Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bush plays politics with human life

George Bush has made yet another bad choice. He has chosen to play politics with human life. He has chosen to deny hope to millions of Americans who suffer from debilitating diseases, millions for whom stem cell research represented their best chance of cure or a better quality of life. Bush's bad decision will be applauded by a minority of Americans who disingenuously call their movement: "right to life". For the life of me, I can't see how condemning millions of Americans to an early death has anything to do with the "right to life".

This was the first time Bush has used the veto and that he chose this bill will define his failed presidency as much as his failed war of aggression in Iraq where, likewise, the civilian death toll is the anti-thesis of "right to life". Our very presence in Iraq, Bush's policy of torture, the rising civilian death toll at the hands of frustrated US troops proves the lie to "right to life".

Bush's veto may very well bring about an end to research that might have led to new cures for juvenile diabetes, leukemia, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and many others. That 70% of Americans disagree with Bush on this issue was of no consequence to him. Bush is a man who has placed himself above the law and now he has appointed himself the arbiter of our very lives and deaths.

The bill itself would have permitted research on excess pluripotent cells found only in developing embryos generated during the process of in-vitro fertilization. Bush and the GOP say that the embryos will be destroyed if they are used for stem cell research. What Bush and his Christian right backers will not tell you is that these embryos would be discarded anyway. They will not be placed inside anyone's "womb"; they will never be born. Therefore, Bush's veto will make absolutely no difference to those embryos. Bush's veto will not save one of them! None of them will be "spared" because he denied life to millions of ailing Americans. Bush played politics with human lives and he did so for evil motives.

Similarly, no one seems to mind that some 50% of all fertilized embryos are lost naturally. And there is no brouhaha among right wingers about the fact that the embryos in question are created artificially to begin with. This is the kind of calculus that is only to be found inside the GOP, a party that is tone deaf to morality, common sense, and logic. Bush's cynical decision is but a sop to his increasingly radical, extremist base.

Fundamentalist "Christians" lead the attack against stem cell research by raising a smokescreen. That question is: "When does life begin?" A blastocyst, indeed, even a single cell has within it the DNA code from which a human being may develop. But a blastocyst is not a mini human being. Indeed, the scientific evidence is clear: stem cells are not human life; they have only that potential. The GOP has deliberately distorted the scientific facts about this issue in order to advance a religious, theocratic agenda.

Here are some comments that were made about my article on another web site; my comments are in response to the comments in blockquotes:

The issue I see with your somewhat emotional and logically lacking rant is the fact that you attempt to equate science with religion in your attack on the Christian view of the subject.
I flatly deny that my rant lacked logic. Secondly, my description of the research and the definitions therein are entirely consistent with science to the extent that "popular" writing about this subject can be.
You say that Christians hide behind a smokescreen, the idea that even the initial single cell created at conception is a living organism, and is human in nature. You refute this view with the comment, "indeed, the scientific evidence is clear: stem cells are not human life; they have only that potential."
The RR always gets the science wrong. Clearly, a strand of human DNA is not a human being; neither is a single cell. Neither is a blastocyst. The RR, Tom DeLay, George Bush definition of "human being" is a theological definition for which there is, by definition, no empircal proof.

Moreover, they confuse "human potential" with "human being". To claim that every string of DNA that has "human potential" to be a "human being" -as Tom DeLay has flatly done -is just absurd on its face. Bush/RR characterizations of themselves as "pro-life" is blatantly hypocritical; they continue to defend the slaughter of innocent human being (of both sides) in Iraq. Clearly -for Bush and the RR -life is sacred only before birth and fair game afterward.

Significantly, you did not bother to address that point, a point that I consider to be crucial to my thesis: Bush is playing politics with human life.

As the subject of my comment suggests, you are comparing apples and oranges, so to speak.
Not so! I never compared apples to oranges, even metaphorically!
Even as an agnostic, I will readily admit that science and Christianity can commingle, yet it is illogical and illegitimate to claim that a religious claim is wrong, simply because scientists support the diametric of said claim.
Theological positions cannot be proven true nor false empirically. Secondly, if Christianity and science co-mingle, this is not the case in which they do so. Besides —if theologicy could be proven empirically, it would not be essential to believe it upon faith! If the existence of God, for example, could be proven empirically, religion —by definition an act of faith —would cease to exist. At last, passing laws upon mere faith and hoping that everything turns out all right is folly.

State a single statement made by the RR that is, in any way, verifiable either by logic or by experiment. State it and then, lacking proof, state the conditions under which that statement may be proven to be either true or false. Simply -you can't! And neither can DeLay or Bush for whom this issue is pure posturing. The good new is: it has already backfired on them.
It rather immediately become a matter of "he-said-she-said" (again, for lack of a better term...). Unfortunately, while I will give you credit enough to assume you have at least semi-logical reasoning behind your position on stem-cell research, I'm afraid I cannot in good conscience give you credit for proving your point successfully in this article.
Because you merely call it "semi logical" doesn't mean that it is!

The burden of proof is upon Bush et al. But, as you can see, there is no proof for their position; there is, in fact, no empircal proof for statements based on ideology. To the extent that their statement follows from their religious ideology, their arguments are all circulus en probando fallacies.

Their statements are thinly disguised theology -not science; and, to the extent that laws are based upon their theology, the First Amendment is violated. The First Amendment guarantees what Thomas Jefferson called a "wall of separation" between church and state.

I fear that you have been fooled by the RR's slick PR experts, propaganda, and focus groups. Let me put it to you in these terms: scientific propositions are those propositions that can be proven - empirically -to be either true (or in some cases, highly probable) or untrue! Propositions that can never be proven to be either true or false are either theology, poetry, or just simple nonsense. Of those three categories I leave the classification of Bush and the RR to the reader.

Some updates:

Scientists fear US research will fall behind

By Rebecca Knight in BostonThe US scientific community expressed frustration and disappointment yesterday at the announcement that President George W. Bush would veto bipartisan legislation to ease restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.

"It's not surprising but it's very sad," said Terry Devitt, a director at the University of Wisconsin's stem cell research programme. "The president has affirmed a policy that is out of step with both science and public opinion. It means we may have to wait for a new president to move this type of research into the clinic." ...

Experts rip Rove stem cell remark Researchers doubt value of adult cells

By Jeremy Manier and Judith Graham
Tribune staff reporters
Published July 19, 2006

When White House political adviser Karl Rove signaled last week that President Bush planned to veto the stem cell bill being considered by the Senate, the reasons he gave went beyond the president's moral qualms with research on human embryos.

In fact, Rove waded into deeply contentious scientific territory, telling the Denver Post's editorial board that researchers have found "far more promise from adult stem cells than from embryonic stem cells."

The administration's assessment of stem cell science has extra meaning in the wake of the Senate's 63-37 vote Tuesday to expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. The measure, which passed the House last year, will now head to Bush, who has vowed to veto it.

But Rove's negative appraisal of embryonic stem cell research--echoed by many opponents of funding for such research--is inaccurate, according to most stem cell research scientists, including a dozen contacted for this story.

The field of stem cell medicine is too young and unproven to make such judgments, experts say. Many of those researchers either specialize in adult stem cells or share Bush's moral reservations about embryonic stem cells.

"[Rove's] statement is just not true," said Dr. Michael Clarke, associate director of the stem cell institute at Stanford University, who in 2003 published the first study showing how adult stem cells replenish themselves.

If opponents of embryonic stem cell research object on moral grounds, "I'm willing to live with that," Clarke said, though he disagrees. But, he said, "I'm not willing to live with statements that are misleading."

Dr. Markus Grompe, director of the stem cell center at the Oregon Health and Science University, is a Catholic who objects to research involving the destruction of embryos and is seeking alternative ways of making stem cells. But Grompe said there is "no factual basis to compare the promise" of adult stem cells and cells taken from embryos.

Limbaugh claimed "you need abortions to get" embryonic stem cells, "we need to re-examine" notion of "scientist" because "science has been so wrong about so many things"

Summary: Rush Limbaugh claimed that "the militant pro-abortion crowd" is "behind" efforts to legalize federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, "because you need abortions to get these [embryos]." In fact, embryonic stem cells "are derived from embryos that develop from eggs that have been fertilized in vitro ... and then donated for research purposes with informed consent of the donors."

On the July 19 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program,
Rush Limbaugh claimed that "the militant pro-abortion crowd" is "behind" efforts to legalize federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, "because you need abortions to get these [embryos]." In fact, as the National Institutes of Health webpage points
, embryonic stem cells "are derived from embryos that develop from eggs that have been fertilized in vitro -- in an in vitro fertilization clinic -- and then donated for research purposes with informed consent of the donors. They are not derived from eggs fertilized in a woman's body [emphasis original]."

Additionally, Limbaugh claimed that, in light of scientists' belief that embryonic stem cells could be useful in medicine, "we need to re-examine this whole term 'scientist,' " because "[s]cience is all about politics, and science has been so wrong about so many things."

The Existentialist Cowboy
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