Maine Writer

Its about people and issues I care about.

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My blogs are dedicated to the issues I care about. Thank you to all who take the time to read something I've written.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Donald Trump gives "lights out": A New Hampshire lightbulb speech

Absent was the background saturated with a sea of red white and blue, while Donald Trump gave a psuedo spotanious "non-political" speech to zealous New Hampshire fans. 

 Instead, in New Hampshire, the candidate Donald Trump gave a subdued talk about trade, in a location where a light bulb factory closed. Obviously, Trump's political advisors didn't think about the message this scene might send, to peoople who wonder if the "light bulb" ever goes on in his "make America great again" slogan. Does "great again" mean we're supposed to manufacture light bulbs that are now nearly as archiac as starting fire with sticks and stones? Rather than promote new electrical technology, Donald Trump preached about bringing a light bulb factory back to New Hampshire. Obviously, it's "lights out" on this old technology. 

In fact, making American great again means investing in efficient electronic technology,  to manufacture better light bulbs.

Jim Hoft Jun 30th
Donald Trump spoke on trade in Manchester, New Hampshire 
Image result for graphic light bulb off
Former Campaign Manager (who was fired) Corey Lewandowski, reportedly, attended the rally. (Interesting, nobody sent Lewandowski's lost job to China! In fact, he lost it the old fashioned way.  Donald Trump fired him, just like on TV!).

It's difficult to understand how Donald Trump's blind followers can support him as a leaership candidate when he's so politically inept. There's a huge difference between being "unpolitical" and being "politically inept".  Donald Trump is definitely unqualified to be a candidate for the position of leader of the free world.

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Children of the world at risk: Who will "inherit the earth"?

With the world's children at risk for death by wars, malnutrition and infectious diesease, it's tragically necessary to ponder the quesiton about who will inherit the earth? For every child lost, there is one less brilliant person alive who could improve the human condition, given the chance to live and to do so.
Image result for UNICEF
Children First!
All children deserve to live happy and healthy lives. Unicef is an international organization that works to help the world's most vulnerable children with nutrition, water, and medical supplies they desperately need. Nevertheless, sadly, although infant mortality has declined, children continue to die from preventable causes.

Unicef Says Its Development Goals for Children Are at Risk


The United Nations said Monday that its global development goals for 2030, were at risk of failure, estimating that if current trends continue, nearly 70 million children will die from mostly preventable causes and that 750 million girls will be married while still children.

The organization also projected that more than 60 million primary school-aged children will be out of school, more than half in sub-Saharan Africa.

The annual United Nations Children’s Fund report, “The State of the World’s Children 2016,” reflected what Unicef officials said were widening disparities between rich and poor areas, with some of the poorest increasingly at risk.

The officials said the 172-page report was an emphatic warning that the so-called Sustainable Development Goals created by the United Nations in 2015 might not be achieved by the 2030 target date.

The goals are a set of 17 objectives for the eradication of poverty, hunger, illiteracy, gender discrimination and other afflictions.

“The case that’s being made is that we won’t hit the goals that we’ve now set, which we only agreed on a few months ago based on progress, unless we focus on the most disadvantaged,” Justin Forsyth, the deputy executive director of Unicef, said at a news briefing at the agency’s New York headquarters.  

The report acknowledged success in reducing some symptoms of deprivation since the 1990s, including an overall drop in infant mortality rates and extreme poverty. The report noted that the poorest children in the study were about twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday as the richest.  In parts of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, children born to mothers with no education were found to be almost three times as likely to die before age 5 as those born to mothers with a secondary education. 

Girls from the poorest households included in the report were twice as likely to marry in childhood as girls from the wealthiest. 

Anthony Lake, the executive director of Unicef, said in a written foreword to the report that such inequities “perpetuate intergenerational cycles of disadvantage and inequality that undermine the stability of societies and even the security of nations everywhere.”

The report recommended an enormous increase in how much money governments invest in education. It estimated that attaining the 2030, goal in universal education would cost $340 billion each year. 

Unfotunately, the Unicef report was issued against a backdrop of rising nativism and xenophobia among countries of the West to an influx of migrants and refugees fleeing conflict and poverty mostly in the Middle East and Africa. Mr. Forsyth said that the trend was a new challenge to Unicef and other aid organizations. “We are broadcasting our message into a world that’s more hostile,” he said.  He added that the migration trend was “driven by poverty and inequality and inequity, and unless you deal with those root causes, you’re not going to stop that huge flow of people.” 

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Donald Trump international speak uses 3rd grade words

Although candidate Donald Trump's incendiary rhetoric is dangerous, his third grade level language is also worrisome, because he uses simple and short words to describe concepts that are extremely complicated.  
Image result for elementary school graphicDonald Trump talks like an elemntary school student. but the concepts he communicates, like international terrorism, are far more complex than his simplton incendiary rhetoric describes.

Indeed, Trump calls the self declared "evil ISIS" caliphate "bad". Well, yes, in fact, ISIS surely is evil and that makes the self declared Caliphate state "bad".  

So, Donald Trump, why tell us something that we already know! 
After identifying evil ISIS as being "bad", then Trump says "water boarding" might win the war against the terrorist group.  This simple language and even simpler reasoning doesn't improve our understanding about how to defeat evil- ISIS. Moreover, the idea that using "water boarding" torture will somehow magically defeat evil ISIS, is plainly stupid. In fact, the use of water boarding will do virtually and literally nothing to defeat the evil ISIS. Torture only impacts one person at a time and the victims say whatever they need to, as a way to stop their pain.

Politico reports- Donald Trump Talks Like a Third-Grader
By Jack Shafer in Politico

Trump talks like a simpleton. 

If you were to market Donald Trump’s vocabulary as a toy, it would resemble a small box of Lincoln Logs

Trump resists multisyllabic words and complex sentence constructions when speaking extemporaneously in a debate, at a news conference or in an interview. He prefers to link short, blocky words into other short, blocky words to create short, blocky sentences that he then stacks into short, blocky paragraphs.

The end result of Trump’s word choice is less the stripped-down prose style of Ernest Hemingway than it is a spontaneous reinvention of Ogden’s Basic English, the pared-down lexicon of 850 words selected by early 20th century linguist/philosopher C.K. Ogden as the bedrock of a new world language. 

In the August 6th Republican candidates debate, Trump answered the moderators’ questions with linguistic austerity. (linguistic austerity?) OMG, surely, people who follow candidate Donald Trump can't continue to believe he can re-make the world with 3rd grade language? If they do, they're dangerously wrong.

Run through the Flesch-Kincaid grade-level test, his text of responses score at the 4th-grade reading level. For Trump, that’s actually pretty advanced. All the other candidates rated higher, with Ted Cruz earning 9th-grade status. Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, and Scott Walker scored at the 8th-grade level. John Kasich, the next-lowest after Trump, got a 5th-grade score.

(It's time for candidate Donald Trump to explain his vision for making "his version" of America "great again". Three letter words won't make the US nation great again. Rather, simple words only makes all Americans look as stupid as Trump.)

Jack Shafer is POLITICO's senior media writer. Previously, Jack wrote a column about the press and politics for Reuters and before that worked at Slate as a columnist and as the site's deputy editor. 

Read more:
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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Donald Trump created bombastic narrative now has to live with consequences

Congressman Trey Gowdy wasted  plenty of tax payer money during the Benghazi Congressional Committee investigation.

Gowdy's investigation was a bust, just like the grueling interrogation of Secretary Clinton for 11 hours, during the inquisition conducted on an innocent American citizen, that also came up with nothing.
Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, led a witch hunt costing taxpayers over $7 million dollars and lasting longer than the Watergate hearings.

In fact, the expenses for this political witch hunt are now an extraordinary $7, 163,697 and continue to grow.  This is obviously a terrible waste.

Although Gowdy's investigative expenses are, in retrospect, unjustified, the fact is, stupid Donald Trump missed a rare political opportunity as a result of the Congressional witch hunt. 

Think about it! Trump could've led news shows with more of his "Big Lies", by giving his opinion to the Gowdy investigation, regardless of what the report came up with, which was essentially, nothing.

Instead, Trump created such a bombastic campaign narrative during the election primaries, laden with bigotry and misogyny, so much so, that he can't criticize Secretary Clinton, without spotlighting his own dismal credibility. He brought this incredible situation on himself!  If he had behaved, been professional during the primary elections, Trump could've possibly taken center stage to consume the Benghazi narrative. Instead, Trump's irresponsible name calling during the political slam of his Republican competitors has left him with a hallow rhetorical response on Benghazi.

As a result, Trump failed on the Benghazi report, like he was reaching for another name to call the presumptive Democratic nominee. Rather than seize the moment, Trump wasted nearly as much time as Congressman Gowdy burned through money. Trump's criticism to the Benghazi report amounted to nothing more than hallow echoes that just bounced off ancient dead valley rocks.

Honestly, if Trump behaved like an adult, or had presented himself as a bona fide political leader during the primary elections, the situation with Secretary Clinton, right now, would be potentially different. (Thank goodness Trump is inept. Nevertheless, he's still dangerous.)  Clearly, Secretary Clinton is the qualified presidential candidate and her illuminated resume was just given a boost. Nothing Clinton said about Benghazi was proven wrong by Gowdy.

Now, post the expensive Gowdy investigation, voters are saying, "Hey! There's no 'there there'". If Trump had been a credible primary candidate, he might've been able to influence the debate about what happened in Benghazi. by spinning a credibile narrative. Instead, Trump is churning more third grade words, like "Benghazi was 'bad'". Well, yes, tell us what we don't know. 

Perhaps, Trump was playing political roulette. In my opinion, Trump believed the Republicans were going to pin all kinds of stuff on Secretary Clinton, while he ranted and raged to attract media attention and satisfied the right wing radical zealots. Well, Trump's gamble failed. In fact, Trump flopped. His right wing campaign has fizzled, while Secretary Clinton's reputation has not been damaged as much as Trump has eviscerated his own credibility. 

Moreover, Congressman Gowdy can't justify his investigation. Indeed, Gowdy side stepped questions about Secretary Clinton's role in the tragedy, because there was no "there there".  Here's a list of how daunting Gowdy's investigation was, when compared to real crises of the past. Rather than bring credibility to the Benghazi investigation, this chart shows just how bizarre the investment of time and money were, when compared to really serious crises:

Pear Harbor investigation-  285 days
Watergate hearings             406 days
September 11 hearings        478 days
JFK Assassination               300 days
But Benghazi?  OMG! -       853  days

As for Secretary Clinton's credibility, there were no surprises in the Benghazi report. In fact, Lisa DesJardins of PBSNewsHour, says she saw National Security Advisor Susan Rice's name in Gowdy's led report, more often then Secretary Clinton.

In praise of Secretary Clinton, I can't imagine how she maintained her professional composure, while knowing she had no part in what brought about the Benghazi tragedy. She was completely composed, while Congressman Gowdy unjustly created confusion about what happened in a situation where he was not there and nobody who was there is alive.

In my lay person opinion, the only people who knew what happened in Benghazi are not alive to respond to questions. 

Shame on Congressman Gowdy. In fact, he wasted millions of tax dollars to prove that Secretary Clinton wasn't involved in the tragedy.

Meanwhile, candidate Donald Trump created his own inept consequences of being unable to respond with credibility to anything at all. He must never be elected to lead the free world and should not be nominated to lead the Republican party.

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Cleveland alert - Republican Party Ohio hoopla sounds like a bust

It's like getting an invitation to a time share sales pitch in Antarctica. Scientists notwithstanding, even with all expenses paid, who in the world wants to spend a week there?  Well, okay, there are always those dedicated few who just want to say they spent a week in Antarctica, but that's not too many people.

Well, that's sort of like what's happening with the Republican National Committee (RNC), while it's trying to spin a party for the nomination of their presumptive 2016 presidential candidate. Unfortunately, it appears that not many people want to attend this gala to crown Donald Trump to be the presidential nominee.  
Trump and the Republican National Committee (RNC) are planning a nomination party, but many prospective speakers have the equivalent of a political "dentist appointment" on the day they are invited to speak.

Too bad for "Trumpy-Dumpty". He has waited all his life to be elected the leader of the free world. Now, when he is just about to be the pseudo king of his own political ball, it appears as though not many people want to show up for the party.

Politico Reports:
GOP Stars Show Little Interest In Trump Convention Speaking Slots in Cleveland.

The traditionally coveted gig as Republican National Convention (RNC) speaker is drumming up little interest with career-conscious politicians, wary of presumptive nominee Donald Trump, Politico reports.

The website reports it contacted more than 50 big-name governors, senators and House lawmakers about a speaking spot at the convention.

"Only a few said they were open to it, and everyone else said they weren’t planning on it, didn’t want to or weren’t going to Cleveland at all — or simply didn’t respond," Politico's Alex Isenstadt writes.

Among the firm no-shows, according to Politico, are:
  • South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, who's overseeing a House Select committee's investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of the attacks on Benghazi.
  • South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford, a former two-term governor.
  • Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo.
  • New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte.
  • Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.
  • South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.
  • New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, who helped write the GOP platform at the 2012 convention.
  • North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson.
  • Utah Rep. Mia Love, who's skipping the convention to travel to Israel.
Politico reports rising stars in the party like South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Oklahoma Rep. Steve Russell, a former Army lieutenant colonel who helped capture Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, say they've got no plans to speak. 

Nor are there plans for rising GOP stars Utah Sen. Mike Lee or former Trump rival Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, to speak. 
Even politicians from the convention host state of Ohio, Sen. Rob Portman and Gov. John Kasich, a Trump primary rival, haven't said if they'll speak.

According to Politico, "even the GOP leaders in charge of maintaining the party’s congressional majorities," Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker and Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, aren't saying if they'll speak at the event, Isenstadt writes.

"Everyone has to make their own choice, but at this point, 70 percent of the American public doesn’t like Donald Trump," Stuart Stevens, a GOP strategist who helped craft the 2012 convention, tells Politico.

"That’s as toxic as we’ve seen in American politics. Normally, people want to speak at national conventions. It launched Barack Obama’s political career."

A Trump spokesperson declined to comment on this year’s convention plans, but there are hints the event will be heavy on non-politicians.

It’s also expected that Trump’s children, including daughter Ivanka and sons Eric and Donald Jr., will get prime-time spots, Politico reports.  (This is puff endorsement from Trump's kids the same people who are protecting their own inheritance.)

Trump supporters like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich may be tapped for a spot on the stage, according to Politico. 

And Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke, a former leader of the Navy SEAL (operational word "former") team that would later kill Osama bin Laden, hopes to get a shot at the podium, a spokeswoman tells Politico. (Is he  looking for a Silver Star...?)

In my experience watching these political dramas every four years, this "no show" RNC list are the people to follow during the time when the convention is happening.  Maybe the "no shows" will even host their own convention. Perhaps, they can put on a program that people will find believable and present a policy platform the voters might consider supporting.

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Democrats must keep momentum pay little attention to improving political polls

This period of time in an election cycle is entirely too early from voting day to start putting credibility in political polls. 

Obviously, it's encouraging to read about how "stupid Donald Trump" is finally tanking in the popularity polls, due to his erratically dangerous behaviors. He has no positions on any issues of substance, but continues to spew rhetoric and then forgets what he means and seldom seems to mean what he says.  (Except, of course, for the ridiculous wall wall with Mexico. "It ain't going to happen, folks!")

Nevertheless, anything can turn the electorate into an angry mob. Just witness what happened with the regrettable "Brexit" vote in Great Britain. It wasn't even 24 hours after the referendum on the European Union question was called (surprisingly) in favor of the exit, when the voters began regretting their decision. Many have even, apparently, claimed that they voted to exit from the European Union (EU), just because they felt Brexit would never pass; so, they were just casting their vote based on emotion rather than on a consideration of the reality of their collective actions.  "Voters Regret Brexit" isn't going to fix the referendum question's consequences.

Nevertheless, emotions notwithstanding, American voters finally seem to be willing to, finally, say that "enough Trump is enough". Even the media is tired of his pompously erratic political behaviors. In fact, The Washington Post poll (obviously this newspaper has contributed to this political sea turn) says "Trump's Numbers Plummet". Indeed, Clinton has been propelled to the lead, 51 percent to 39 percent, in the new national survey released Sunday.
The poll found "sweeping unease" with Trump's policies. It singled out his "incendiary rhetoric and values to his handling of both foreign affairs and his own business — foreshadowing that the November election could be a referendum on Trump more than anything else."
Nearly 70 percent of Americans say they think Trump is unqualified to lead the nation. They are anxious about the idea of him as president and believe his comments about women, minorities and Muslims show an unfair bias. They also see his attacks on a federal judge because of his Mexican American heritage as racist, the Post reported.

A slimmer majority also disapprove of the way Clinton has handled questions about her use of a personal email server while she was secretary of state. Roughly 50 percent of Americans are anxious about "the prospect of a Clinton presidency, underscoring the historic unpopularity of the two major-party candidates."

Obviously, Secretary Clinton must hold steady to her campaign strategy, to convince voters to go to the polls and vote for her to be the first woman president and leader of the free world.  This is no time to take any kind of victory laps or to enjoy the primordial scream, behind the bathroom door. 

Instead, this is the time to prove to voters why they are right to turn their backs on the dangerously incoherent Donald Trump, the "thin skinned bully", as identified by Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Scotland's Loch Ness Monster is a good way for Donald Trump to sell his Scottish Real Estate ventures. For marketing, this seems to makes more sense than his erratic campaign as the presumptive nominee for the Republican party in the general election.
To Donald Trump, maybe he'd be better off staying in Scotland trying to sell his golf course and luxury real estate suites.  

Eventually, when Trump finally gets back to the campaign for President, he may find himself to be the political equivalent of the long lost Loch Ness Monster of Scotland. In which case, Americans could even deport him as an illegal alien and send him back to his dearly departed mother's immigrant origins.
Meanwhile, Democrats must not put credibility in early political polls. Instead, we must keep our eyes on voter registration drives and remember to keep the momentum going against Donald Trump, who is a dangerously incoherent presidential candidate who cannot be elected.

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What does being "Pro-Life" really mean?

Evangelical Christians and Right To Life (RTL) groups are dedicated voters who look for "Pro-Life" candidates to support. 

Unfortunately, the political litmas test for "Pro-Life" usually conceptualizes a political position where abortion is the center of the debate. This one minded approach to voting has led to the Republican party being controlled by right wing zealots who are not purely "Pro-Life", at all. Rather, oftentimes, they're single minded hypocrites. Many Pro-Life stances are "anti-life".

Abortion notwithstanding, here is my list of "Pro-life" issues:
John Wesley
John Wesley (1703-1791) "Do all the good you can...."

1.  Supporting the lives of mothers and children by providing universal health  care and with good nutrition supported by programs like "Women Infants and Children" or "WIC".

2.  Opposing the sale of military style assault weapons and ammunition (or tax it out of affordability) that are killing thousands of young people who're either in the wrong place at the wrong time, or being victimized due to their race or sexual orientation. It makes no sense to be "Pro-life" but also "Pro-Assault Weapons". It's a classic oxymoron.

3.  Opposition to the death penalty is a "Pro-Life" position. Although many Evangelicals and RTL supporters are, in fact, opposed to the death penalty, they don't petition and publicly demonstrate to support this decididly wrong criminal justice sentance.

4.  Being pro-life means providing health care and income assistance for the poor, the frail, the elderly, the disabled, immigrants and veterans. Instead, Evangelicals and RTL groups are often the same people who oppose government expenditures for public assistance programs.

Pro-Life positions are humanitarian concepts, meaning they should be inclusive of all quality of life conditions, including the protection of the life of the unborn. 

In other words, being Pro-Life is reflective in the teachings of John Wesley: "“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

As a matter of fact, HillaryClinton is a Christian Methodist who believes in and extols the John Wesley humanitarian mantra. Indeed, Secretary Clinton is truely a "Pro-Life" presidential candidate. Obviously, she's a candidate the Pro-Life Evangelical and RTL voters can be proud to support.

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Evangelical Christians are certainly confused about Donald Trump

Evangelical Christians are selling out faith for politics
"...focused on the rights and privileges of their own community, rather than the welfare of others..."

Oh, God  (writes Michael Gerson in The Washington Post) — and I mean the entreaty seriously — the Trump (quasi) evangelical summit in New York was just as bad as some of us feared. (OMG! A man who can't pronounce "Corinthians" has no business attending an Evangelical summit without a Christianity coach.)

More than 900 conservative Christian leaders, put in a susceptible mood by a “prayer guide” (“Acknowledge any personal feelings that would keep you from honoring Mr. Trump for his participation”), witnessed Donald Trump field some softball questions. This was reassuring enough to reward him with a standing ovation and positive buzz. Trump can now (accurately) assume that these clerics and activists won’t be giving him much more trouble.

Many participants insist they haven’t yet given Trump their endorsement. The whole event, however, was taken — by the media, public and Trump campaign itself — as an evangelical Christian stamp of approval. Seldom has a group seemed more eager to be exploited.

No one, remarkably, asked Trump to explain the moral theory that has guided his gyrations on the abortion issue — from supporter of partial-birth abortion to advocate of punishment for women who have abortions. That, presumably, would have been impolite. And few were offended when Trump used the occasion to question Hillary Clinton’s faith. “She’s been in the public eye for years and years,” he said, “and yet there’s no — there’s nothing out there.” It is like watching a man insult a mirror.

In the course of the event, Trump promised to nominate judges whom evangelicals would favor; to change laws that restrict church involvement in partisan politics; and to foster a cultural ethos that allows the unapologetic usage of “Merry Christmas.” “You get racism, misogyny, torture and an authoritarian as commander in chief,” one evangelical leader wrote me, “but you’ll get to hear ‘Merry Christmas’ in stores. Now that’s the art of the deal.”

There is a case for reluctant support of Trump over Clinton — a weak one, I think, but embraced by some serious people. 

Yet, this event was not the tortured search for partial truths in a fallen world. It was a sad parody of Christian political involvement, summarizing all the faults and failures of the religious right.

We were reminded, first, that many religious conservatives are a cheap political date. Chuck Colson often described how, during the Nixon administration, religious leaders (as opposed to, say, union leaders) were easily impressed and tamed by proximity to power. After Tuesday’s meeting, the Christian writer Eric Metaxas, in promoting his radio show, tweeted, “I WAS RIGHT THERE!” Why such wide-eyed reactions from some in attendance? A panting desire for affirmation rooted in feelings of inferiority? 

A disorienting fear of fading cultural influence? 

Echoes, in embracing a billionaire, of the prosperity gospel? Whatever the motivation, the public has seen a movement content with a pat on the head and a scratch under the chin.

We are reminded, second, that much of the religious right’s criticism of President Bill Clinton’s character was a ploy. Franklin Graham now argues that because Abraham lied, Moses disobeyed God and David committed adultery, Trump should get a pass, not just on his personal behavior but also on his deception, cruelty and appeal to bigotry. It is a non sequitur revealing the cynical subordination of faith to politics. (These tangential correlations make no sense. In fact, Right Wing Christians often sit in moral judgement of others, regardless of what the lessons of the Bible teach us about the power of forgiveness. Frankly, Evangelicals believe in "forgiveness" only if the sinner proclaims to be "born again" and baptized in the faith. In other words, rationalizing about Abraham and Moses doesn't carry into modern Evangelical practice.)

Third, we are seeing a group focused on the rights and privileges of their own community, rather than the welfare of others — the poor, struggling and vulnerable. Many in that room do wonderful good works. But they have reduced Christian political involvement to a narrow, special interest — and a particularly angry and unattractive one. A powerful source of passion for social justice — a faith that once motivated abolitionism and various movements for civil and human rights — has been tamed and trivialized.

It is not the first time. During the civil rights movement in the 1960s, one of the main organs of white evangelical opinion, Christianity Today, defended “voluntary segregation,” criticized the March on Washington as a “mob spectacle” and took the side of the University of Mississippi against James Meredith

While that magazine is now a vocal advocate of racial reconciliation and social justice, the bad political choices of many evangelicals at a defining moral moment still damn and damage their movement.
It is happening again. Evangelical Christian leaders, motivated by political self-interest, are cozying up to a leader who has placed bigotry and malice at the center of American politics. They are defending the rights of their faith while dishonoring its essence. Genuine social influence will not come by putting Christ back into Christmas; it will come by putting Christ and his priorities back into more Christians.

Read more from Michael Gerson’s archive, follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook .

To summarize- Evangelicals are confused about Donald Trump because, frankly, he's their only alternative unless,of course, they finally open their eyes to seriously look at Secretary Hillary Clinton- a devout ChristianMethodist.

"Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can."

John Wesley

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Secretary Clinton is qualified collects cash and endorsements

No, seriously! Donald Trump is selling real estate in Scotland! While the "Brexit"  European Union (EU) fiasco is burning all around the world, Trump plays like Nero fiddled, while visiting one or his own golf courses and selling real estate. It's like Trump has developed a mental health problem. "No, seriously!"
Image result for hank paulson
Former Secretary of the Treasury Henry "Hank" Paulson says a Donald Trump presidency is "unthinkable"
"...putting Trump at the top of the ticket, is endorsing a brand of populism rooted in ignorance, prejudice, fear and isolationism.”- Hank Paulson in The Washington Post opinion article.

Thankfully, there is hope for America's future leadership.  

Senator Bernie Sanders says he will vote for Secretary Clinton in the general election!  Moreover, President George Bush's Treasury Secretary wrote in The Washington Post, stating his support for Secretary Clinton's candidacy for president, as well.  

Meanwhile, Secretary Clinton has opened up a lead in the political polls as Trump plays golf and sells real estate in Scotland. Thankfully, Secretary Clinton is also collecting important endorsements.

CNN reports- Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, a Republican who spearheaded legislation bailing out financial firms during the 2008, Great Recession crisis under President George W. Bush, says he will vote for Hillary Clinton this fall.

Paulson said Republicans stand at a crossroads and must choose the country over the GOP's presumptive nominee Donald Trump.

“When it comes to the presidency, I will not vote for Donald Trump,” Paulson wrote in a The Washington Post op-ed on Friday.

“I will not cast a write-in vote. I’ll be voting for Hillary Clinton, with the hope that she can bring Americans together to do the things necessary to strengthen our economy, our environment and our place in the world,” he wrote.

Paulson said that with Trump “we are witnessing a populist hijacking of one of the United States’ great political parties.”

“The GOP, in putting Trump at the top of the ticket, is endorsing a brand of populism rooted in ignorance, prejudice, fear and isolationism.”

Paulson said that with so much partisan divide in politics that the White House needs a leader who can bring people together and solve problems.

"Now is the time for a bipartisan approach to policy solutions that address our most difficult domestic problems," he wrote.

"This requires a president who exhibits an ability to compromise — and basic civility — neither of which Trump displays."

He said the next president must maintain the United States’ fiscal strength by reforming entitlements, and that the U.S. can't shrink from global trade.

Trump has taken anti-trade positions during his campaign.

Paulson joins a growing list of former Republican officials who say they will vote for Clinton. Brent Scowcroft, a former national security adviser under President George H.W. Bush, earlier this week said he would back Clinton.

Paulson's support comes amid mounting concerns about Donald Trump's candidacy. Paulson, a controversial figure given President George W. Bush's handling of the 2007-08 economic downturn, said "a Trump presidency is unthinkable" and predicted that other conservatives would rally behind her.

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Spread the word- about thin skinned bully with a disqualificatons list

There aren’t any arguments for a Trump presidency that justify his taking the oath of office.

Here is a list of concrete reasons why Donald Trump in totally unqualified to be elected the leader of the free world. Even his infomercials to sell real estate in Scotland are uninteresting and may even be offensive to some Scots. But wait! There's more!

But wait, there's more! (graphic) | Can You Make It Through This Post Without Wanting To Be In 5th Grade Again?:

Reasons why Donald Trump is a leadership disaster, besides being a racist, belligerant, bullheaded big mouth.  He's the presumptive Republican nominee for the GOP leadership position because a stupid group of supporters voted for him for all the wrong reasons.

Mario Puzo sort of summed it up when wrote a short narrative in his super-hit classic movie "The Godfather". His advice was, "Don't trust your fate in the hands of men whose only qualification is that they managed to con a block of people to vote for them.”

To erase any misunderstanding, ;et’s not mince words: Donald Trump will, without question, be the absolute worst President America has had to endure in the lifetimes of any living people on this planet.

Here's a few succinct reasons why:

1.  He talks like a third-grader… literally!
America tried that whole “inarticulate President” thing with Bush. It didn’t really work out too well for us, remember? Donald Trump speaks with a third-grade literacy level. That’s not a cheap insult… it’s a scientific fact. Most presidents in the 20th and 21st centuries have spoken, on average, with a 9th grade to 12th grade comprehension level. George H.W. Bush holds the record-low from a speech on January 28th of 1992, with a score of 7.2. It’s a good thing for presidents to use language most Americans can comprehend, but third grade? Trump would be running a country, not a game of Pokémon.

2.  He never really explains how he’s going to do anything
Trump doesn’t really have a treasure trove full of ideas, so much as an old musty pillowcase full of kneejerk assertions. He knows he wants to get rid of Obamacare, but what will he replace it with? “Something Terrific,” he claims. No plans, no ideas, no comprehensive walkthrough of what he dislikes about Obamacare or what, if anything, could be salvaged from the historic legislation… he just wants to get rid of it and replace it. He hasn’t really released comprehensive plans for any facet of his would-be presidency. He did release a “plan” on illegal immigration, if you want to call it that, consisting of just two words: mass deportation. Not the most brilliant thinker around, that Trump.

3. He has no experience
Donald Trump has never once served in a government job of any sort. Some of his supporters think this is a good thing, but trust me here folks… it’s definitely not. If “President Trump” would hope to get anything done, he’d need to fully comprehend the inside-baseball of Capitol Hill, which as far as anyone can tell, he doesn’t. How would Trump negotiate with Congress to see his agenda pushed forward? How would he work with both parties to get things done? You can’t just walk into the room and make arrogant demands. That’s not how it works.

4.  He’s a bully with the media
What Donald Trump said about Megyn Kelly was unforgivably atrocious. He’s a two-bit misogynistic Neanderthal thug. But this isn’t the only time Trump has had it out with the media. In almost every interview He’s ever given, Trump has belligerently accosted his interviewers, slammed their networks, claimed bias where there rightfully wasn’t any, and even sued Bill Maher in 2013 for $5 million, after Maher jokingly compared him to an orangutan. Do we really need a President who bullies and threatens the media when their dialog doesn’t suit their demands?

5.  He doesn’t care that you disagree with him
Probably the most frightening thing about Trump is that he considers himself to be 100% correct about everything (he's specially self righteous about his liesthat crosses his mind, with no wiggle-room for constructive debate. He lives in a headspace of absolutes, where everything is exactly white or exactly black. Politics, meanwhile, is about as gray as gray can get. Progress only happens when some level of compromise is maintained. But for Trump, the word “compromise” isn’t in his vocabulary, either metaphorically or, as we discussed earlier, literally.

6.  He’s gone bankrupt four times
On four separate occasions, Donald Trump has intentionally gone bankrupt, later claiming that those bankruptcies weren’t failures on his part, but strategic business decisions to help him make more money. So at best, he’s lying and bad at business, but at worst, he’s intentionally manipulating the system for personal gain. Either way, what makes you think he knows how to handle an entire economy?

7.  He’s a terrible Christian (Indeed, Trump should write and practice saying the name "Corinthians" 100 times, like a third grader who is punished for misbehaving in class.)
I genuinely couldn’t care any less what religion a person belongs to. I don’t think religion has any place in politics, and certainly should not play any important role in government or politics. But America’s conservatives are obsessed with religion, with these GOP candidates perpetually attempting to “out-Christian” each other. It’s quite common to hear conservatives rant about Obama not being “Christian enough” for their liking. Why, then, are they all clamoring to get Trump elected? Trump has been divorced twice and married three times, and recently made some controversial remarks about his Church visits. (Let's not forget to include his admitted philandering.) It’s probably difficult for Donald Trump to talk about God, though, at least when not speaking from a first-person perspective.

We could go on here, but there isn’t much of a point. The simple, undeniable fact is that Donald Trump has proven consistently that he would make a terrible President. There aren’t any arguments for a Trump presidency that justify his taking the oath of office. And if you still think Donald Trump would make a good President, do everyone in America a favor: stay home on election day. You simply aren’t mature enough to be making these sorts of decisions.

And, to end..... hold the thought trumped by Senator Elizabeth Warren:  Donald Trump is a thin skinned racist bully!

America can't elect an unqualified person to be the leader of the free world. Trump is especially dangerously incoherent, considering all that's at stake with international economies and the delicate balance with terrorism and the despot Vladimir Putin looming.  In fact, the Republcian party is inept by even allowing Donald Trump's candidacy to move forward.

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Franco-American Nurses in Maine history

Franco-American Nurses in Maine history: Speaking at the Maine Historical Society, also home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, was a perfect segue to speak about Franco-Americans in nursing history

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Donald Trump laissez faire presidential campaign

Perhaps, at one time, Donald Trump owned a dog who compusivley dug holes to find bones. If he did, he probably figured out, by watching this canine behavior, how the news media can be just like dogs digging for bones.
New media journalists keep asking Donald Trump to tell the truth. They're like dogs digging for bones, because they keep creating craters while giving away free political ad time.

Donald Trump built his campaign to be elected the leader of the free world on his outrageous practice of telling "The Big Lie", and then leaving the wrong minded degridation hanging while the media persues the truthful information. 

In other words, he's using the marketing made infamous by Adolf Hitler, when he dictated his 1925 book Mein Kampf, about the use of a lie so "colossal" that no one would believe that someone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously." 

For the media, The Big Lie amounts to yellow journalism used by Trump for political purposes, capitalizing on the free media advertising resulting from the impact. 

This is how it happens. Donald Trump is interviewed and allowed unlimited free time to respond to lies that he has created! It's a cunning strategy and one the media seems intent on following, like desperate dogs digging for bones.

What's most disturbing about this wrong minded strategy is that after Donald Trump tells lies, he then calls them back without regard for his behavior. His laissez faire (ho-hum) attitude about telling lies never seems to be called into question.  

Rather, the lies spin follow up calls for media intereviews. Obviously, the calls are welcome, because anytime Trump can claim the limelight, he doesn't much care what topic he must defend. So, NBCNews journalist and anchor Lester Holt hostedprime time coverage with Donald Trump. Sure, Holt asked Trump to defend the lies told during his "I'll get you, my little pretty....." lie filled speech about Secretary Hillary Clinton. But, skillful at "The Big Lie", Trump didn't answer any questions but  just glossed over Holt's drilling. 

In other words, Holt gets a C-or putting Trump in prime time news without getting him to tell the truth.

Trump's laissez faire response to Holt just contriubted to "The Big Lie" strategy.  

It's time for the news media to stop giving away free media time to Donald Trump, especially while he continues to perpetrate lies without evidence and provides no information voters can use to determine his qualifications to lead the free world.  

For example, Lester Holt never asked Donald Trump about when he will release his income tax information. Instead, Holt just allowed Trump to continue to perpetrate lies by not answering any question truthfully.

In my opinion, the news media created the Trumponian monster by giving away (by some estimates) a billion dollars in free advertising. Now, it's time to give Secreatary Hillary Clinton the same and equal amount of time.

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Cutting political noise- Retired General Petraeus on guns & ISIS

David Petraeus: ISIS is on its way to defeat but terrorism threat persists By Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst

David Petraeus gave his views on national security issues in a conversation with Peter Bergen June 20 in New York City.
General David Petraeus

While Great Britian waits for the suspensful Brexit referendum results, the US Congress is paralyzed by attempts to block Democracy in the face of National Rifle Association pressure to keep guns in the public domain, but evil ISIS (the self declared Califate) is raging and millions of people are impacted.

Meanwhile, candidate Donald Trump is whining about whether or not Secretary Hillary  Clinton is a Christian and complaining about her being a liar.  Nevertheless, it was Donald Trump who could hardly pronounce the word "Corinthian" when trying to impress the Bible faithful. Moreover, the largest news media analysts quickly published a "lie litany" of misinformation about the content of Trump's teleprompter "I'll get you Hillary...." speech. 

Yet, as news media continue to soak up ratings about the political news drama, the war against evil ISIS in Syria and the Middle East, overflowing now into Europe, is ongoing. 
Hopefully, there is some progress made every day.  

It's impossible to understand how the news about ISIS is somehow "Trumped", when so much is at stake in the Middle East. Here's an interview with General Petreaus, who discloses some useful informaiton. 

(CNN) In a wide-ranging interview Monday, retired Gen. David Petraeus, who formerly led coalition forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan and directed the CIA, said that ISIS is headed for military defeat in Iraq but that the terror threat it helped inspire remains significant.

In a conversation with CNN National Security Analyst and New America vice president Peter Bergen, at an event at New America's offices in New York City, Petraeus also discussed gun control, Afghanistan, Syria and a range of other national security challenges facing the next president. 

(Petraeus now serves as Chairman of the KKR Global Institute, part of the New York-based private equity firm KKR. Their conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.)

Gen. David Petraeus: I fear it is a bit of a new normal. The truth is that a number of us have been saying for quite some time that it was only a matter of time until someone went to a gun show, bought a military-like semi-automatic assault weapon with a large capacity magazine and did enormous damage.  I do talk to individuals still in the business of tracking individuals in the homeland and abroad. A lot of them have felt that they were hanging on by their fingernails a bit in terms of tracking all the potential threats out there. The Orlando terrorist is an example of someone who was in the sights of law enforcement, but never crossed the threshold from pre-criminal to criminal behavior and thus was not tracked adequately before this horrific act.
And I fear that there could be more of these types of attacks. I know that law enforcement, intelligence agencies, and local, state, and federal police are working very hard via every legal means possible to gather the intelligence, to fuse it, and to analyze it in order to take the pre-emptive actions that can minimize the chances of further such attacks. But, again, I fear that it's likely that we will see more horrific events like the one in Orlando.

Bergen: You and other former senior military officials are part of a group looking at the issue of the easy availability of assault weapons. What is intent of the group and why did you add your name and voice to it?

Petraeus: We are part of an advisory council for Mark Kelly's Veterans for Common Sense, a group that pursues common sense initiatives to reduce gun violence. Current areas of focus include trying to close loopholes that allow individuals who are domestic abusers or can't fly on an airplane but still are able to get a gun.
Bergen: So you would certainly endorse anybody that's on the no-fly list should not be allowed to buy a semi-automatic weapon?

Petraeus: Absolutely. There are obviously a number of different loopholes including the gun show loophole. I also believe that there's one purpose for an AK-47 and an AR-15, even if it is just on semi-automatic mode, and that is to kill another human being. And if you have a large capacity magazine you can kill even more.
Bergen: What advice would you offer the next president in terms of the big national security issues he or she will face?

Petraeus: I think the central issue is the nature of American leadership in the world, how expansive will it be, how involved will it be? Frankly, where do you draw a red line? And if you draw a red line make sure that you are going to act on it?
Bergen: On Iraq and Syria: Some have suggested carpet-bombing ISIS positions in Syria and Iraq. Is that going to work?

Petraeus:  I think carpet bombing is an absolutely tremendous idea if the enemy accommodates you by laying himself out like a carpet in the middle of the desert, without any civilians or infrastructure around him. Sadly, the Islamic State has learned that that is a losing proposition and does not accommodate us in that way. In fact, the Islamic State is very much underground now in places like Mosul and Raqqa. They are getting hammered when they pop their heads up; they get hammered if they get in a convoy.
This campaign is now going a bit quicker than a lot of people anticipated. I've been in fights, the fight to Bagdad [in March 2003], where you are fighting very fiercely and intensely and all of a sudden the enemy just collapses, and I think we'll see some of this from ISIS in Iraq in the months ahead.
I just can't imagine a force that is able to stay in the fight given how they're been pounded every day for such an extended period. Don't get me wrong, Mosul is a city of 2 million people, I know it well, my headquarters was there after the fight to Bagdad when I was commander of the great 101st Airborne Division. Mosul is a big city. And it's a very complex city in terms of the ethnic and sectarian groups and tribes. But I think the odds are now that it will be cleared before the end of the president's administration and it could, perhaps, go more quickly than we think.

Bergen: Mosul could be out of ISIS hands by January 20, 2017?
Petraeus: I think it is possible.
Bergen: That's a big deal.
Petraeus: It is a very big deal. I've said, from the very beginning, even in the darkest days, that the Islamic State would be defeated in Iraq and that the long-term threat in Iraq had more to do with Iraqi politics -- in which the Iranian-supported Shia militias play a very prominent role.
Bergen: ISIS is clearly losing now?
Petraeus: No question ISIS is a loser in Iraq and, increasingly, Syria. I am quite certain we will also get al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. There's no way you can run a state, and an army -- which is what ISIS still is right now -- without touching something that is going to lead to your demise sooner or later. Beyond that, we should be prepared for the fact that the Islamic State army is going to be defeated in Iraq, but there will still be residual terrorist cells and insurgent groups that will continue to carry out attacks in places like Bagdad.
Bergen: You wrote in the Washington Post in May that you have become "increasingly concerned about inflammatory discourse against Muslims and Islam." What did you mean? Why did you write it?
Petraeus: Well, if you look at many of the cases in which we have achieved progress in fighting Islamic extremists, in almost every one of those cases you will find a Muslim partner. You'll find leaders of an Islamic country or their intelligence services or military leaders or others who were extremely helpful. In some cases, host nation forces are key. Right now, after all, we're supporting Muslims in various countries who are fighting the Islamic State. It's their forces that are on the front lines in many of these cases.
That doesn't mean that we shouldn't recognize that there is a serious problem within Islam, as that is obviously where Islamic extremism exists. And even if it's a tiny percentage of large numbers, this is a serious threat. But at the end of the day, this is really more of a clash within a civilization, within the Islamic world for the heart and soul of Muslims, than it is a clash between civilizations, to use Sam Huntington's terminology. 

It's much more about a fight for the future of Islamic countries, an existential threat to them. This is, to be sure, a serious threat to us. It's a very serious threat in Europe. But it's an existential threat to Islamic countries.

Bergen: You mentioned Europe. Is NATO "obsolete" as some have claimed?
Petraeus: I don't think it is, and God bless Vladimir Putin because he's given NATO another reason to live. Having just been in Europe, I can assure you there is new urgency about the threat posed by Putin, and the farther east you go the greater the urgency is felt. And if you're in the Baltic states or Poland, the threat indicator is blinking red.
Bergen: Should the next president declare a red line about the Baltic States?
Petraeus: First of all, I think declaration of red lines is hazardous duty and should really be preceded by very, very careful thought. And no kidding, if you say it's a red line, you better be prepared to act on it. There are a lot of interpretations of what happened in Syria and how the ultimate outcome was reasonable and so forth, and 90% of the chemical weapons are out of there as a result of the ultimate agreement that was reached, however circuitous a path that took. But when you talk to leaders in the Gulf States, in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, all of them will say that that the failure to act when our red line was crossed was very damaging to the confidence that leaders had in the United States.

Bergen: You mentioned the Gulf. You've been in Saudi Arabia recently. Is it time for the famous classified 28 pages in the 9/11 report about the Saudis to be released publicly?
Petraeus: I guess it is. I don't think it's going to show more than that some individuals perhaps had some potential links. But I can tell you that, when I was a four star in several different positions in the Mideast and as director of the CIA, there's no country that wants to defeat the Islamic State or al Qaeda more than the country whose current crown prince was nearly blown up by an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula terrorist with a bomb inside him that was built by Ibrahim al-Asiri, the most dangerous man in the world, still at large in Yemen.
Bergen: Why is he the most dangerous man in the world?
Petraeus: Well, he is in an extraordinarily talented, diabolically, barbarically talented bomb maker, and willing to sew bomb materials inside people, literally.
Bergen: He's still out there as far as we know?
Petraeus: He is, yes. Very worrisome.
Bergen: Brexit. Would it be a good thing for the United States, for global security, if the British left the EU?
Petraeus: No, though I think the most powerful arguments are in the economic realm. Beyond that, one of the big ideas about organizational change is that if you are going to embark on really significant change, you ought to be near certain that the results are going to be so worthwhile that you're willing to go through the enormous disruption that this is going to entail. And Brexit certainly doesn't pass that test. In fact, I think it's quite clearly established by the IMF and others that there would be significant economic downsides, in particular. And there certainly would be some downsides in the security realm as well.

Bergen: Syria: Is Raqqa going to be a harder nut to crack than Mosul, and would a no-fly zone be an effective response in Syria to much of what's going on in terms of protecting people, tamping down the violence, decreasing refugee flows?
Petraeus: Yes, and yes.If you think the politics in Iraq are diabolically difficult, Syria's situation is an order of magnitude or two or three greater. And it's gotten more and more and more difficult obviously as the opposition forces have fragmented, have atomized, as the Islamic State has stood up, as the al Qaeda affiliate has been established, as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Forces advisers began helping Bashar al Assad -- and then Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, then some Iranian forces and Shia militias, then Russian air support and special forces. This has just gotten diabolically more difficult. And, of course, our special forces are now on the ground in the north helping some of the opposition forces as well. And you'll have seen that a few days back, the Russians bombed one of the opposition groups that we have helped establish way out in eastern Syria -- a force that was not threatening the Russian air base in Latakia or the Russian naval base at Tartus. There's got to come a point in time where we caution the Russians that, "if you bomb our guys we're going to bomb your guys." And that's something we probably should have said long ago. That doesn't mean we get into it directly with Russia. I'm not one who wants to provoke. But we do have to be firm. (And we should do the same, by the way, in Ukraine in terms of providing anti-tank guided missiles, shoulder launched. You're not going to run to Moscow with those. These are not offensive weapons, but you will make the separatists pay a price.)
But back to Syria, if they are going to bomb the forces that we've established that are going to then take the fight to the Islamic State, I think then we bomb their guys, i.e. some of Bashar al Assad's regime fighters. We should have grounded Bashar's air force way back. Should have said, "You keep dropping barrel bombs on the heads of the people of Aleppo and we are going to ground your air force." And we have the capability to do that without even entering the air space.

Bergen: Enforcing a no-fly zone for the United States would be a very simple thing to do?
Petraeus: It was straightforward a couple of years ago; however, it's much more complex with the Russians in the skies now.
Bergen: Now that the Russians have at least nominally withdrawn combat forces, does it make it a little easier to enforce? The Russians have at least claimed to have withdrawn.
Petraeus: Well they haven't withdrawn their forces. They rotated some elements back to Russia and then gradually brought some others back to Syria. And the forces they took back to Russia are very easily restored. So that was really more of a shell game than anything else.
Bergen: You've spent much of your life either studying insurgencies or fighting them. Is Syria the most difficult insurgency/civil war that you've seen?
Petraeus: I think Syria is incomparably more complex than anything I've ever seen or studied. There are so many different factions now. There are so many different sides to this.
If something had been done in 2012, mid-2012, maybe it might have been different, though there were never any guarantees. But the conditions were very different than they are now. And the challenge now, I think, is that our policymakers find it very hard to articulate what the desired end state is. I think it is still policy that Bashar Assad must go, but we're not really sure now. I have also thought Assad had to go at some point. After all, he's the magnetic attraction for every would-be jihadist attracted by the Islamic State's sophisticated recruiting effort in social media. His presence is the clarion call for recruiting for the Sunni Arab side. But now, if he goes, it could actually be worse. So my view is that he does have to go, but we should know what's going to replace him before we actually give the final push.

Bergen: I know you can't comment directly on what you were recommending or suggesting when you were CIA director about arming the moderate Syrian rebels, but let's say, just sort of in an abstract sense, if that had happened early on, would it have made a difference?
Petraeus: Without getting into what I might or might not have recommended, I think there were opportunities at that time. There were opposition leaders that had greater potential and stature. Sadly, some of those were killed in the ensuing months. There was an opportunity then, and at a time when the infrastructure had not yet been damaged, the institutions were still in place, where people who observed lessons we learned from Iraq about making sure there's no looting, no extra-judicial punishment, no wholesale replacement of everyone. But, as I noted earlier, there were no guarantees.
Bergen: What are the lessons from the post Arab Spring?
Petraeus: There are five lessons, and I think they're quite straightforward. The first is that ungoverned spaces in the Islamic world will be exploited by Islamic extremists.
Second, the effects of such actions, the ramifications, will not be contained to the areas in which the extremists are located. So this is not a problem that, in Washington parlance, you can admire until it goes away. You have to deal with it. The worst example obviously is the geopolitical Chernobyl that is Syria -- spewing radioactive effects everywhere -- violence, instability, extremism, and the tsunami of refugees into the countries of our NATO allies and European partners, causing the biggest challenge in Europe in many decades. Much worse than the Euro crisis in fact.
Third, is that in dealing with these, U.S. leadership is indispensable, it's imperative. There's no substitute. First of all, the U.S. has, in terms of the assets that are most useful here, the intelligence surveillance, reconnaissance assets -- drones and manned aircraft and everything else -- we have more of that than all of our possible allies and partners put together by several factors. Beyond that, our precision strike capabilities are also vastly greater than those of all our potential partners put together. Now, it doesn't mean you shouldn't have partners and allies, especially from the Islamic world. You should have as many allies and partners as you can get. Churchill was right on this count, that "the only thing worse than fighting with allies is fighting without them."
Number four is that the effort that we lead has to be a comprehensive effort. It cannot be just a counter-terrorist campaign. It can't be just drone strikes and precision raids by our special mission units. It has to be an "all of the above" campaign, with all the elements of the comprehensive civil-military campaign that we pursued in Iraq during the surge. But, that doesn't mean that we have to provide all of the elements of such an approach. Obviously we should only do what cannot be provided by others. Iraq is an example where the ground combat forces and other components of the strategy are provided by the host nation rather than by us.
Number five is that is a generational struggle. We used to say that this is a marathon not a sprint. It's more that. It's an ultra-marathon. This is going to go on for a generation. We will defeat the Islamic State in Iraq. We ultimately will defeat it in Syria. But although you can put a stake through the heart of Baghdadi and a number of his fighting elements, you are not going to put a stake through the heart of all the extremist ideas that are out there which will still resonate with some small elements of the Muslim population around the world and in that region. And of course, ISIS will morph. In fact, we've seen it go to Libya, to Yemen, to Afghanistan, and to the Asia-Pacific region. Again, ungoverned spaces are going to be exploited by Islamic extremists.
In sum, these lessons are hugely important and I hope that they will, at some point, feature in debates as the presidential campaign gets to the point of two candidates.

Bergen: Does Putin have an end game? Is he just seizing opportunities or does he have a vision, or is it unclear?
Petraeus: I think Putin has a general desire to re-establish as much of the Soviet Union or perhaps the Russian empire as is absolutely possible. And he has pursued this objective in a variety of different ways. He has tried his own version of the EU. It hasn't gotten much traction -- the Eurasian Economic Union. He has lured certain countries away from the EU path. He invaded Georgia, took Crimea, is going to build bases in Belarus, and he still has 1,500 troops on the soil of Moldova. He's doing more in Kaliningrad, that little enclave inside the Baltics. And he's flying planes in a provocative way, sailing ships in a threatening manner. Beyond that, there are some other general principles: I think he doesn't like to see dictators around the world toppled, for fear probably that someone might get an idea of doing that to him. And he wants to hang onto his remaining sea base on the Mediterranean which is, of course, the base at Tartus in western Syria.
Bergen: Is torture an effective response to terrorism?
Petraeus: No. And I publicly stood against this. I will carve out a possible exception, and that's the ticking time bomb scenario -- and while noting that we cannot forget the context following the 9/11 attacks that some felt was a strategic ticking time bomb scenario. I think policymakers owe law enforcement officials some guidance on genuine ticking time bomb situations.
But that aside, I think there are very clear lessons of our post-9/11 experience. And that is first of all, that it's arguable whether torture actually works. Beyond that, my experience as the individual who was responsible for more detainees than anybody else in our country in recent decades (we had 27,000 in Iraq alone when I was the commander of the surge -- and several thousand more in Afghanistan when I was commander there) was that if you want information from a detainee, become his "best friend." That takes time, it takes very skilled interrogators who are good linguists and who know the terrorist organizations, who have been living this, marinating in it for years, which is what the best have been doing. And we were able to elicit information from people in line with the procedures in the Army Field Manual on human intelligence collection operations.
Again, I think it is very arguable that what you get from them through other means -- enhanced interrogation techniques -- is going to be what you want. Beyond that, we do know that the price you pay for doing that far outweighs the value of whatever information you may have got. So there may be a debate about what you might get. But I don't think there's a debate about the cost of getting information that way to the moral stature of the United States.
Bergen: What should we do in Afghanistan? The Obama administration plan has been until the recent past to draw down troops, to close to zero. Is that a sensible plan?
Petraeus: Well, it was sensible to put that plan on hold, as the President did. The bigger issue right now is that we have not been providing our close air support for the Afghan security forces, even though it's readily available in many cases, to help them against the Taliban. We are allowed to use our close air support and precision strike against the small al Qaeda elements that are still in eastern Afghanistan and the nascent Islamic State elements that have been established there. And there are some other very specific circumstances in which our close air support can be employed-- obviously if our own forces are in harm's way -- but the fact is that we are unable to provide reliable close air support for the Afghan forces confronting the Taliban. The Afghan forces are out there now without us, without our advisers and embedded forces, and all of a sudden, they're no longer getting the assistance when they're under attack by the Taliban, and that has left them in a very tough spot in a number of different situations. There's been a slight relaxation of that policy. I think that was wise, but it should go farther. And the further planned drawdown should be delayed until the next President has a chance to decide the way forward.

Bergen: When the next president comes in, he or she will have a choice, they could say, "We're going to wrap this up in Afghanistan," or they could say, "We have to be there, for really quite a long time." So what would be sensible? Is there a number of troops that's sensible, is there a time frame that's sensible?
Petraeus: I think what's sensible is that you certainly pressure our Afghan partners on the ground to continue to take over. They're now responsible by and large for the security of the country with limited assistance. We should also continue to provide funding for the Afghan security forces and for economic assistance. Afghanistan is not going to be able to do everything needed on its own for decades.
The question is, is this still an important mission? I think it is. That is where al Qaeda had its sanctuary before the 9/11 attacks, where those attacks were planned, and where the initial training for the attackers was conducted -- all while the Taliban ruled Afghanistan. We have been able to keep al Qaeda from re-establishing such a sanctuary. We have been able to develop Afghan security forces and institutions to a reasonable level that have taken over the responsibilities of securing their country, albeit with coalition assistance. And my hope is that at the upcoming NATO summit in Poland there will be a further commitment to Afghanistan by the U.S. and our coalition partners -- who I can tell you, having just been at a gathering in Europe where one of the ministers of defense, a prime minister of another country, and a handful of others in various governments -- all said that they are eager for the United States to extend that commitment in Afghanistan and, in that case, they will also extend theirs.

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