Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bad Man, Bad Science

From Think Progress:

Defending Bush’s Veto, Rove Grossly Distorts Stem Cell Science

Today, Bush is expected to veto a bill that would expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. It will be the first veto of his presidency. Last week, Karl Rove –- explaining why Bush planned on vetoing the bill — told the Denver Post that “recent studies” show researchers “have far more promise from adult stem cells than from embryonic stem cells.”

The Chicago Tribune 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?

White House spokesman Ken Lisaius on Tuesday could not provide the name of a stem cell researcher who shares Rove’s views on the superior promise of adult stem cells.

In a letter to President Bush last year, a group of 80 Nobel laureates wrote that “current evidence suggests that adult stem cells have markedly restricted differentiation potential.”

Question: Does President Bush believe that adult stem cell research has “far more promise” than embryonic stem cells? Is that a contributing factor in his decision to veto the bill?

(I'm not sure if the question at the end is meant to be ironic or not. Again, it's not really news when a Bush Administration official flagrantly lies to the nation.)

8 Comments:

Blogger sexyretard said...

Is Bush being disingenuous? You betcha. I guess there's a first time for everything:)

I applaud his veto. No one is saying that research on embryonic stem cells is illegal, but rather that the government is going to fund it. That's two very different things.

I view this as similar to Pharmacists who don't wish to fill birth control prescriptions. Now I'm an advocate of birth control (leads to fewer abortions), but forcing someone else to take part is wrong. Similarly, the question before the President was not whether to allow research but rather to fund it. It seems to me that if there is so much promise in embryonic stem cells, then private funds can be solicited and public funds can go to the ethics-neutral issue of adult stem cells or umbilical cord stuff.

I think this is one of Bush's two or three things for which he can be proud. At the same time, it would be great if he actually came out and admitted that he was vetoing this on moral grounds rather than a very unorthodox belief that adult stem cells have "more promise."

7:00 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"Similarly, the question before the President was not whether to allow research but rather to fund it. It seems to me that if there is so much promise in embryonic stem cells, then private funds can be solicited and public funds can go to the ethics-neutral issue of adult stem cells or umbilical cord stuff."

Two points: First, if the litmus test for whether or not the government should fund something is that everyone agrees with it/has no moral objection to it, then nothing gets funded. That's fine for the starry-eyed libertarians among us, but the government has made a committment (and I'll bet that crushing majorities of Americans would agree if polled about it) to funding and supporting basic research. The main reason is that certain endeavors are so massive and require such huge committments of resources that significant disincentives exist for private firms to be the first ones to invest, which ultimately would mean that we (public and private sector) would be left in the dust by countries with industry policies.

Second, why does opposing federal funding for research on embryonic stem cells make sense from a moral or strategic standpoint? Opponents should be protesting the existence of fertility clinics if they truly believe this is a moral issue. Otherwise, it's like only protesting the disposal of the aborted fetus, and completely ignoring abortion clinics, the laws allowing abortions, etc. The fact that no federal funding will go to support this new technology is guaranteed to save not a single fetus's life, and will probably prevent us saving the lives of lots of adults.

6:57 AM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

Hi again Jeff,

I absolutely protest fertility clinics--in an age where we are aborting a million a year or so (well after the embryonic stage), the idea of some paying tens of thousands to get what so many take life to avoid is just ridiculous.

As far as the "start up money" which is involved in studying stem-cells, I am ignorant. What does such an operation cost? Didn't pro-abortion rights Warren Buffet just give pro-abortion rights Gates Foundation billions and billions of dollars? I don't know how much money it costs to set up an embryonic stem cell lab, but if it costs more than billions and billions of dollars, maybe that's not such a hot idea.

Moreover, any state can publically fund such research, can it not? Didn't Mr Blagojevich just dictate millions to this research? Why do people in New York who want this research feel the need to compel people in Nebraska who don't to support it?

7:24 AM  
Anonymous jessica said...

I think the "studies" Rove and Bush refer to are by the same scientist who came up with Intelligent Design.

It rates right up there with the supposed studies - that totally contradict the National Cancer Institute - saying that abortion causes breast cancer. http://tinyurl.com/ju974

The only rationale I find marginally acceptable about the presidental veto, is that at least the government (ie: our tax dollars) won't be spent on finding some great cure for AIDS or Alzheimer's and then having the "magic pill" rug pulled out from under us all by finding out that some Republican schmoozer rewarded a pharmaceutical lobbyiest with the patent.

8:33 AM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

I readily concede that science is not on Mr. Bush's side. However, there are ethical questions related to what to do with science that are.

I again ask why people are not lobbying the Bill Gates foundation, which would have plenty of leeway in determining who gets the money (going to reputable scientists rather than some evil pharmaceutical giant, probably with Zionist tendencies, no doubt). If this is the answer, why not look for billions untainted by the savage claws of the evil, baby-eating Republicans?

11:37 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"I absolutely protest fertility clinics--in an age where we are aborting a million a year or so (well after the embryonic stage), the idea of some paying tens of thousands to get what so many take life to avoid is just ridiculous."

You're a principled fellow, S-Tard.

I may join you in recoiling at many of the excesses of modern capitalism, but my own limited opposition to abortion is based entirely on suffering, which I don't think is relevant in the case of frozen embryos that would have been disposed of anyway.

"Why do people in New York who want this research feel the need to compel people in Nebraska who don't to support it?"

First of all, in the specific case you mention, I'm pretty sure Nebraska is a net recipient of federal dollars, so New York is paying for it regardless.

But to the larger issue, why does anyone have to pay taxes for anything they don't want? If I'm a hippie pacifist, why do I have to see my tax dollars spent on the military?

My view is that the libertarian response to this is very internally consistent--it can be, because it's as childish and utopian as the communist position. However, the realistic response is that we're a republic that has a certain number of goals that are shared by a majority of citizens. Rousseau would say that even the opponents share these goals to some degree because, by not dropping out, they continue to lend legitimacy to the process by which those goals are pursued. I'm in favor of federal funding, but I'm not dropping out of the system because the current balance of power has been able to temporarily pull the plug on it. That's why Nebraskans have to go along with it (or drop out).

There are plenty of private foundations and companies that are contributing to stem cell research, and they should all be encouraged to continue. However, as I said before, I think the majority of Americans not only feel that basic research is an appropriate activity for government, but that embryonic stem cell research in particular is an important part of that basic research.

12:01 PM  
Anonymous jessica said...

Republicans don't eat babies, they respectfully bury them.

Their claws however are currently très tainted with filthy lucre, as Ralph Reed in Georgia's Primary sadly recognized.

I don't have a problem with some big pharma (or even Bill Gates) doing the research and coming up with the cures... don't misunderstand!

One expects that if they do the work, and they have the discovery, then Free Enterprise can take over and they have a sellers market on whatever they discover- no matter what it's for or how much it costs.

What I do have a problem with is, when the government (ie. ME) spends money on the development of a medication, and then after all that subsidy paying for the research, it's gifted away to an "already doing just fine" company.

Then that company can farm out the production and manufacturing to India or someother extremely lucrative yet poorly paid labor market, to make it all cost effective for their bottom line. They'll reap in a real windfall profit no doubt over the sellers market they will have found for themselves.

I do however, get testy when I find I have to pay twice for the same medication. Once to develop it and then again to guarantee some idiot CEO makes his mega million salary. I'm guessing that people in Nebraska feel pretty much the same as the people in New York over that one.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"What I do have a problem with is, when the government (ie. ME) spends money on the development of a medication, and then after all that subsidy paying for the research, it's gifted away to an "already doing just fine" company."

Right on! We need a campaign to lower drug costs that will appeal to Rednecks and Republicans, like "France should pay for its own drugs!" Pharma companies implicitly claim that US consumers subsidize the price-controlled medications of foreigners by paying full price here. Let's price control them here too, and see if they raise prices in Western Europe, for example. It will be a cold day in hell when price controls force Merck and GSK to close up shop because they're not making a big enough margin. They'll just have to cut back a little on those post-approval and me-too drug trials that are nothing more than enormous marketing campaigns.

1:02 PM  

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