Sunday, January 7, 2007

But can you build a brain for Rush?

I'm not entirely sure what to make of the new political reality in the US, which is essentially that the Congress and Senate will be at absolute odds with the White House on most issues until, at least, Bush's departure from office.

I went looking for Nancy Pelosi's record this morning, thinking that might give me some insight. As I expected, she's a fairly liberal Democrat: the Christian coalition hates her, unions love her. She's anti-war, pro-choice and probably thinks you can solve most of the world's problems with a group hug and a rousing chorus of kumbayah.

There's already talk the Democrats will begin denying White House funding requests for the war in Iraq. Of course, we already know they're pressuring Bush for a concrete timetable for pulling out the troops.

I think that's a ridiculous idea. It may be time to give the Iraqis some ultimatums and timetables for progress and if they don't meet them, then you look at pulling out. After all, if they can't get their own shit together, there's no reason the US should play nursemaid for an untold number of years. But, as long as the Iraqis are trying to stabilize their political, social and economic situation, then coalition forces should probably stay and help them.

I am happy that the Democrats will reverse some really moronic Bush decisions, such as his veto on stem cell research. Issues such as that, abortion rights, etc., are where I have a real problem with the current Republicans. As fuzzy as the Democrats are on defence and foreign affairs, the Republicans have been acting like evangelical pinheads on social issues.

I would challenge anyone who opposes stem cell and other genetic research to sit down with one of two of my friends.

One was stricken with Parkinson's disease in his early 30s. While Parkinsons, in itself, is not fatal, he has to take ever strengthening and increasing numbers of pills to control his shaking (trust me, Michael J. Fox was not faking his tremors as that asshole Rush Limbaugh claims). Now in his mid-40s, he has been unable to participate in many of the activities that he once enjoyed and has to take it pretty easy a lot of the time.

And, he's much luckier than my other friend who's not even 40 but who has late stage cancer which has now spread throughout much of his body. While my friend with Parkinson's can still look forward to watching his children grow up, my friend with cancer, barring a miracle, will not get to see his two young children reach adulthood.

Scientists, having unravelled much of the mysteries of human genetic structuring and having hugely advanced the knowledge and research into the cause of diseases and ways of combatting them, stand on the threshhold of bringing about great changes for people struck with any number of horrific diseases including Parkinsons and various cancers. Yet, in the US, where the financial ability, scientific equipment and societal will are all available to proceed with this incredibly valuable research, a small segment of ultra-right religious cro-magnon morons are holding it up because they've got the Republicans by the short and curlies.

Thankfully, the Democrats don't owe these religious loonies anything and they can now proceed to tell Bush to shove his veto (the only veto he's ever exercised to my knowledge) and get the scientists back to work.

As an example of the kind of idiotic thinking that went into banning stem cell research, I refer to a "discussion" I had on a messageboard with someone who said that using embryos or other bits of human material for research was "murdering" a "human being". Absolute bullshit. That's like saying a sparkplug is a car. Humans are - barring disabilities that stem cell research might help overcome - walking, talking, reasoning structures comprised of billions of cells and numerous organs all of which function together. A bit of tissue in a petri dish is not a human being.

I think we need to use science to our best advantage. That includes stem cell research, research with embryos and, if possible, even the cloning of body parts. Thousands of people die each year because of a lack of organ donors; we may be in a position where we can simply create and use those organs without the need for donors.

I have zero ethical or moral problems with that. And, my guess is that no one who's ever watched a child suffer with a debilitating and/or fatal disease, who's talked to a quadriplegic or who has spent time around people like the two friends I discussed above, does either. If they do, then they're no more human than those cells in a petri dish.

As for the religious argument: if God didn't want us to use our brains to advance the state of human existence, then God should have given us smaller brains and we could all go back to swinging from trees with our simian cousins (looking at Rush Limbaugh, one imagines he's about two steps from that anyway).

I can only assume, that having given us such a capacity, God intended us to use it to our fullest advantage. Here's hoping the Democrats do.


callieischatty said...

fuckI think Pelosi will do a great job.
She has already rebuked ( sternly and without mincing words) Carter for his stupid apartheid book and she has equal contempt for the idiots in the Bush white house.
I don't see her as the warm and fussy type at all, she is one tough cookie.
We need a new direction, the Bush's have really fucked up alot of things. And thats being generous.

Catherine said...

**thunderous applause**

Reminds me of Lewis Black's stand-up bit on the same issue, where he rants about how anyone who thinks a frozen embryo is alive is a fucking idiot, but since Bush thinks they're human beings, he (Black) has decided to adopt three of them and keep them in his freezer so he can claim them as dependents.

Incidentally, a couple of years ago I read about stem cell therapy putting a woman's rheumatoid arthritis into remission. I think the possibilities really are endless, and it's criminal not to allow stem cell research.

southfield_2001 said...

Pelosi can do a "great job" and the Democrats could still go in the wrong direction. It depends which way they want to steer the ship. If they can keep it away from the far-left, it will be okay, IMO.

And, cat...ROFLMAO. Lewis Black always cracks me up.
The possibilities really ARE endless. They've only scratched the very surface of what the might be able to do for people.

Suzanne said...

Southie, your blogging is on a roll! Great commentary.

Did I just read recently that stem cell material has been found in amniotic fluid?

Will that appease the idiots? Probably not!

southfield_2001 said...

Thanks, Suzanne. I'm glad the people I "know" have been coming to read it. I'm kind of just talking out loud, as it were. It's been enjoyable so far.

And, yes, I did hear about the amniotic fluid. And, no, it won't appease the idiots.

The really stupid thing is that they'd rather see, for instance, stored sperm and eggs allowed to just age to the point where they cease to be of use than to even use them when they could be of use and are just sitting there.

Michael said...

The Dems can do OK if they don't try to meddle with (read: stop) the Iraq war. Whatever mistakes the US has made getting in there, or trying to build it up, a strong case can be made that it's better for Iraq to be the battlefield, where the jihadis have to fight actual US soldiers who can shoot back and kick ass (have US troops ever lost an actual fight in Iraq?) than to have jihadis come to North America...

Personally, I think the nation building should be left out of the equation. Let the Iraqis do that. Let the Army fight the badguys.

Or maybe I'm just being simplistic.

Like Southfield, I do hope that the Dem Congress can roll back Bush's more retarded social issue initiatives, though.

Jeez, I'm rambling...

SUZANNE said...

The ban is not on *embryonic* stem-cell research *per se*, it's on the funding.

Embryonic stem-cell research has produced ZERO improvements, whereas non-embryonic stem cells have been used to treat many kinds of diseases.

And yes, by all the laws of biology, an embryo is a human being, even a pre-implanted one. There is a lot of ignorance about the biological beginning of human life.

callieischatty said...

Suzanne you are entitled to your opinion but Hadassah hospital and research center in Israel has come up with numerous applications.
Stem cell research is not controversial there at all.
It always surprises me to see how this can be an issue for some otherwise intelligent people.
To me, its like gay marriage, a real obvious non issue.

southfield_2001 said...

unfortunately, suzanne, without funding, research doesn't get done.
And, governments tend to be the largest source of funding for scientific research, at least in North America.

My definition of a human being is an actual person...
I don't agree with the argument that an embryo is a human being. It has the capacity to become a human being but so does each and every sperm that my body produces and I've got no problem sending those suckers to the death by the billions.

I would rather save real human beings struggling with horrific diseases than to involve myself in philosophical arguments as to the actual beginning of human life. I understand your position on an intellectual level but I can't agree with it.

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