Via Media

Via Media


Into the breach…

posted by awelborn

First, Tony Snow "clarifies" the statement he made last week after the embryonic stem-cell veto

President Bush does not consider stem cell research using human embryos to be murder, the White House said yesterday, reversing its description of his position just days after he vetoed legislation to lift federal funding restrictions on the hotly disputed area of study.

White House press secretary Tony Snow said yesterday that he "overstated the president’s position" during a briefing last week but said Bush rejected the bill because "he does have objections with spending federal money on something that is morally objectionable to many Americans."

The shifting terminology underscored the sensitivity of the issue, especially heading into midterm elections. Many antiabortion conservatives strongly oppose stem cell research involving the destruction of embryos, viewing it as killing human beings. But polls show that most Americans see such research as a potential key to treating Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries and other afflictions.

Now, in response to the veto, states are stepping up:

Two governors seized the political moment Thursday, the day after the veto, to raise their ante for stem cell research.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, a Republican who helped Mr. Bush win a second term but has long disagreed with him on this research, cited the veto as he lent $150 million from the state’s general fund to pay for grants to stem cell scientists. In Illinois, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, a Democrat opposed to most every White House initiative, offered $5 million for similar grants in his state.

Before the announcements, the only money available was $72 million that five states had allocated for the research and $90 million that the National Institutes of Health had provided since 2001 for work on a restricted number of stem cell lines.

Several other governors, including one Republican, M. Jodi Rell of Connecticut, denounced the president’s veto, his first, in a sign of the political potency of the stem cell debate.

EU backs embryonic research, but with caveats:

The European Union decided Monday to continue funding human embryonic stem cell research, although under new rules that prevent human cloning and destroying embryos.

The funding will come from the EU’s $65 billion research budget for 2007-2013, when the new rules approved Monday expire.

Poland, Austria, Malta, Slovakia and Lithuania voted against the updated rules for "ethical and moral" reasons, they said. Germany and Italy changed their stance at the last moment and backed the proposal.



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Ryan C

posted July 25, 2006 at 11:38 am


Good to see that the EU is wrestling with the moral issues involved too, and that Eastern Europe is sticking up for the rights of the unborn. Demonstrates that to be concerned about the ethics of embryo research is not to be on the fringe.



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Tom Harmon

posted July 25, 2006 at 11:40 am


My bet: even aside from the moral issues involved, that’s $150 million that a cash-strapped California will never get back…



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Celine

posted July 25, 2006 at 11:52 am


Of course, I’m all for preventing public funds from being used for this stuff (though we seem to be having a hard time even doing that).
The real issue, though, is that this is legal at all. It is a rather sad commentary on the pathetic standing of what passes for Western Civ these days that whether this stuff should be banned is not even considered a serious political question. How many of our “prolife” politicians are in favor of banning it? Do we even bother to ask? Are we afraid to find out? Even if they believe such a law cannot be passed at this time, under Evangelium Vitae, para. 73, Catholic politicians are supposed to make their “absolute personal opposition” to this clear and that they would support such a ban if it were politically feasible. Are we even demanding this of our politicians?
Plainly, when it comes to early human life, the prolife cause is not playing in the game. We’re just trying to keep the government from paying for tickets to get in to watch it.



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Sean Gallagher

posted July 25, 2006 at 11:54 am


Austria voted ‘no.’ Interesting. That surprises me a bit.



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hb

posted July 25, 2006 at 12:21 pm


It’s amazing what Americans will buy into with this when the simple fact is – whatever grows is living….why is that so hard to understand? My brother, his wife, and his “snowflake” baby were at the veto – our family will never forget this small victory.



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Kevin Jones

posted July 25, 2006 at 12:37 pm


“a sign of the political potency of the stem cell debate.”
Is this really high on Americans’ priority list? I know people keep throwing around seventy percent approve these ESCR proposals, but I rather doubt it will be on most peoples’ minds this election. It has been mentioned in advertisements in my congressional district’s Democratic primary, but otherwise I’ve seen nothing.



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Sydney Carton

posted July 25, 2006 at 12:40 pm


The fact that this sort of research needs government money is indicative of its failure. The private market would’ve provided a flood of money if there were hopes of results.



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Christopher Fotos

posted July 25, 2006 at 12:55 pm


I share your skepticism, Kevin. But apparently some Democrats, and therefore by extension mainstream media, believe it’s a high-turnout issue. Robert Novak wrote a column the other day saying Seasoned Democratic political operatives regard stem cell research as the most important issue affecting the 2006 elections. I find that hard to believe. They’ll pitch it, of course, as the GOP being a bunch of ignorant anti-scientists standing against progress.
Immigration and the Iraq War seem a lot more likely to be the focus of the elections, to the extent national issues affect especially the House races.



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Christopher Fotos

posted July 25, 2006 at 1:01 pm


Ramesh Ponnuru:
Noam Scheiber argues that embryonic stem-cell research won’t do much to help Democrats, because the country is roughly evenly divided on the larger issue of whether biotechnology needs to be restrained. I think his conclusion is correct, but I think that the biggest reason it’s correct is that not many voters care enough about embryonic stem-cell research to learn much about it, let alone to vote on it.



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Tom Harmon

posted July 25, 2006 at 1:06 pm


Celine,
These words are key; “Catholic politicians are supposed to make their “absolute personal opposition” to this clear and that they would support such a ban if it were politically feasible.”
I don’t generally ask this of politicians for the same reason i don’t think too much about which of my representatives are for repeal of no-fault divorce. It’s just not an issue right now. Liekwise, there has to be a lot of incremental progress before the American people are willing to listen to someone in favor of banning ESCR.
In the meantime, it’s more constructive to ask which politicians are interested in making that incremental progress.



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RP Burke

posted July 25, 2006 at 3:08 pm


Not on the subject of embryonic stem cell research, but:
What a crock. Tony Snow says,
Bush rejected the bill because “he does have objections with spending federal money on something that is morally objectionable to many Americans.”
So than, since many Americans have moral objections to the war in Iraq, with its bogus basis and the deaths of civilians, should he similarly object to spending federal money on it?



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Christopher Fotos

posted July 25, 2006 at 3:39 pm


On the salience of the issue, saw this note at the Hotline blog fwiw–(I’ve already submitted a comment about their mistakenly saying Bush opposes “stem-cell research”)–anyway:
The DCCC [Dem. congressional campaign committee?] is betting that Pres. Bush’s opposition to federally-funded stem cell research will hurt GOPers, especially in suburban CDs. The jury’s still out, but many GOP candidates have already been put on the defensive.
— Rep. Dave Reichert’s (R-WA 08) change-of-heart came after talking to his female staffers. After their tearful conversation, he voted to override Bush’s veto.
— Ex-Adm. Joe Sestak (D) has criticized Rep. Curt Weldon’s (R-PA 07) past opposition to stem cell research. Weldon switched his position during last week’s vote, calling it “one of his most difficult” decisions.
— And in IL 06, Iraq war vet Tammy Duckworth (D) highlighted state Sen. Peter Roskam’s (R) opposition in the state legislature.
— One endangered, suburban incumbent who supported Bush’s veto was Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA 08). His predecessor (Jim Greenwood) was a prominent GOP backer of stem cell research, and the issue figures to play prominently in the general.



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Christopher

posted July 25, 2006 at 3:42 pm


“Since many Americans have moral objections to the war in Iraq. . .[blah, blah, blah, leftist talking points follow to end].”
I don’t know, RP – since many Americans have moral objections to their tax money being stolen to fund the moral and educational sewers that constitute government schools, should Bush similarly object to spending money on them?
BDS snark cuts both ways, you know.



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RP Burke

posted July 25, 2006 at 4:05 pm


Christopher, you are exactly right! The standard Bush established is a rationale for abolishing nearly all government activity. That’s what makes it such a crock.



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Mom of 22B

posted July 25, 2006 at 4:50 pm


It is my understanding that embryonic stem cell research is yet to yield actual results, while adult stem cell research has. Can someone PLEASE tell me why, then, the push for this research.



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Peggy

posted July 25, 2006 at 5:39 pm


Gov Blag took action by executive order and also signed a law that makes pre-K universally available. I’m not sure how pre-k will be universally available when they will have to turn kids away b/c of budget/class size factors.
He does all this as the newspaper in the state capital reports the results of its analysis that Illinois has the worst budget deficit of any of the 50 states. Only a few states out of the 50 have a deficit at all. Some one’s not running things well up there in SPFLD.



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Mike Petrik

posted July 25, 2006 at 5:46 pm


Mom,
I believe that your understanding is largely correct, but it is my further understanding that scientists have sound reasons to believe that embryonic cells are especially receptive to medical manipulation and therefore have exceptional therapuetic potential. Of course, we Catholics understand that good ends cannot justify the use of intrinsically evil means. nonetheless, whether the means are intrinsically evil has not been established politically, even if it may have been established theologically. And of course, many people are perfectly comfortable with employing immoral means to achieve good ends if the ends are sufficiently important or valuable.



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Mom of 22B

posted July 25, 2006 at 6:00 pm


Thank you Mike! Where, then, do we draw the line of employing immoral means to achieve good ends? Killing the elderly to further the youth? Scary future…



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Jason

posted July 25, 2006 at 6:05 pm


Where, then, do we draw the line of employing immoral means to achieve good ends? Killing the elderly to further the youth? Scary future…
Reminds me of what Archbishop Fulton Sheen had to say about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima:
When, I wonder, did we in America ever get into this idea that freedom means having no boundaries and no limits? I think it began on the 6th of August 1945 at 8:15 am when we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. Somehow or other, from that day on in our American life, we say we want no limits and no boundaries.



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JACK

posted July 25, 2006 at 8:45 pm


I hate to sound crass, but don’t underestimate the fact that there is cost to continuing to maintain these embryos that were harvested but not used for IVF.
As for Tony Snow’s statement, I’ll take the veto and just say thank you, for now. Still shocked this is the first veto of this administration and surprised in some respects that he fulfilled this promise. I’ll leave for another battle getting the administration to understand why the veto should have been given.



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Matt

posted July 25, 2006 at 11:42 pm


So the charges have changed from murder in the first degree to involuntary manslaughter…
Ja ja fine distinction Herr Bush, you do the Vaterland proud…
m



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Ruth

posted July 26, 2006 at 9:30 am


“It is my understanding that embryonic stem cell research is yet to yield actual results, while adult stem cell research has. Can someone PLEASE tell me why, then, the push for this research”
Because embryonic stem cell researh is a proxy abortion issue.



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