Veep Debate Commentary

Got here late, because Mrs. Cornell wouldn’t let me out of doing the dishes.

Biden’s now saying that these are the worst economic policies in history and blaming all this crap on Republicans.

Palin is now speaking. She looks great. Brings up a kid’s soccer game right away. “I betcha you’re gonna hear some fear.” A little too cute, although Biden’s oddly restrained. She’s saying everyone’s scared. Sounds solid, if a little canned. Reminding people that McCain wanted to reform Fannie/Freddie. Needs to hold Dems accountable on this, but she focuses on “bipartisan” efforts and reminds us about McCain’s stupid campaign suspension.

Gwen Ifill makes me itch.

Joe Biden says he’s been bipartisan his whole career? Rubbish! Wants to respond to Palin. Reminds us that McCain once said the fundamentals of the economy are strong, something Obama said just this week. Palin responds saying that McCain was talking about American workforce. She’s dang good looking! Talks about being a “team of mavericks.” Blech. OOO! She’s slamming Obama for being partisan. I think she’s exceeding expectations, which isn’t hard, because most people expect her to be brain dead. Stop using the word “maverick.”

Ifill says no one answered the question. Tough, Gwen! this isn’t about you! Now she asks “who’s at fault in subprime mortgages?”

Palin blames predatory lenders. You’re a friggin’ dolt on this, lady. Getting cute about “hockey moms” and “Joe Sixpacks.” People who borrow too much money are digging their own graves, but Palin either doesn’t know or care.

Biden is saying Obama was a whistleblower on subprime mortgages. Really? I doubt it. Biden looks drugged. Saying McCain wants to radically deregulate. Blaming Wall Street for subprime. Keeps using the word “deregulate” as if it’s a dirty word. Talks about an imaginary friend named Joey. As he warms up, he’s going to get goofier.

Biden looks insufferable as Palin SLAMS him on taxes. Good stuff! She looks confident, poised, and solid. This might end up being the gamechanger the last debate wasn’t. Biden’s patronizing smiles while Palin speaks look really condescending.

Biden says McCain raised taxes 477 times and says that Palin didn’t answer question about deregulation. “Letting Wall Street run wild.” Palin refuses to answer Biden’s question and slams him on taxes. Good for you, Sarah! Play to your strengths. This is going to drive both Biden and Ifill nuts. Ifill cuts her off as she’s on a roll.

Ifill asks about Biden’s tax increases and “class warfare.” Ifill says taxing health benefits will throw “5 million people into being uninsured.”

Biden champions “fairness.” I HATE fairness! Saying people aren’t getting tax breaks, ignoring the fact that the people he’s talking about DON’T PAY INCOME TAXES! What a freakin’ jackass! Tax cuts go to people WHO PAY TAXES!!! And then he cites Ronald Reagan. Jackball.

AAAAH! Palin cites the fact that Biden’s slamming small business! Why isn’t SHE at the top of the ticket? SLAMS him for saying paying high taxes is patriotism. Says government is the problem, not the solution. I’m a Palin fan again. Ifill moans that Palin isn’t “defending” McCain’s health care plan. Yet Palin’s slamming it out of the park. Demolishes Obama’s universal health care plan. Ifill tries to cut her off, because she makes sense.

Biden says “I don’t know where to start.” Gets all small towny. Goes back to fairness. Biden says small business owners won’t get tax increases, ignoring the fact that S corporations and sole proprietors will get double taxed and reamed by Obama’s hikes. Says 20 million people will be dropped. Gets a laugh on dumb Bridge to Nowhere non sequitor.

Ifill re-asks a bad Lehrer question. Biden says we’ve got to forego tax cuts and plays class welfare again. Beats up on corporations, ignoring the economic disincentive of huge corporate income tax.

Palin makes oblique reference to Obama’s “cling to guns and religion” thing. Palin shifts back to her strengths, talking about energy. Cites her record fighting oil companies. Biden smiles with patronizing smarm. I hope Palin completely ignores Ifill and Biden.

Ifill re-asks the question, and Palin says McCain will keep all his promises.

Biden defends Obama’s vote on an energy bill. Biden’s explaining, so he’s losing. Keeps saying McCain’s doing nothing but cut taxes for Exxon Mobil. Biden misrepresents Palin’s position, saying it was a “windfall profits tax” and won’t it be nice when Obama does the same thing.

Ifill asks about the tightening of bankruptcy laws, and Palin goes back to Fannie and Freddie. Blaming predatory lenders again. Says McCain warned everybody. Whoop de freaking doo.

Now Biden is being forced to admit that he and Obama voted differently on this. He tries to pretend that Obama sounded a warning try. Quotes McCain and then says he’s paraphrasing. What? He says principle payments should be deductible alongside interest?

Biden smiles like a leering Hefnerite. Palin lurches back to energy, just bypassing the question altogether. It works, though, because she knows what she’s talking about, and she’s very engaging when she’s on firm ground. Oops. Says we’re not giving oil company tax breaks. Biden’s going to slaughter her on this.

Ifill asks about climate change. Blech. Palin is answering it right – she doesn’t dismiss it entirely, but attributes it mostly to “cyclical changes.” Talks about her climate change sub cabinet. Goes back to energy independence. She doesn’t sound loony, but since I’m loony on this issue, I’m slightly disappointed.

Biden says it’s man made. “Clearly man made.” Arrogant twit. “If you don’t understand what the cause is, you can’t come up with the solution.” Bite me, Biden. Why hasn’t the globe warmed since ’98, chump? Goes back to China’s coal-fired plants and saying we should invest in clean coal, contradicting his statement on the stump.

Palin says “the chant its ‘drill, baby, drill.'” Just called him Senator O’Biden. Slamming Biden on energy production! Slam him, baby, slam him! Just said “nukular.” Reminds people of Biden’s comment on the stump.

Biden says the comment was out of context, which is wrong. Keeps coming back to McCain’s voting against alternative energy.

Ifill asks about same sex benefits and granting them. Biden says he supports it. Biden practically endorses gay marriage. Thinks same sex couples hospital visitation rights are written in the Constitution? What? He cites a bunch of rights he thinks are in the Constitution that aren’t mentioned in the Constitution.

Palin defends traditional marriage, sort of, but then claims to be “tolerant.” Weak, weak answer. Gets back to traditional marriage at the end, though.

Biden says he flatly doesn’t support gay marriage and then supports gay marriage. Palin sort of agrees but sounds awkward and Ifill gets a laugh with a mocking “you agree” statement.

Ifill asks about Iraq. Palin defends the surge and calls Petraeus a “great American hero.” Says Obama voted against funding troops, and then points out that Biden slammed Obama on that at the time! COOL! Wants more troops in Afghanistan. I think people watching her have to be impressed.

Biden says “with all due respect, I didn’t hear a plan.” Stalliondo just ran into the room butt naked and said “watch me.” He wants to know what I’m watching. Can’t hear Biden’s weaselly answer. Biden’s hair plugs look pretty good in the front.

Palin says “your plan is a white flag of surrender in Iraq.” She’s back to the surge. “We’ll know when we’ve won in Iraq when the Iraqi government can govern its own people.” Stalliondo slapping his bum in front of the TV. Palin points out that Biden once said he’d run with McCain and that Obama isn’t ready to be C in C. Biden clearly uncomfortable. She’s winning this hands down.

Biden says “John McCain voted to cut off funding for the troops.” Says it again. He’s going to have to back that up. Links McCain to Dick Cheney and says John McCain has been dead wrong on the war, ignoring that Biden voted for it, too.

Ifill wants to know if Pakistan or Iran is a bigger threat, a softball to Biden who cites his longstanding record of Pakistan fearmongering. Says Iran isn’t close to getting a weapon. Says an attack from the homeland will come from al Qaeda planning in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Except there hasn’t been an attack, because this is the one thing Bush has done right.

Mrs. Cornell surfaces and wants me to put Stalliondo to bed. Palin seems like she’s looking at notes. Says “nukular” twice. Leaving to get Stalliondo in the bathtub. Palin calls Ahmidinijad “not sane or stable.”

Been gone. Got back to hear that McCain won’t meet with the President of SPAAAINN! Biden looks pompous.

Palin touts a two-state solution. Supports Israel. I’m now being drafted to fix a drawer. Leaving again.

Fixed the drawer. Biden hasn’t heard how McCain will be different from George BUSH’S! Says Bush’s name 500 times in a row.

Ifill asks what should be the trigger for nuclear weapons use. Palin dodges, says we should make sure that “nukular” weapons are never used. Goes back to Afghanistan – says Bush Administration policies won’t be McCain policies. Slams Obama for saying we’re “bombing villages.”

Biden says “surge principles in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan.” Isn’t that what Obama has been touting, Senator? Stalliondo says he doesn’t like this movie. Biden cites McCain’s opposition to a bunch of treaties. Tells a fairy tale about a piece of legislation with Richard Lugar.

Palin slams back on surge principles – sounds bright on Afghanistan. Biden did a Gore sigh. Biden staring him down as she schools him on surge in Afghanistan. Biden caught off guard and fumbles a bit. Goes back to slamming McCain. Now cites Obama’s call for more troops, which should contradict his point about an Afghanistan surge. Taking a break to rinse Stalliondo’s hair.

Hair rinsed. Biden talking Darfur and Bosnia. Claiming credit for saving tens of thousands of lives like an arrogant doof. Says he’s been in Chad.

Palin cites her outsider status and points out Biden voted for the war and supported McCain’s strategies until he became veep pick. Palin agrees with Biden on Darfur. Phone is ringing. Phone is for oldest daughter Cleta.

Biden now talking about genocide being bad. Biden says he never supported McCain’s strategy, claims it was Cheney’s strategy. Invites people to go to I won’t. Biden says McCain’s strategy has been wrong from the beginning.

Palin coquettishly calls him a liar, puts in a media dig. Says McCain “knows what evil is.” Says McCain knows how to win a war.

Ifill asks how these guys would be different from the guy on the top of the ticket if someone died.

Biden points out that Obama dying would be bad. Bold! Predictably goes back into standard stump speech and doesn’t point out a difference. Standard talking points about engaging allies and rejecting Bush Doctrine, etc. Hope Palin doesn’t try to go there. Biden talks about the “biggest ticket item,” but then doesn’t say what said item is.

Palin answers cutely. I must go put Stalliondo in pajamas.

Stalliondo calls me “big and strong” and strikes a bodybuilder pose.

Palin turns on the cute. “Say it ain’t so, Joe, doggone it!” A bit cloying, lady. Palin says teachers need to be paid more. A BOLD position! Gives extra credit to third graders. Gets a laugh. Rips No Child Left Behind.

Ifill embarrasses both of them with their weak statements about veeps. Palin calls it a “lame attempt at a joke,” gets an audience laugh. Biden tries to follow up, gets crickets. Palin answers solidly. Biden says he’ll be in the room for every major decision, which highlights Barack’s inexperience.

Ifill tries a “gotcha” question about Palin’s answer about Constitutionality of Vice Presidential duties.

Biden calls Cheney the most dangerous veep in history, sounding like a Constitutional scholar, except he’s wrong and Palin’s right. Calls veep as part of legislative branch a “bizarre notion.”

Ifill says Palin lacks experience and that Biden lacks discipline.

Palin goes into stump speech mode, but does so cutely. Pours on the hockey mom crap, special needs, laying it on thick. A bit much, but she’s so dang sincere. She’ll survive this campaign even after McCain loses. And make no mistake, McCain’s gonna lose.

Stalliondo posing in front of the window. Doing jumping jacks.

Biden says he’s weakness is really his “excessive passion.” Too much information, bonehead. He’s so flipping arrogant! Goes into stump speech mode, too. Talks about being a single parent.

Mrs. Cornell wants me to put Stalliondo to bed. I tell her only ten minutes more. She doesn’t believe me.

Palin says maverick too many times. Cites McCain’s disloyalty to the GOP as a selling point. Says maverick again. Cites Lieberman’s endorsement. Says the word “tumultuous” without hurting herself.

Biden gets disgusted with the word maverick. Ties McCain to Bush on a laundry list of crap. Can we send Mary back to school next semester? Please.

Ifill asks if they’ve ever changed a position.

Biden cites his treachery on the Bork nomination and his responsibility for poisoning the well on judicial nominations. Weasel.

Palin wants to have vetoed more budgets and cut taxes more. Says she hasn’t changed her principles. Wants to bring both sides together. Blah blah blah.

Ifill wants to know ho they’ll change the tone.

Biden claims to be the king of all bipartisanship, which is a load. Tells some weird story about Jesse Helms. Says he’s never questioned people’s motives. Good answer at the end, actually.

Palin says she appoints people regardless of party affiliation. Why would you do that, lady? Geesh. She’s so flipping adorable! Goes stump speechy again.

Closing statements. This debate has gone by far more quickly than the last one. Palin begins by slamming the media. She looks intelligent and reasonable – she’d lost that in the Couric interviews. Says we’re blessed to be Americans. Quotes Reagan about freedom being one generation away from extinction. Good, strong statement. Palin does well.

Biden claims it was a pleasure to meet Palin. Biden uses his time to bash Bush. Looks sleepy – mentions Exxon again. Tells hokey stories. Tries to sound small towny, which doesn’t really work. Time for America to get up together. Are we down, Joe?

Bottom line: Palin wins easily, but is a veep debate a gamechanger? I doubt it.

Debate Blog: The Veepstakes

So my intention is to blog all the way through tonight’s Veep debate, too. I’m far more interested in this one, as it has all kinds of potential to be really, truly weird. If Palin is as bad as she’s been in recent interviews trying to muzzle her instincts, then this could be one heck of a train wreck. Watching Biden try to not be a jerk will be fun, too, and he’s sure to say something stupid along the way.

Anyway, tune into the Moist Blog for a running commentary.

Evolutionary Heresy

I’d meant to post Chapter One of my novel and have you folks cleave it to pieces, but I want a chance to rewrite it somewhat before I hurl it into cyberspace. In the meantime, I received a very recent comment to one of my very first posts, Evolution Poisons Everything, which led me to today’s magnum opus.

Philip, a fine young man who lacks Sarah Palin love, took issue with my statement that “the theory of evolution is pretty good at explaining intraspecies adaptation but woefully inept at explaining how one species evolves into another, or how complex systems like eyes develop out of a series of random mutations.”

Here’s Philip’s response:

no, in fact evolution is perfectly suited to explaining those things as well, does so in scholarly papers that are rigorously peer reviewed, and has been doing so for many moons now. the supposed holes in the theory are nothing more than the ignorant showing their epidermis.

I responded, too, saying the following:

Not so, Philip. There’s not a single peer-reviewed article that comes close to explaining the evolution of complex systems like the eye. And the fossil record has been woefully unkind to anyone trying to show gradual transition from one species to another. Articles provide much speculation on these subjects – and plenty of insult to heretics who dare to question – but nothing approaching hard facts.

I don’t want to rewrite and re-argue what I said back then, as the power of my original genius can still be seen by all, but I want to personalize this a little bit.

See, my wife thinks I’m a loon on this, too.

She’s coming from a different place than Philip is, I’m sure. She’s a woman of faith and a former Biology major who sees no conflict between science and religion, whereas Philip is not a big fan of religion of any stripe. Yet she also bristles when I start questioning evolution – and she mocks me mercilessly. She has told many people, on many occasions, that I believe dinosaurs “fell out of the sky.” That’s a gross misrepresentation of my position, which isn’t that big a problem, as I’m not really quite sure what my actual position is at any given time.

What drives her crazy is that I don’t particularly care about the issue much.

No, that’s not entirely true. I actually think it’s fascinating, and I’m certainly engaged in the political discussion surrounding it. What I mean when I say I don’t care is that I don’t care about the issue theologically. Nothing in what I believe about God, me, and the relationship between the two is remotely affected by whether fish sprouted legs and became squirrels/monkeys/people. I don’t treat the Old Testament like science, and, conversely, I don’t treat Darwin like religion. I believe truth is truth, and that when the whole picture becomes clear, we’ll see how the religion and science pieces fit together.

I’ve learned over the years, however, that atheists can’t afford the luxury of evolutionary disinterest.

One need not prove evolution false to believe in God. But the converse is not true; if there is no God, then evolution, or some other arbitrary explanation, has to account for existence. That is why evolution can’t be questioned dispassionately the same way, say, the theory of gravity is. Nobody’s personal concept of Deity is threatened by exploration into why objects of small mass are drawn to objects of larger mass. Questions like “why?” or “how?” with regard to gravity aren’t the equivalent of saying that you believe things fall up instead of down.

Yet when you start to say “why?” or “how?” about evolution, suddenly you’re announcing that the world was created on October 23, 4004 BC. Because questions about evolution aren’t just questions; they’re atheistic heresies. They need to be quashed, evaded, and ridiculed, because there’s too much at stake for those who rely on evolution as justification for their rejection of a higher power.

I think I am retreading some of the ground of my previous post, so I want to extend the discussion into a consideration of what has come to be known as Intelligent Design. Some think it’s little more than gussied-up Creationism, which is the province of those who think biology teachers should be using Genesis as a scientific textbook. From what I can tell, ID is much more sophisticated than that. It certainly raises excellent questions, particularly about the unlikelihood of natural selection as an explanation for complex systems. But its alternative answer – life was designed! – isn’t helpful. Or, at least, it’s not scientifically helpful.

Consider this: a car shows up in your driveway. Where did this car come from? Answer: It was designed! Well, okay, great, but how? Where? What was the process? And how did it get here? I don’t even need to know “why” as a scientific inquiry. Just telling me that the car has been “designed” doesn’t tell me anything of value. Unless Intelligent Designers can provide scientific evidence of an alternative process to evolution, just touting “design” isn’t adequate.

Fortunately, I can wait until all the evidence is in. It’s too bad that atheists can’t be nearly as patient.