Thursday, January 10, 2008

I guess George W. Bush must be the Pope

When I came online tonight, my eye (trained from experience to spot the obscure science article) spotted this:

A company that devised a way to make embryonic stem cells without destroying human embryos Thursday urged President Bush to endorse the technique.

Massachusetts-based Advanced Cell Technology reported on Thursday that it has grown five batches of cells using the method, which is adapted from a procedure to test embryos for severe genetic diseases. Called preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD, the procedure involves taking a single cell from an embryo when it contains only eight or so cells.

The technique usually does not harm the embryo, which is frozen for possible future implantation into the mother's womb. The team, led by ACT scientific director Robert Lanza, similarly froze human embryos and used the single cell that was removed as a source of human embryonic stem cells.


"This is a working technology, so it's here and now," Lanza told, "and it can be used to increase the number of stem cell lines available to federal researchers immediately. We could actually send these cells out to laboratories tomorrow."

Lanza hoped the cells would pass muster with the Bush administration, which is opposed to stem cell techniques that involve harming human embryos. Currently, only a limited number of human embryonic stem cell lines have been approved for federally funded research.

"If the White House approves this new methodology, researchers could effectively double or triple the number of stem cell lines available within a few months. Too many needless deaths continue to occur while this research is being held up," Lanza told Reuters. "I hope the president will act now and approve these stem cell lines quickly."

Talk about your "loved it/hated it" article!

Why should science need the approval of "W"? Let me put it another way - Does science need his approval? My weak understanding of the Federal law is that institutions receiving Federal Funding for stem cell research are precluded from techniques that cause the destruction of an embryo (GOD forbid we should destroy 150 cells in the pursuit of saving some little girl or 40 year old man from certain death). But if this technique can be used on embryos to harvest stem cells without its destruction, why do scientists, at such institutions, have to meekly await the ruling of Pope George?

Tip of the sombrero to Phillychief for Pope George!


The Exterminator said...

I think they need White House approval so the pope doesn't veto the next bill from Congress.

Wait a minute. Maybe they need Vatican approval so the president doesn't veto the next bill from the College of Cardinals.

Wait. I know. They need approval from the National League so the Baseball Commissioner doesn't veto the next ball from the St. Louis Cardinals.

the chaplain said...
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the chaplain said...

You guys are being silly. You know as well as I do that they need Dumbya's approval because Dumbya is GOD!

PhillyChief said...

What I've found fascinating recently online dealing with various political opinions is the adoption of Ron Paulian, extreme conservatist 'lets seriously prune this overgrown federal tree' philosophy. I see it as a way for the religious right to hedge their bets and establish either a new secular means to their end or a plan B, fall back position. Essentially, they're arguing it's not the place for the Feds to fund ANY research. If they can win that argument, then goodbye stem cell research.

I don't know however what laws, if any, exist in regards to private stem cell research.

Of course the biggest issue is why is the snazzy graphic scaled down in the post? ;)

Lifeguard said...

Righto, Philly.

It's just like Guliani's cop out on abortion. "I'm for it, but I'll appoint strict constructionist judges, who'll overturn Roe, and then we'll leave it up to the states."

An obvious attempt to punt on a controversial issue while still placating the social conservative constituency. The "nice" thing about politicians is they're always willing to take novel positions to keep everybody happy and get themselves elected.


John Evo said...

@Philly - Ron Paul is a scary dude and his adherents even more so. But worry not. He's the Ross Perot of '08. That's all. If he should run 3rd party, he steals GOP votes.

@ Lifeguard - notice where the worst of these (Rudy, Romney) have ended up? On the outs. People are pretty dumb, but when you OBVIOUSLY cater to their every whim they smell a rat. You have to at least be sly about your flip-flopping and neither of these guys is.

PhillyChief said...

No, my point wasn't Ron Paul is a threat, only his stance which I see the conservatives adopting. Originally this was their position, chopping down he federal government and dropping everything into the laps of the states. Their reasoning was varied, from emphasizing states' rights to reducing the federal budget. The new use for that strategy is that you can kill stem cell research funding and anything like it in one broad stroke without ever even having to debate the validity of the issue itself (which must be very appealing when your "validity" is irrational bible babble).

Lynet said...

To be honest, I'm just waiting for somebody to point out that the embryo may well be destroyed after this procedure takes place anyway. I'm surprised that the religious right haven't gone after IVF sooner -- doesn't it end up destroying embryos right and left?

John Evo said...

Philly - I hear you. It seems like there is only an odd segment of the conservatives that adopt his position on the Federal government. I guess if fundamentalists could see that as a workable strategy to get what they want, they might go for it. If Ron Paul was a "godly man" we might have to worry.

Lynet - I'm certainly no expert on in vitro fertilization, but my understanding is that there are always more fertilized eggs than are actually used and that those remaining are frozen for potential "future use". If they destroy them, that's news to me and, you're right, it seems like fundamentalists would be in an uproar.

The Exterminator said...
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The Exterminator said...

Once you bring libertarianism into this discussion, I think we're talking about two different issues here. While Philly implies that there's a distinction, he doesn't make it strongly enough. Since I've been clear for months that I think Ron Paul is a theocrat, perhaps I can better articulate the actual libertarian position.

1. The Issue as presented by the Religious Right: Is stem cell research biblically moral? And if a large portion of the citizenry think it's not, should the government fund stem cell research?

2. The Issue as Presented by the Libertarians: Ought the government be using taxpayer money for any medical research whatsoever?

A libertarian might make the argument that governments are not set up to do research, that any research they do is influenced by political rather than scientific motivations, that granting money for such research is an avenue to corruption and fraud, and that private research is always more cost-efficient and more likely to come up with a solution. Personally, I would argue against most of those positions; but they're tenable. It isn't libertarians' fault that their arguments have been absorbed and twisted by the Christian right, just as it wasn't liberals' fault that their arguments, at one time, were absorbed and twisted by the Stalinists.

I think the second argument is about philosophy and the powers granted to Congress by the Constitution. The first argument is about theology and the Establishment Clause.

In any case, getting back o Evo's original question: Libertarians would never seek the imprimatur of the president.

PhillyChief said...

I guess I have to spend more time explaining myself because I'm not being understood too well in these last few days. What I meant was the christian right (I should just start calling them this instead of religious right) is moving away from what Ex has as #1 in exchange for #2. I don't think they'd care if it came from Libertarians or Satan. It serves their needs without them needing to offer a crazy biblical argument (#1), not that they don't still believe that shit but #2 works better. Much less messy and no worries of church and state entanglement objections.

John Evo said...

Philly, I do think I understand you now - but I'll run this by you to see.

I went back and read your comments again and I guess you're saying that you think "religious conservatives", "fundamentalists" - whatever you want to label them, are IN FACT starting to adopt the Libertarian position as a fall-back method of achieving their goals.

If I have that correct, I won't disagree because I don't have data. But like I said in an earlier comment, it seems to me that Libertarians in general and RP supporters in particular are an odd mix, but not really a religious one. If Paul (or someone like him in the future) was more of a Mike Huckabee type, we might have a problem. It would be yet another realignment with the odd mix (already mentioned) joined by the Religious Right and created quite a large constituency.

Lifeguard said...

I think Philly's saying that they've adopted the libertarian position as a tactic that allows them to cut funding for stem cell research without sounding like a bunch of theocrats-- they're just applying the constitution as written.

Am I right, Philly?

I've watched some of the debates, but I have to be honest-- you've mentioned a few times that you think Ron Paul is a theocrat, but I haven't really seen it. At least not in the debates. Where do you get that?

PhillyChief said...

Yes Lifey, that's what I meant. And how about this for Ron Paul?

The Exterminator said...

Lifey, re Ron Paul & Theocracy:

I'm gonna refer you to a post I wrote ages ago. Check out the comments thread to see how faith-based some atheists can be.

You can also flip around the Atheosphere to see other comments on RP.

Lifeguard said...

Philly and Ex:
Wow. All I can say is Congressman Paul certainly downplays the religious rhetoric when he's running for president. He probably does it to avoid alienating some of the hardcore libertarians who would freak over that kind of stuff.

As for your post, Ex, I'm interested that you brought up Guliani as an attractive candidate except for his piss poor record on civil liberties and reputation as a law and order "thug." I agree with you and feel he has great executive experience, but I think the rest of the country ought to know that Rudy was a VERY divisive figure in NYC before 9/11.

Some loved him, and some just hated his living guts.

But are we wandering off topic here? SOrry, Evo!

John Evo said...

Go for it. I'm enjoying it.

Guilani is a scary dude to me. My biggest problem with Bush is regarding the Constitutional issues and I think Rudy would be at least as bad. Anyway, it's pointless to argue it, because his candidacy is moribund. Paul too, unless he goes third party, which wouldn't surprise me based on the way the GOP has treated the guy who has raised more money than any other candidate (and not by the usual Big Business contributions).

Sarge said...

For me, they're ALL kind of worrysome.

One has heard that there was some thought of cancelling the next election citing concerns about terrorist activities. As the slate from either side is acceptable to the powers that is, this fear is vitiated.

Why have they, all of them, done things which pretty much inimicable to the things which they, themselves, claim "we" stand for? Why just the mantras and slogans that you know they think are ridiculous? And no one really thinks they believe, anyway?

Why did they allow the things which have happened to happen, these champions, the (supposed) best we've got? My personal opinion is that some back channel rumbling made them do it. I think they're shit scared of the little man in the big white house. I think that they figure that if they really buck him, he'll just slap his hand on the desk, and pull the plug. Once the arrests start and the tanks are in the streets, that's it. They already know what he and his are capable of.

From playing in the presence of our local elites, one hears things. I think this translates up the chain from Podunk, here. They all think that the public should be ridden with a very severe spade bit with a long shank, and a short rein, and the least step out of line should be answered with a good, hard, yank. They're not really commfortable with the American gulag and the things that happen there, but it's, well, interesting. It's like the third horehound drop you eat. They're starting to get that taste for the power that they see being exercised, and keeping up appearances is kind of fatiguing. Freedom and justicing, apple pie-ing, and American flagging take a lot of time and work. Saying, This is what's gonna happen, and making it the worse for people foolish enough to object in public. This is thinking outside the box.

Of course, they would use this for "good".

John Evo said...

Sarge - I've said it before. I'm sure this will make some yawn... I've never been the paranoid type. I don't see conspiracy theories running our lives. That said, I've never been so apprehensive about the potential of a Constitutional coup.

This would be the one time in my life, that if there were a major terrorist attack shortly before November and elections were "post-poned" I would not be shocked. I'm not saying I think it's LIKELY, just that I would not be shocked. This from one who prides himself in rationality. Go figure...

Sarge said...

I don't think it's a conspiricy, from the things I hear said, it's just a consensus. Like with horehound, the third try is, "Hmmmm, this IS kinda nice...just once in a while, maybe...special occasions?"

I hear people of a certain strata actually discussing Pinochette as a model for the "new" US. I hear them say, "Yes, but, we can no longer afford..." And none of these so called patriots running for top dog of the pound has said one word actually condemning or taking issue with things that have rendered the constitution a rather notional and pretty much irrelevant if power says so.

Stephen said...

What they are looking for is approval so that they can join the list of approved stem cell lines that are qualified for federal funding rather than excluded.

Just in case anyone is wonder what is actually up.