[FoRK] Tell your friends: Fire Karl Rove!
Tue Jul 12 20:56:44 PDT 2005
Jeff Bone wrote:
> The real question, here, is whether this will finally sink into the
> thick noggins of some of the knee-jerk formerly-moderate Republicans
> who have inexplicably closed ranks so tightly around this gangster
> "presidency" over the last few years. Some of those folks,
It's inspiring to see Spector losing it with these folks.
Even if it is from barely-generalized self-interest.
(... and even Hatch?!)
Yes, stem cells are a bit distant from Rove, but any indication of breaking
ranks with the True Believers in the WH is a good sigh.
Pass the Stem Cell Bill
Wednesday, July 13, 2005; Page A20
THE SENATE WILL soon take up a bill -- already passed by the House -- to
liberalize the Bush administration's policy on federal funding of stem
cell research. Under the current policy, government money can be used to
fund research on certain embryonic stem cell colonies -- known as
"lines" -- but not on any begun after the policy itself was adopted in
2001. The new bill, pushed by Sens. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Tom Harkin
(D-Iowa), would relax this standard considerably, permitting federal
support for study of a wide array of stem cell lines generated from
embryos left over from in vitro fertilization. President Bush has
promised a veto. The Senate should make him do it.
Mr. Bush's policy on stem cell research was not as bankrupt an idea as
his fiercer critics sometimes make out. It allowed federal money to
begin flowing to a field that might promise dramatic breakthroughs in
the treatment of devastating diseases. At this point, however, the
policy has outlived its value and is impeding research. Consequently,
the public now faces the question of whether to let moral anxiety about
the use of human embryos frustrate science that could save and improve
This might be a difficult choice were these embryos not being created
and destroyed anyway. But these small clusters of cells, which are not
yet even fetuses, are routinely generated in fertilization clinics in
quantities that exceed the number of embryos that will actually be
implanted in women. They will never grow into babies; the only question
is whether they will be discarded or used in a fashion that benefits
As the Senate vote draws nearer, there has been talk of alternative
legislation that would fund research into promising scientific
techniques that might produce stem cell lines without requiring embryo
destruction. The idea is to peel off conservative support for
liberalizing the president's policy by creating an option that could
still be framed as supportive of stem cell research. Alternative
strategies for creating stem cell lines -- an idea discussed yesterday
in an op-ed column by Leon R. Kass, chairman of the President's Council
on Bioethics -- should certainly be explored, and it makes sense for
Congress to support such research. But these techniques are, at this
stage, nascent and uncertain and have not yet successfully yielded cell
lines [and have not been published in any referreed journals -- joe].
They therefore cannot now support the research that is so urgently
needed. Federal support for research into their viability is at best a
complement to -- not a substitute for -- funding the full range of study
possible now on embryonic lines. Such hypothetical alternatives should
not be permitted to derail an important change in policy.
POLITICS AND POLICY
Ranks on Stem Cells
Senate Is Likely to Pass Bill
Expanding Federal Funds
For Research, Defying Bush
By BERNARD WYSOCKI JR.
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
July 7, 2005; Page A4
WASHINGTON -- Republicans are breaking with President Bush on federal
funding for embryonic stem-cell research. The question is whether enough
of them will break to upend his policy anytime soon.
Polls show that most rank-and-file Republicans favor increased federal
funding for such research, despite the staunch opposition of Mr. Bush
and conservative leaders. In May, 50 Republican House members defected
from the White House line and joined Democrats in approving a measure to
Now it is the Senate's turn to consider the idea. And backers of
expanded research say they have a chance to do even better: amass a
majority large enough to override a presidential veto.
Reaching that 67-vote threshold won't be easy. And it probably wouldn't
result in overturning Mr. Bush's restrictions on embryonic stem-cell
research now, because the House vote was about 50 votes short of
override strength. But proponents say every strong display of support
moves their goal closer to reality -- if not in this Congress, then in
the one after 2006 elections.
"If the president vetoes the legislation, the issue isn't finished,"
said Lawrence Soler, a government-relations official at the Juvenile
Diabetes Research Foundation, a stem-cell advocacy group in Washington.
"The fact that a majority of the House and Senate support the
legislation is a critical step in building support that will eventually
produce an expansion of the policy."
[Getting on the Board]
The first challenge is getting the 60 Senate votes needed to surmount a
filibuster by conservative opponents of expanded research. Proponents
say they are already on the threshold of clearing that hurdle. But the
greater the number over 60, the greater the chance of forcing
concessions on stem-cell policy from a White House that has long relied
on near-unanimous support from fellow Republicans.
Moderate Republican senators who favor abortion rights, such as Arlen
Specter of Pennsylvania and Olympia Snowe of Maine, already are mostly
aligned with minority Democrats favoring expanded research. Those still
in play tend to have antiabortion credentials and political backing and
are wary of breaking ranks with party leaders and the president.
But many of these senators represent states with solid constituencies,
in universities and business, for advances in medical science. Those
constituencies, combined with polls showing lopsided public support for
embryonic stem-cell research, leave the Senate's stem-cell swing bloc
"If we could find some happy compromise that allows the research to
continue, we would all be happy," says Sarah Chamberlain Resnick,
executive director of the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership.
"We don't want to force the president into a veto."
Among those wavering is Sen. George Allen, the former governor of
Virginia. His state has a thriving science and technology industry. But
Mr. Allen is a potential 2008 entrant in Republican presidential
primaries, where social conservatives wield strong influence.
Sen. Allen ducked questions about his stance in an interview, saying he
won't be "pigeonholed" on whether he supports the current Senate bill.
He said he seeks a "third way" to avoid ethical dilemmas, such as
scientific procedures that extract stem cells from an embryo without
So far, however, that approach consists mostly of proposals or
early-stage experiments in animals; in some cases the results haven't
been published. And the possibility that existing embryos could be
harmed in some cases leaves the idea vulnerable to objection under the
government's legal and ethical guidelines for federally funded research.
Embryonic stem cells have the special ability to develop into every type
of cell in the human body. Their medical potential may include
treatments for Parkinson's disease, diabetes, heart disease and other
ailments. Supporters say the bill awaiting Senate consideration limits
funding to stem cells from those embryos that would be discarded by
fertility clinics in any event because they are unneeded by couples.
Opponents say the research amounts to destruction of human life. The
policy Mr. Bush enunciated in August 2001 permitted funding for research
on those stem-cell lines that existed at that point. To create embryonic
stem cells for research, a stem-cell line must be created from the inner
cell mass of a week-old embryo. Embryonic stem cells can grow and divide
indefinitely and can be distributed to researchers.
Another officially undecided Republican is Sen. Norm Coleman of
Minnesota. Though Mr. Coleman has a strong right-to-life voting record,
his state boasts a large biomedical industry, the Mayo Clinic and a top
stem-cell research facility at the University of Minnesota. Some of
those biomedical interests worry that failure to overturn Mr. Bush's
policy will push stem-cell research overseas or to states such as
California, which recently passed a $3 billion bond issue to conduct
Some Republicans with strong antiabortion reputations, like Utah's Orrin
Hatch, are already squarely on the side of expanded research. Proponents
hope that Mr. Hatch's co-sponsorship of the Senate bill will provide
political "cover" for other antiabortion senators to line up behind
"Life doesn't begin in a Petri dish," Mr. Hatch said at a recent news
conference. Some social conservatives acknowledge that Mr. Hatch's
outspoken stance has undercut them.
They respond, in part, by warning members of Congress that support for
embryonic-stem-cell research is a "slippery slope" leading toward
therapeutic cloning, a process of cultivating stem cells that are
tailored to individual patients, but is specifically excluded from this
legislation. "The real issue is cloning," says Douglas Johnson,
legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, a large
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who opposes expanded research, has
said it is likely that a bill will come to the floor soon after the
chamber's recess. But unlike in the House, where leaders permitted only
a yes-or-no floor vote, the Senate's wide-open rules permit potential
That means the legislation could be modified and set up negotiations
between the House and Senate on a final version.
Such a process, especially after a major show of strength from backers
of expanded stem-cell research, could tempt the White House to acquiesce
in a compromise.
Write to Bernard Wysocki Jr. at bernie.wysocki at wsj.com
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