Right Thinking From The Left Coast
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Frist Versus Bush
by Lee

Frist has taken on Bush over stem cells.

In a rare break with President Bush and Christian conservatives, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Friday endorsed legislation to expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

“The federal government should fund embryonic stem cell research” that uses leftover embryos from fertility clinics, said the Tennessee Republican, a surgeon who may run for president in 2008, in backing legislation already passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that would overturn the limits imposed on the research by Bush in 2001.

Bush has threatened to veto the stem cell legislation on the grounds that it would involve the destruction of human embryos.

Frist said he will support the House bill, even though he wants to clarify in the bill the ethical framework for donating the frozen embryos for research.

“I also strongly believe, as do countless other scientists, clinicians and doctors, that embryonic stem cells uniquely hold specific promise for some therapies and potential cures that adult stem cells just cannot provide,” Frist said, explaining why he believes it is time to change Bush’s policies.

I’ll tell you what this is.  Frist is considering a presidential run.  Stem cells are a winning issue with much of the country.  In fact, the only people who are staunchly opposed to stem cell research are fundamentalist Christians.  So it’s a trade off for Frist.  He might lose the support of the extreme religious right, but he’ll pick up votes in the center from moderates, independents, and some libertarians.  This is a smart move on Frist’s part.  He has to try and distinguish himself from Bush if he hopes to try and win the White House in 2008 and this is a good way of doing so.

Posted by Lee on 07/29/05 at 11:11 AM (Discuss this in the forums)

Comments


Posted by on 07/29/05 at 12:40 PM from United States

Prop 71 created a $6 billion bond, so $3 billion could be spent on stem cell research. When you consider how much of that $3 billion goes to biotech building facilities, parking lots, and secretaries, and high researcher salaries, you end up with not much left over.

There are good reasons to think this $6 billion could be spent in better ways to help people’s medical problems. (9 Emergency Rooms in the LA area have been closed in recent years due to the flood of illegal immigrants and uninsured.)

There is no evidence stem cell research benefits man more than medicine dictated by an Ouija Board.

Posted by on 07/29/05 at 12:50 PM from United States

In fact, the only people who are staunchly opposed to stem cell research are fundamentalist Christians.

This is untrue; I am opposed to Frist’s recommendations, which is Federal Funding for Stem Cell Research, and I’m about as far from a Fundamentalist Christian as you can get. Of course, I’m opposed to Federal Funding for nearly everything; if stem cells hold as much promise as backers claim (and I believe they do), then private enterprise should make the required capital outlay for the research, and reap the corresponding benefits.

Posted by on 07/29/05 at 12:56 PM from United States

John Edwards said this during the election campaign, shortly after Christopher Reeve died:

“If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve will get up out of that wheelchair and walk again.”

Posted by sneaky_pete on 07/29/05 at 01:17 PM from United States

If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve will get up out of that wheelchair and walk again.

Wow!  I didn’t know stem cell research could raise the dead.

I’m opposed to Federal Funding for nearly everything; if stem cells hold as much promise as backers claim, then private enterprise should make the required capital outlay for the research, and reap the corresponding benefits.

Precisely.  Well said.

Posted by on 07/29/05 at 01:28 PM from United States

he’ll pick up votes in the center from moderates, independents, and some libertarians.

Don’t forget democrats too.  I’m not a registered anything, but I’d vote for a guy that was in favor of this kind of science. 

I’d be more inclined to consider a republican if they would take the concept of spending reductions a bit more seriously, and the concept of legislating health/morality a bit less seriously. 

I haven’t seen that Frist has any ideas for bringing the budget under control (other than cutting welfare, which is a relatively minor expense).

Posted by on 07/29/05 at 01:36 PM from United States

Of course, I’m opposed to Federal Funding for nearly everything;

Nearly everything eh?  I wonder if you really know what is federally funded and what is not?

Let’s see how far you can drive your car without federal transportation dollars.  Maybe we should trim back our military, and let local counties and cities form their own militias?  And clearly NOAA should be disbanded and replaced with a for-profit agency.

Brilliant!

Posted by LandoGriffin on 07/29/05 at 01:40 PM from United States

I’m opposed to Federal Funding for nearly everything; if stem cells hold as much promise as backers claim, then private enterprise should make the required capital outlay for the research, and reap the corresponding benefits.

Precisely.  Well said.

This is how I feel as well. And someone correct me if I am wrong there is already some federal funding on stem cell research, what the current administrations policy is, is that there be no increase in federal funding for stem cell research. Lee - here in California wasn’t there a prop last year that increased state funding on stem cell research?

Speaking of Christopher Reeve remember the South Park stem cell episode? Talk about cringe inducing funny.

Posted by Drumwaster on 07/29/05 at 01:41 PM from United States

There are obvious exceptions as he clearly admits, Minus. ("Nearly everything").

Those legitimate uses (such as roads and a military) can be found listed in the Constitution, assuming you’ve ever heard of that. (Your ignorance seems to be so all-encompassing, I need to make sure.)

Just in case

Posted by on 07/29/05 at 01:42 PM from United States

If stem cells hold as much promise as backers claim (and I believe they do), then private enterprise should make the required capital outlay for the research, and reap the corresponding benefits.

The most dishonest thing about this whole argument is that the above is already happening.  There is no federal law saying that stem cell research is illegal.  This all has to do with federal funding, and that is all.

If Soros / Gates et al, want to sink billions into stem cell research, let them.  I don’t want my tax dollars funding it.  And Frist is being dishonest, because he’s running in ‘08.  On this alone, I’ll vote against him.

TV (Harry)

Posted by Drumwaster on 07/29/05 at 01:44 PM from United States

what the current administrations policy is, is that there be no increase in federal funding for stem cell research.

No, the policy is that no federal funding will be used on any NEW stem cell samples, just the sequences that are already being used. If any new samples are produced, they don’t get federal funding.

However, Bush IS the first President to give ANY federal funding for stem cell research, yet libtards don’t seem to realize this.

Lee - here in California wasn’t there a prop last year that increased state funding on stem cell research?

Yup. Passed with a 59.1% to 40.9% vote… (Prop 71). I voted against, fwiw.

Posted by on 07/29/05 at 01:45 PM from United States

Many if not most conservatives are not unconditionally opposed to stem cell research in itself. Their specific opposition is towardembryonic stem cell research. They believe that creating human embryos for the sole purpose of extracting their stem cells and then disposing of them is wrong. Many believe that human life begins at the moment of conception. That being said, it’s easier to understand why would have such strong feelings against embryonic stem cell research. Whether they are right or wrong is a whole new can o’worms altogether.

Posted by on 07/29/05 at 01:49 PM from United States

Bush said himself that he is not opposed to stem cell research. He’s opposed to the proposed source of those stem cells. It should be pointed out that stem cells can be extracted from sources other than embryos. In fact, the scientific community isn’t unified on whether embryonic stem cells are better than placental stem cells.

Posted by on 08/01/05 at 10:40 PM from United States

Why is it a great move for Frist? The guy has zero- ZERO shot at the Presidency. This only buries him deeper. The man has been outgeneraled on several fronts by Reid. And now he’s gonna be President? HAW HAW.

Book it- zero chance, he’s an idiot to even be trying. All he’s done is bury himself

Posted by on 08/01/05 at 10:41 PM from United States

If Frist had balls, he’d take Pres. Bush on over the REAL winning issue in this country- illegal immigration and border control

Posted by on 08/01/05 at 11:19 PM from United States

If Frist had balls

You can pretty much end it there.

Posted by on 08/02/05 at 12:44 AM from United States

Hey...you’re back online.  Sweet.

Posted by on 08/02/05 at 10:51 AM from United States

I don’t think Frist changed at all, as his speech shows (link) he hasn’t wavered much in the past four years.  As far as disappointing Christians, I think he’s making a line in the sand.  The embryos he’s saying ok to would be destroyed, having been made by parents trying to have children.  He does not support creation of embryos for research alone.  The next debate will be and has already begun in regard to: should so many embryos be made by couples trying to have children.

Posted by on 08/02/05 at 10:55 AM from United States

illegal immigration and border control

The person who gets on board with that would be way ahead in any Presidential run.

Posted by on 08/02/05 at 01:40 PM from United States

I have two basic problems with federal funding of fetal stem cell research.

ONE

If I were to take a steaming shit in the middle of a white carpet and then paid the federal government $100 to find it, they not only wouldn’t find it, they would go over budget.

TWO

Why aren’t the greedy evil bastard drug companies all over this research on their own? The profit in a cure for Alzheimer’s and paralysis alone are worth more money than currently exists on planet earth?
Does anyone actually believe these companies are ignoring this vast fortune out of fear of spending a little money in R & D?

Posted by The Fly on 08/02/05 at 07:36 PM from United States

You’re absolutely wrong about this, Lee.  This move will get Bill Frist exactly thirty pieces of silver, no more.  A Republican can’t get elected president (and can barely get elected senator) without us dumbass redneck values folk, and whether you’ll admit it to your readers or not, you have to face facts: Frist has shot himself in the foot with this move.

Posted by Drumwaster on 08/02/05 at 07:40 PM from United States

Yeah! How DARE he look to science for medical answers, when we are clearly told that God alone can know all the answers!

(Hey, Ship… how is using embryos that would have been discarded ANYWAY a violation of any kind of values?)

Posted by Manwhore on 08/02/05 at 08:19 PM from United States

Drum,

I am not positive I know all about the situation, but I was under the impression Bush reacted to how the stem celss are harvested (ie. aborted fetus, etc.).

I whole heartedly disagree with limiting stem cell research, and file these nutjobs in rank and file with the animal terrorists in PETA who disagree with animal testing. This ‘moral’ crowd is cut from the same cloth. They test medicines on mice and monkeys so where is the outrage at destroying Gods creations?

Simply stated though when you attach issues to religion they become supercharged and I believe will ultimately bite Republicans in the ass down the stretch (as it appears to be doing now).

Posted by on 08/02/05 at 08:21 PM from United States

Why aren’t the greedy evil bastard drug companies all over this research on their own? The profit in a cure for Alzheimer’s and paralysis alone are worth more money than currently exists on planet earth?

One major reason, I suspect, is that the drug companies are greedy, and are pushing for government money to do the research so they don’t have to lay out their own. Why pay for high-risk R&D;yourself when you can force Joe Sixpack and Charlie Lunchbox to do it for you? Especially since you’re doing it for the good of society!

(See, for example, Prop 71 in California.)

(Also, because I suspect they’re reluctant to do R&D;on drugs that may not have their patents honored. After all, what’s more important...everybody having an AIDS vaccine, or a drug company making an obscene profit on their work? I believe Andrew Sullivan had some stats about the amount that drug companies have cut back on HIV research for this exact reason. Alzheimer’s, paralysis, etc. could all fall under a similar category.)

Posted by on 08/02/05 at 08:33 PM from United Kingdom

Why aren’t the greedy evil bastard drug companies all over this research on their own? The profit in a cure for Alzheimer’s and paralysis alone are worth more money than currently exists on planet earth?
Does anyone actually believe these companies are ignoring this vast fortune out of fear of spending a little money in R & D?

I don’t know for sure but it seems that stem cell technology is not going to be patentable easily in the same way as a unique drug. It seems more askin to something like the internet - a whole technology.

Which ever way you look at it, some of the most valuable research has been done by non profit seaking institutions, especially universities. Companies are often too short sighted to invest an efficient amount in r&d;- there are numerous economic models out there that explain this. Thats not to say they don’t do a good job, but they often need a help start - e.g. the internet, NASA etc - and then companies can take over.

Posted by The Fly on 08/02/05 at 10:31 PM from United States

(Hey, Ship… how is using embryos that would have been discarded ANYWAY a violation of any kind of values?)

I, and most rank and file conservative republicans, believe that life starts at conception.  Because of this, I oppose embryonic stem cell research.  As far as I’m concerned, these “embryos”, which is to say, babies, deserve a proper burial, not to be used for experiments.

To be honest with you, Drum, if these babies are beyond salvation, I don’t have as severe a problem with some testing, though I do question it on moral grounds; I can, however, justify it as being largely similar to cadavers being dissected by medical students or used for research.  What I do have a very big problem is what would happen if the research was successful.  There are basically three options.

A) Embryonic stem cell research isn’t carried out, and we maintain the status quo on both medical testing and abortion.
B) Embryonic stem cell research is carried out, it’s proven worthless, and we maintain the status quo on both medical testing and abortion.
C) Embryonic stem cell research is carried out, it’s proven successful, and the embryonic stem cell markets are blown wide open, leading to the wholesale, assembly line deaths fo what I and many other Americans consider to be innocent, defenseless human beings.

Given that A and B give the same result, and C gives a result that is wholly and completely unacceptable on moral and ethical grounds, why would I support risking outcome C by starting embryonic stem cell research in the first place, even if the initial testing is done on embryos that will never be made viable?  And further, why would I condone my tax dollars supporting it financially?

You can think that an embryo or a fetus isn’t a baby, and that’s your prerogative.  You can think that my ethics and morals are antiquated and inconsistent with modern science; you’d be wrong, but you have a right to your opinion.  Whichever way you slice it, though, if embryonic stem cell research is successful, people will demand more sources of embryonic stem cells, and it will become a major component of the medical industry.

So, if my options are not funding embryonic stem cell research and maintaining the status quo, funding embryonic stem cell research only to find out that it’s all been a waste of time and money, or funding embryonic stem cell research and paving the way for an outcome that I find morally unacceptable, I choose the first option.

If you don’t believe that the third outcome would result in the wholesale assembly line destruction of embryos/fetuses (or, as I would prefer to term them, human beings), then you’re once again entitled to your opinion, but I’m then entitled to think that you’re rather naive.

Posted by The Fly on 08/02/05 at 10:37 PM from United States

I whole heartedly disagree with limiting stem cell research, and file these nutjobs in rank and file with the animal terrorists in PETA who disagree with animal testing. This ‘moral’ crowd is cut from the same cloth. They test medicines on mice and monkeys so where is the outrage at destroying Gods creations?

Sod monkeys and mice, and sod you too, Manwhore.  I value human life above animal life, and I don’t value one human life over another human life.  You need to think about the nonsense you type before you hit that “Submit” button.  Comparing people who value unborn human life to the whack jobs in PETA, or the ecoterrorists who bomb SUV dealerships, is patently absurd.

If you’d said “the guys who bomb abortion clinics”, I might have been with you, but to compare people who find the murder of innocent babies morally reprehensible to some mohawked trustfund terrorist who torches a Hummer dealership is pretty much as ignorant as a person can get.

Posted by Drumwaster on 08/02/05 at 10:44 PM from United States

The two cases are not remotely the same. As you pointed out, this is analogous to using cadavers in order to allow med students to practice.

But you have given yourself a false dilemma, where there are only two basic options.

What if the embryonic stem cells lead to a cure for cancer?

Fifty years ago, a pregnancy test involved the death of a rabbit and long waits. Research was conducted, and alternative tests are now possible, including home tests with the results in mere minutes.

80 years ago, insulin was created using fetal cows. Today it is created by a specially-bred species of bacteria.

Today the testing may be done on embryonic stem cells. The ultimate solution will (if history is any guide) not involve any human embryos at all.

But your false dilemma says that because it will either produce no benefit (in which case you would oppose the waste of effort), or any possible benefit carries too high a cost to your ethics (in which case you would oppose the effort).

All of medical science requires some distasteful choices. This is just one more, but I have never heard of any truly wasted efforts at original research. (Even Edison said, “I haven’t failed 2,000 times. I have just found 2,000 things that will not work.")

Posted by The Fly on 08/02/05 at 11:00 PM from United States

(This is Shipman, I’ve just changed my screen name; anyone who cares will recognize the alteration.)

Drumwaster, there is a fundamental difference between the death of a rabbit or a cow or a pig, and the death of a human.  I value all life, whether it’s grass, trees, most bugs (I tend to kill spiders around the house because otherwise they tend to bite me in my sleep), deer, monkeys, or humans.  However, I value human life above all other forms of life, and I don’t discriminate based on what form that human life takes; I condone killing humans only in cases of self defense (under which I lump war in at justified cases), or in cases of capital punishment.

I don’t value one human life above another human life, so as far as I’m concerned, using one human life to alter the condition of another human life is morally unacceptable.  Because of this, I can with good conscience condemn embryonic stem cell research regardless of the benefits.  If embryonic stem cell research would have allowed Christopher Reeve to walk again, I would have condemned it.  If embryonic stem cell research could cure cancer, I would condemn that.  So no, I disagree that this catches me in a so-called false dilemma.

And for your information, I happen to have a close friend who received treatment that resulted from adult stem cell research.  This is important to note for two reasons: the adult stem cells did the job, and he received implanted adult stem cells during the procedure.  I absolutely don’t buy your argument that eventually the embryonic stem cells wouldn’t be used.  If you want to give me a link to prove that you’re correct in this assumption, I’d happily read it, but it’s up to you to convince me.

Posted by Drumwaster on 08/02/05 at 11:16 PM from United States

I condone killing humans only in cases of self defense (under which I lump war in at justified cases), or in cases of capital punishment.

So we have forced impression of fertile women into the ranks of “unwilling surrogates” to bear all of these unused fetuses to full term, and taxpayer funded orphanges for all of those children (unless there is forced adoption, as well). The only other alternatives you leave would be the utter cessation of any fertility clinic assistance for couples having trouble conceiving or for you to come to some kind of sense of reality.

Until those cells implant themelves in a willing uterus, they are NOT alive in any sense of the word. These fetuses would have been discarded ANYWAY. Why is research on those about-to-be-discarded cells murder?

So no, I disagree that this catches me in a so-called false dilemma.

It’s called a “false dilemma” because you ignore other alternatives. I explained at least one other, and you ignored it.

And for your information, I happen to have a close friend who received treatment that resulted from adult stem cell research.

And this makes you somehow more moral than the rest of us? Or more “right”? If you had said that in a courtroom, the immediate objection of “Relevance, your Honor?” would be just as quickly upheld.

This is important to note for two reasons: the adult stem cells did the job,

In that particular case, perhaps, but again, it is irrelevant. You are letting your own personal opinions of “right” and “wrong” control what others would be allowed to do. Science is not a popularity contest, and science by consensus is nothing more than a mutual admiration society.

Cells in a test tube are not a separate life. If it were, you would be committing multiple murder just trimming your fingernails or cutting your hair…

Posted by The Fly on 08/03/05 at 12:01 AM from United States

(Part 1 of 2)

Oh, good, just what I wanted to do tonight: get dragged into a senseless intellectual knife fight with Drumwaster…

So we have forced impression of fertile women into the ranks of “unwilling surrogates” to bear all of these unused fetuses to full term, and taxpayer funded orphanges for all of those children (unless there is forced adoption, as well). The only other alternatives you leave would be the utter cessation of any fertility clinic assistance for couples having trouble conceiving or for you to come to some kind of sense of reality.

If that’s not putting words in my mouth, I don’t know what is.  And for what it’s worth, I have two cousins who were born as a result of in vitro fertilization, and in spite of that I’m against artificial fertility.  You can say that I have no sense of reality all you want, it doesn’t make it true.  Besides, what I’m suggesting isn’t the total cessation of all fertility clinics; I’m merely suggesting that the leftover human lives be treated with some dignity and respect, instead of being murdered and turned into science experiments.

Until those cells implant themelves in a willing uterus, they are NOT alive in any sense of the word.

According to Drumwaster.  Not according to me.  They’re living, dividing cells.  As I said before, you can think whatever you want about these embryos, it doesn’t make them “NOT alive”.

These fetuses would have been discarded ANYWAY. Why is research on those about-to-be-discarded cells murder?

Such a question is dependent upon my acceptance of your previous statement.  Since I don’t accept your previous statement, then this question is invalid.  Even so, I will answer it by saying that it is completely unethical to press innocent, defenseless human lives into service as fodder for science experiments.

It’s called a “false dilemma” because you ignore other alternatives. I explained at least one other, and you ignored it.

I ignored it because I reject the terms under which it was offered.  We may have reached a point where this is less a dialogue, and more a tangentally related pair of monologues, but if that is the case, it is because you have twisted and altered the statements that I have offered as a response to your questions.  As such, you can’t blame me for my answers.  I have kept my statements and analysis simple, because I see no value in unnecessarily and falsely complicating the issue.

And this makes you somehow more moral than the rest of us? Or more “right”? If you had said that in a courtroom, the immediate objection of “Relevance, your Honor?” would be just as quickly upheld.

So now you’re ignoring my point that stem cell research will not necessarily lead to treatments that don’t use stem cells?  You can throw in your attempted courtroom segway, but the fact of the matter is that my statement about my friend is entirely relevant, and your attempt to negate it is skirting the issue.  Adult stem cell research has resulted in treatments and procedures which employ adult stem cells.  That’s the whole point of stem cell research: introducing stem cells (essentially “blank slate” cells) so that they can form into the type of cells needed to resolve various issues within the body.

You can pull out stories about dead rabbits and cow fetuses all you like, the simple fact of the matter is that embryonic stem cell research, if successful, will lead to an increased demand for embryonic stem cells for use in further research and treatments.  Since there is currently a limited supply of embryonic stem cells available for research alone, an increased demand would lead to the creation of intentionally “discarded” embryos, which those of us with morals believe to be human lives.

Posted by The Fly on 08/03/05 at 12:01 AM from United States

In that particular case, perhaps, but again, it is irrelevant. You are letting your own personal opinions of “right” and “wrong” control what others would be allowed to do. Science is not a popularity contest, and science by consensus is nothing more than a mutual admiration society.

It is not irrelevant.  And the imposition of popular morality is the entire basis for law and order and society and culture and everything we hold dear.  All law is the imposition of the majority’s moral beliefs upon the entirety of society; otherwise the guys in Iraq would be shooting hollow point rounds, major corporations would be committing numerous acts of fiscal malfeasance, and sea captains would be constantly reciting the words “I now pronounce ye man and cow.” If my opinion of “right” and “wrong” matches the opinions of what the majority sees as “right” and “wrong”, that becomes right and wrong in our society.  If my opinion doesn’t match society’s opinion of “right” and “wrong”, I become the minority, I have the majority’s will imposed upon me, and I become a dissenter.  In a case like this, in which most people are either completely ignorant, or undecided, it is my right to inform people of the possible implications in order to sway their opinions.

And in this case, by pushing for this research, you are trying to impose your personal opinions of “right” and “wrong” on me, so if you’re trying to make me back off based on that argument, then you’re sorely mistaken; it’s merely going to lead me to call you out for being hypocritical.

Cells in a test tube are not a separate life.

According to you.  According to me, and many other Americans, you’re mistaken.

If it were, you would be committing multiple murder just trimming your fingernails or cutting your hair…

If you’re unwilling to concede the difference between an unborn baby and a clipped fingernail, then it’s obvious that you’re either A) a complete and total moron, or (more likely) B) arguing just for the sake of argument.  Either way, I’m going to go work on some research.  Have a nice evening, and thanks for giving me the opportunity to defend my position.

Posted by on 08/03/05 at 01:47 AM from United States

If it were, you would be committing multiple murder just trimming your fingernails or cutting your hair…

Well, aren’t fingernails and hair made up of dead cells anyway? It’s more like cleaning up the remnants of a mass suicide. :-)

Posted by on 08/03/05 at 02:13 PM from United States

If it were, you would be committing multiple murder just trimming your fingernails or cutting your hair…

Someone needs a biology lesson.

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