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The First Biden V. Trump Debate is Tonight , and I Have Questions

Tonight is the first of three debates scheduled between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. As is my custom, I like to comment on these issues.

As regular readers of my blog will note I have commented a lot less on politics of late. The reason is not that I don’t have thoughts or opinions, but rather it is about the culture. Our nation is so divided right now that I don’t think adding to the flame any more gasoline is helpful. Therefore, I have refrained.

Yet, we do have an election coming up, and I have questions for both candidates. Chris Wallace of Fox News is moderating tonight, and he did a fantastic job four years ago (read my review of that debate here and please notice how some things never change), nevertheless, I really would like to be the one asking the questions.

Yep — It Comes Down To Which Old White Guy You Want

So here we go — and we’ll start with the challenger.

Questions for Joe Biden

  1. Mr. Vice President, your record through the years on abortion has changed several times, most recently during the 2020 Democratic Primaries. How would you describe your position on abortion right now?
  2. Famously you had to withdraw from your Presidential Race in 1988 because it was discovered you plagiarized your speeches. What have you learned since then?
  3. You’ve made it clear you would raise taxes. Will these taxes be across the board, or will you exploit the current sentiment among Democratic voters of class envy? Will you seek to institute a wealth tax, and if so, for what income level?
  4. Your opponents label you as a socialist. How do you respond to them?
  5. You’ve criticized the President for nominating a conservative justice for the Supreme Court. Would you pledge right now to nominating a moderate rather than a liberal if you are given the opportunity?
  6. As a part of the Obama campaign, you mocked then candidate Mitt Romney for declaring Russia was the greatest threat to America. In the past four years, you along with other Democrats have suggested Russia is again a huge threat. When were you wrong — then against Romney or have you made too much of Russia now?
  7. Sir, it is one thing to appeal for racial reconciliation and pledge a just and fair administration, but what would you do? In other words, are you in favor of reparations for descendants of slavery in America?
  8. You were instrumental in pushing through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Many point out the weakness and deficiencies in the law. What, if anything, would you do to change or alter it? Are you in favor of a single-payer system?
  9. You have criticized some, or really all, of the President’s comments and statements about COVID-19, but what, substantially, would you have done policy wise that would be different from what the federal government has done? Please be specific.
  10. You and other Democratic candidates criticized President Trump for his immigration policies, particularly child-separation, during the primaries. What is your plan for immigration, and do you support amnesty for illegal aliens currently in the country, and if you could, detail how you explain the fairness of this to those who take the time and follow the law?
  11. Taking Barack Obama off the table, because you worked with him, who is your favorite President in American history and why?

Questions for President Donald J. Trump.

  1. Mr. President, everyone knows before you ran for President you were adamantly pro-abortion. What changed you mind to make you so pro-life, and, sir, have you ever paid for someone to have an abortion?
  2. In the late 1980s you were bankrupt and your business empire was collapsing. You recovered, and apparently turned things around. What did you learn about your failure then, and how might that help you in a second term?
  3. The first thing you did as President was push for a large tax cut which has led to large corporate profits but did not help the average American very much. Would you make any changes to your tax policy in a second term? How would you describe your overall tax policy?
  4. Your opponents label you as a fascist. How do you respond to them?
  5. Do you think it is hypocritical of Congressional Republicans to push through your recent Supreme Court nominee in light of what they did to Merrick Garland and then President Barack Obama? If the answer is no, how would you explain the fairness of this to someone?
  6. Why do you placate dictators and authoritarians so much, especially Vladimir Putin. More specifically, do you stand by your Helsinki press conference where you said you believed Putin over your own intelligence agencies?
  7. One of the perceptions of your administration is that you don’t care for “Blue States” and have even tried to punishment them for leaning Democratic. Is this how you really feel? In the same vain, how would you defend your policies toward Portland and Washington, D. C. where you seem to be instigating more violence and unrest than actually helping anything calm down?
  8. Why is your administration in court right now attempting to take away the pre-existing conditions requirement of the Affordable Care Act? Wouldn’t strengthening or tweaking the original bill be a better course of action, especially considering Republicans have yet, in the twelve years since the ACA was passed, put forth any alternative plan?
  9. What would you do differently if you were given a chance to redo the response your administration had to the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you regret any of the wild statements you’ve made?
  10. One of your signature issues in 2016 was immigration. Do you believe illegal immigration is still a problem? If so, what would you do differently with another four years to solve the problem?
  11. Taking yourself off the table, because of obvious reasons, who is your favorite President in American history and why?

DONALD TRUMP, PLEASE ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS

It is a time honored practice to ask politicians questions, and then have them ignore the question and move onto their talking points. Skilled politicians can do that and make you think they answered your question and that they care. Neither Mr. Trump nor Secretary Clinton have that skillset. Whenever they are asked questions, it is painfully obvious they don’t want to answer it, don’t care about it, and would prefer to move to their pre-planned talking points.

djt_headshot_v21

If I were allowed, however, the chance to ask Mr. Trump some questions, and I would be guaranteed that he would have to answer them, these are the questions I would start with. I have posted similar questions for Hillary Clinton on a separate (click here) blog post.

  1. Many people are bothered by the fact you haven’t released your tax returns. You say it is because you are being audited. It has been reported, and you admitted in the last debate, that you have claimed exemption to refrain from paying federal income taxes. Would you tell us, then, approximately how much money or what percentage of your income, you’ve given to charity for the past five years? For the sake of clarity, your Foundation doesn’t count because it is not a recognized charity.
  2. Your slogan is “Make America Great Again.” When, in your opinion, did America stop being great? Please be as specific as possible, and what would be the first sign that greatness has returned?
  3. You have said it might be a good idea for The United States to leave NATO because some of the member nations do you not pay their fair share. If indeed you are serious about that sentiment, do you think the United States should be a “pay for play” military corporation that works for the highest bidder?
  4. Earlier in your life you were pro-choice, then when you decided to run for President you became pro-life. You’ve also said positive things about Planned Parenthood. Many pro-life people would like to cut the funding for Planned Parenthood because of its strong advocacy for abortion. How do you reconcile the two thoughts–and more to the point, would you share your real position on abortion, and maybe why you decided to become pro-life.
  5. In your early campaign rhetoric, trade and immigration were your primary policy issues, including the building of a wall on the border with Mexico and a ban on Muslim’s coming into the country. These authoritarian policies combined with your positive comments about dictators like Saddam Hussein and Vladimir Putin worry many people that you favor a “Strong Man” approach to governance. What can you say to people to reassure them that a President Trump would honor the democratic traditions of dissent, free press, free speech, and the freedom to assemble? Can you give examples of people who have disagreed with you that you didn’t threaten to silence or file a lawsuit?

Of course, I have other questions for Mr. Trump, not the least of which are about Trump University, Trump Airlines, his love affair with Playboy Magazine, his thoughts on Jesus I think are important because he has courted the Christian community so strongly, and I’d also like to know what he plans on doing with North Korea. Nevertheless, these questions are where I would start.

FAITH AND SCIENCE

I did NOT watch the ballyhooed Ken Ham/Bill Nye debate yesterday.  The reason is I know all the arguments already, on both sides, and find that arguing about things like this to be silly.  People on the pro-creation side will claim victory and send out Twitter quotes and people on the pro-science side will do the same, each attempting to make the other one look stupid or silly.  I do not think it is reasonable of science to attack spirituality and I do not think it is reasonable for people of faith to attack science.

I DID NOT WATCH THEM ARGUE
I DID NOT WATCH THEM ARGUE

So here are some Greenbean perspectives on the issue.

1.  The Bible is not a science book.  In fact, to attempt to twist the Bible into a science book is to minimize its meaning and alter its message.  For example, the point of Genesis is not to tell us how God did anything.  The point of Genesis is to inspire us with awe at the wonder of all that God has done.

2.  God has revealed himself in the universe, and he has given human beings the ability to study, learn and discover.  Therefore, when we learn, study, and discover anything about the universe we are learning about God, and God is bigger than our theological constructs and our limited worldview.  To study the universe (at its largest or smallest expressions) is a noble and worthy goal.

3.  Even though  there are clearly moments when science can be evil (atomic weapons, poisons, human experimentation (i.e. during the holocaust)) in the end science is good and beneficial to the world and for humans.

4.  Even though there are clearly moments when religious faith can be evil (jihad, crusades, power abuses and manipulation) in the end faith is good and beneficial to the world and for humans.

5.  When scientific data describes things that the Bible or faith does not (i.e. evolution, age of the world, etc…) the response of people of faith should not be “No, you’re wrong,” but instead it should be, “Wow, that is interesting.  I wonder what else we might discover if we keep looking.”  Truth is truth, and as people of faith we are called to pursue all truth regardless of its origin, and facts are truth.  To ignore facts is to deviate from truth.  Embracing truth will inform our faith and help us appropriate a knowledge of Christ that is deeper and richer than what we had before.

6.  Science cannot explain everything.  As wonderful as it is, there are aspects of humanity and creation that are mystery.  Love, behavior, emotion, desire, life and and even self-awareness itself are beyond the ability of science to fully comprehend.  Science can describe these and inform our understanding of the processes (such as neuroscience and psychology) but it cannot give us insight into the biggest question of all.  Why?

7.  People of faith and people of science need each other in order to provide balance to the human experience.  In the absence of science superstition and magic replace reason and logic and this is no good for anyone.  In the absence of faith people become fatalistic and materialistic, and this is no good for anyone.  Both results in violence and ignorance.  History teaches us that when superstition reigns people die (witch hunts, human sacrifice, holy wars, etc…) and society is stunted.  This is the worldview of Islamic terrorists.  Contemporary culture teaches us that when people believe and live as if human beings are only animals with no spiritual connections or consequences that they kill and abuse wantonly, and psychopathic behavior erupts.  An example of this is the phenomena of school shootings.

8.  Arguing solves nothing.  I believe in apologetics–defending the faith and offering answers to questions–but not in an environment that is clearly more for show and sport than for spiritual advancement.  Solid apologetics are done everyday by pastors, teachers, academics, and anyone who takes the time to be informed on issues and then who speaks with love and compassion, not with ‘gotchas.’  All debating does is drive the wedge ever so much deeper into an already frighteningly divided society.

9.  Literature, art, music and coffee shops are the best places to have these discussions.  It is one of the reasons I write about the dark side of science (The Deep Cove stories), about the traumas of faith (The Land Begins to Heal, the Haunting of Pastor Butch Gregory and other Short Stories) and why there is so much pain in the world (yet untitled unpublished novel).

So these are some of my perspectives.  I’d love to hear some of yours, so long as we keep it all civil.

Image from npr.org

THE DEBATE AND OTHER RANDOM THINGS

Let me apologize.  This is not a coherent post with one theme.  Instead, it is three unrelated topics that are on my mind this morning.

BINDERS FULL OF GANGBANGING INTERRUPTIONS

THING ONE:  I had a meeting at church last night and as soon as I got home I popped popcorn and clicked my recording of the debate.  My youngest daughter and I watched it with much enthusiasm.  Her interest comes from her recent decision to join the debate club at school.  People keep reporting this morning that President Obama won the debate but I don’t think so.  To me it looked like a tit-for-tat draw scenario.  Each one had good moments but each one also had bad moments.  I think Obama is more likeable, but Romney still seems more coherent.  I think the reason people are saying Obama won is that he so underperformed last time that it was dramatically different than the first debate.  My feeling though, is that the ship had already left the port and that Romney’s dominant performance in the first debate established that this race is going to be squeaky close right down to the hanging chad finish line.

THING TWO:  We can file this one under the “I’m becoming a grumpy old man” but I’ve got to address a problem.  I don’t care what my iPad or the hours of operation say at the grocery store there is NO SUCH THING AS 12AM or 12PM.  It is either 12 noon or 12 midnight.  Period.  End of discussion.  12 is the meridian, and it can’t be ante or post if it is on it!

COFFEE DRINKER?

THING THREE:  Yesterday I dropped by my local Starbucks to buy a gift card for a friend who did me and my church a favor and I saw a man who brought a bird into the coffee shop.  A bird.  It was not caged and it was on his arm, in his coat pocket, and on his shoulder.  The bird was a green parakeet.  In the Starbucks.  Is it Pirate Week and I missed it?  I just can’t believe it.  Who would take a pet bird to get coffee?  Why?  What sort of thought process did that guy go through?  Unbelievable.