven’t lost the gift folks 🙂 )

All of the things I want to touch on today come back to the theme of not making excuses.  But before we get to that I promise, going forward, to do my best to stay on top of posting.  There are certainly no lack of things to discuss!Let’s start with the story of the day – General Stanley McChrystal. In case you missed it, Rolling Stone is about to publish an article in which General McChrystal and his staff make disparaging remarks about a number of senior Obama Administration officials including Jim Jones and Vice-President Biden, Senators including John Kerry and John McCain and even President Obama.  The comments range from simple policy disagreements to taunting and have earned the General an Oval Office meeting with the President.   Everyone agrees the article showed General McChrystal’s incredibly poor judgment and was a huge mistake.  But the larger, and more difficult, question is what President Obama should do about it. 

To his credit, General McChrystal did not hesitate in apologizing for his conduct and the conduct of his staff.  He didn’t try to say he was misquoted, he didn’t try to distance himself from the story of his team.  He took responsibility for his actions and apologized.   No excuses.  That being said, this is not the first time he has had to have a tense meeting with his boss and, if President Obama doesn’t have full confidence in him, then I don’t see how he can stay in this position.  Based on this, and previous comments, General McChrystal has shown an incredible lack of respect of top civilian officials (with the exception of Secretary of State Clinton) and has managed to alienate practically everyone who he should be working with to achieve shared goals.  Replacing McChrystal would be incredibly difficult and, potentially disruptive, and I am glad the President is not taking the decision lightly.  He is obviously weighing the options and making sure he understands the consequences of whatever action he ends up taking.  If McChrystal does keep his job, he would do well to follow the President’s example.  Otherwise the next time the President summons him for a meeting, it will be to send him on his way.

EDIT: President Obama just announced that he has accepted General McChrystal’s resignation and will be replacing him with General Petraeus.

On another subject, Armando Galarraga deserved his perfect game and was robbed by a terrible terrible call by Umpire Jim Joyce.  However, what happened after that call is why that game goes down as one of the best we have ever seen in sports.  Joyce, upon seeing the reply immediately realized he had made a mistake and did something extraordinary.  He apologized.  He apologized publicly and he sought out Galarraga to apologize privately.  And Galarraga forgave him.  Amazing.  Shouldn’t be so amazing.  But it is.  Easily the best moment of the baseball season to this point.  And, as an exclamation point, after the incident, Joyce was still voted as the best umpire in the game by players. 

Finally, I want to touch on the BP oil spill – one of the great tragedies of this, or any, generation.  And now, today, word comes that the moratorium the Obama Administration, correctly, put on deep-water drilling has been overturned by a Judge who has investments in the Oil and Gas Industry. Judge Feldman should have followed the lead of fellow Justices with similar investments and recused himself.  Whether or not you agree with the decision, this is blatant conflict of interest and cannot be allowed.  If we learn anything from this BP tragedy it should be that short-sighted actions are often recipes for long-term (and very expensive) disasters.

Link(s) for 12/2 – Politics on TV

Last night was a great night for political junkies.  From 7-8 we had a surprisingly explosive debate between the four Democrats vying to represent their party in the special election to succeed the late Senator Kennedy.  Then, at 8, President Obama took over the airways to announce his new war strategy in Afghanistan. 

Click here for a recap of the debate

Click here to watch the President’s speech

      I thought this was one of the best speeches of the Obama Presidency.  For the most part he stayed away from “political” rhetoric and focused on laying out the case for increased troop levels in a clear and convincing manner.  In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that I was a supporter of the war in Afghanistan back in 2002 and I do believe our success or failure in that country will have long-lasting consequences for America and for the stability of the region.   However, no matter what your opinion on the merits of the war is the fact remains that we are there and, due to irresponsible decisions by the previous administration, we have lost ground.  I don’t believe leaving right now is an option (as much as I’d like it to be)  and, if you believe people on the ground, maintaining the status quo is a recipe for disaster.   Therefore, I support the President’s plan to send in more troops and am gratified to hear him lay out a clear and realistic mission for them, as well as an exit strategy.  To those who don’t like putting out a timeline for withdrawal, I would argue that such an announcement is critical to show President Karzai and the Afghan people that we are serious about turning over the security of the country to them and that they must step up to the plate.  However, I truly believe that, in 18 months, if the situation is not what we hope it will be, President Obama will reassess his withdrawal timeline.  Hey, at least we have an exit strategy – something the Bush administration forgot to consider as they planned their invasions of both Afghanistan AND Iraq.

The men and women in uniform have already given so much (one only needed to look around the room at West Point and in the various living rooms across the world where CNN had cameras to see the true cost of this war) and to ask them to give more is so hard.  But I do believe the President when he says that he asked the hard questions and considered all options before making this incredibly difficult decision.  It may not work, but I applaud him for taking a stand and setting out a plan that, at least on paper, gives us the best chance of success.