Friday, June 03, 2005

Jonathan Alter Helping Newsweek's Credibility - Not!

If you want to read a column that gets my blood pumping - try this one by Jonathan Alter in Newsweek. It truly makes me sick to my stomach.

Some choice quotes (and there are a lot of them) include :

As a cancer survivor with an adult-stem-cell transplant under my belt, I'm not exactly neutral on the issue of embryonic-stem-cell research. It may end up being the best chance to save my life.

Huh? He was cured by adult stem cells but thinks that embryonic stem cell will save his life.

Note to Jonathan: Can you find an honest researcher that actually thinks they'll be coming up with cures via embryonic stem cells anytime soon? Shouldn't you be pumping up the non-controversial research that helped you not propagating false hope.

After all, every American who has a relative with one of these diseases—which means nearly every American—is beginning to understand the issue in a new way: it's "pro-cure" versus "anti-cure," with the anti-stem-cell folks in danger of being swept into the medical wastebin of history.

In other words, "those in the anti-cure movement just want Grandma and little Betsy to die. Those heartless fools. "

Besides never explaining the difference between adult and embryonic stem cell research, Alter's article is basically one continuous run of strawmen. Here's one of the biggest in my estimation. No mention that prolife people are large supporters of research involving stem cells that is actually saving lives or that they are only opposed to research that necessitates the intentional destruction of a human embryo. Oh no, then Alter would actually have to try to make an argument.

Now the brilliant scientific breakthrough in South Korea is further ripening the debate.

Alter never mentions what the "breakthrough" was. The reader is just supposed to know that cloning human beings with more success than last time is a "brilliant scientific breakthrough."

With global competitors poised to eat our lunch, a few private and state-funded efforts won't be enough. "You can't do research with your feet bound and one hand tied behind your back," says Jerome Groopman, a professor at Harvard Medical School.

That's right the Koreans will discover all those cures and keep them for themselves.

I love how researchers can claim that they've been restricted from doing embryonic stem cell research when it is completely legal, our federal government pays for research with certain stem cell lines, California will be throwing $300 million dollars a year at it for the next 10 years, and other states are following suit.

Bioethical blowhard Leon Kass of the University of Chicago conned Bush into seeing the issue as morally complex, but the rest of the world understands that it's simple enough—reproductive cloning (to create Frankensteins), no; embryonic-stem-cell research (to cure diseases), yes. (The phrase "therapeutic cloning" should be retired.)

Ha! Leon Kass and Bush there the only ones in the world who think that creating human embryos through cloning and then killing them for their stem cells might be moral problematic. Oh yes, and let's stop using the term "therapeutic cloning" because people might get the idea that human cloning is taking place.

This whole essay is childish. It's how I wrote when I was in junior high. Simplify everything, personally attack individuals you disagree with (Kass that blowhard) and use positive adjectives to describe actions you like (brilliant breakthroughs), and pepper your writing with a strong dose of straw that you can blow over.

Most nations understand this. Only Bush bitter-enders and the pope are in the perverse position of valuing the life of an ailing human being less than that of a tiny clump of cells no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence.

Clump of cells? Will those without an argument ever tire of using that term?

Most Americans still don't know all these details, but they're beginning to understand that religious extremists are hijacking the political system and robbing us of our essential national character—faith in the future.

You can't have a good pro-embryonic stem cell research column with the standard "religious extremists hijacking our government" line.

I wonder if Alter could possible recognize that those against killing human embryos for research put some "faith in the future" of human embryos.

Look for smart Democrats to run ads with relatives of the afflicted ("My sister has Parkinson's," "My father has Alzheimer's") pointing out that Congressman X is so extreme, he voted against a bill supported by many Republicans to begin curing these diseases.

If only those pesky prolifers wouldn't vote against more federal funding of embryonic stem cell research then we could begin curing these horrific diseases. I mean, the cures they're right around the corner, just like they were 4 years ago when Bush was deciding what his policy would be.

Alter's column reads like a persuasive speech written by an 11-year-old not a column in a magazine that is circulated nationally.

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