McCain’s Editorial Is Good Enough For Me

Unlike the New York Times I am open to the free exchange of ideas without trying to put words into someone else’s mouth — which (via Betsy’ Page) is exactly what the NYT editorial page editor is trying to do:

It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama’s piece. To that end, the article would have to articulate, in concrete terms, how Senator McCain defines victory in Iraq. It would also have to lay out a clear plan for achieving victory — with troops levels, timetables and measures for compelling the Iraqis to cooperate. And it would need to describe the Senator’s Afghanistan strategy, spelling out how it meshes with his Iraq plan.

Eric, at The Fire Ant Gazette says:

I’m in no position to dictate to my fellow bloggers what they should do with their pieces of the media pie, but I hope that others will elect to fill the vacuum left when a mainstream media source neglects its responsibility to present a complete picture of an issue that so strongly affects our nation.

He is right, so here is McCain’s rejected editorial.

In January 2007, when General David Petraeus took command in Iraq, he called the situation “hard” but not “hopeless.” Today, 18 months later, violence has fallen by up to 80% to the lowest levels in four years, and Sunni and Shiite terrorists are reeling from a string of defeats. The situation now is full of hope, but considerable hard work remains to consolidate our fragile gains.

Progress has been due primarily to an increase in the number of troops and a change in their strategy. I was an early advocate of the surge at a time when it had few supporters in Washington. Senator Barack Obama was an equally vocal opponent. “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there,” he said on January 10, 2007. “In fact, I think it will do the reverse.”

Now Senator Obama has been forced to acknowledge that “our troops have performed brilliantly in lowering the level of violence.” But he still denies that any political progress has resulted.

Perhaps he is unaware that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has recently certified that, as one news article put it, “Iraq has met all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress.” Even more heartening has been progress that’s not measured by the benchmarks. More than 90,000 Iraqis, many of them Sunnis who once fought against the government, have signed up as Sons of Iraq to fight against the terrorists. Nor do they measure Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s new-found willingness to crack down on Shiite extremists in Basra and Sadr City—actions that have done much to dispel suspicions of sectarianism.

The success of the surge has not changed Senator Obama’s determination to pull out all of our combat troops. All that has changed is his rationale. In a New York Times op-ed and a speech this week, he offered his “plan for Iraq” in advance of his first “fact finding” trip to that country in more than three years. It consisted of the same old proposal to pull all of our troops out within 16 months. In 2007 he wanted to withdraw because he thought the war was lost. If we had taken his advice, it would have been. Now he wants to withdraw because he thinks Iraqis no longer need our assistance.

To make this point, he mangles the evidence. He makes it sound as if Prime Minister Maliki has endorsed the Obama timetable, when all he has said is that he would like a plan for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops at some unspecified point in the future.

Senator Obama is also misleading on the Iraqi military’s readiness. The Iraqi Army will be equipped and trained by the middle of next year, but this does not, as Senator Obama suggests, mean that they will then be ready to secure their country without a good deal of help. The Iraqi Air Force, for one, still lags behind, and no modern army can operate without air cover. The Iraqis are also still learning how to conduct planning, logistics, command and control, communications, and other complicated functions needed to support frontline troops.

No one favors a permanent U.S. presence, as Senator Obama charges. A partial withdrawal has already occurred with the departure of five “surge” brigades, and more withdrawals can take place as the security situation improves. As we draw down in Iraq, we can beef up our presence on other battlefields, such as Afghanistan, without fear of leaving a failed state behind. I have said that I expect to welcome home most of our troops from Iraq by the end of my first term in office, in 2013.

But I have also said that any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons. This is the crux of my disagreement with Senator Obama.

Senator Obama has said that he would consult our commanders on the ground and Iraqi leaders, but he did no such thing before releasing his “plan for Iraq.” Perhaps that’s because he doesn’t want to hear what they have to say. During the course of eight visits to Iraq, I have heard many times from our troops what Major General Jeffrey Hammond, commander of coalition forces in Baghdad, recently said: that leaving based on a timetable would be “very dangerous.”

The danger is that extremists supported by Al Qaeda and Iran could stage a comeback, as they have in the past when we’ve had too few troops in Iraq. Senator Obama seems to have learned nothing from recent history. I find it ironic that he is emulating the worst mistake of the Bush administration by waving the “Mission Accomplished” banner prematurely.

I am also dismayed that he never talks about winning the war—only of ending it. But if we don’t win the war, our enemies will. A triumph for the terrorists would be a disaster for us. That is something I will not allow to happen as president. Instead I will continue implementing a proven counterinsurgency strategy not only in Iraq but also in Afghanistan with the goal of creating stable, secure, self-sustaining democratic allies.

Words We Think We Understand

Etymology. Callimachus explores word-pairs. His post led me to wonder what the etymology of “punish” is. That search led me to Etymologically Speaking, where I’ve spent the last two hours.

Some of my favorites:

From the Spanish “charlar,” to chat.
From the Latin Candidus word meaning, “bright, shining, glistening white.” The ancient Roman candidates for office would wear bright white togas. This same word also gave rise to “candid,” which candidates rarely are.
From the French “Crétin,” which originally meant “Christian.”
French for “of good air.” In the Middle Ages, people’s health was judged partly by how they smelled. A person who gave off “good air” was presumed healthier and happier.
From the Latin elire, meaning “to choose,” from which we also get the modern Spanish word meaning the same, elegir.
Originally meant “placed on the knees.” In Ancient Rome, a father legally claimed his newborn child by sitting in front of his family and placing his child on his knee.
Greek for “Choice.”
Kampf (German) Struggle
From the Latin “campus” — for their type of fortification, where the Roman soldiers had their military drills — from which we also drive the English words, “camp,” “campus” and “champion.” Thus, when we talk about a “college campus,” there are subtle militaristic overtones.
From the Old English “cniht,” which meant “boy, servant.”
Kopf (German) Head
From Latin “cuppa,” meaning “cup”; the Romans used the cup as a metaphor for the upper part of the head. Similarly, another Latin word for “cup,” “testa,” has now become the French “Tête,” for “head,” too. Note that both the Germans and the Celts used a “skullcap” “top of the human head”) as a drinking vessel; this was part of the honoring of the enemy ritual. Thus related to “chief” and “capital” (and “testicle” as well).
The Latin words “Liber,” “Libera,” and “Liberum” — with a Long I — came from the root meaning, “to pour.” From this, we get the word “Liberty” (hence pronounced with a short I), from the freedom we feel when we get drunk.
From the French “Maîtresse,” which originally meant “bride.”
From the Latin word “moneta” which originally meaning, “warning.”

From the Latin “nescius,” for “ignorant,” and, at various times before the current definition became established meant “foolish” then “foolishly precise” then “pedantically precise” then “precise in a good way” and then our current definition.

From the Latin Occasion, meaning, “accident, or a grave event.”
Old; and Alt (German) Old

“Alt” originally meant, “Grown up”; the participle of “growing”; related to “Alan,” which meant, “to grow” but no longer exists in modern German. In Old English, the word “Alan” was also used in this same sense of growing or nourishing. Related to the Latin “alt” meaning “high.”

From the Latin paganu(m), for “someone who is not from the city, rather from the country.” In late Latin, this turned into pagensis, “one who is from the country,” and this utimately became the French pays and the Spanish País, both meaning “nation.”

Pay goes back ultimately to Latin, “pax” peace, by way of, appease, pacify. So “pay” originally meant “pay off,” to keep the peace.

Salary; Salt
In the early days of Rome its soldiers were given a handful of salt each day. The salt ration was subsequently replaced by a sum of money allowing each man to buy his own, and relieving the commisariat of the trouble of transporting it. The money received was referred to as their “salt money” (salarium in Latin). Eventually, the term would make its way into medieval France, where a soldier’s payment was known as his solde (which is still in use today as the term for a soldier’s or sailor’s pay), and it was in paid for with a special coin called a sol. By extension, the word also came to refer not only to a soldier’s wage, but also to the soldier himself, evidenced by the medieval French term soldat, which itself came from the Old French soudier. For its part, the English word “soldier” comes from the Middle English souder, which also derived from soudier [Footnote: Contrary to popular belief, salt–necessary as it was and unlike other spices–was never very expensive. It only became expensive towards the end of the twelfth century A.D., when it was used as a means of taxation and people often went without it, as a result–a fact not unconnected with the famines and deficiencies that afflicted so many generations of Europeans at the time).].
From the Latin “senex,” meaning “old”; thus related to “senile.”
From 1550 to 1675 was “very extensively” used in the sense of deserving of pity and compassion, helpless. It is a derivative of the Middle English “seely,” from the German “selig,” meaning happy, blissful, blessed, as well as punctual, observant of season.
From the Latin “sinister” for “left.” Hence, left is evil. 
The Eastern European region of Silesia was known for its fine cloth. Eventually, so many low-quality imitations wound up on the market that Silesian turned into sleazy.
Greek for “no where.”
From “Villaneus,” meaning, “inhabitant of a villa,” i.e., a “peasant.”
From the Old English “witan,” meaning to know; intelligence.

Oh, and “punish.”


Advantages of an Older Brain

At least some part of the body gets better with age. John McCain’s campaign should jump on statements like 

“It may be that distractibility is not, in fact, a bad thing,” said Shelley H. Carson, a psychology researcher at Harvard whose work was cited in the book. “It may increase the amount of information available to the conscious mind.”


“A broad attention span may enable older adults to ultimately know more about a situation and the indirect message of what’s going on than their younger peers,” Dr. Hasher said. “We believe that this characteristic may play a significant role in why we think of older people as wiser.”


“If older people are taking in more information from a situation, and they’re then able to combine it with their comparatively greater store of general knowledge, they’re going to have a nice advantage.”

Obama should be worried that the article indicates that an ability to ignore distractions, though quicker, ultimately results in assimilating incomplete information. In his case, I think it is not only a desire to not be “distracted” but also an ingrained part of his temperament.  

via Instapundit

Obama Has Spoken

I did not hear the speech, but have read the transcript. Twice, so far.

He has salvaged his campaign. He hasn’t yet convinced me to vote for him should he survive Hillary at the convention. He is still far too liberal lefty socialist.

You can watch the speech on his website.

My fear is that this speech is going to do more dividing than uniting. He’s not painted a nice picture of either race and offered no strategy for bringing them closer other than proposing common enemies which, as President, he will do something about:

…we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

Strange as it may seem

I could vote for a McCain/Romney ticket – put Huckabee on it anywhere and I am OFF. I could vote for an Obama ticket, but put a Clinton on it and I am OFF.

Where do I stand? Does that make me a moderate, undecided, ignorant (don’t answer that…)

What’s up?

My strong point issues are the war  – I’m a hawk and ever so in favor for it and when are we going to do a surge in Afghanistan and… code pink can go to hell.

Then immigration – why do we want to punish 12 million (or however many) people because of where they were born? Amnesty is the only feasible answer. Close the border also, if you must, but give amnesty.

Healthcare? Hell, the high cost of health care is because we, the spoiled, demand so much of it. Regardless what medical scientists want us to believe, they cannot cure everything or always diagnose it in time. Too bad… but true.

So… again – the open-ended question that my attorney has advised me is not wise – Where do I stand when compared with the rest of America? Am I that different?

Are you confused?

If all the pundits and news stories about the various candidates has you confused (as opposed to severely depressed) Tony Woodlief, author of Sand in the Gears, has gone to trouble of explaining in terms anyone can understand:

Here’s my ill-informed reading of the status of our national presidential marathon, based on what I’ve gleaned from airport conversations and the occasional glance at Google news headlines:

Now, go there and read it all. You will be enlightened. (via Megan McArdle)

Who is worse than Hillary?

Professor Bainbridge says Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. (via Instapundit)

The dear professor is awfully non-inclusive. Here’s my list of who is worse than Hillary:

Ron Paul
Dennis Kucinich
Mike Huckabee
John Edwards

Oh, I’m sure there are others. Those are just off the top of my head.

I’ve never quite understood the enthusiasm for getting rid of all illegal immigrants. Seems to me a fence keeps those already here in as well as new ones out… maybe not.

There are productive people who are illegals and I’d be proud to be a sister citizen with most of them. I don’t get the urge to punish quite as much as the “hard” right does.

South Carolina GOP debate: Thompson wins

I didn’t watch tonight’s GOP debate in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – I find them boring, but I do like reading other people’s comments as they are watching. So far I’ve read:

S.C. Politics Live by USC political science professor Blease Graham. Since he actually seemed to take Ron Paul seriously, I don’t know quite what to think. He also grouped Thompson next to Paul with Guiliani, then Huckabee at the other end of the spectrum, with McCain and Romney in the ideological middle. This just does not make sense to me. I think he was trying to hard not to piss anybody off. His final take:

To the extent that Huckabee was the leader going in; Thompson gained at his expense. Paul didn’t expand his constituency, but Giuliani may have added a bit to his at the expense of Romney perhaps more than McCain. Giuliani’s tax plan is the difference for appeal to conservatives to step over Romney.

The Sundries Shack gives the debate overwhelmingly to Fred Thompson. He says everyone else came in second, except Ron Paul.

Heading Right, a group blog, is difficult to follow with several people posting. One of the posters is from Minnesota and rightly points out that Huckabee lost that state with his line about “no bridges falling in Arkansas.” Their notes include McCain as overall winner, Huckabee no gain no loss, Thompson did well enough, and Romney tanked.

Freeman Hunt did a very nice and organized job of live-blogging. Her best comment is about growing revenue by cutting taxes;

Frankly, I don’t care that much about growing tax revenue. Is our goal to make sure that the government has the maximum amount of money possible?

Too bad she wasn’t one of the debaters. She says they all seem to be trying to out Reagan Reagan, compliments Romney on speaking precisely, and actually ends without proclaiming a winner, but providing links to donate to Thompson.

Ann Althouse also notes all the candidates seem to “be in a competition to say “Reagan” as often as possible.” Looks like this year’s drinking game words will be  “change” for the Democrats and “Reagan” for the Republicans. She notes Frank Luntz’ focus group overwhelming gives it to Thompson as winner and Paul as loser.

Right Wing News – the best line? “Ha! They cut to Mitt and he was looking at Ron Paul like something he scraped off of his shoe.” John Hawkins also slams Brit Hume for trying to get the candidates to second guess the commanders in the field. No one bit. McCain gets a compliment on always being strong on foreign policy. Summary: Ron Paul’s best debate ever, but still a loser. Mike Huckabee, Rudy Guiliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain, with Fred Thompson as winner.

Michelle Malkin – Thompson the big winner, Romney the big loser, McCain, nothing gained, nothing lost. She predicts Brit Hume will get hate mail for his handling of Ron Paul.

Jim Geraghty: “…it’s not unthinkable that Romney wins Michigan, Thompson wins South Carolina, and Giuliani wins Florida. Under that scenario, the five biggest contests of the early GOP Primary season will have generated five different winners.” That scenario fits with what Blease Graham said about no decisive winner until Feb. 5.

Enough for me. Check out Instapundit for more.