Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bush Denies the Separation of Stem Cells, Church, and State

GW Bush vetoed a federal funding bill for stem cell research that even a fair number right-wing politicians who want to live longer healthier lives, at least so that they can continue to grow rich and gain power by bamboozling the people, support.

He also said a few good words for "regenerative medicine,"which his policy advisors are trying to sell as a scientific substitute to stem cell research even though scientists who are not opposed to research in that field make the point that it is not a substitute for stem cell research.

Bush's statement even for this largely undeveloped field isn't backed up by funding. Rather he seems to be using an old Ronald Reagan technique, putting all federal funding for embryonic stem cell related research into a "human pluripotent stem cell registry." (I have no idea what that means, but the policy behind it seems to be a Reaganite bloc grant where the administration can fund the research projects which comply with its theological world-view and either bury mainstream scientifice work or compel scientists to tailor their research to its ideological strictures.)

A generation ago Ronald Reagan literally sold off scientific work that the Carter administration had funded in the development of solar power to Germany and other countries because it regarded solar power as "radical" and of course of little value to its oil company supporters.

Today the U.S. has fallen significantly behind Germany in the development and application of solar power for home heating. This can certainly happen in what is a vital field of medical research, if it has not already happened.

The U.S. has with all of its contradictions an enormous research and development infrastructure, albeit one in which university based scientific research in all fields is funded heavily by taxpayer supported public grants (and those scientists who get the grants advance and those who don't get enough often lose their positions)This system is bad enough as it is in regard to wasting resources and distorting priorities for the benefit of corporate research projects without bringing in theological restrictions on what everyone outside of the Bush administration sees as really significant medical research.

To add nonsense to real injury, the the White House "scientific advisors" are boosting research which they hope will be with "clinically dead" embryonic stem cells. Incredibly, they have even
issued statements that it would be the task of "health institutes: to define "clinically dead" stem cells and thus preserve the "sanctity of life."

John Gearhart, a stem cell researcher at Johns Hopkins University caught both the contradiction and the hypocrisy of the administration's "alternative" with the comment, quoted in the New York Times, "who is the god that says the embryo is dead."? I doubt they will get the point though. If they do, they would probably eliminate his funding, an improvement I guess to forcing him to recant on pain of death, putting him in the stocks for blasphemy, or in an even earlier time, burning him at the stake,

The Democrats may not have the votes to over-ride Bush's veto but they at the very least should try, if only to expose the administration and its Republican backers in Congress for the fanatics and/or frauds and hypocrites they are. Falling behind in this area of research literally means falling behind in the major endeavor to both increase life expectancy and improve the quality of life.

The people ended twelve years of right-wing Republican control of Congress last year because they were sick of this administration's disastrous policies and arrogant persona. The Democrats have got to go on the attack now to show the people who elected them that they represent "alternative policies" that use both science and social policy to create a more just society and improve the lives of the people, not rob them in the name of both the "unborn" and the "born

--Norman Markowitz

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