Monday, May 23, 2005

Sunday Morning Heartburn

Watching the Sunday morning political television shows can be difficult for me. I love discussion of political issues but I can get way too annoyed watching Sunday morning TV. Mainly because politicians and journalists can make numerous claims and provide no evidence for these claims and the hosts never ask for their source. I also am annoyed by the formatting of these programs which usually doesn't help provide any actual dialogue or rational argumentation just quick sound bits. My wife and I usually leave for church around 9:20 (9:25 if she hits the snooze button more than once) but we went to the later service this Sunday so I was able to watch my "favorite" programs.

By switching back and forth and at commercials I was able to watch parts of Meet the Press, the Fox News Sunday and This Week (ABC's show).

First and foremost, I hate it, absolutely hate it when hosts, commentators, politicians, etc. equate embryonic stem cell research with stem cell research as if the only kind of stem cell research involves experimenting on the remains of destroyed embryos. It happened on Fox News and This Week, over and over again. Chris Wallace, the host of Fox News Sunday, kept saying "stem cell research," never informing viewers that it is only embryonic stem cell research that people are concerned with.

This seems to be a trend in the media, where seemingly few if any people are aware that research with adult stem cells and stem cells from umbilical cord blood is helping people all over the globe.

Anne Graham Lotz briefly hinted that there are different types of stem cell research but I saw nothing else that would help an Average Joe or Jane who doesn't know much about stem cell research.

Second, Republicans who are in favor of embryonic stem cell research and using federal funds to pay for this research have no principled ground to stand on when they try to oppose human cloning. Both Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Senator George Allen from Virginia are in favor of embryonic stem cell research but opposed to human cloning, including human cloning for biomedical research.

Instead of being able to say, "we shouldn't be killing some human beings in the hopes of curing others," "every human being regardless of size or development is precious and irreplacable," or "intentionally killing innocent human beings for their body parts is wrong" they are left saying fuzzy statements like, "I think this is just going to far," or "this is a line we shouldn't cross" and have real difficulty explaining why we shouldn't cross this line when they are in favor of crossing the other line. It is unfortunate that many individuals who oppose legal abortion have allowed pseudo-science and the extravagant claims of big biotech to shade their thinking.

Fareed Zakaria is Ignorant about Embryonic Stem Cell Laws Around World

Throughout the round table discussion on embryonic stem cell research and cloning on This Week, Fareed Zakaria continously asserted that no other country was having this debate over embryonic stem cell research. Note that the debate in the United States is over when and how many federal funds should be used for this unethical research not whether it should be legal or not.

Fareed had absolutely no clue what he was talking about. Some countries even ban embryonic stem cell research. I found this paper which describes many countries and their positions on embryonic stem cell research and cloning. It says that embryonic stem cell research is banned in Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Ecuador, Austria, Ireland, Italy, and Norway. In some of these countries the law forbids research on embryos but doesn't specifically mention if it is allowable to experiment on embryonic stem cells if the cells were removed from an embryo in another country. It also doesn't mention many Islamic countries in the Middle East, many of whom I would guess would also be against this type of research.

Besides the facts not being on Fareed's side, he didn't have much of an argument either. It basically boiled down to "Look the rest of the world is doing it, why shouldn't we?"

Dana Reeve - Spewing Lies Left and Right

Here's what Dana Reeve, widow of Christopher Reeve, had to say on where embryonic stem cells come from during This Week:

"A lot of people will say, 'Well, you have no right to tamper with human life.' By 'tampering with human life,' I believe that they're talking about using an early cell that even if it were implanted, that it would not become a human being. That's where you get stem cells from. This is not a baby. It's not an embryo. It is pre-embryonic. This is something that would not, once it was implanted, turn into a human being."

So you get stem cells (plural) from an early cell (singular) that wouldn't become a human being even if that early cell was implanted and embryonic stem cells don't come from embryos? Thanks for the science lesson, Dana.

UPDATE: It appears I'm not the only victim of Sunday morning heartburn. Melinda Penner from STR takes on Boomer Esiason and Howard Dean.

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