March 09, 2009

Cell Sell


WASHINGTON Reversing Bush policy, President Barack Obama on Monday cleared the way for a significant increase in federal dollars for embryonic stem cell research and promised no scientific data will be "distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda."

Obama signed the executive order on the divisive stem cell issue and a memo addressing what he called scientific integrity before an East Room audience packed with scientists. He laced his remarks with several jabs at the way science was handled by former President George W. Bush.

"Promoting science isn't just about providing resources, it is also about protecting free and open inquiry," Obama said. "It is about letting scientists like those here today do their jobs, free from manipulation or coercion, and listening to what they tell us, even when it's inconvenient especially when it's inconvenient. It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology."

He said his memorandum is meant to restore "scientific integrity to government decision-making." He called it the beginning of a process of ensuring his administration bases its decision on sound science; appoints scientific advisers based on their credentials, not their politics; and is honest about the science behind its decisions.

Fulfilling a campaign promise, Obama signed the order that on stem cell research that supporters believe could uncover cures for serious ailments from diabetes to paralysis. Proponents from former first lady Nancy Reagan to the late actor Christopher Reeve had pushed for ending the restrictions on research.

Obama paid tribute to Reeve, calling him a tireless advocate who was dedicated to raising awareness to the promise of research.

Obama's action reverses Bush's stem cell policy by undoing his 2001 directive that banned federal funding for research into stem lines created after Aug. 9, 2001.

Ya know, it isn't just the distortion of the Bush policy refusing to provide federal funding for this sort of thing into some kind of seeming active attempt to stamp out scientific research altogether. (You remember all those black helicopters with white crucifixes on their sides landing on the roofs of the private labs and confiscating all their data and materials.)

It isn't just the fact that a phrase like "ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology," when subject to a couple moments' reflection, is not just idiotic but is downright horrific. (I'm sure Dr. Mengele would have argued that, hey, he was just pursuing facts, too.)

No, I think in the end it's the basic lack of balls (pardon me) to say, "Hey, we think the value of the possibility of coming up with life-saving or life-enhancing medical breakthroughs through this kind of research outweighs the value of the lives of all those unborn embryos. Screw you."

I'd still violently disagree, but at least I'd have a bit more respect for the decision.

Posted by Robert at March 9, 2009 02:05 PM | TrackBack

Thanks for the helping of yummy Soylent, Mr. President. I like mine with ketchup!

Posted by: Ed Flinn at March 9, 2009 02:09 PM

The President's premise is absurd. It implies when someone opposes embryonic stem cell research, it is done on "ideology", which of course is "bad". The President, it has been shown, is "post-partison" and now, by extension, "post-ideology".

When dealing with research involving human beings, if we don't guide research with a moral code and associated ethics then we will be heading down the "ends justifies the means" road.

Which is the moral premise that overrides any objection to this research.

Posted by: kmr at March 9, 2009 06:19 PM

post-ideology = post-moral

In other words, lacking in a moral compass, imho.

Posted by: jen at March 9, 2009 07:12 PM

I'm glad President Unicorn has refrained from taking cheap shots at his predecessor. cough

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