I have to say I feel somewhat like a bit actor in an episode of “The Twilight Zone” unable to stop the insanity of a plot unfolding around me. In actuality, I am a bit player in the real life stem-cell wars watching a tidal wave of political pressure aimed at overturning the Bush policy.
With shear unfounded hysteria, proponents are claiming the president’s stem-cell policy is handcuffing our nation’s top scientists, restricting medical research and holding back cures from our loved ones. The hysteria has led to the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, which passed the House in May and is slated for a vote in the Senate any day.
In anticipation of a presidential veto on just such legislation, 58 U.S. senators signed a letter to George W. more than a year ago urging him to expand his stem-cell policy. The most irritating parts of the letter include deception and a passive aggressive voice – a combination of tactics that may be common in politics but makes me want to vomit. I just can’t stand people who smile while they lie and lob insults. I think they’re evil.
In this case the letter says, among other things, “Embryonic stem cells have the potential to be used to treat … Alzheimer’s and many other [diseases].” The truth is stem cells will never provide a cure for Alzheimer’s. This is simply a ploy to tug at the heartstrings not the head of Americans by invoking the memory of Ronald Reagan. However tragic, stem-cell therapy offers no hope for a cure of this disease.
Sure, stem cells can morph into any cell type. And researchers hope that by guiding them into specific cell types they can be used as a “universal patch” to treat diseased or injured tissue. But Alzheimer’s is a whole-brain disease. It doesn’t affect a subset of cells that could be replaced to produce a cure. But why let the truth get in the way of such a good promotional opportunity to capitalize on the illness and subsequent death of a beloved national hero?
The letter goes on to say, “While it originally appeared that 78 embryonic stem-cell lines would be available for research … only 19 are available … [all of which] are contaminated with mouse feeder cells, making their therapeutic use for humans uncertain.”
The truth is more than 20 stem-cell lines are currently receiving federal funds, and according to one source, there are 16 additional stem-cell lines in Sweden that have not been contaminated by mouse feeder cells.
These misstatements of fact are blatantly made against a backdrop of disingenuous appreciation for the president and his position on medical research. The letter concludes with words that sound like a new refrain to “We are the World” and the false promise that human suffering could end if only Bush will lift the limits of federal funding for ESCR.
Now couple that load of crap with the recent barrage of emotionally charged statements made by leading senators. In particular, Sen. Arlen Specter, who is sponsoring the Senate bill, is decrying the inhumanity of withholding medical research funding; blasting alternative research and making no secret of his anger toward opponents of his legislation. What’s more, he now unabashedly relies on his own personal testimony to sway public opinion because he is also a cancer patient.
Due to his own circumstances, he is now willing to “lift his self-imposed ban on discussing personal matters on the Senate floor and frame the debate in intimate terms – including a ‘long list of [his] medicines and [his] ailments.’” (Just a little hypocritical, don’t ya think?)
Adding to the momentum, Gov. Rob Blagojevich of Illinois skirted the Illinois Legislature on Tuesday this week and committed $10 million of taxpayer money to embryonic stem-cell research. That makes Illinois one of a handful of states jockeying for position in this falsely hyped technology market. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, “Blagojevich signed the executive order at Children’s Memorial Hospital, to the cheers of patients, researchers and mostly Democratic politicians. State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, said it would be ‘unethical to not do what we’re doing today.’”
So, why the unstoppable tidal wave of support when in 20 years embryonic stem cells haven’t produced a single cure for a single lab rat and adult stem cells are successfully treating over 58 different diseases? The answer is a trifecta of forces that includes big biotech, the academic elite and Hollywood. Big biotech wants to cash-in and scientists want to play God, while Hollywood simply wants to retain its control and role as the biggest purveyor of sex. Does the last one on my list surprise you?
The explanation is that sex sells, and it sells better without complications like unborn children to gum up the fun. So the Hollywood effect also factors in the pro-abort movement. Their goal, as we all know, is to ensure the unborn remain treated as a commodity. As long as the unborn remain a disposable commodity, sex will continue to sell without restraint. And Hollywood remains king of their domain.
So that’s it. Driven by a common cause that will feed their individual desires, the big three are successfully advancing the false promises of ESCR across the nation. How far we let them go really is up to bit players like you and me.