WHICH CANDIDATE HELPED HIS OR HER CAUSE MOST?
Most people--and virtually all of the media--treat debates like boxing matches. Who won?
Since no one scored a knockout, the most important questions are, "What did each candidate need to accomplish?" and “Did either one succeed?”
What Trump Needed to Accomplish
The Republican nominee needed to show he has the temperament and judgment to be entrusted with the vast power of the presidency. That means he had to be calm and deliberate while still pushing his positions. Simply walking onto the debate stage is an important step in appearing "presidential." But he did nothing to advance his case on that temperament-and-judgment score during the debate itself.
Instead, he behaved exactly as he did in the primaries, both in his answers and in his non-verbal reactions. That approach will reassure his base but do little to persuade undecided voters. Those are the ones who had questions in the first place.
On the secondary issues, I thought Trump put forth most of his signature viewpoints, but he was both too aggressive personally toward Clinton and too passive in skipping over the former secretary of state’s major vulnerabilities (her emails, private server, and the Clinton Foundation). He brought up her "stamina," but that was a misfire. She had a great answer waiting. In any case, her stamina won’t be an election issue unless Trump uses her secrecy to fuel suspicion about some undisclosed illness.
His most successful line of attack was to respond to each of her policy ideas by saying, "You've been in Washington forever. Why haven't you already done it?" That’s a great question, and it is one any “change” candidate has to pound home.
On the law-and-order issue, Trump was actually quite effective. The political danger for him (and any candidate on the right) is that it can look punitive against whole communities--vulnerable minority communities. Trump was very explicit in saying those were precisely the communities he wanted most to protect.
It is hard to know if that benign framing, plus his recent visits to black areas, will cut into Clinton's overwhelming lead in those communities, but it will play well among undecided voters, who largely understand the issue as one of protecting all law-abiding citizens from violent gangs.
The law-and-order issue will continue to resonate, both because it is a major voter concern and because moderator Lester Holt stepped in to support Clinton’s incorrect statement that stop-and-frisk is flatly unconstitutional.
What Clinton Needed to Accomplish
Hillary Clinton needed to do three things, beyond her aspirational goal of disqualifying Trump as a plausible president.
First, she need to shore up support from various segments of Barack Obama's winning coalition.
Second, she needed to show that she will be a steady, experienced, competent leader, in sure command of the issues, and, crucially, to draw a clear contrast with Trump on that. If she could show a “likable” side while prosecuting the case, all the better.
Finally, she needed to convey a positive vision for America going forward, some overarching vision that has been missing in her campaign so far.
How did she do?
Trump had been making inroads into her "Obama coalition," so she made direct appeals to women and especially to African-Americans, explicitly calling Trump a racist and lacerating him on the birther issue. She raised those issues pointedly and effectively. The question now is whether her charges annihilate Trump's law-and-order appeal to people who live in poor, dangerous communities.
No one doubts Clinton will be a steady, experienced leader. But she did not rebut Trump's explicit charge that her experience is bad experience, or his stress on her responsibility for Iraq and Libya. His charge that “yes, she’s experienced but it is bad experience" could be a major theme in October.
Still, Trump's whole approach to the debate raised questions about whether he can summon up a calm, prudent approach on major policy issues. Clinton raised the question herself in talking about NATO and nuclear weapons, but it was mostly Trump who hurt himself, another familiar theme in the campaign.
As for projecting some degree of likability, she was very successful. For such a high-stakes event, Clinton seemed relaxed and her smiles did not seem forced. If her goal was to convince people they could stand watching her for the next four years, she helped herself.
Clinton skipped lightly over one of the gaping holes in her campaign: What does she really want to do, other than "stay the course"? Donald Trump did not directly attack her on that lack of vision, but he repeatedly skewered her as a lifetime politician, committed to existing policies. That’s his single most effective theme in a “change” election. Clinton did not offer her only possible retort, which is, "I can actually use my years of experience to lead our country forward in these ways . . ."
Neither candidate accomplished all their major goals.
Clinton probably shored up her minority constituencies by her direct attacks on Trump, especially on the birther issue, where he is vulnerable.
Her ability to press home her attacks while still seeming likable could well reverse her recent downward slide in the polls. But it is not enough to weaken Trump badly.
He lives to fight another day. He will continue to fight like the Donald Trump of the Republican primaries. He is not backing away from his stance as a full-throated, often abrasive nationalist, an outsider who touts his successful businesses as proof enough that he can get things done.
He may have learned that a little formal debate prep is not such a bad thing. He left a lot of his opponent’s vulnerabilities unexploited. She hit all of his. The question now is whether Clinton accomplished enough to stop her slide. (Contributor: By Charles Lipson forReal Clear Politics- RCP contributor Charles Lipson is the Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. He blogs at ZipDialog.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The next president of our country will be dealing with the weight of issues affecting every aspect of our lives, and he or she will need to do so with integrity and sincerity. Winning or losing a debate is secondary to leading our country with a heart that is submissive to God. While debates can bring clarity to a candidate’s platform, voters need to seek wisdom that comes from heaven and pray to truly see the character of their chosen candidate.
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17)
SEPARATING ECONOMIC SENSE AND NONSENSE
Why is it that many politicians and journalists can quickly grasp the idea that if the tax on cigarettes or soft drinks with sugar is increased, the demand for them will decline, but seem unable to understand that increasing a tax on labor, like a mandated increase in the minimum wage, will cause a decline in the demand for labor, leading to higher unemployment?
A number of years ago, I was on a European speaking tour with a couple of other economists. One had received a Nobel Prize in economics. He was exceptionally smart, a math whiz, and a most pleasant fellow. Among his many accomplishments, he developed investment models with others, which were used to forecast. One of the forecasts had turned out to be spectacularly wrong and costly. When chatting with him about the matter, I realized that the problem was the number of years of data they used was too few (more years of the necessary data were not available at the time) to give them the level of certainty they thought they had. In our conversations, I also came to understand that he had done only limited reading in economic history (it was not his field), and was unaware of various financial and monetary bubbles and crashes that have occurred over the last few centuries. Perhaps if he and his colleagues had been as well schooled in economic history as they were in applied mathematics, their risk assessments might have been different.
It is always disheartening to hear politicians propose policies that will not make citizens richer with more opportunities as claimed, but make them less wealthy with fewer options. Politicians who advocate for higher capital gains tax rates, higher taxes on the “wealthy,” higher inheritance tax rates, higher tariffs, more government spending and more regulations, fail to recognize, or admit, that all of this has been tried many times before, with disastrous results. They are either ignorant of economic history or are relying on the ignorance of the press and the people to buy such claptrap. Even more disconcerting are those economists who try to make an argument of why this time the outcomes from bad policies are going to be different — apparently to curry favor with the political and media class.
The high priests of many academic disciplines, with the intent of making it seem more difficult, create many unnecessary new words, when simple, commonly understood words in the English language will suffice in most cases. Economists have not only been guilty of that sin, but in recent decades, have developed the fashion of insisting that almost every academic article be expressed in mathematical terms, or at least have a mathematical appendix, even when totally unnecessary or inappropriate. The result has been that increasing numbers of economics students, both at the undergraduate and graduate level, have spent much of their time studying math rather than economic principles and history. In 2000, the noted economist Thomas Sowell wrote a very fine and well-reviewed introduction to economics, “Basic Economics: A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy,” proving that it was possible to write a clear, accurate and concise economics text without equations, graphs or jargon.
The great intellectual debate among non-socialist economists about the proper role of government during the last 80 years is largely between the followers of John Maynard Keynes and the Austrian school of economists led by F.A. Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, and their frequent Chicago school allies led by Milton Friedman. The great tragedy is many economic students graduate without knowing who Friedman and Hayek were, let alone their contributions to economic thought. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan were fans and disciples of Hayek, while many big-government types tend to be Keynesians. Without understanding the substantive debate between these two conflicting visions, it is hard for members of the press and the political class to present coherent thoughts on many public policy issues.
For those wishing to acquire basic economic literacy without the technicalities, I suggest the 2016 edition of short classic bestseller for non-economists, “Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know About Wealth and Prosperity,” by James Gwartney and others. Again, for those who have no background in economics but would like to learn about money and the great bubbles and panics of the past, I recommend the very entertaining bestseller, “The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World,” by the distinguished historian Niall Ferguson. This book was adapted for an Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary. Finally, the single best one-volume book on the history of economic thought — both entertaining and dense in useful information, and now in its third edition — is Mark Skousen’s “The Making of Modern Economics: The Lives and Ideas of the Great Thinkers.” The above books provide what one needs to distill the sense from the nonsense about economics coming from the media and political class.(Contributor: By Richard W. Rahn forThe Washington Times- Richard W. Rahnis chairman of Improbable Success Productions and on the board of the American Council for Capital Formation.)
The economy remains one of the top concerns of most Americans, and the struggle is both national and personal. Pray for a president who will choose wise counselors, understanding how short term decisions affect long term prosperity.
“The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” (Prov. 12:15)
THE YEAR OF THE RETICENT VOTER
The signature sentence of this election begins with the words “In a country of 320 million . . .” I hear it everywhere.It ends with “how’d it come down to these two?” or “why’d we get them?”
Another sentence is a now a common greeting among Republicans who haven’t seen each other in a while: “What are we gonna do?”
The most arresting sentence of the week came from a sophisticated Manhattan man friendly with all sides. I asked if he knows what he’ll do in November. “I know exactly,” he said with some spirit. “I will be one of the 40 million who will deny, the day after the election, that they voted for him. But I will.”
A high elected official, a Republican, got a faraway look when I asked what he thought was going to happen. “This is the unpollable election,” he said. People don’t want to tell you who they’re for. A lot aren’t sure. A lot don’t want to be pressed.
That’s exactly what I’ve seen the past few weeks in North Carolina, New Jersey, Tennessee and Minnesota.
Every four years I ask people if they’ll vote, and if they have a sense of how. Every four years they tell me—assertively or shyly, confidently or tentatively. This year is different. I’ve never seen people so nervous to answer. It’s so unlike America, this reticence, even defensiveness. It’s as if there’s a feeling that to declare who you’re for is to invite others to inspect your soul.
“I feel like this is the most controversial election ever,” said a food-court worker at La Guardia Airport. She works a full shift, 4 a.m. to noon, five days a week, then goes full-time to a nearby college. We’d been chatting a while, and when I asked the question she told me, carefully, that she hasn’t decided how she’ll vote, and neither have her family members. I said a lot of people seem nervous to say. She said: “Especially Trump people. They’re afraid you’ll think they’re stupid.”
Which is how I knew she was going to vote for Donald Trump.
It’s true: Trump voters especially don’t want to be categorized, judged, thought stupid—racist, sexist, Islamophobic, you name it. When most of them know, actually, that they’re not.
Voters who talk about 2016 are very careful to d___ both sides, air their disappointment, note that they’ve been following the election closely. They know each candidate’s history.
In Tennessee I asked a smart businessman who he’s for. He carefully and at length outlined his criticisms and concerns regarding both candidates. Then, as I started to leave, he threw in, from nowhere: “So I think Trump.”
When I talk to strangers—which I do a lot, and like it—I sometimes say dour, mordant things, to get them going by establishing that anything can be said. I say if Hillary Clinton is elected there will be at least one special prosecutor, maybe two, within 18 months, because her character will not be reborn on crossing the threshold of the White House; the well-worn grooves of her essential nature will kick in. If Mr. Trump is elected there will be a constitutional crisis within 18 months because he doesn’t really know what a president does, doesn’t respect traditional boundaries, doesn’t reflect on implications and effects. I always expect pushback. I am not getting it! I get nods, laughs and, in two recent cases, admissions that whoever wins they’d been wondering how soon impeachment proceedings would begin.
Oh, my pained and crazy country.
A final observation, underlying all. Under the smiles and beyond the reticence it is clear how seriously Americans are taking their decision, how gravely. As if it’s not Tweedledum and Tweedledee but an actual choice between two vastly different dramas, two different worlds of outcome and meaning. The cynic or the screwball? Shall we go to the bad place or the crazy place?
I returned knowing I was wrong about something. I thought everyone has been watching the election more than a year, everyone knows their opinion of Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump, this thing is pretty much settled. No, it’s fluid. This cake is not baked.
I talked to Peter D. Hart, the veteran Democratic pollster. Are things as much in play as I think? Yes and no, he said. People do have a firm opinion of the two candidates, the clichés are set: “Hillary competent and cold, Trump an incompetent loose cannon.” But “the part that is evolving is a sense of what we need to do and where we need to go.” Everyone wants change, but people are deciding, “constructive change or radical change?”
Pollster Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies says nothing is settled. “Voters are angry at Clinton because she can’t tell the truth and they’re scared of Trump because they’re afraid he’s gonna start a war. There are times her un-truthiness outweighs their concern about him overreacting and starting a war. It goes back and forth.”
He disagrees with the “unpollable” premise: “It’s pollable. But if anyone says their results are cast in concrete, that’s a mistake. There’s a lot of fluidity.”
The veteran pollster Kellyanne Conway, now Trump campaign manager, says: “This thing is fluid in a way we don’t understand.” She is a close student of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign in all its aspects. Like Mr. Obama, she says, Mr. Trump is “a candidate built for the 21st century. . . . The most fundamental truth of politics is there’s no substitute for a great, magnetic, compelling candidate.”
She speaks of “undercover” Trump voters. “To call them hidden is a mistake. They’re undercover because they’ve gotten to the point they’re tired of arguing. . . . Some have been voting Democratic all their life, they voted for Obama, they’re tired of defending and explaining themselves” to family and coworkers. “They don’t want to proselytize.”
Mr. Hart said the debates are unusually important this year. “Trump is the central character—it’s his last opportunity to get a fresh look from voters. A debate is an open window. Voters suspend opinions and look afresh. Attitudes toward Trump have not changed—temperament questions, can he do the job?” This is a chance for him to “establish credibility at this stage of the game.” By contrast, “Hillary’s problems are not professional but personal—can I like her, does she understand me. . . . It’s an opportunity for her to get voters saying, ‘You know something, she’s not a bad egg.’ ”
Ms. Conway too says the debates are key. “People like a clash of the titans. They like a contest. These debates are the ultimate reality show—the stakes have never been higher.” After the Democratic convention the Clinton campaign, in a major miscalculation, “lowered the bar” for Trump, “calling him unfit, unpresidential.” That turned him into the underdog. “Americans love an underdog.”
Ms. Conway remembered what happened in 2008 when John McCain referred to his long experience. “Obama said if experience means you got us into this mess overseas and tanked the economy, maybe experience is overrated. We are turning this around on Clinton now.”
Mr. Trump’s advantage? “Americans love to say they think outside the box. Trump lives outside the box. Hillary is the box.” (Contributor: By Peggy Noonan forThe Wall Street Journal)
The many constituents who show a reluctance to cast a vote but understand the importance of voting demonstrate an unprecedented lack of confidence in the choice of candidates this year. Pray that ballots would be cast with confidence, trusting in God being able to use whomever is elected for His glory.
“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” (Eph. 3:12)
SENATE CLEARS WAY FOR $1.15 BILLION ARMS SALE TO SAUDI ARABIA
TheU.S. Senate cleared the way for a $1.15 billion sale of tanks and other military equipment to Saudi Arabiaon Wednesday, defending a frequent partner in the Middle East recently subject to harsh criticism in Congress.
The Senate voted 71 to 27 to kill legislation that would have stopped the sale.
The overwhelming vote stopped an effort led by Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy to block the deal over concerns including Saudi Arabia's role in the 18-month-long war in Yemen and worries that it might fuel an ongoing regional arms race.
The Pentagon announced on Aug. 9 that the State Department had approved the potential sale of more than 130 Abrams battle tanks, 20 armored recovery vehicles and other equipment to Saudi Arabia.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said General Dynamics Corp would be the principal contractor for the sale.
Paul, Murphy and other opponents of the arms deal were sharply critical of the Riyadh government during debate before the vote, citing Yemen, the kingdom's human rights record and its international support for a conservative form of Islam.
"If you're serious about stopping the flow of extremist recruiting across this globe, then you have to be serious that the ... brand of Islam that is spread by Saudi Arabia all over the world, is part of the problem," Murphy said.
The criticism came days before lawmakers are expected to back another measure seen as anti-Saudi, a bill that would allow lawsuits against the country's government by relatives of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.
President Barack Obama has promised to veto that bill, but congressional leaders say there is a strong chance that lawmakers will override the veto and let the measure become law. Overriding a presidential veto requires a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate.
In Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is battling Iranian-allied Houthis, the Houthis have accused the United States of arming and supporting the Saudis, who intervened on the side of Yemen's exiled government.
The war has killed over 10,000 people and displaced more than 3 million.
But backers of the deal said Saudi Arabia is an important U.S. ally in a war-torn region, deserving of U.S. support.
"This motion comes at a singularly unfortunate time and would serve to convince Saudi Arabia and all other observers that the United States does not live up to its commitments," Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. (Contributor: ByPatricia Zengerlefor Reuters News - Editing by Grant McCool and Sandra Maler)
Agreements and treaties between different nations go back to ancient times. The Bible cautions against making alliances with unbelieving nations. Pray for our government to exercise caution and discernment when making foreign policy decisions and aligning our country with foreign nations.
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” (2 Cor. 6:14)
CHRISTIAN PASTORS FACE DEATH PENALTY IF CONVICTED IN SUDAN
Last December,two evangelical pastors from the Church of Christ in Sudan were taken from their churches and thrown into jail. Last month, the Rev. Abdulraheem Kodi and the Rev. Kuwa Shamal Abu Zumam were charged with numerous offenses, including waging war against the state, espionage and undermining Sudan’s constitutional system.
Their trial has begun. They could get the death penalty if they're found guilty.
Two other men, Czech aid worker Petr Jasek and Darfuri human rights activist Abduelmoneim Abdulmwlla, have also been detained. They, too, are accused of conspiring against the state, provoking hatred against or among sects and spreading false information.
Kodi and Zumam hail from the Nuba Mountains, a region that continues to be bombed and brazenly targeted by Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, in what human rights and Christian groups say is an effort to rid the country of the Nuba people — indigenous groups who do not fit the regime’s vision of an Islamic nation and are accused of supporting anti-government rebels.
Bishop of Kadugli Diocese, Reverend Andudu Adam Elnail – who is now based in South Carolina after fleeing Sudan in 2011 after government forces allegedly burned down his property when he refused to use his extensive church leadership outreach to endorse the President – told FoxNews.com.
Al-Bashir, the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court — there is an outstanding warrant for his arrest in connection to war crimes in Darfur — took power in a 1989 coup and has long taken a stance of “one language (Arabic), one religion (Islam).”
Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services have accused the pastors of exposing state secrets. But their defenders say the claims against them have been concocted, and that they are being persecuted by al-Bashir and the Sudanese government. They are appealing desperately to the international community to intervene.
“We call for their protection and immediate release and urge that the U.N., U.S. government – including Congress – and other world communities demand the freedom of these two men of God and other prisoners,” said the Rev. Andudu Adam Elnail, bishop of Kadugli Diocese.
Elnail fled from Sudan five years ago after he refused to endorse al-Bashir and government forces allegedly burned down his property. Now based in South Carolina, he said Kodi and Zumam are in solitary confinement and are not allowed visits or phone calls with family members. He described Zumam whom he has known for many years, as a “humble and good man” in his mid-40s, a father of seven who has dedicated his life to family and faith.
“The government is not interested in the Christian religion. There is no freedom for us, we cannot build churches, we are treated as second-class citizens,” Elnail lamented. “We need the international community to pressure the government of Sudan to give us our freedom of religion.”
“The pastors are accused of sharing evidence of the government burning down churches in Khartoum and bombing churches in the Nuba Mountains,” said Philip Tutu, a native of the Nuba Mountains, who now resides in the U.S and advocates for the rights of the Nuba people.
“The government says its security policy is to keep this information confidential to avoid pressure from the international community.
“Clearly, the pastors are unfairly targeted. The hearings are postponed repeatedly. A lot of people are showing up for the hearings and not everyone is able to attend, including some attorneys for the pastors.”
The attorneys, who asked not to be identified, fearing government retaliation, stressed that more action is needed to support the pastors and to protect Christians in the Nuba Mountains, where they are deemed to be “atheists.”
A spokesperson from the U.S State Department said senior officials at the U.S Embassy in Khartoum have been tracking this case since the pastors were arrested and have repeatedly raised concerns about the matter.
“We are committed to working with countries to make tangible improvements in respect for religious freedom and continue to look for opportunities to address these issues with the government of South Sudan,” the spokesperson said.
Christian persecution is nothing new in war-torn Sudan, where churches are routinely razed and church leaders are targeted and taunted. And though Sudan has been designated a “Country of Particular Concern” by the U.S. State Department since 1999, the situation has worsened.
“Members of Sudan’s minority Christian community have been arrested, their religious buildings attacked, churches and educational institutions closed and their religious literature confiscated,” said the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, S.J, chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
“The government will no longer issue permits for the building of new churches. Government policies and societal pressure promote conversion to Islam. Christians are pressured to deny their faith or convert to gain employment.”
Kiri Kankhwende, of the U.K-based advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide, said the situation for Christians in Sudan has particularly deteriorated since the secession in 2011 of South Sudan, which was championed as a foreign policy success story by the Obama administration but has since descended into civil war.
“Since then, the government has called for a 100 percent Islamic nation with a constitution based wholly on Shariah law,” Kankhwende told FoxNews.com. “The restrictions placed on Christians over the last five years indicate that the government is moving toward this goal.”
Amnesty International issued a joint letter to the United Nations Human Rights Council this month condemning the lack of freedom of religion in Sudan and calling on the government to release all individuals who have been arbitrarily detained. The independent Sudanese Human Rights and Development Organization has appealed to Pope Francis to exert his influence on Khartoum to help the jailed church leaders.
Open Doors USA, a Christian human rights organization, has called the persecution of Christians in Sudan akin to “ethnic cleansing” and stressed that the “right kind of attention” in the case of the Sudanese priests is vital.
“The more influential voices that can be heard on this issue, the more likely the government of Sudan is to at least consider objections to this miscarriage of justice,” said Open Doors president and CEO David Curry.
The Embassy of the Republic of Sudan in Washington, D.C., could not be reached for comment. The pastors’ trial is set to resume Wednesday. (Contributor: By Hollie McKay forFox News)
We are blessed to have the freedom to worship and practice our faith in this country, but in many places around the world Christians are being persecuted and falsely accused due to their beliefs. Pray for the persecuted Church, and for these prisoners to be released.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4:8-9)