The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, August 29, 2008

Why hasn't evolution bred out evil?

Anyone know Sarah Palin? McCain's VP. Governor of Alaska, five kids, Pro-Life, Pro-Capital punishment. Anyone think that's a game-changer?


The acceptance speech last night was just terrific. The only criticisms were from people who weren't going to like it going in--he did the job. Be very interesting to see what happens next. I DO think that it was a real mistake for McCain to talk about not knowing how many houses he has, or that "rich" starts at five million.

I think that the argument that whether you're rich at 250,000 "depends on where you live" is pretty lame. People could say the exact same thing at 2.5 million, or 25 million, or 250 million. Donald Trump could move in next to Bill Gates and say "I don't feel rich" or "my expenses overwhelm my income."

What they're really saying is: "I don't think I should pay more taxes than someone who earns less." That at least is honest, and debatable. Or maybe "I don't think people should pay taxes at all." Which is an attitude I find in lotsa people who earn enough that they can afford all of the services ordinarily provided by taxes: private police, private schools, etc. Again, that CAN be honest...but suggesting that if you choose to live in an expensive neighborhood, or to maintain a lavish lifestyle and therefore have a negative net worth this somehow means you aren't "rich"...I think that's crazy like a fox. They know what they're saying, and in my mind they're either deluded, or simply lying with a "I've got mine, screw you" attitude.

Or of course, we could just say that "rich" and "poor" are purely subjective. That would be pretty silly. The argument about how much tax, or even whether to tax, is a smarter, more honest and honorable one. Middle class extends up to five million? That is so out of touch its almost laughable. Perhaps McCain will offer clarification. I don't see how that helps him establish a position as a populist.


The question of why evolution hasn't bred out dysfunctions like child and spousal abuse popped up in response to an earlier post. Also human variations like homosexuality and so forth. I would think that, in the case of the negative, violent or self-destructive behaviors the simple answer is: for the same reason that diseases haven't been bred out, or that evolution hasn't made us immortal. We simply aren't designed to stick around forever. Get over it. Things wear out, stuff doesn't work "perfectly" from the perspective of an ego that wants to stick around forever.

I remember conversations with Sci-Fi types complaining that the human body is badly designed: bad backs, bad knees, etc. I was appalled. If they never changed the oil in a Ferrari and it killed the engine, does that mean that the Italians can't design a car? Hell no. It means the owner has some responsibility for minimal maintenance. I watched them stuff themselves with garbage, stay up all night, scoff at exercise...and then blame God when they start falling apart. That's sick.


Things like child abuse? Unfortunately, I suspect this might be connected with some survival values. The lion who takes over a pride and kills the previous leader's cubs comes to mind. It is known that there is more abuse between step-parents/step-children and blood parents/children. I would think mistrust between a husband and wife would exacerbate this. But for women? After all, they pretty much KNOW the kid is there. I suspect that there is, or was, survival value in rejecting children as certain resources grow slim. Including emotional resources? Not sure...but then there is the aspect that children are ourselves. We see in them our own beginning. The less our lives resemble our childhood dreams, the easier it might be to consider them symbols of our own lost potential. Anchors that hold us to an unhappy life. Reminders of a hated spouse. Or just representations of our own unloved selves.

There are so many ways that self-loathing manifests. In general, any culture that doesn't treasure children imperils its own survival. We can argue about exactly what evidence of such appreciation entails, but I know of no place where adults routinely place their young children between themselves and danger. You could operate that way for about one generation.

But the children of other groups? Hell, leaving the children of your enemies alive can just mean you have to fight them all over again in ten years. Better to bayonet the babies. And THAT ugly reality means that there will be a switch in the head capable of switching on a sociopathic reaction capable of cold equations indeed.


Homosexuality? The average gay person doubtless has fewer children than the average heterosexual, but the number ain't zero. Why shouldn't guys on the march, years from home, indulge in a bit of "back-door blossom beating" (as the Chinese expression goes.) And in tribal cultures where a strong male has multiple wives, gay relationships between men would be all that prevents perpetual bride-wars, kidnapping women from other groups.

And between women? In those seraglios, where a single powerful warlord might have hundreds of wives, the ones who can catch his eye with their sensuality, and give him sons would gain favor. How do you maintain your sensuality when the only man it is safe to relate to sensuously must be shared with dozens of others? I would think that the best way to stay juicy would be to engage with one another.

Of course there's simply the fact that human touch is delicious. If we can love dogs and cats, why not other human beings of our own gender? I've been in spiritual communities where there weren't many men, and the women began turning to each other quite naturally. Many of them had been married, and had children. I would think that the reduced fecundity that accompanies homosexuality is the reason why the percentage of them is relatively low...but hardly reason for them not to exist at all.

But will we eventually breed out negative behaviors? I suppose I could make that case. But then...there isn't even universal agreement on what "negative" really means. For me, evil is what increases chaos, good increases a point. Taken too far, you get fascism. Freedom is messy. Then, not everyone agrees on how much freedom we should have.

Unless all human beings thought the same way, it's inevitable that there will be "evil" behavior simply because some will label it such. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing...but it's probably what we're stuck with.


Michelle said...

While I totally believe in evolution, I don't believe it's the end all be all to the argument. Anyone can be abusive and it doesn't always manifest at the outset.

McCain's statements are more than laughable. As a republican, who is pagan, poor (make less than 30,000...I don't really consider myself poor but I live with in my means...the only thing I yearn for is the money to travel.), who takes care of herself, and is pro-choice I have my opinions. And if McCain chooses that woman well, it makes me NOT want to vote for him that much more.

Rich to me? I could have everything I ever wanted in life if I made 50,000 a year. Even with insurance my medical bills this summer (impacted kidney stones requiring surgery) have put me in the 60,000 above mortgage debt range. 90% of my paycheck now goes to debt, 85% of that is medical bill that I racked up this year and that my little girl racked up when we were uninsured and she almost died from a rare infection.

When McCain and his group make statements like that I want to strangle him. If I could get one of these folks to give me what they make in one month I would pay off all my debt and still have stuff left over for savings. Oh I'd still have to work...but hey I actually love my job and I love to freelance too.

Of course I believe we should be an armed country and I don't believe we should be paying these taxes. (this was first year in 11 years I got a tax's all gone to medical bills, so normally yes I pay taxes). These things prevent me from jumping on the Obama bandwagon.

I want to believe in him...but some of the issues he sides on and his stance on religion scare me.

I'm not especially a fan of Biden due to his Iraq policy and a few other things.

Sigh...still conflicted.

Reluctant Lawyer said...

Sarah Palin - Don't know enough about her to really evaluate her one way or the other. The cynic in me says that it is an attempt by McCain to go after the Hillary vote. We'll see what the effect will be, and if there is any loss resulting from backlash.

Anyone from Alaska out there who can give a first-hand account of the state with her at the helm?

Mike said...

The reason evil or sociopaths haven't been bred out by evolution, is that they are an evolutionary viable strategy.

Picture a tribe of hunter gathers in a time when food has grown scare. The mother and father give as much food as they can to their children, but one of those children eats the other children's food whenever they can get away from it. That's bad, but which child is likely to live through the famine, the one who steals or the one who is stolen from?

Mike said...

This is a close approximation of those "Take a picture of yourself every day for a year" videos, except it is of Obama, Bush, and McCain.

Absolutely fascinating;

Kami said...

The problem with breeding traits out is that it's never that simple--and that's why we're pretty well stuck with them unless we directly manipulate our own genetics, and maybe not even then. We're spun like cotton candy and trying to pull out a single thread--not going to happen without yanking a bunch of other stuff.

Look at what dedicated breeding has done with dogs--you get great disposition but weird conformation problems or early death or heart problems or ... you get the picture. The most commonly cited example is sicklecell anemia. I for one would like to see it somehow eliminated from the population. Is it worth also shedding the resistance to malaria, which is a common problem in areas and plainly devastating?

Besides, it's the rare person who electively takes themselves out of the gene pool, although it does happen if there's a problem that they're passionate about not perpetuating.

Also, people choose mates in a myriad of ways, which keeps our gene pool very diverse (imagine what would happen to diversity if we all liked exactly the same type, size, weight, personality, etc.) Who is going to be with someone when the chemistry is lukewarm on a good day 'for the good of humanity?' You know they're going to pick the predatory bad boy because he's hot to them, and the genetics proceed as per usual.

You know, this would make a great OryCon panel ...

Pagan Topologist said...

I loved Obama's speech last night. When he started, I thought he was going to be overshadowed by the speakers who had preceded him during the week, but he began slowly and built to a very high level. Brilliant. He did make one rhetorical error, though, in my opinion. He should have taken the opportunity to change the slogan "Yes we can!" to "Yes we will. It would have been a much more powerful way to proceed.

I have been a reluctant Obama supporter, although I have always much preferred him to Clinton. Kucinich, and, yes, Edwards, I preferred. But I believe Obama will be a great President. McCain, were he to win, I think would complete the destruction of this nation forever. We cannot keep on the course we are on for much longer. (When the dollar is trading one for one with the yen, maybe some people will notice that something is wrong.)

Brother OMi said...

i dig evolution but with the technology we have had in the last century, evolution will not have a greater effect on humans as it once did. we have vaccines and better medical procedures that will remove any genetic disorders our species will encounter. we can now change the landscape (to a certain extent) to suit our own purposes.

we also have enough technology in the last century to give us more leisure time. or idle time. what is that saying "an idle mind..."

Mike Ralls said...

>if they never changed the oil in a Ferrari and it killed the engine, does that mean that the Italians can't design a car?<

I agree with you that people have a responsibility to take care of their bodies, and that it is quite sad when they don't, but a better analogy might be, "All the roads they have are made out of dirt, and bumpy, and uneven. The Ferrari is the only car they have though, so they have to make it work as best they can in that environment. This means different maintenance and upkeep than the Ferrari was designed to have."

Ferrari's aren't made for off-roading, and our bodies weren't made to work in offices. We are designed to do 2-4 hours or light exercise a day with a few moments of peak exertion while eating lots and lots of meat and spending the rest of our time socializing or goofing off with a small group of people almost all of whom we've known since birth. We are not designed to operate in an environment where we can get tons of sweet and fatty foods (which our bodies are designed to crave) for almost no physical work, while being surrounded by millions of people who we will never know.

Being in an environment you were not designed to operate in _does_ create a lot of problems to overcome, not least of all the will to overcome your natural inclinations. Nothing to do but suck it up and do as best you can, and if you use excessive complaining about it to avoid adapting as best you can then you should stop complaining, but the basic complaint is true; we are not designed well to operate in the environment we find ourselves in. We'll kludge along as best we can, but it's still a kludge.

We shouldn't expect every Ferrari owner to have the will and the drive to make their Ferrari be great at off-roading. It would be nice, and better if they did, but it's not a realistic outcome.

Mark Jones said...

I second Kami's points. I'm reminded of the Russians who recently set about trying to breed foxes for docile behavior so they could be raised for their fur. Selecting for docile behavior VERY quickly resulted in foxes with dog-like appearance, including their coats. Apparently, those traits are genetically linked. It could well be that some negative behaviors in humans are linked by chance to other characteristics which ARE survival-oriented.

And as for people taking themselves out of the gene pool voluntarily. That would be me. I grew up assuming I'd get married (and presumably have children) someday, but while finding a mate was definitely a goal--having children never was. In fact, by the time I was an adult I knew i actively DIDN'T want to raise kids; I don't have the temperament for it.

I know, intellectually that most people do have kids, and most people WANT to have kids--but only intellectually. Emotionally? I just don't get it. I can dandle my wife's grandson on my knee as happily as anyone--but that's because I have the option of handing him back to his parents when I'm done. My own kids? No thanks.

Marty S said...

With respect to evolution Brother Omi has pretty much hit the nail on the head. The main mechanism that powers evolution is survival of the fittest, but the combination of modern technology and modern societal values lets pretty much everyone survive to produce children.

Steve Perry said...

The Palin selection sounds like desperation. If Obama doesn't have the chops to be Prez 'cause of No Experience, how on Earth can McCain justify Palin if he falls over dead the after he takes office?

Lot of foreign policy experience to be had up there in Alaska? Woman has five kids, ranging in age from 22 to a baby, so that might count for something, but I don't see how it is a patch on Biden's ass when it comes to dealing with world leaders ...

Wushu said...

"We are designed to do 2-4 hours or light exercise a day with a few moments of peak exertion while eating lots and lots of meat..."

Bull. Shaolin monks do quite well with no meat at all. In fact, many of them are physical marvels. It makes me question the conventional wisdom that we need meat.

Steven Barnes said...

I completely understand people not wanting to have kids. They are an almost incomprehensibly expensive addition to your life. If you don't feel it, you shouldn't do it...we need doting uncles and aunts and good neighbors.
As for meat--of course you don't need it. Ovalactive Vegetarians tend to be the healthiest and longest-lived people. But healthy vegetarians have to be smarter than meat eaters, and not take their proteins for granted.

Mike Ralls said...

> Bull. Shaolin monks do quite well with no meat at all.<

That in no way means we were _designed_ to be vegetarians.

I do quite well at working at an office, but I wasn't _designed_ to do it.

Anthropologists at the begining of the last century were studying H-G's who were pushed into really crappy land, so they overestimated how much non-meat H-G's ate. Recent studies of bones have shown that we were the top predators of our environment before we were even close to being HSS and our diet consisted almost entirely of meat. Neanderthals seems to have lived on nohting but _big-game_.

Our HSS ancestors which replaced lived on around 50% big game, with the other half being birds, fish, and small game. They also ate the brains, marrow and organ meats of animals, which provide a very healthy collection of vitamins and minerals.

We seem to have developed the ability to eat plant food primarily as a famine relief thing. Like many things that nature gave us, we took that and ran with it in a big way, but for the overwhelming majority of our history as a species, we were eating meat almost exclusively and that is what your body still thinks it was designed to do. Pretty much without exception, when countries increase their wealth the average meat consumption goes up. This is not a coincidence and I think it pretty clearly shows a preference built into human beings.

Wushu said...

Mike, you are still mistaken. We are designed to be omnivorous, NOT designed to eat "lots and lots of meat."

Being omnivorous means you have more options, which maximizes survival probability.

We know human beings can live and thrive long term on either a mixed diet or a vegetarian diet. You cannot maintain your health long-term on an all meat, no vegetable diet.

Thus, vegetables are a requirement. Meats are optional. Those are the facts and that, too, is part of the design.

Mike Ralls said...

> We are designed to be omnivorous, NOT designed to eat "lots and lots of meat.<

The two are not mutually exclusive. Except for a brief period since the invention of agriculture, the overwhelming majority of our ancestors (and hence the sources of our genetic make-up) ate "lots and lots of meat." Meat was the _overwhelming_ way they got their calories (the figure I've read is less than 2% of calories came from non-meat). Evolutionarily speaking, we became the biggest baddest predators on the planet and switched to an almost all meat diet but kept our omnivore tool package in case of famine. So in the sense that our ancestors got 98% of their calloreis from meat and did that for millions of years (probably since Homo Erectus according to the bone data) we are "designed" to eat lots and lots of meat, just like we are designed (ie evolved to fit an environment in which that was the case) to live in groups of no more than 100 or 200 people. We can live in groups of more than that, but it's not what our genes are used to. In order to do it, we are required to use our big powerful brains to come up with kludges.

> You cannot maintain your health long-term on an all meat, no vegetable diet.<

For all intense purposes, you can. You just have to eat the brains, marrow and organ meats. Oh and eat some of it raw. Then it has vitamin C which can often be destroyed by cooking. Again, that's what our H-G ancestors did before the invention of farming.

Wife calling. More later;

Althea said...

McCain picked Palin because he felt that change was trumping experience. That is how Obama beat Clinton in the polls. McCain also felt like he was competing again history, so he decided to create a little history himself.

As a pro-choice Independent, I wouldn't vote for McCain anyway. But for social conservatives, Palin is a good choice. To people like me, it looks ridiculous. You cannot put a pantsuit on another woman and call her "Hillary." That seems like pandering. Women wanted that woman, not just any old woman. And if McCain wanted a real game changer, he would have picked Condi Rice, Christine Whitman, or someone else with more experience.

Rice vs. Biden in a debate would have been compelling. Palin vs. Biden...oh, God. Biden has to be careful not to look like he's beating up on the Pretty Woman. She's tough. I don't doubt that, but she's cute.

I still think Obama will win. He has the better organized campaign;
he is revolutionizing the way a politican raises money; he beat a woman with 100% name recognition. This ain't a bandwagon. It's a movement.

Christian M. Howell said...

The problem is that we AREN'T evolving. Most people have the technological understanding of people in the 1900s. And the physical prowess of dead bodies.
We insist on living vicariously through the people who actually provide technology while swearing to be "God's gift."
As far as reasons for homosexuality, I'd say it's the same reason.
Because we aren't very intellectual we may feel that any feeling revolving around the same sex is a sign. How dumb is that?

Having sex with children is a little bit more amazing. I wouldn't be surprised if perpetrators believe that somehow they can make themselves more resistant to "body language."

As far as McCain's theory of rich, whatever. Defining rich is subjective because you can inherit $10M and not have to work, but you have to divide the amount by days in your life.

Or you can earn $100K+ every year. Of course it will be worth more in Seattle vs. NYC though so it's still subjective.

Evolution in a modern society is specifically based on intellectual advancement as you won't find many people who actually starve or freeze to death.
Though many of us do eat ourselves basically to death.

The government needs to demand more from its citizens or we will look like one of those apocalyptic movies where there is a center of knowledge and everything else is barren wasteland filled with all of the evil you mentioned.

Frank said...

Palin has a lot in common with McCain, and she's female. And she's pro-gun.

This makes the Republican side pro-reform, and pro-gun which is a counter to the anti-reform, anti-gun Democrats.

Do not discount the gun issue.

Most importantly, Palin has the chops McCain was looking for. She took on the corrupt Republican establishment in Alaska and won.

She cancelled the good old boy Bridge to Nowhere program and made reforms that benefitted the people of Alaska at the expense of the political machine, big business and, yes, even big oil.

And she knows that taking on "Big Oil" is not inconsistent with drilling for oil to assure independent supplies.

She's feminine but tough as nails. She is the only one out of the four with executive experience and yes, Alaska has a Foreign Policy: it has to coexist with two foreign countries.

She energizes the Conservative base, she energizes the Independents that want fiscal responsibility in Washington and she energizes females who are center/center-right.

I even know a granola-crunching female who was in the tank for Obama who is now in love with Palin and says (today) that she will vote for McCain.

Of course all of that could change if she displays incompetence, but Alaskan's love her so I'm thinking she'll be able to hold her own.

We'll see....

Frank said...

With regards to evolution, the question is not "Why hasn't evolution bred out evil?" but what evolutionary benefit does altruism provide?

In fact, how does evolution account for altruism at all?

Mike Ralls said...

>but what evolutionary benefit does altruism provide?<

Tons! Altruism has lots of effects which increase the likelihood that one's offsprings will survive and procreate. Think about it this way, if A cares more about it's offsprings than it cares about its ownself, and B doesn't, which one's offspring are likely to live long enough to procreate themselves? And from their it's just a hop skip and a jump to the tribal level where it is an even bigger advantage. Altruism is what makes war possible, for one thing.

Bennett said...

Never met Ms. Palin personally, so I can't claim to know her, but this did make its way to my news reel about the same time I saw your question. Figured it for kismet.

Of course, everyone's got an axe to grind, but it does seem like 'reformer' might be a label stretched past the stress point on this lady. And the idea of her next in line to the American throne is not going to be something which soothes and comforts me when I go to sleep.

Althea said...

The best article I've read about why Sarah Palin is a bad choice.

And if the crunchy-granola lady has switched to McCain, then she needs to learn how to read.

Frank said...


The best article I've read about why Sarah Palin is a bad choice.

Really. Then I'm thinkin' that Democrats are pretty worried, which surprises me.

The first third of the piece just repeats the theme "She's the worst pick evah!" without quantifying a single thing.

The second third then makes the argument that even though she has more executive experience than Obama, has done more to buck the political machines for the public good than Obama, and has more political successes under her belt than Obama, she's not qualified to be President.

Of course there are a number of problems with that line of reasoning:

One, it's making an argument against Obama who, unlike Palin, is at the Top of the ticket.

And second, it once again denigrates small towns.

Now, if I had just read this at HuffPo I'd say "well, that's just a political lightweight making a stupid point." But oddly enough, I have heard these talking points all day long from various Left-leaning pundits which makes me think this is "official."

I'm thinking they need a new line of attack.

I mean, I think they are better off just ignoring Palin. In fact, I'm wondering, why aren't they just ignoring Palin? The author got it right about 3/4 of the way down when he said

And all that's not even the reason the decision is so terrible.

The reason is because the election is not about Sarah Palin. Or about Joe Biden....

The campaign is about Barack Obama and John McCain.

And why, does that make Palin a terrible pick? More, why is that the best reason that Palin is a terrible pick? It makes no sense.

And again, if the election is not about Palin and Biden (And I agree, it isn't) why are they not simply ignoring her?

I'll tell you why, She is clearly being perceived by the Obama camp as a threat. And everytime they say this pick shows McCain's desperation, they are projecting.

But if that's the case, why aren't they attacking her pro-life, pro-gun, pro-market conservatism instead of pointing out that she's more experienced then the guy at the top of their own ticket?

Very odd.

But I'm thinking if they really want to keep on focusing on Palin instead of McCain, they had better change their line of attack.

'Cause I really don't think it's helping.

Maybe it's just me.

Marty S said...

I think trying to reach any conclusions about Palin now is precipitous. Lets wait until we see how she preforms and what she has to say before we make judgments.

Mike Ralls said...

If you want some actual data on how Palin has done if the whole day and a half since she was announced it is here;

"After her debut in Dayton and a rush of media coverage, a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds that 53% now have a favorable opinion of Palin while just 26% offer a less flattering assessment.

Palin earns positive reviews from 78% of Republicans, 26% of Democrats and 63% of unaffiliated voters. Obviously, these numbers will be subject to change as voters learn more about her in the coming weeks. Among all voters, 29% have a Very Favorable opinion of Palin while 9% hold a Very Unfavorable view.

By way of comparison, on the day he was selected as Barack Obama’s running mate, Delaware Senator Joseph Biden was viewed favorably by 43% of voters. "


I agree that any impact will be impossible to fully evaluate for at least a few weeks.

Frank said...

Marty S

I think trying to reach any conclusions about Palin now is precipitous.

Well, conclusions about whether or not she is good for McCain's prospects, yes. She has a lot of "performin'" to do. And as we saw with Hillary, the press is not going to cut her any slack. Not only is she female, she's Republican. Which is an offense second only to being a Black Republican.

But I think it is quite easy to see what her nomination has done to the Obama camp. They appear to be very concerned. And, McCain caught them off guard: She was not what they had prepared for. And as is the case with their Top, the Obama campaign is not good on their feet. They flubbed the initial reaction.

Clearly, if she does perform well on the national stage, they have some things to worry about: Least of which is attacting Hillary Democrats, though she will pull some of those.

No, more concerning to Obama is the fact that she energizes the Conservative base. Prior to this, things were looking like McCain would never light that fire. In fact, the calculus was he was going to sideline the evangelicals and go directly for the Independents.

And that's problem number two: Center and right of Center Independents have been voting Republican until 2006 when they got disillusioned with a Republican majority that became as big-spending and corrupt as the Democrats they threw out in 1996.

Palin, with her take-no-prisoners reformer rep, enhances the Maverick street cred in this area. And Obama who has been shifting his position to the center (Leftists be damned) in hopes of capturing those folks, now has a credible threat to his line of attack.

And then there is the gun voters who are Democrat, Republican and Independents. Every month when NRA members get their copy of The Rifleman (or whichever publication they chose) they have been treated to feature articles extolling the threat Obama poses to gun rights.

I predict the next issue will also feature Biden who recently claimed authorship of the Assault Rifle ban (which of course was bogus) and lamented that Congress allowed to expire.

And right next to that will be a picture of Governor Palin shooting an M-16.

All in all, unless Palin flubs up, Obama does have something to worry about.

But there is something else: the way McCain played the Palin card was expert. The way the Obama camp played the Biden card was amateur night. Obama now knows his team has got to do better because McCain's team has brought their A game onto the field.

Kukulkan said...

Folks. Either way the election swings, it will be historic. For the first time, our President will have African heritage or our Vice-President will be female. Sen. This has been the most interesting campaign of my life.

McCain decided to swing for the fence with his choice of Gov. Palin. Sen. Obama decided to play it safe with a sure single with his choice of Sen. Biden. Given that Sen. Obama is running on a campaign of change, the roles seem to be reversed. And, Sen. McCain's choice of Gov. Palin makes Sen. Biden's speech at the convention look somewhat silly (referring to the whole repetitious "That's not change. That's more of the same" meme).

Frank said...


Either way the election swings, it will be historic.

It already is historic. And there's more to come.

One thing I haven't seen mentioned, because many are focused on the short-term is this:

If McCain wins, he will likely only serve a single term, simply because of his age. And if he doesn't run in 2012, Palin surely will.

That will set up the first election in US history where both candidates for President are women:

Clinton v. Palin.

This will assure two things: 1) a woman will be President and 2) the gender card will be absent from the election.

Can you imagine?

suzanne said...

I think this horrendous choice
will energize more young people
for Obama than it will for McCain

I don't think Obama is worried

McCain couldn't take his eyes
off her ass
during his intro of her


Josh Jasper said...

The on thing Palin will not do is draw any significant number of Clinton voters. She's simply not a feminist in any meaningful sense of the word.

She's a member of a group calling themselves feminists for life, who's only connection to feminism is in the name of the group. They're an anti abortion group with no other feminist activities. ALL they do is work to ban abortion.

They're also anti-birth control. Seeking a rollback on the right to access to birth control is so anti-feminist that it's leaping into Rush Limbaugh territory.

Think about it for a moment. If you want to reduce the number of abortions, outside of making them illegal, which will jsut make them unsafe, granting access to birth control is about the best way to do so. Access to reliable birth control provably reduces abortion rates. So if a woman styling herself a feminist decided that cutting off access to birth controll was a good way to reduce abortion, she'd have to be some sort of anti feminist idiot trying to disguise herself as a feminist.

Sarah Palin is exactly that sort of idiot.

Christian M. Howell said...

To take the political argument farther, I'd have to say that Barack executed the first political speech I've ever wanted to watch twice.

McCain knows he needs something because Barack is the most articulate and charismatic politician I've come across.

He strove to bring the country together and not keep it apart.

Anonymous said...

"ALL they do is work to ban abortion."

"They're also anti-birth control."

Which of your statements is true? Is Feminists for Life an anti-abortion group, or they also an anti-birth control organization? I read their web site and the Wikipedia article. As far as I can tell, only your first statement is true. Where did you get your information?

"If you want to reduce the number of abortions, outside of making them illegal, which will jsut make them unsafe, granting access to birth control is about the best way to do so. Access to reliable birth control provably reduces abortion rates. So if a woman styling herself a feminist decided that cutting off access to birth controll was a good way to reduce abortion, she'd have to be some sort of anti feminist idiot trying to disguise herself as a feminist."

Where is your evidence that Governor Palin is anti-birth control? What has she done as governor to make birth control illegal in Alaska? When has she stated that she wants to ban birth control?


Marty S said...

There was a lot of stuff online earlier this year about Obama being Muslim. That wasn't accurate, what makes you think anything you read about Palin online, particularly on a site which favors a particular viewpoint is any more creditable. Russ Berrie, the creator of Russ Bears and a multimillionaire many times over is my wife's cousin. She once read his biography on Wikopedia and it was a pack of lies. You need to do some real research before making statements about someone.

anonomouse said...

Google is your friend.
Search: feminists for life birth control

Its really not that hard.

You should try it sometime.

Marty S said...

Anonomouse: I tried it. As expected pro abortion rights sites blasted the organization, but even they didn't cite any position statements that feminists for life wants to ban birth control. They had to settle for the organization refused to answer questions on the subject, which I'm sure makes them guilty as charged to you. Sort of a guilty until proved innocent approach.

Shady_Grady said...

The Feminists for Life group takes no official position on "non-abortifacient" contraception.
So I think this means they would be against RU-486 and take no position on other oral contraceptives.


Marty S said...

Shady Grady: I followed your link. The FFL position statement on thge link takes no position on contraception at all. It merely states that some members do support some forms of birth controls and others are against birth control. This seems like a somewhat more liberal attitude towards birth control than the Catholic church's position. If being a member of FFL makes Palin less qualified for VP then I guess we should go back to eliminating Catholics from the presidency and vice presidency.

AF1 said...

The Palin choice was a surprise to me. Not sure whether it will help or hurt McCain yet, still trying to find out more about her.

One thing I do know is that the Repubs won't be able to go after Obama for being inexperienced anymore.

Mike Ralls said...

Oh of course they will. The vast majority of voters don't base their vote on the Vice-President. They are willing to accept things in a VP that they would _never_ accept in a presidential candidate (Agnew, Quayle, Eagleton). You can argue that voters _should_ care, but the historical record says they mostly don't.

As the Republicans continue to bash Obama on inexperience (which is a weak point because it is true point, he is pretty much the most inexperienced Presidential candidate in over 80 years) and he counterpoints with something like, "Well, if I"m so inexperienced why did you guys nominate Palin?" they will just use that as excuse to talk some more about how inexperienced he is by saying that Palin has more experience than he does.

Which is exactly what they are doing now;

Basically the more debate their is on experience, the more of an advantage it is for Republicans.

Mike Ralls said...

Oh, and on the issue of help/hurt, here is some more data;

"There have been significant changes in perception of John McCain in the two days of polling since he named Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. Since then, 49% of Republicans voice a Very Favorable opinion of McCain. That’s up six percentage points from 43% just before the announcement. Also, 64% of unaffiliated voters now give positive reviews to McCain, up ten points since naming his running mate."

It's obvious its a short term help. Long term, we'll see.

Josh Jasper said...

Marco -

Which of your statements is true? Is Feminists for Life an anti-abortion group, or they also an anti-birth control organization? I read their web site and the Wikipedia article. As far as I can tell, only your first statement is true. Where did you get your information?

Their web site. There's a long history of anti-abortion groups also being anti-birth control.

Josh Jasper said...

Marty - Membership in FFL is certainly consistent with conservative anti-choice Republican values. I'm not saying she's unqualified to be a Republican VP pick, just that 99% of feminists I know don't think of her as a real feminist.

She's benefited from feminism, but she's not given much back to it, and has worked against important feminist issues.

Marty S said...

Josh: That there is a long history of anti abortion groups being anti birth control does prove anything about a particular group or member of a group. The interesting thing about this discussion is that it seems to show considerable gender bias still exists. If McCain had chosen a male conservative with the same views as Palin the pro life position would not have caused this kind discussion.

suzanne said...

not all evangelical x-ians
are happy with Palin
goes against the biblical treachings
of you know
women belong in the home
and should not have any
civic power over men. . .

fundies against palin as VP

Steven Barnes said...

I don't think the Obama camp is worried. A bit confused--imagine a boxing champ whose opponent suddenly turns Lefty. Confusing, but unless the guy is actually a Southpaw, he will expose many flaws over the next rounds, and get knocked out. But it would be cause for brow-wrinkling.
Evolution and altruism? I have no problem there. Any trait that increases the group survival rates will also be passed along, even if it doesn't serve the individual. And altruism certainly does. And that's assuming that all human behaviors are directly traceable to biology. I think that evolution and individual survival is directly responsible for basic traits, say the lower chakras, but after that it gets way interesting and kind of wild. Consciousness was one of the wild ones that worked out. Spirituality arises from contemplating mortality and existence...figuring the survival value of THAT is a great parlor conversation.

Josh Jasper said...


Josh: That there is a long history of anti abortion groups being anti birth control does prove anything about a particular group or member of a group.

Palin is in favor of abstinence only sex ed, and is a favorite of the Alaska Eagle Forum, one of Phylis Schlafly's activist groups. The Eagle Forum is solidly anti-birth control.

I've read one article in Time Magazine saying Palin is pro birth control, but I've never seen any evidence to support that claim, and plenty to cast serious doubt on it. Support of abstinence only education is certainly cutting off access and information on birth control to at least one segment of the population - teens. You may think it's a great idea to do so, but you can't pretend it's pro birth-control.

Beyond that, I've not seen any evidence of her talking about feminism at all. Have you?

Josh Jasper said...

Oh, and Marty?

Palin's 17 year old unmarried daughter just dropped the news - she's pregnant.

Abstinence only education seems to be a direct obvious failure in Palin's family.

Ximena Cearley said...

A geneticist friend of mine told me recently that apparently there *is* an evolutionary benefit to homosexuality. Not to the gay individuals themselves, but apparently in families (lineages, not marriages) containing gay men, the women in the families are more fertile.

I neglected to ask him for his source but thought this was of interest.

Shady_Grady said...

I put the link there so people could see FFL position on contraception for themselves. I really don't care one way or another about Palin's affiliation with the group. I don't think it makes her more or less qualified for VP.

Having said that those people who ARE deeply interested in women's access to contraception might be a tad concerned about FFL's qualified neutrality on contraception-provided said contraception is not an "abortifacient"-a designation that could include Depo-Provera, Plan B, IUD, and Norplant.

If something prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, is that akin to abortion? Maybe, maybe not...

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