xaxanprilokevlixec, 800 mg b.i.d. (orally)


Sometimes I accrue such anger in my heart, and have nowhere to put it, which means that you, my fellow blog readers, occasionally suffer for it. I had such a moment this evening while listening to All Things Considered, when I heard a column written by a 33-year-old woman suffering from A.L.S. (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), read aloud by her sister. I know I ask a lot, but please give it a listen here – it’s short and heartbreaking.

We’ve had a lot of personal experience with ALS – Tessa’s great uncle died from it, as well as her friend Jennifer Estess, who famously created an organization to fight it. At the ALS benefit, we were honored to sit with Christopher Reeve, who told us first-hand how the current administration was keeping stem cell research in the Stone Age.

Tessa will never toot her own horn, so I always toot it for her: she made a documentary called “Project A.L.S.” that manages to be both informative and beautifully-rendered, and it won the Audience Award at the Nantucket Film Festival, as well as the Media That Matters award at Human Rights Film Festival. All this to say: we are living in the Dark Age Before Stem Cells Change Everything.

Even select Republicans have seen the light: Orrin Hatch and Arlen Specter have joined with the Democrats to push a national agenda on stem cells, and we could lead the world down the promised road, if it weren’t for… yep, you guessed it. George W. Bush. The man has stonewalled every attempt at an honest stem cell program (and no, conservative commenters, don’t even TRY to argue that one) and set us back decades. I don’t hate right-wingers for being wrong, I hate them for being cruel.

While Bush fucking cleared brush at his farm, Chris Reeve died, then Jennifer Estess, then thousands of other people with A.L.S., Parkinsons, Alzheimers – and right now my own mom may be slowly going blind from macular degeneration. All things that could be cured if we’d been on track with stem cells. Think of the amount of suffering just in this country alone: the men unable to hug their children, the intense pain, the depression, the suicide… all while that smirking fratboy President talks about “cultures of life.” Which is a code word for “as long as I keep my conservative base happy, your dad with Alzheimer’s can fuck off.”

Don’t tell me that we’re okay because states like New York and California are going ahead with their own stem cell research programs – do you know how much headway we could make if the whole country started a Manhattan Project to eradicate brain disease and paralysis? Plus, it puts more taxpayer onus on those states that are forward-thinking enough to do the research, when it would benefit all Americans (and the whole world, for that matter). It would be just one more thing that the red states would gladly take from us, even while they were “morally opposed” to how we got there. It’s enough to make you want to puke all over Oklahoma.

Our friend Josh Shenk has a cover story for the Atlantic Monthly right now (as well as a fabulously well-reviewed book) about Abraham Lincoln’s clinical depression, and how it made him better served to get our country through a time of crisis. He conjectured that Lincoln’s melancholy allowed him access to creativity, humility, empathy, and a theological relativism… that puts him squarely at odds with Bush, who is said to be HEAVILY medicated for depression.

Granted, the Bush-antidepressant rumor is still filed under “worst-kept secret in Washington,” but only a cocktail of SSRIs – like say, Prozac and Zoloft with a Welbutrin chaser – could make a man so visibly unaffected by massive human suffering, and make a President seemingly vacuous and indecisive when we need him most. And listen, if he’s NOT on antidepressants, it makes his behavior even worse.

Either way, I had a little daydream. While Darcy Wakefield was describing the hell of dying from A.L.S. above, I dreamt that all current sufferers of debilitating diseases that could be cured by stem cells gathered together. They resurrected the pale ghosts of Reeve and Estess, and they lined up with all their energy for one synaptic moment. All the useless arms and atrophied muscle came to life for a split second, as they all collectively hit Bush in the face with one glorious roundhouse slap.

I’m not violent by nature, and sure, it was a dream, but man, it made me feel better.

0 thoughts on “xaxanprilokevlixec, 800 mg b.i.d. (orally)

  1. Matt

    “The man has stonewalled every attempt at an honest stem cell program…”
    Only federally funded programs are “honest”? Is that what you’re saying? Bush happens to be the only president to ever fund them, by the way. Go ahead and blame the “smirking fratboy” for everything. Why stop now?
    Just so you know, my grandfather passed away last month after a lengthy battle with Alzheimers. So did his brother two years ago. Don’t fucking tell me I don’t care.

  2. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    Lincoln was clinically depressed? Wow! I am in the company of greatness! I am definitely going to read Joshua Shenk’s book — thanks for the tip. Tessa’s reader review of Shenk’s book reminded me of a book I read by Lauren Slater — her premise was that while the treatment of depression may help the depressed better deal with life, it may also take away the “edge” or quality of the personality which contributed to artistic talent, etc. Interesting thoughts.
    You know, I don’t think that Bush is on anti-depressants. I don’t give him enough credit to seek that kind of help. He strikes me as a “I don’t need any anti-depressant drugs! That’s for crazy people! All I need are Laura, my dog Barney, my daily jog and God to get me through!” kind of guy. I think it takes a lot of bravery, intelligence, and self-awareness to take the steps to get help for depression, and I just don’t see him as that complex or thoughtful of a person. Granted, he seems oblivious to all the suffering going on around him, but I attribute that to his self-centered popular fratboy persona of decades ago. To say that he is on anti-depressants assumes he has more substance than he really does.

  3. Ehren

    Two things:
    1) I don’t like the idea that depression is a useful tool for creativity.
    2) I thought that anti-depressants just stopped the excess sadness that had no rational cause, but didn’t stop you from being sad about stuff that it’s normal to be sad about or paint a plastic smile on your face. Am I wrong about this?

  4. cm

    I haven’t read Shenk’s book yet, but there has been alot of stuff in recent years that’s opened up the inner Lincoln a bit. In particular, Allen Guelzo’s Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President was one of the best biographies I’ve ever read on any subject. That book attributed Lincoln’s unusual empathy and evenhandedness to a fatalism that had a good deal (but not everything) to do with his melancholy. Could be useful further reading.

  5. Chris M

    Lincoln greatly relied on his Christian faith in all aspects of his presidency, including for the strength to press reluctant generals to aggresively pursue and engage Confederate forces. This tenacity resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties on both sides and, ultimately, Union victory and the emancipation of the slaves.
    Lincoln had his opponents, too, but they have been discredited or forgotten.

  6. cm

    One thing you have to keep in mind when speaking of Lincoln’s Christian faith: to the extent that Lincoln was a Christian–and in his last days I think he probably was–he was extremely ambivilant about the whole thing. Certainly his faith was a much different animal than George W. Bush’s. I think he probably felt himself an instrument of God. But unlike the current occupant of the White House, it was by no means clear that he felt God was using him to some great and good purpose. It would probably be more accurate to say he believed that the US was atoning with its blood for the sin of slavery.

  7. Chris M

    It is difficult to say what Lincoln’s position would have been concerning federal funding for research performed on stem cells obtained from human embryos. Given Lincoln’s own experience with actors, however, I suspect he would not be strongly influenced by Mr. Reeves.

  8. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    Ehren: I can only speak for myself, but the idea behind anti-depressants is that they help a person get a better “perspective” about things. They help to “take the edge off” — all of the anxiety, anger, agitation, sadness, dismay and negative thinking that coincides with depression is muted a bit, and a more balanced way of thinking that helps the person function takes its place.
    (My interpretation of) What Lauren Slater is trying to say (in “Prozac Diary” and “Love Works Like This”)is this: if you are an artistic/creative type who has been a depressive personality during the course of your creative years, and you decide to take anti-depressants. . . will you find that the “edge” that was blunted by medication was in fact the part of your thinking process that made you creative? If you are aided by medication so that you can function better, will you in turn be sacrificing the perspective that gave rise to your creativity?
    For me, anti-depressants have helped me find the humor in situations to which I would previously have reacted with anger and frustration. I take life as it comes, and I am generally more pleasant to be around. Most importantly, I am a better parent — I am able to relax and laugh with my daughter, whereas before I was tightly-wound, tense, full of worry and impatient.
    By the way, Ian. I love Nell Casey’s work — I remember the pregnant mommy sumo wrestler photo of Nell and Tessa from a while back. How is Nell Casey’s baby?

  9. kaz

    LFMD – for those who study psychology seriously, lauren slater is a crackpot. she happens to have knack for good prose, but she’s crap at doing real scientific work. so, take anything she says with a grain of salt.
    ehren – that said, whether you like it or not, there IS a correlation between depression and creativity or artistic talent, but i certainly wouldn’t say depression is a “useful tool” for anything. and correlation is not the same as causation…there are gobs of creative and successful people who are no depressive.
    and, indeed, while it’s important to remember that all psychotropic medications have slightly (or vastly) different effects on different people, they do NOT remove sadness or emotion. they dampen the responses to real-world stressors and internal cognitive cycles that can cause distress.

  10. Tessa Blake

    It is worth clarifying the stem cell issue at the federal level. There is a currently a ban against any federal appropriation for stem cell research outside of the 60 exisitng lines that Bush approved. The trouble, of course, is that Bush was working with incomplete information when he granted that exclusion – which is to say that only 12 of those lines are active and 10 of those 12 are thought to be contaminated.
    Hearing after hearing, senators and advocates have attempted to create an exclusion to the research ban for fertilized frozen embryos at fertility clinics, which will eventually be thrown away. As unpalatable as the whole concept may be to people, the basic debate comes down to research vs. garbage. This is why traditionally conservative Senators (Spector is the most vocal) have been in favor of creating an exclusion to the ban.
    There are a couple of other issues… Why do we need embryonic stem cells when adult stem cells have proved effective? And, why is there so much pressure of federal research when private and state research can move forward unhindered?
    First, ESC are pluripotent cells – which is to say that will differentiate as needed… become liver cells, neurons, etc… They may or may not prove to be the holy grail now anticipated, but we need to have the opportunity to test and discover their potential.
    Second, the federal funding ban creates a de facto moritorium on any FDA approvals of the trials that are moving forward elsewhere. So, we could find effective theraputic use of stem cells but it would get stuck at the FDA. And no one can risk treating people without FDA approval. They would be marginalized as quacks and be open to massive lawsuits. Moreover, the FDA trials and peer review process are extremely important to the discovery of safe therapies and medications.
    As to Ehren – I don’t know that depression is a requirement of creativity but I do think that pain is often a well-spring of compassion, innovation, and maturity. It is definitely worth reading Josh’s book.

  11. kent

    Bush tries to walk a knife edge between what scientists think is a fruitful avenue for research, and what his core constituency are willing to tolerate and still call Bush their own. This is a purely political finesse job; and one that his base should see as cynical hairsplitting.
    if people are so concerned about fertilized ava, why do they prefer they just be thrown away, rather than potentially do some good? If you are going to talk in terms of moral absolutes, which is what entailed a ban on funding of research with new cell lines, it would be more consistent to ban all research and demand destruction of existing lines.
    I do not want to argue the issue of abortion, because it is not a solvable proposition. But fertilized eggs die every day, whether they succumb to freezer burn, get tossed in a dumpster, or simply fail to implant in the wombs of women.
    To assign some moral primacy for fertilized human ova seems only supportable by religious faith — to see the finger of God sparking every egg when a sperm has its way with it. I do not intend ridicule of that belief, but it is a belief upon which science is necessarily agnostic.
    I believe that the bare potential for human life is a morally different thing than a human life, and that souls, should there be such, require a more substantial armature than eight or sixteen cells.
    Those two beliefs are at odds, and if the United States means ANYTHING any more, it means that where two beliefs contradict, neither is entitled to be enshrined in law. But the two positions are not morally symmetric. On the one hand, stem cell research has promise to cure suffering. On the other, a dumpster is a more fitting fate for unneeded fertilized human ovum than research.
    I also have a real problem with the idea that Bush supports a “culture of life.” He may oppose abortion, but he heartily supports pre-emptive war, the death penalty, cutting support to the poor. He turns FEMA into a clubhouse for the political operatives from his election campaigns, resulting in the unnecessary loss of hundreds of lives. He undermines environmental protection at every turn. He hires pet scientists to support his denial about global warming. The number of people whose lives have been adversely affected, even unto death, by George W Bush are numbered in the hundreds of thousands, all over the world.
    To me a culture of life would mean serious work towards an environmentally sustainable economy, a real investment in schools so that we dont just waste the human potential of the poor, an end to the egregious arms trade, an end to the death penalty, and yes, the use of fertilized human ova for medical research.
    I guess I should get my own blog eh?

  12. Ian

    Kent, you can get your own blog on my blog any time you want. As to Ehren’s question, I should have been more specific re: the Bush/antidepressant rumor. Apparently he has been medicated for rage and mood swings, which is a slightly different treatment. Even so, I found my own adventures on Prozac in the late ’90s to be a lesson in zero-empathy-levels and a fantastically flat affect.
    And my wife is sexy when she says “pluripotent.”

  13. badbob (real)

    Must be nice to have a lowest common denominator Boogeyman in GWB! Makes life pretty simple, eh?
    Running from subject to subject interrelating all of them with Bush and the Republicans as sum of all fears…boring.
    And to think you cutting edge liberals continue yourselves so fucking smart…
    Y’all are no smarter or usefull than this creature:
    Pitifull. Almost a Taliban way to look at things.

  14. Killian

    Ian-is there a moment when Tessa’s NOT sexy??? I think NOT.
    Ehren and others–I was creative when depressed (about 10 years) and I am creative on meds (the last 9). Functioning bettter helps me put my creativity to USE!

  15. Ian

    badbob- I know, it’s amazing, isn’t it? Your guy is on the wrong side of the issues nearly 94.8% of the time. I’d be stunned too if I were you.
    By the way, did you have anything trenchant to observe about the stem cell thing, or are you conceding the point?

  16. JJE

    My 13 week old is sleeping on my shoulder as I type this and words like “pluripotent cells” and “potential” jump out at me on a personal level.
    We have a picture of Connor as a three day old embryo in a petri dish and my husband and I often marvel at the microscopic clump of 8-10 cells that divided over and over again to become our son.
    That each cell “knew” exactly what it was destined to be – part of his brain, his elbow, or one of his cute little toes- is both a mystery and miracle to me.
    That he appears to be perfectly normal and healthy when at any point, a cell could have swerved wildly off the Connor blueprint, amazes me.
    That modern medicine, with technology barely 27 years old, allowed me to walk away from the depths of hell known as infertility and cuddle potential as it slumbers and slobbers on my shoulder makes me profoundly grateful.
    On a side note, there are actually two embryos in the picture, so we’ll never know exactly which one is Connor. On transfer day, the RE strode into our cubicle, handed us the print and declared them textbook perfect embryos. I think I’ll always wonder why Connor made it and the other one didn’t and whåt life would have been like if it had. At any rate, I figure I’ve got a very creative future pep talk – “you’re a lot tougher than you think” – for when he experiences some childhood crisis of faith.
    Like say he gets cut from his high school varsity basketball team as a sophomore. It will be the speech that inspires him to go on to hit the game-winning shot for the latest in a long string of Carolina national championships… ;-)

  17. Matt

    “[T]he federal funding ban creates a de facto moritorium on any FDA approvals of the trials that are moving forward elsewhere.”
    There are literally thousands of private clinical trials in hundreds of research areas now going on in the United States. Limited federal funding does not create a “de facto moratorium” on FDA approval. If anything, private research is relieved of some regulatory controls in place as a condition for federal funding.
    Here is President Bush on embryonic stem cell research:
    What sometimes gets me upset is the moral preening that Ian and his like-minded comrades on this blog often endulge in with respect to politics. They hate Republicans with the white hot fury of a thousand supernovas. To them, Republicans are evil, telling the sick and poor to “fuck off.”
    There are valid ethical considerations in the creation of human life for the deliberate purpose of destroying it. If one doesn’t believe an embryo or even a fetus is human life, then there’s no problem. But most people in this country don’t see it that way. To them, it is akin to killing a person (as the USSC has defined the term) for research purposes. I don’t think anyone here would advocate that.
    So opposition to embryonic stem cell research isn’t based in hate or an indifference to human life and suffering. The opposite is true. If you think such views are wrong, make the argument. But do it without the moral vanity.

  18. Claudia

    I would like to see greater general awareness and discussion of umbilical cord blood banking, donation, and research. It is possible that umbilical cord blood may someday provide us with a source of pluripotent stem cells without the ethical controversy of embryonic stem cells. We already know that umbilical cord blood is a source of multipotent stem cells, and is currently used in the treatment of many diseases. Here are some recent, interesting links:

  19. kaz

    as one of ian’s oft-like-minded comrades, i’d like to clarify that i don’t hate republicans in general or in theory.
    i hate GWB and his cronies, and i hate hypocrisy, which is realm of many modern day republicans. the most vociferous right-wing commentators are guilty of the same moral superiority of which you accuse the liberals. the difference is that when democrats call out an issue or a stance, like a culture of life, they actually propose to do things in line with those beliefs.
    if the christian right, for example, was honest about its beliefs (i.e. that the lives of iraqi citizens are not worth as much as embryonic stem cells) then at least i’d say the party was honest and that i disagreed with them. but, instead, there is no room for difference of opinion.
    and, by the way, there are plenty of democrats who are as politically conniving as bush, but their mis-steps don’t often end with thousands of dead and a national debt that might be the end of stability in the west.
    down with hypocrisy!

  20. Matt

    “the difference is that when democrats call out an issue or a stance, like a culture of life, they actually propose to do things in line with those beliefs.”
    If you’re referring to the death penalty, there’s a difference: an unborn person is totally innocent while a convicted first degree murderer is not.
    “if the christian right, for example, was honest about its beliefs (i.e. that the lives of iraqi citizens are not worth as much as embryonic stem cells) then at least i’d say the party was honest and that i disagreed with them.”
    What of the hundreds of thousands who were killed under Saddam? Shouldn’t they be included in the calculus? A plausible argument can be made that the liberation of Iraq has already saved lives. It’s a war against fascism, too, which at one time liberals would’ve supported. Now, most of them align with Cindy “End the Occupation of New Orleans” Sheehan.
    “and, by the way, there are plenty of democrats who are as politically conniving as bush, but their mis-steps don’t often end with thousands of dead and a national debt that might be the end of stability in the west.”
    On the contrary, modern liberalism (post-1970) is indirectly responsible for millions of deaths in Southeast Asia, environmentalists are directly responsible for millions of deaths in Africa, and unchecked Democratic social policies might indeed be the ruin of this country.

  21. kaz

    “environmentalists are directly responsible for millions of deaths in Africa”
    matt, while i agree that the death penalty issues have the added layer of “guilt” involved, your argument about the war again blatantly displays the very hypocrisy of which i speak. if bush had made clear that he wanted to go to war to battle fascism, the american people and the congress would have had an honest insight into his goals. but that was not the pretense under which he launched a pre-emptive strike. and, if fascism is the real enemy, why are we just going after countries that happen to have lots of oil?

  22. Cris

    Ian – great blog entry as always.
    Tessa – You never cease to amaze me. Who would have thought when we met 20 years ago that we’d be posting comments on your husband’s blog about stem cell research… or that I’d hear you use the word “pluripotent?” (yes, Ian, she is very sexy).
    I’d just like to chime in that, as Tessa said, all stem cells are not the same. We may never reach the point where we can safely transplant exogenous stem cells into, say, the brain of someone with Parkinson’s Disease and have them differentiate into new neurons which innervate the right target structures. That is.. without causing cancer and/or immune cell issues, among other things. The FDA is absolutely charged with making sure we don’t create new problems in patients while trying to solve existing ones -and rightfully so. But what we might someday learn to do, which would be the ideal actually, is to recruit a patient’s own endogenous stem cells to sites of injury or disease and induce them to become whatever cell has died. THAT would be amazing… but for that to ever be possible, we have to learn more about what makes these stem cells different in different organs at different developmental stages within the organism. It’s not enough just to analyze adult-derived stem cells – they’ve already lost some of the key properties we want to harness.
    For me, as Tessa said, it comes down to research vs. garbage. For cells which are already generated, which are intended for no other purpose and destined to be discarded… if we can learn from them and use that information to protect future lives, why shouldn’t we? I fail to understand the objections… although I’m sure there are readers on this forum willing to explain it to me.

  23. Matt

    For the reasons for going to war, see the following:
    Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq
    2003 State of the Union Address
    As for the millions of deaths in Africa, see:
    THE DDT BAN TURNS 30 — Millions Dead of Malaria Because of Ban, More Deaths Likely
    And that doesn’t even mention the deaths and suffering caused by Green opposition to GMO food aid.
    Why Iraq and not other places? Unlike North Korea, we have vital interests in the Middle East. This isn’t a Bush policy. Since the 1950s US policy has been that we would go to war to protect our interests in the region. Even Clinton affirmed it. And it’s not just the US, but world stability that depends on the Middle East.

  24. Ian

    Matt – I think…
    …oh, whatever, it’s just too exhausting. Perhaps all progressives should save their energy until your peeps are out of office.
    Claudia – We banked Lucy’s cord blood the very second she was born, wrapped up the package myself. Prices have come way down for the initial collection, and the yearly fee is about $100. I should mention that our OB-GYN made fun of us for doing it, but we are happy to be wrong for that amount a year.
    If someone in the year 2021 tells us that Lucy’s cord blood would be a Get Out Of Leukemia Free Card and we *didn’t* do it, that would be utterly shameful. WE HEART SCIENCE.

  25. Tessa

    Having worked as a journalist covering the FDA, I can unequivocally say that the FDA will not approve ESC therapy while the federal ban is in place.
    Moreover, this is not a democrat/republican issue. Arlen Spector and the late Strom Thurman have been vocal about their support of ESC research specific to fertility clinic stem cells.
    Finally, your representation of Bush’s opposition has no foundation given his allowance of testing on the current stem cell lines. Either he believes it is life or he doesn’t. Currently, he has chosen an odd and wildly ineffectual midde ground.

  26. Matt

    It’s not a “ban,” it’s limited federal funding. I agree this is not a Democrat/Republican issue. See the link above for Bush’s reasoning. It’s not as convoluted as you think.
    C’mon, give it the ol’ college try.

  27. Claudia

    Ian–Glad to hear that initial cord blood banking collection costs have gone down and that the yearly fee is relatively low. Also, donating umbilical cord blood is free.

  28. kaz

    matt, similarly, from your own quotation of bush’s speech:
    “Even the most noble ends do not justify any means.”
    his hypocrisy didn’t extend this belief to an unjustified and pre-emptive war to get saddam the fascist.

  29. kent

    Good ol badbob, complaining about my post without ever actually addressing any of the issues I raised. So I’m not wrong, just liberal and un-original?
    Matt, I’m glad you can link to bullshit articles. On just _ONE_ issue: GMO Foods are not safe, and there’s always a risk of gene exchange with other plants, raising the spectre of herbicide-resistant weeds.
    GMO foods are designed by corporations for corporate benefit — not to feed the world. What about seed companies refusing to sell seed because third world farmers keep back seed to plant the next year, instead of buying more seed from the company?
    And DDT caused populations of some bird species to crash, so it was outlawed. There are many mosquito-abatement methods that don’t involve poisoning the ecology.
    And ‘millions died because of ban.’ — millions are dead because first world governments collaborate with cleptocracies to extract natural resources in Africa, while their country’s infrastructure crumbles and the gap between rich and poor grows.
    Oh, by the way the ACSH is a conservative, corporate front, masquarading as a real scientific organization. Its only purpose is the give assclowns like Matt specious stories to site to back up his arguments.
    Love, Kent

  30. Matt

    “…although to say that environmentalists are responsible for millions of deaths in Africa because we banned DDT here is just grossly wrong.”
    That’s not what I said.
    “Even Rachel Carson didn’t call for an global ban, just a major reduction domestically.”
    Silent Spring was the basis for the anti-DDT movement — not just in this country but worldwide — and a lot of its claims have proved exaggerated, if not false.
    “Similarly with GMOs, I think the precautionary principle is the right approach. Prove it’s safe, then we’ll start using it — versus prove it’s unsafe before we’ll ban it.”
    According to the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, 45% of all corn and 85% of all soybeans grown in the United States in 2004 was genetically modified. It’s estimated that about 70% of all processed foods in the United States contain genetically modified ingredients. We’ve been eating the stuff for over a decade. It’s proven safe.
    “As for the stem cell issue, isn’t it bizarre (and yes, highly hypocritical) that Bush considers American blastocysts to be ‘sacred gift[s] from the creator’ but innocent Iraqi civilians are dismissed as ‘collateral damage’?”
    Do you see a moral difference between intentional deaths and accidental ones in a war of liberation? Accidental deaths in Iraq, by the way, are still far, far fewer than the intentional ones inflicted under Saddam’s regime. Also, would you say the same about other wars vis-a-vis accidental casualties?
    “As Tessa has thoroughly illustrated, many of the scientific assertions in Bush’s four-year-old speech are false.”
    For instance?

  31. Cris

    Matt- As a federally funded scientist, I naturally listened to that speech at the time. I didn’t buy it then, and I certainly don’t now. Kaz already made the point: It’s hard to understand how a government can argue on the one hand that, in the case of war, for example, it is acceptable to take the lives of other human beings in order to protect the greater good — but in the case of science, it is not acceptable to use cells which could have become human beings in order to serve the greater good. If we were hearing these arguments against stem cells from legislators who were also anti-war and anti-death penalty (and presumably anti-abortion), then I could at least respect and understand their position while disagreeing with them on the stem cell issue. But that has not appeared to be the case.

  32. Matt

    “GMO Foods are not safe…”
    That’s such a ridiculous statement that it hardly bears refuting. But if you wish to believe it, how is that we’ve been chowing down the stuff for years now? Where are the bodies piling up?
    Oh, yeah, in Africa. Where wharehouses full of GMO food sits rotting while environmentalists preen and the EU threatens the African countries with trade wars if they distribute the food.
    “GMO foods are designed by corporations for corporate benefit — not to feed the world.”
    And to steal my mojo!!!
    “What about seed companies refusing to sell seed because third world farmers keep back seed to plant the next year, instead of buying more seed from the company?”
    They are proprietary seeds protected by patent laws. The farmers can plant non-proprietary varieties if they want. No one’s stopping them. Without patent protections many pharmacueticals and agricultural products that improve lives wouldn’t exist.
    “And DDT caused populations of some bird species to crash, so it was outlawed.”
    A questionable assertion on its merits and also at a terrible cost in lives.
    “There are many mosquito-abatement methods that don’t involve poisoning the ecology.”
    They don’t work, Kent. And people are dying by the millions.

  33. Matt

    “…but in the case of science, it is not acceptable to use cells which could have become human beings in order to serve the greater good.”
    Once there is a market for ESC, the demand will need to be filled. The danger is that more and more ESC will be made for the sole purpose of destroying them. Would you sacrifice a few hundred adult persons to medical research if it meant life-saving benefits for thousands, or even millions, of others? I think the answer would be no.
    “If we were hearing these arguments against stem cells from legislators who were also anti-war and anti-death penalty (and presumably anti-abortion), then I could at least respect and understand their position while disagreeing with them on the stem cell issue. But that has not appeared to be the case.”
    I know how you feel. I can understand people who are so caring of life that they oppose both abortion and the death penalty. And I can understand people who are so cold-hearted that they support both. But how sick does one have to be to favor killing unborn children but not convicted murderers?

  34. Matt

    Fair enough, Ian. Can you tell me at which point the miracle happens and a clump of cells finally becomes a human being? Third trimester? Actual date of birth? Or don’t answer. I know we’ll never agree on this particular subject. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t know the answer either, which is why I don’t want to destroy embryos that, if simply implanted in a womb, could grow into an adult person.

  35. Tanya

    See here? Now THIS is an engaging, enthusiastic, INTERESTING debate. It indeed has a slight edge to it, and folks are about 2 steps away from calling each other names, but it’s good. It’s all good.
    Ian, thanks for a provocative post today. I’ve learned a lot from both sides. Albeit, I started off agreeing with you and ended up still agreeing, but it’s interesting to hear the arguments play out.
    (I must admit my eyes rolled a little when words like “pluripotent” were bandied about, but ya know…whatever.)

  36. Tanya

    P.S. Matt,
    “if simply implanted in a womb, could grow into an adult person”
    I believe there’s no “simply” about it. And I’d venture a guess that millions of couples who are struggling with infertility would like to beat you about the head and neck with that kind of toss off phrase.

  37. Emily

    “We’ve been eating the stuff for over a decade. It’s proven safe.”
    Safe for a decade. God only knows what could happen in 40 years. Nearly all farming and food production was organic up until WWII.. we don’t know what type of side effects this mutated and processed food will have, or what effects it’s already having. This isn’t to say I approve of food going to waste while people are starving, just that there is no conclusive evidence this stuff won’t REALLY fuck us up eventually.

  38. Chris M

    It is 2035. By act of Congress, any embryo not implanted in a womb, or placed in a licensed Fetus Development Facility, within five years of fertilization is taken by the government for “important public health purposes” as defined by federal law.
    The Republicans control the White House and Congress. Congress has passed, and President George W. Bush V has signed, legislation amending the definition of “important public health purposes” to now include a procedure that eliminates cellulite on the ass of any affluent women who can afford the procedure. This procedure utilizes a mere eighteen embryos per cheek and soon creates a large new market for the health care industry producing hundreds of millions of dollar of profits annually. People magazine heralds the greatest advance for women since breast cancer was cured in 2015.
    The very powerful Cellulite Elimination Treatment Association (CETA) begins aggressively lobbying Congress to reduce to three years from five years the time in which embryo donors may wait to implant or develop an embryo before it is taken by the state for “important public health purposes.” Some women find the destruction of embryos to treat cellulite disgusting, millions of other women badly want a smooth ass and are willing to pay handsomely to obtain it. It is America, who wins?

  39. Matt

    “I believe there’s no ‘simply’ about it. …millions of couples … would like to beat you about the head and neck with that kind of toss off phrase.”
    You know what I mean, Tanya. The embryo is capable of developing into a full grown adult.
    Warrior writes:
    “I avoid GMO foods as much as possible.”
    Unless you are a very careful consumer, you probably eat GMOs every day.
    “Again, I recognize that few GMOs have been found to be harmful, but too many questions remain for me to feel comfortable ingesting them in quantity. If you feel otherwise, then by all means — bon appétit!”
    The waffles are splendid! Seriously though, GMOs have FDA approval and there’s not a shred of evidence that they are harmful. All evidence is to the contrary, in fact. The techniques involved in genetic modification are basically just more precise than conventional breeding.
    “Do you see a moral difference between blastocysts and fully-developed human beings?”
    Are blastocysts the same as embryos? That is, are they capable of developing into a fully-developed human being? My answer is dependent.
    “Also, anytime the word ‘liberation’ is used in connection with Iraq, I’m reminded of the Chinese ‘liberation’ of Tibet. I’m not in favor of that one, either, BTW.”
    If you don’t see a difference between our involvement in Iraq and China’s involvement in Tibet, then we probably don’t have a lot to talk about.
    “Are you referring to the roughly 1.5 million Iraqis who died because of sanctions in the 1990s? Because I campaigned against that, too.”
    That number is B.S., but the deaths that did occur during that time can be laid squarely at the feet of the crooked UN and its Oil-for-Food program. You should look into that scandal sometime. Billions of dollars skimmed from a program to deliver food and medicine to Iraqi people.
    I was referring to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who were killed by Saddam’s police. His trial is coming soon, it should prove enlightening to many.
    “I would say that stringent measures should always be taken to minimize civilian casualties.”
    I agree and believe that’s exactly what we are doing. We are waging the kindest, gentlest war in history.
    “If a war can’t be avoided (this one could have been), then weapons and tactics that put civilians at undue risk should not be used.”
    I think this war was long overdue. The list of Saddam’s transgressions and refusals to cooperate with the international community goes on and on. There comes a time when words either mean something or they don’t.
    “Examples of such weapons include cluster bombs, landmines and anything containing depleted uranium.”
    I don’t think we use landmines in Iraq and I know we only used cluster bombs in the early stages of the invasion in areas where civilians were not present. Your fear of depleted uranium is unfounded. The military has conducted extensive studies on this subject and found no evidence of any danger from “contamination.” The level of DU dust particles needed to be inhaled or ingested to cause harm is ridiculously high. It would be easier to overdose on nicotine.
    “Thanks for a good discussion. I mean that sincerely. We disagree about a lot, but we are talking. Which is a start, isn’t it?”

  40. david

    Tess great post. Reasonable tone.
    Kent “assclowns” is copyright to helenhighwater@earthlink.net please send your royalty payments there.
    “I do not want to argue the issue of abortion, because it is not a solvable proposition. But fertilized eggs die every day, whether they succumb to freezer burn, get tossed in a dumpster, or simply fail to implant in the wombs of women.” I brought this up to my brother who is a research scientist, suggesting that A). those are cells already destined for destruction, or B). couldn’t we develop egg donor program to cultivate the cells. He felt, and I think your statement points out that the abortion dialogue is just a mask. The real issue is about funding. The scientists actually have plenty of research lines available. Don’t argue with me, I’m paraphrasing what he said and he is not a film maker or an actor, he is a man who makes his living researching and teaching, and writing and reading med. and science journals.
    “The FDA is absolutely charged with making sure we don’t create new problems”
    But, the FDA can be lubricated very easily if you’re a pharmacuetical firm with pull, ie., money. This is from attorneys who work closely with FDA reports. Viox, anyone. And I’m not one who say Viox is patently evil. Just that doctors didn’t tell patients of very possible side effects and problems that could occur.
    Now, I’m torn over the funding thing. On one side I think the bio tech (not all but some, and if there is funding thrown too much around there’ll be more than some) could become snake oil like there was in the dot com years. Crappy coding at a genetic level is a little scarying than a black screen system crash. I also think some responsible business can fund themselves. It’s called bootstrapping. I’ve had to earn a profit from day one, but we all know some trainwreck firms that existed for six or seven years without ever having a profitable quarter, and the guys at VP level take home a quarter Mill. salaries with bonuses. On the other hand I know there was never a capitalist venture on a large scale that did not receive massive government funding or contracts in order to leap it ahead. Think trains, steam freighters, space program, highways, auto, aircraft, computers, etc…
    Matt, how dare you “toss off” a phrase while people are struggling with issues of fertility. Every sperm is sacred. Cute Emily.
    Kent. Bush has major flaws, as a man. But, don’t we all. I would never want that job. I think we all just imagine we could play one better on TV. As a politician he is rather subpar for the course. Of course FEMA is filled with cronies. that’s what politicians do. When I worked as secretary of a party I was than reward with a plush posting in charge of the EPA (all boys mock state government summer). Not to say I didn’t work my ass off in both positions, but the second one came because I was good, my candidate was elected and I was his man.
    And for the mentions of his depression. Well, hell try this on for size. ‘Read my lips, Absofuckenlutely, I’m depressed. The dog hates me. My wife won’t talk to me. The daughters won’t keep their clothes on. The niece was paired with David Lauren, how is that gonna’ sound if they get hitched — Lauren Lauren?! I don’t mind that his dad is Jewish. I do mind that he changed his name. My name is Busch for god’s sake I didn’t change mine. Speaking of which I heard they call me shrub now is that true. I look stupid in photographs. My ears stick out. See this gray. I didn’t have that before. I’m not a born speaker, and the sound clips make me sound retarded. And stupid. All I ever wanted to do was play baseball or maybe own a team, and then I was asked to run a country and damn it now I’ve got this war going on. I’ve got to lead the country and be strong, but inwardly I’m thinking did I read that passage right God. Can I get a little translation help here? And then maybe God is mad at me cause he threw this hurricane at my country. Some rapper who makes more than me said I hate black people, and I’ve two in prominent positions and have the first colored female and first female chef ever to serve in the white house. Putin is not the man I thought he was. I miss my ranch. Hell yeah I’m depressed wouldn’t you be. Shouldn’t I be. Hell, David wasn’t all so happy when he wrote most of those Psalms, but he was a man of God. So, like that Boner feller said, “I don’t know if I can take it I’m not easy on my knees.”’
    I also have major problems with no bid contracts. I am opposed to my mechanic having them on commodities such as tires, and I’m opposed to Halliburton having them. But, I play cronies in my business, as I’ve surrounded myself with quality people. They are my sounding board, and my support in really tough times they know how to do things right the first tie and get them done under deadline. I think every case really has to have it’s own decision made. Thank god not everything is voted on like it is here in San Francisco. Nothing gets done.
    I don’t eat GMO just because I’d rather support smaller farms. I think the health benefits are generational not anything very measurable in our lifetimes. And aesthetically I’d rather look at an heirloom tomato than a perfectly symmetrical round one. But, then I like real breasts too, not silicone. Maybe I’m just weird.
    “They don’t work, Kent. And people are dying by the millions.”
    Some of those methods that Kent might allude to would be bats. They are very susceptible to conditions such as noise and light that come from encroaching civilization. Pesticides also cut down there numbers. But, they consume far more mosquitoes if healthy. They are incredibly ravenous. Unfortunately, it’s a downward spiral as far as civilization for the most part.
    “millions are dead because first world governments collaborate” That’s actually a very powerful statement right there. As part of the most powerful and pervasive first world government we are ALL responsible. If you really want to protest our countries wars, don’t give the multinational corporations and their puppet governments anything to fight for. I’ll be there is more power in the pocket book than in the polling booth. But, you probably need someone with the media power of Hearst to convince the masses of that.
    Great discussions.

  41. kent

    David, your Bush soliloquy should be published somewhere. It was funny, but ultimately sympathetic to the man. Really, I don’t hate Bush.
    The problem is, he’s got a lot of blood on his hands. Not that a certain amount of civil mayhem isn’t a necessary condition of presidency, but he’s killed people because he was deluded, and he’s killed people because he was negligent. He’s killed people for the financial advantage of his cronies. He’s killed people in the name of abstract principles that he’d look stupid trying to define.
    I’m really tired of the moral remove politicians seem to place themselves at relative to the people they hurt.

  42. oliver

    “I’m really tired of the moral remove politicians seem to place themselves at relative to the people they hurt.”
    No one take the job otherwise. Surgeons stand at a remove from their patients and their diagnoses for the same reason. You make your best guess. People die. Somebody’s gotta do it.

  43. badbob (real)

    “badbob- I know, it’s amazing, isn’t it? Your guy is on the wrong side of the issues nearly 94.8% of the time. I’d be stunned too if I were you.”
    Ian- You did view the video link right? Point is, that despite the correct grammar and the nifty use of the language your hyper-hyperbole ridden diatribe on the “stem cell thing” made about as much sense as the Nation of Islam dude talking about spaceships that Mr. Muhhamed has visited.
    If I was GW I’d be on something a helluva lot stronger than Zoloft if I listened to the left. Large doses of single malt scotch maybe? No, that’s not right, he’s already done thattrip before correct? Catcha 22.
    To be blunt your GW is on PROZAC/ZOLOFT drugs and that Lincoln was depressed (no shit Sherlock, there was a Civil War on) have about as much connection with GW being responsible for Christopher Reeves death…. wait a minute, I’ve lost the trechant point.
    Perhaps you could contact that spaceship and ask ’em to sort it out.
    “re- By the way, did you have anything trenchant to observe about the stem cell thing, or are you conceding the point?”
    Other writers here have represented my postion on stem cell research adequately, I do not need to display my technical ignornance of the subject.
    I’ll keep it simple- I have an open mind regarding research for all the reasons you are so passionate about, but I don’t want that old Frankenstein thing coming on..do you?
    But then again maybe we could engineer a race of Super- Republicans..yeah, I like that! Beware.’
    re Kent: What can I say? you’re a Buttbuffoon!

  44. Matt

    Everyone’s moved on by now, but I just came across this article on the destructive consequences of the DDT ban.
    “[Any known alternative to DDT] only kills farm workers, and most of them are Mexicans and Negroes. So what? People are the cause of all the problems. We have too many of them. We need to get rid of some of them and this is as good a way as any,” said Dr. Charles Wurster, chairman of the Environmental Defense Fund’s Scientific Advisory Council and a key promoter of the DDT ban.”
    Anyway, the article ends with:
    “[T]he malaria plague seems to be off the public radar. However, let there be no mistake: Rachel Carson and the worldwide environmentalist movement are responsbile for perpetuating an ecological genocide that has claimed the lives of millions of young, poor, striving African men, women and children, killed by preventable diseases.”
    Read it, Kent.

  45. david

    Dare I say, I suppose I am sympathetic to the ‘man.’ Although, I was juts thiking it was pretty funny to imagine him NOT depressed. I can separate the man from ‘the office.’ And I can separate ‘the office’ from what is really happening in politics, since it’s just one part of the machine.
    “he’s got a lot of blood on his hands.”
    Well this administration is enacting the Wolfowitz Plan, which was forged under Clinton, and that he was unable for better or for worse to move on because public opinion was not unified enough under him for him to go to war. We can either blame, monica, Bill, the right, or take repsonsibility for the trashy new whores that we’ve become as a nation. The Plan is a public document now and should be read by all. Understand the awesome powers that this nation puts into play so that we can all have cheap sneakers, and trader joes, and everything else we have.
    “he was deluded”
    Yep. He was the man who the interests could use to swing the vote and get him elected. Once in the swung that massive population again in order to play out their strategy. 9-11, and a few other sthings just helped to galvanize the situation. Homeland security for the most part is an act of paranoia, some very small good, but tons of overstepping of individual and public rights.
    “moral remove”
    And, what of the ‘moral remove’ the people of the United States personally put between their own lifestyles and the wars waged by the global corporations that feed on it.
    We as a nation went to war.
    Kaz, I’m confused by your statement.
    Do you think it is a Christian war that is being waged by American troops? Or that it is the Christian right (modern boogeyman de jour) who has pushed this agenda. We have to quit blaming other people for what is wrong with our democracy.
    There are always civilians killed in war, and it is very unfortunate. But, at least on the ground more civilians are killed by car bombs than out soldiers. But, the minute a civilian picks up a weapon he is no longer a civilian.
    Matt — I have problems, major problems with the use of late next generation napalm like substances we used early on, and the lousy excuse that it was something other than it was. That was an irresponsible act that should not be swept under the carpet.
    Looking forward to 2008.

  46. Matt

    David, you’re referring to the MK-77 firebomb, a variant of napalm, which was used on three occasions in the early days of the invasion to take out entrenched Iraqi positions. The MK-77 is a legal weapon. There were no civilians in the areas where they were used and not a single civilian death by the MK-77 has even been alleged. I suppose we could’ve cleared those positions using infantrymen, at no small cost in American lives, but I, for one, am glad we didn’t have to.

  47. Joe

    Nice site Ian. I’m surprised at an online debate where people actually have some facts to back up their sides.
    Except for 2 examples. Dr. Charles Wurster & Minister Nashim Nzinga (you can’t use crazy people… it makes you look bad for even suggesting they are relative to the debate). Not to mention it’s just a subtle version of the “Hitler reference”:
    And to throw in a hypothetical:
    If a woman is infertile because her uterine lining is absolutely unable to sustain an embryo, is it “abortion” every time a man has sex with her and creates an embryo?
    And the hypothetical follow up:
    Then that embryo could be extracted and used for research (or smoothening asses) without objection? Of course, it would be logistically impossible to provide an upbringing for those embryos, especially if that woman was a nymphomaniac (I like nymphos).


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