Thursday, July 27, 2006

In Arguing Against Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Bush Administration Fact-Checked By Nobel Laureates, Opposed By Stephen Hawking

When President Bush, in the first veto of his presidency, said no to popular legislation for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, the main spin line provided was that this was an example of Bush's strong "pro-life" beliefs.

I say spin because Bush's pro-life stance was the equivalent of being a little bit pregnant. When Bush came into office, he allowed existing embryonic stem cell lines to be used, and at no time in his presidency did he push for a nationwide ban on such research -- federally funded or otherwise.

Perhaps that's why critics felt that Bush was actually merely trying to appease the religious right, which helped him get re-elected in 2004. Those fair-minded people, like Dr. James Dobson, have compared embryonic stem cell research to Nazi science, an opinion repeated on the Senate floor in 2004 by the non-hyperbolic Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

But the spin doesn't stop there. In the days leading up to the veto, Bush's top advisor, Karl Rove, was telling the Denver Post that “recent studies” show researchers “have far more promise from adult stem cells than from embryonic stem cells.”

Now, I have nothing against adult stem cell research. Those of you who have read this blog know that I am a leukemia survivor, and only recovered because of an adult stem cell transplant, from my younger sister, in December, 2001.

But adult stem cells, while a powerful tool for doctors, do not have more promise than embryonic stem cells.

The Chicago Tribune knew this, too. But to make sure, it contacted a dozen top stem cell experts about Rove’s claim. They all said it was inaccurate.

So who wrote the “studies” that Rove was referring to? Turns out that White House spokesman Ken Lisaius could not provide the name of a stem cell researcher who shares Rove’s view -- the view that we have to assume is shared by Bush.

Just like Bush ignored the Aug. 6, 2001, presidential daily briefing that said Osama Bin Laden was determined to strike within the United States, he apparently also ignored a letter last year from 80 Nobel laureatesm who said that “current evidence suggests that adult stem cells have markedly restricted differentiation potential.”

Which is worse: that Bush may have turned his back on science as a political favor to hyperbolists like Dobson, or because he was ignorant of the relative potential of adult stem cells?

***

One person who has a stake in the potential of embryonic stem cell research is Stephen Hawking, perhaps the world's best-known scientist.

Hawking, who suffers from motor neurone disease, has criticized Bush, as well as various European leaders, for stopping funding of embryonic stem cell research. The European Union has been debating preventing funding for seven years of such research.

"Europe should not follow the reactionary lead of President Bush, who recently vetoed a bill passed by Congress and supported by a majority of the American people that would have allowed federal funding for stem cell research," he said in a statement to The Independent of London.

Hawking argued that "Stem cell research is the key to developing cures for degenerative conditions like Parkinson's and motor neurone disease from which I and many others suffer." And he dismissed the argument that using embryos is the equivalent of murder, as the religious right has argued.

"The fact that the cells may come from embryos is not an objection because the embryos are going to die anyway," he said. "It is morally equivalent to taking a heart transplant from a victim of a car accident."

Who do you trust: 80 Nobel Laureates and Hawking, or George W. Bush and Karl Rove? One group is backed by scientific facts, the other is backed by science fiction.

20 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, kid! I think I agree with you, but who the hell can tell? Could you make the type a little bigger? Or send me some eyeball stem cells.

Signed,

An old pappy guy.

8:41 AM  
Anonymous MrToffeeLovesYa said...

"One group is backed by scientific facts, the other is backed by science fiction."

Liberals discount the power of science fiction among religious conservatives, who in droves buy Left Behind books, videos, box sets, children's books, audio cds and casettes, action figures, collectibles and games. It's one of the best-selling product lines in history.

Wake up and smell the reality, liberals. Religious conservatives are buying far more Left Behind products than theses from Stephen Hawking. When Hawking writes a best seller about embryos battling the antichrist, then maybe religious conservatives will listen, especially if he turns it into a movie.

Does anyone really think religious conservatives listen to Nobel laureates? C'mon, liberals. Nobel prizes are given by Sweden. Religious conservatives don't care what Swedes think about embryos. Other than a meatball recipe and a Muppet Show character, what has Sweden ever done for the U.S.? They speak in Swedish, don't forget. Americans speak English. Pow!

Religious conservatives listen to the Bible and the people they see as qualified to interpret it, like James Dobson and Pat Robertson (also an author of apocalyptic novels.) With President Bush, religious conservatives don't want "leadership" as much as "agreement" on the issues: a ban on embryo research, public display of the Ten Commandments, a ban on gay marriage, teaching creationism in public schools, and prayer in public schools.

Do the math, liberals. Relgiious conservatives are currently one for five. And for all the scientists liberals drag into the debate, and all the facts they offer, religious conservatives are making gains at the local and state levels on the other four items on their list. Religious conservatives don't want to hear about science. They want to hear the words "pro" and "life" before they go to the polls.

And that's a "scientific fact."

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Muther of Invention said...

I am extremely angry at Bush for his veto of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. I suffer from the same motor neuron disease as Stephen Hawking. I realize that the stem cell research will continue regardless of the veto, but the infusion of federal funds just might have pushed the research to discover cures sooner for a number of different maladies. Being diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) is the same as receiving the death sentence. There is no know cure. In this regard, we seemed to have lost one appeal for a stay in that death sentence.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous gademocrat7 said...

shrub continues to show how ignorant he is. rove and shrub together could not pass a high school biology course.

11:34 AM  
Anonymous zbdent said...

I don't know about that ... good science fiction is based on the
plausible ... bad science fiction gives you great big noisy explosions in the vacuum of space ...

So, Bush is just using bad fiction, a la the Coulter wing of the library ... and that's just the dust cover ... he can't be bothered with any actual reading ...

11:36 AM  
Anonymous liberal vet said...

The obvious answer is to vote the prick out. These bastads liken destruction of stem cells to murder, as said by Tony Snow, Bush’s mouthpiece, he later retracted. Rove is an evil and deceitful man with his own selfish agenda. Anyone that doesn’t support stem cell research is a moron. Seventy percent of our citizens support such research, it is mind boggling. The US should be leading the world in this research. Instead we are falling back. Bush contnues to pander to his base in a futile attempt to salvage his presidency. MOI I certainly hope the next administration understands the desperate need for this research. I wish you the best. LV

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Craig R. Harmon said...

Rove spoke inaccurately. Embryonic stem cells hold more promise than adult stem cells. He should have known better. More accurate would be to say that adult stem cells have, so far, delivered on their promise by delivering healing therapies to a much greater degree than have embryonic stem cells. This would have had the virtue of having been true and no studies would have needed to be cited in its support since no reputable scientist would contradict it.

Of course, an infusion of federal funding might help alieviate that disparity.

I say “might” because what research that has been done with things like cloning and ESCs have proven, I believe, to be much more problematic than with adult stem cells, particularly in them developing tumors. One of the things that might be causing this is the fact, so often cited by those arguing for ESC research, that so many fertilized eggs fail to implant and are expelled from a woman’s body without her ever knowing that fertilization had occurred. Something like 80% never take. If that rejection is caused by some imperfection in the resulting zygote and if that is the reason for the difficulties in developing successful ESC therapies (and I don’t claim to know that it is), then ESC research may be plauged with difficulties for a very long time, whether they get federal funding or not.

Muther,

I can understand your anger. Since I do not support stem cell research that destroys human embryos, I suppose I am a target of your anger too. I wish I could support it for it’s promise but I can’t. I guess I deserve your anger.

LV,

If you were precise when you wrote “Anyone that doesn’t support stem cell research is a moron” then, while I don’t agree with calling people morons, I do agree that stem cell research is very important and should continue to be followed up on vigorously, particularly the sort that does not destroy human embryos. If, on the other hand, you meant to say “Anyone that doesn’t support human embryo destroying stem cell research is a moron” I would have to respectfully disagree. I am not a moron. I am, I am told by those who are into measuring such things, rather intelligent and well educated. I have a rather different view of the morality of creating and killing human embryos for any purpose than you is all. Name calling is a very ugly sort of rhetoric. Please desist.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous GregW said...

Kinda like his knowledge of global warming ... that he learned from Michael Crichton

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Kinda like his knowledge of global warming ... that he learned from Michael Crichton"


Or his knowledge of Iraq less than 2 months before he invaded (didn't know the differences between the 3 ethnic factions).

3:16 PM  
Anonymous liberal vet said...

I shoot from the hip Craig I am passionate about this issue. I know you are intelligent and if I offended you my apologies. I just can’t understand how anyone could stand in the way of research to help the living. I respect your beliefs only to a point. I still maintain an embryonic cell does not constitute life as I think of it. LV

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Paul Merda said...

LV & Craig,

This the way I view life and I’m sticking to it; if the being is not self-aware, its not human plain and simple. Terri Schiavo - not human, an embryo - not human, a fetus - not human… The only thing that makes us human is our mind, and the being doesn’t posses a brain, we all know it posseses NO mind…

“A blastocyte is not life any more than a bunch of 2×4’s, some drywall and some nails laying on the ground are a house.” – Tom Baker

4:43 PM  
Anonymous liberal vet said...

When did Baker write that! Hillarious. You know Paul I must be getting some neourological disorder, does old age qualify? I only realized you are the blogger known as Liberpaul recently. DUH…LV

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Paul Merda said...

Yeah, I decided to quit the anonymous thing for several reasons. One is, when we become a Theocracy, I want to be one of the first to be burned at the stake

Tom wrote that back in the Cranky Liberal Pages days before he put all of his effort into BIO. Which I must add has been a great decision, this blog rocks!!!!

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The very second Bush leaves the presidency, the new administration will restore stem cell funding and make global warming a priority.
I can see Congress adapting a new federal holiday for the day Bush leaves office. Let's see if we can speed things up with a Bush Impeachment Day.
While those like Toffee are making up apologies, the rest of us are marking our calendars.

4:58 PM  
Anonymous alias: "cutiepie" johnson said...

Anonymous (immediately above): I actually think MrToffee is making a lot of sense, especially the last 1 1/2 paragraphs, which seems to be the crux of his post.

"With President Bush, religious conservatives don't want "leadership" as much as "agreement" on the issues: a ban on embryo research, public display of the Ten Commandments, a ban on gay marriage, teaching creationism in public schools, and prayer in public schools.

Do the math, liberals. Relgiious conservatives are currently one for five. And for all the scientists liberals drag into the debate, and all the facts they offer, religious conservatives are making gains at the local and state levels on the other four items on their list."

Other than the hyperbolic line in the middle "Do the math, liberals," what's incorrect?

5:24 PM  
Anonymous Muther of Invention said...

Craig

I do not project my anger at all to oppose embryonic stem cell research. People have a right to their opinion with regard to this matter. It seems that the veto flies in the face of what many scientific minds are saying and what the vast majority of the American people say they want. As for me, the issue takes on more than just a theoretical or philosophical framework. I no longer have that luxury.

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Craig R. Harmon said...

Muther,

As you say, everyone is entitled to their opinions. In that sense that’s no more than I deserve. However, given your situation, that attitude on your part is more than I have a right to expect.

11:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And just maybe we could then generate Bush at least a BRAINSTEM!

11:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

rer2174

I am at a loss to understand those opposed to Embryo stem cell research?

As I understand the Christian belief, a human soul is created at conception. That human soul, until the age of accountability, goes to heaven upon death.

If that is so, isn't it far better to guarantee heaven rather than risk eternal damnation?

Would also like to know where all the adopters are for all those pencil dot embryos thrown in the garbage? Step up to the plate!

1:58 AM  
Anonymous whoop4467 said...

I do the math and the number of people murdered in the guise of religion continues to rise. Those people who generally oppose stem cell research federal funding support many other programs that enhance the ability to kill people.
1. They believe in wars and more wars because to them it may mean the return of "Christ", but they can not participate in wars due to their religious beliefs( go figure). I do not believe Christ will return when un-necessary wars are fought to satisfy those that want the "end" to start on their terms. "Christ" will return when we least expect it and on his terms.
2. They believe in federal funding to improve our military weapons so they will kill more people in one blast and at a distance so that there is not person to person combat( They can't fight that kind of fight).
3. They believe in the "death penalty" no matter how un-fairly it is administered.
4. They believe in no universal health care that could prevent many deaths at earlier ages. The current belief is that "God only takes care of those that take care of themselves" and government should do nothing about it. To them that would be "socialism". But then they argue that our nation is a social society that depends upon its survival on the family: one man ,one woman and kids. I do the math: early death means one or more less family members and then no more family.
5. They want medical research to find all the cures for our diseases but without the proper tools which are living cells that contain the material for life. We use animals but that has many limitations. Human living cells are better served to use for medical research to cure human diseases. I do not see much hope in medical research solving human health problems using rocks or dirt. If God did not want us to use our mind to explore our universe he would have programmed it to be like plants or animals. Our mind was not given to us by God just for sitting around thinking about sex to procreate and when not engaged in sex to be thinking about God. If God was going to start creating perfectly healthy humans with no diseases, you would think he could have by July 2006. He gave us tools to do our own problem solving and it was not religion( and if you think it was, then which religion?).

1:53 PM  

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