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Though I always insisted I was left as a foundling on my parents’
doorstep by Gypsies — what’s the current politically correct term,
Romany-Americans? — I have to say that as Father’s Day approaches, I
miss mine. My father, I mean. It’s been nine years since he departed
this earthly plane, and we didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye. That
smarts.

I miss him picking out “Freddie and His Fiddle” with one hand on the
out-of-tune spinet piano in the spare bedroom. I miss his example of
reading the dictionary, and not dancing, also his example. I miss
wanting to be an electronics engineer, like him. I miss building a radio
with him in 9th grade. I miss his goofy jokes and scary stories, the
Phillylooloo bird that flew backward to see where it’s been, the monster
Mr. Grundle who would take my little brother and me away to Jamesburg,
the place for bad kids, if we didn’t stop misbehaving. That’s the short
list.

I’m trying to imagine what it would be like as a clone on Father’s
Day. Men are starting to get worried, and with good reason. Some folks
are concerned that as cloning
progresses to its logical
conclusion, fathers will be pushed totally out of the picture. “… The
male of the species is becoming irrelevant. … This may be the last
millennium in which the male has an essential role in the procreation of
the species,” warns Philly writer Elmer Smith. His justifiable frenzy
is not only about cloning. More and more women are electing to have
babies via artificial insemination rather than by seducing and/or
marrying a cool dude. And in some blatantly feminist households, the
vibrator is king. Shocking.

With a cloned piglet expected early in the year 2000 from scientists
in Scotland,
plus
attempted cloning of male monkeys, can a cloned and fully functional man
be far behind?

It’s quietly leading up to that. Already there have also been
successful cloning of three female goats, two
genetically engineered cloned calves named Charlie and George, another
calf cloned in Japan from the ear of an adult steer, a pair of
genetically engineered cloned sheep named Molly and Polly, superseding
pioneering Dolly the sheep in Wow factor, and even a male mouse cloned
from tail-cells of another male mouse. Despite scientists encountering
compelling evidence that cloning creates serious damage to long-term
health, don’t expect that to stop them.
Sorry, guys.

Even a generation ago, in retrospect, men were beginning to be phased
out, perhaps inadvertently, by science. Contrarian historian Francis
Fukuyama

blames
the birth control pill: “The pill was supposed to give women more
control over their reproductive lives; instead in the United States and
other Western countries, its introduction was followed by an explosion
of illegitimacy, divorce, and single-parent families.”

Think about the implications. “… By giving women the means to
prevent pregnancy, the pill freed men from the social responsibility of
dealing with the consequences of sex,” Fukuyama points out, citing
research by economists Janet Yellen and George Akerlof demonstrating
“the pill had paradoxically liberated men rather than women from
responsibility for the children they created. The fatherless household
that subsequently emerged contributed to a host of other social ills,
such as poverty, crime, poor educational achievement, and drug use.”

Along comes renegade scientist Michael Wolf to up the ante. In his
novel trilogy called “The Catchers Of Heaven”
this “medical doctor, neurologist,
psychobiophysicist, computer scientist” and former military intelligence
insider who allegedly worked in CIA and NSA Black Budget weapons
programs and “UFO cover-up” projects after serving in Vietnam as a
flight surgeon and counter-intelligence officer, describes U.S.
government cloning of a soldier called G.I. Joe.

Hmmm. The Wolf who cried Boy. I ask Professor James McGee, a Bay-area
researcher who has read and endorsed the trilogy, if he thinks the
author really collaborated in cloning a soldier? “Yes,” he says, ” I
know Dr. Wolf participated in the scientific team which cloned a human
intended to serve as a soldier.”

This has already been done? But yet the mainstream media is merely
abuzz with news of farm spawn: calves, piglets, and mice. “It is a rule
of thumb concerning Black Projects,” says Prof. McGee, “that any
information made public about a technology is 20 years behind where the
classified technology has advanced to.”

So the strategy would be, cloning soldiers that would be expendable,
like androids? “That is what certain military officers wanted to
produce,” explains Prof. McGee.

I guess that makes sense. Would these soldier-clones take 18 years to
mature, or could they be produced in a few years to go to war with a
populous nation like China or Mexico? “Dr. Wolf says they go from test
tube to fully mature adult in one year,” says Prof. McGee.

Astounding. Can either Prof. McGee or Dr. Wolf substantiate that
claim in any way? “It is still extremely classified,” says Prof. McGee.
“He is not permitted to provide any corroborative documentation.”

Does Dr. Wolf discuss this on the record? Besides in his
fictionalized trilogy? Says Prof. McGee, “The only place and situation
in which Dr. Wolf is on the record is in his book — and indirectly via
releases through me.”

Not even as “deep background”? “That is correct,” says Prof. McGee.

But I persist. Can Prof. McGee send me any science on this? He
answers by not quite answering. “The unclassified, i.e., civilian
cloning work has been covered in the press. …”

Covered, and uncovered. …

  • Naturally, the first cloning experiments were envisioned in
    Hitler’s Germany, back in 1938, when Dr. Hans Spemann proposed removing
    the nucleus from an unfertilized egg and replacing it with the nucleus
    from a differentiated cell.

  • Scientists Crick, of the UK, and Watson, of the U.S., paved the way
    for future laboratory progress when they discovered the structure of DNA
    in 1953.

  • The UK’s Dr. John B. Gurdon cloned a frog by transplanting the
    intestinal cell of a tadpole into an altered frog egg, which develops
    into an adult frog, in 1970.

  • Achieving a major breakthrough in genetic engineering, Berg and Cohen
    of the U.S. complete the first successful gene splicing (recombinant
    DNA), in 1973.

  • The first test-tube baby, Louise Brown, conceived in vitro, was born
    in 1978 to Leslie Brown of the UK, 1978.

  • In a victory for potential genetic engineering profiteers, the U.S.
    Supreme Court ruled that a man-made bacterium may be patented, in 1980.

  • During the Orwellian year of 1984, Denmark scientist Dr. Steen M.
    Willadsen cloned a lamb from a developing sheep embryo cell. Other
    scientists repeat his experiment, giving rise to various other animal
    clones.

  • In the U.S., dramatic reports of the “first humans cloned” in 1993,
    when cells from defective human embryos discarded by an infertility
    clinic are grown in vitro, developing up to the 32-cell stage before
    allegedly being destroyed.

  • U.S. scientist Dr. Ned First clones calves from cells of early
    embryos in 1994.

  • UK scientists Drs. Wilmut and Campbell in 1995 reportedly create the
    world’s first cloned sheep, Megan and Morag, from embryo cells.

  • Next, in 1996, Dr. Wilmut and his team clone Dolly, the world’s first
    sheep from adult cells.

  • U.S. scientists in 1997 at Oregon Regional Primate Research Center
    (U.S.) create two rhesus monkeys, Neti and Ditto, the first primates,
    from DNA extracted from cells of two different developing monkey embryos
    so they were not genetically identical.

  • Once again a UK team led by Drs. Wilmut and Campbell in 1997 create
    the first sheep with a human gene in every cell of its body, Polly the
    genetically engineered lamb.

There’s more. But you get the picture. An industry poised on the
precipice of great potential profits, ready to explode, like a bad Robin
Cook thriller, preparing to plunder “discarded” human embryos, and
harvest organs from slave animals, create throw-away soldiers for
futuristic cannon fodder, and provide huge returns to shareholders.

First they cloned a carrot, then a lamb, next thing you know, they’ll
clone potatoes and onions and make a mean clone-lamb stew, just in time
for Father’s Day. Big deal. Now if they’d clone somebody significant
like your husband, your wife, your kids, your favorite pet, or, say,
actor Brendan Fraser of “The Mummy,” then finally there might be enough
of our loved ones to go around. Science doing something useful for a
change. Think of the possibilities! Coming to your neighborhood movie
theatre soon, a major motion picture adapted from the newest Michael
Crichton novel, “They Cloned My Husband!” It gives “Was It Live, or
Memorex” new meaning, doesn’t it. Post-Marital Cloning! That would be
rich, an end to the monotony of monogamy, the heartbreak of infidelity!
Cloning someone you can’t get enough of, obviously means never having to
say you are sorry. A pair for the wife and a spare for the sweetheart.
Or, Harold1 wants to sleep, send over Harold2: the passion that never
quits — now that’s a clone.

What’s the big fuss about this cloning thing anyway? The media world
went nutz! Remember the simultaneous TIME and Newsweek covers? And how
President Bill Clinton threatened to withhold Federal funding for future
cloning experiments involving humans! While doubtlessly Monica has had
him cloned from the left-over stain on her dress. And what about those
bumper stickers like “HITLER LOVES A CLONE!” Even the Pope had to stick
his two cents in. The Pope has a big concern: clones have no
soul!
The Pope! How could he know? How predictable. Well, if He
were cloned, he would be The Popes! An Avant-Rock Group, so naturally,
the Pope would HAVE to be opposed.

Nevertheless, this continuing cloning fuss shows once and for all how
totally non-important vegetables are in the national consciousness. Who
heard a peep when the first carrot was cloned? Anyone ever mention fears
of the Carrot Lobby unduly influencing Vice President Gore? Noooooo.
Heard a word whispered about the Broccoli Bunch, that no-respect veggie
unduly excoriated by President George Bush? Never! And forget Nixon,
just forget him; he was the one who ate cottage cheese and catsup,
wasn’t he, and so far, science in its infinite wisdom has found that
impossible to clone. What about God, what does he/she have to say about
cloning — doesn’t that put God out of a job?

Mom the test-tube, Pop the petri-dish. Whatta concept.

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