March 09, 2009
An Issue Journalists Keep Getting Wrong

The headline from the P-I: Federal stem cell funding renewed

From the text of the article:

Bush limited taxpayer money for stem cell research to a small number of stem cell lines that were created before Aug. 9, 2001.

The AP write up implies ignorance of the fact the P-I headline writer obviously doesn't understand: the federal government wasn't spending a dime on embryonic stem cell research prior to Bush approving limited such work in 2001.

Thus, there is no funding to be renewed - it never existed in the first place. Ever.

What Obama is doing is expanding a policy put in place by Bush 43; a policy that in and of itself created federal funding for such research when none existed under President Clinton.

Now, good people can debate the pros and cons of Obama's policy, notably in light of recent research breakthroughs which cast doubt on the need for ethically controversial options.

Either way, let's at least get the facts of the policy debate right.

Posted by Eric Earling at March 09, 2009 09:04 AM | Email This
1. Obama and the left continue their cascade of a nation too ignorant and indifferent to comprehend or care.

Posted by: Saltherring on March 9, 2009 09:54 AM
2. And I quote the One, "medical miracles do not happen simply by accident." Someone should tell the lunkhead about Penicilin.

But note that even the One draws an ethical line in the sand by declaring using stem cells for human cloning as "profoundly wrong." Perhaps Biden could help him wind his moral compass....

Posted by: threeoddnumbers on March 9, 2009 10:36 AM
3. Eric - your just playing semantic games. The bigger issue is imposing religious doctrine in science. This is killing the GOP.

Posted by: Crusader on March 9, 2009 11:39 AM
4. This is like the Rush Limbaugh distraction. There is no limitation that the right is actually imposing on stem cells, etc. nor any religious doctrine placed on science. Sure there are some isolated pockets of luddites trying to teach intelligent design, etc. but there is certainly no widespread GOP policy of prohibiting stem cell research. But the talking points and marching orders get handed down by Rahm, and the bloggers, taking heads and commenters go crazy trumping everything up to help paint a more vilifying picture of anyone who disagrees with the left.

It's a great strategy until reality catches up and exposes bad lefty ideas. Just because they distract with Rush, etc. doesn't mean that time and results won't be the final arbiter of their actions.

Posted by: Jeff B. on March 9, 2009 11:56 AM
5. Eric, you are technically correct that there was no federal funding for embryonic stem cell research under President Clinton. Then again, there wasn't any under President Lincoln either. However, once the promise of such research became apparent, it was repeatedly stymied by Republicans.

In 1995, on the recommendation of the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel, Clinton proposed to allow such funding, but the Republican-controlled Congress blocked it. Then, on the recommendation of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, the Clinton administration drafted rules to allow some such funding that would have complied with the Congressional restrictions, but Bush suspended even these rules before they could take effect in 2001, imposing far stricter rules.

So yes, the media should get the details right. But those details just highlight the Republicans' lengthy and shameful history of putting politics ahead of science.

Posted by: Bruce on March 9, 2009 12:07 PM
6. Bruce,

What kind of politics are involved with the unwarranted and unscientific ban on cloning? And what about those pesky little bans on human experimentation? One wonders what those unfettered Doctors in Germany during the late 30's and early 40's might have discovered if the politics of the allied powers did not come in and stop all funding based on some misguided morality arguments.

Posted by: Eyago on March 9, 2009 12:17 PM
7. Crusader, you said: "The bigger issue is imposing religious doctrine in science. "

How so? There was never a ban on embryonic stem cell science imposed by religious people was there?

Posted by: Gary on March 9, 2009 12:21 PM
8. People, it's very simple. If there is no federal funding in any endeavor, then that endeavor cannot be political. Using federals funds to fund *anything* makes it political by definition. Same goes for science. Right?

The world is upside-down. Ike warmed us this would happen.

Posted by: Gary on March 9, 2009 12:27 PM
9. The media keep misleading on this issue. Michael Medved was pointing out how some of the headlines stated "federal ban on embryonic stem cell research overturned", when there was no ban on that kind of research. There was a ban on taxpayer dollars for such. And yes, there IS a difference.

Posted by: Michele on March 9, 2009 12:39 PM
10. Eyago@6, most people (as well as the ethics commission I mentioned) do not see a moral problem in experiments on embryos that are already slated for destruction. While you are welcome to your own moral judgment, you (and Eric) can't hide from the fact that Clinton tried to fund such research and was blocked, first by the Republicans in Congress and then by Bush. (Ironically, by 2006 even the Republicans in Congress wanted to relax those rules, but Bush used his first veto to prevent them.)

Posted by: Bruce on March 9, 2009 12:39 PM
11. Why exactly does this have to be federally funded? Are no private sources able or willing to do so? If they are not, could it be because it isn't worth pursuing?

Posted by: Gary on March 9, 2009 12:49 PM
12. Bruce,

The point is, moral positions on scientific research exist which pretty much undermines your parting shot. The question is where one draws the line on the particulars of the moral issue. If one believes something is immoral, they have a particular responsibility according to their own ethics to use the political system to address the issue.

In addition, arguments about the majority or any other supposed group being for or against something is a fallacy. The merits either stand or fall on their own, not on whether ethics boards or political groups favor them or not.

Posted by: Eyago on March 9, 2009 12:53 PM
13. Gary, it doesn't "have" to be federally funded. There is a lot of privately-financed medical research, some for profit, some not for profit, and that includes embryonic stem cell research. But the majority of medical research in the USA (and the rest of the world) is funded by the federal government. I know that fringe libertarians, etc. don't like that, but most people, Republicans and Democrats, support it. So if the federal government imposes criteria other than science on its grants, our dollars are not being used as effectively as they could.

Posted by: Bruce on March 9, 2009 12:58 PM
14. I disagree. I do not believe the journalists are ignorant of the facts. I think they are well informed and deliberately lying to diss Bush and make Obama look good.

Posted by: Paddy on March 9, 2009 01:07 PM
15. Bruce, do you understand then that using federal money to fund this science *is* making it the science a political issue, and that is why so many people are against it on moral grounds? There are people who really do think this is nothing more than killing, and doing so with their money against their wishes.

Perhaps is the feds didn't fund so much of it, there would be more private research. But the feds are taking over everything, including science.

Posted by: Gary on March 9, 2009 01:12 PM
16. Eyago@12, if you want to say it's immoral, fine. But then don't try to hide the fact that Clinton tried to promote this type of research while Bush blocked it -- which is the subject of this thread. Also don't pretend they're really just scientific judgments (as some here do), and don't complain if the majority of Americans call your morality inconsequential (the embryos would be discarded anyway), inconsistent (why is it morally better to discard an embryo than to perform scientific research on it?), hypocritical (why not oppose the destruction of all embryos, such as extras from in-vitro fertilization procedures?), and damaging to society.

Posted by: Bruce on March 9, 2009 01:16 PM
17. Bruce,

Any idea where your "majority of medical funded by the federal government" factoid comes from?

Wikipedia says this about biomedical reserach:
Pharm companies: 29%
NIH: 28%
Biotech Companies: 19%
Medical Device companies: 10%
Other govt: 11% (Guestimate)
Private foundations: 3%

That gives government 39%

Of course, when you have government involved, you have politics. And we are surprised? When there is about 35 billion public dollars to be divvied up, there will be tons of politics involved in how it is spent. It is facts such as those that make Libertarianism seem more attractive.

Posted by: Eyago on March 9, 2009 01:20 PM
18. Gary@15 claims, "using federal money to fund this science *is* making it the science a political issue".

I disagree. Does using federal money for hurricane relief make that a political issue? And no Democrats have proposed funding embryonic research for political reasons. A minority of Republicans, unfortunately including President Bush, made it political. Perhaps they did so for genuine moral reasons rather than political gain, but I think their moral reasoning was fuzzy, bad for society, and based on religious beliefs that I don't think they should impose on the rest of us.

Posted by: Bruce on March 9, 2009 01:25 PM
19. Bruce

RE: #16

Don't try to build stawmen of arguments I have not made so you can look clever as you knock them down.

Stick to the facts. Bush did not try to block the research, just limited the federal funding of it. THAT is the subject of the post. No federal ban on embrionic stem cell research, just a ban on funding new lines of it. Feel free to argue the pros and cons of that, provided you stick to the facts this time around.

Inconsistent? You do not know me at all. Don't project.

Hypocritical? See above.

Damaging to society? Failure to perform human experiment is damaging to society by your logic. Reread #6 for clarity.

Posted by: Eyago on March 9, 2009 01:32 PM
20. @15: But the feds are taking over everything, including science.

What? I'm sorry... if the government WEREN'T involved in research, we'd have no advancements whatsoever. Private companies are absolutely awful as spurring original research, and even in the cases where they do come out with something groundbreaking, there is all the incentive in the world to patent the hell out of it and never allow it to be widely used. Public research at universities is probably the only reason why the U.S. has a lead over other countries in research and development.

But hey... go ahead. Promote the idea that science budgets should be cut. We'll get fifty more ways of treating your impotence and hair loss, and no cures for Parkinson's or malaria.

Posted by: demo_kid on March 9, 2009 01:33 PM
21. @17: That gives government 39%

That number is meaningless without plenty of caveats. *Original* biomedical research is more likely to come from universities funded by the NIH or other government agencies. Pharm companies are more likely to take the ideas from university research facilities and adapt them for use.

If you gut science and R&D funding, the only thing you're doing is completely eviscerating the declining advantage the U.S. has in original research. If we lose that, you might as well stick a fork in us, because we'll be done.

Posted by: demo kid on March 9, 2009 01:41 PM
22. Bruce, of course using federal money makes it political. Otherwise, you and I would not be talking about it, would we?

And Bruce, one does not need to be religious to be opposed to federal funding of this research.

Again, any federal money for anything make the issue political. It has to.

Posted by: Gary on March 9, 2009 01:49 PM
23. What Obama the liar is doing is throwing money at a technology (embryonic stell cell research) that has never been shown in a double blind study to have any positive effect on any condition.

Adult stem cell research however, has been shown to work.

So really what Obama has done is invested in buggy whips in a world of modern automobile. The thirst for death amongst the macabe left appears unquenchable.

Posted by: pbj on March 9, 2009 01:54 PM
24. I think the big story is how the media is reporting it. They act as if Obama had ended the Salem Witch Trials.

Perception is everything and leftists know how to exploit it.

For those who doubt me, remember the "Bush wants to privatize Social Security" furor? It was another big liberal lie, but the entire country still believes it.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on March 9, 2009 02:04 PM
25. BillC writes, remember the "Bush wants to privatize Social Security" furor? It was another big liberal lie, but the entire country still believes it.

Yeah, the problem with poor George W. Bush is that people didn't understand all the good things he wanted to do, if we'd just given him more power...

Posted by: Bruce on March 9, 2009 03:23 PM
26. Bruce, perhaps you'd like to address what Bush actually proposed.

I'll provide a bit of assistance: Bush proposed that those contributing to Social Security be given the OPTION of contributing a small percentage to investment vehicles of their own choice.

The left and their groveling media portrayed that as "The Bush plan to privatize Social Security".

Would you call that a lie, Bruce? If not, what would you call it?

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on March 9, 2009 04:05 PM
27. If the leftists ever stated the facts correctly, they would be faced with a contradiction of their opinions; so of course the headline says "renewed" -- otherwise the evil genius Bush wouldn't look so evil.

I'm just wondering if the promise by Obama's man to get information out to the public will mean that "scientists" like Hansen and Mann will have to reveal their "black box" formulas for adjusting temperature data and projecting trends to people other than their trusted cohort among the manmade global warming zealots. I would bet it doesn't mean that they will have to act like scientists and put their opinions up for scrutiny.

I figure the big O just wants us to bow and accept whatever his handpicked "scientists" say is the truth. We are to be ruled by technocrats who know best.

Posted by: Micajah on March 9, 2009 07:15 PM
28. That is perhaps the biggest irony of all, Micajah.

"the big O just wants us to bow and accept whatever his handpicked "scientists" say is the truth"

The very people who claim to stand for open mindedness and tolerance are in reality a bunch of thought police.

They don't engage in open debate. A free exchange of ideas scares the left to death.

Instead, they lie.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on March 9, 2009 07:47 PM
29. Slavery Party Failed Abortion lied through his teeth again when he wrote:

What? I'm sorry... if the government WEREN'T involved in research, we'd have no advancements whatsoever.

LIE. I've got a few patents - and dozens pending - that had ZERO input from Government funds. None. Nada. Some of these patents fundamentally changed the way SONAR systems are designed and built, allowing for higher resolution at lower cost. Meaning you can use fewer transducers to ensonify a given volume of water.

And others of these patents fundamentally change the way loudspeaker drivers are designed and operate, allowing higher efficiency and smaller motor structures for the same output (meaning - they're GREEN!).

The only involvement with the Government in this research and development was the taxes paid on my parts, equipment, and time, and of course the fees paid to the US Patent and Trademark Office to get such patents filed.

In other words, in my research and development over the last two decades, Government's "contribution" has been to suck dollars away from me, not fund or assist.

*Original* biomedical research is more likely to come from universities funded by the NIH or other government agencies.

Citation please. This is HUGELY wrong. Talk to anyone at Zymogenetics, or Celltech, or any of the Seattle area biotechs. You'll find it's STOCKHOLDER DOLLARS that fund the research. And if there IS a connection to Government, it is these same corporations giving funds and grants to colleges for additional research.

Private industry funding GOVERNMENT research is the norm, not the other way around.

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on March 10, 2009 05:08 PM
30. Journalists is too kind of a word to describe them. They are the tabloid writers that are controlled by big brother, but are not intelligent or perceptive enough to realize that - but that is exactly the way they come across. They are polluting our sensibilities with their piecemeal news.

The suits the O administration just fine. The lazy and amoral people and mental midgets will just accept it, while those who have initiative, a backbone and want to make this world a better place will check other sources and get the real picture instead of the spoon-fed pablum the tabloid media throws at you. I doubt that stem cell research will produce any more innovations. This issue has been politicized to the max by the bleeding heart moonbats and a few years of this research will bear this out.

Question: Why did Obama say "No cloning" when the Exec Order that he signed left opened the door wider for it to occur ?

Posted by: KDS on March 10, 2009 09:28 PM
31. The Marxist Slaver Left once again is wrong...

Obama just signed a law prohibiting embryonic stem cell research.

Now when do we hear the cries of anger from the Marxists here... Factless, pissed at your Obamassiah for not supporting embryonic stem cell research? Slavery Party Failed Abortion? ObfusCATOr?

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on March 13, 2009 08:02 PM
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