PJ O’Rourke slams Obama on stem-cell reasoning

posted at 5:26 pm on March 16, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

When Barack Obama pledged to restore federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, he probably expected unanimous praise from those suffering from life-threatening illnesses.  At least one has been left unimpressed by both the decision and the rationale Obama offered.  P.J. O’Rourke, who announced last year that he has cancer, rips Obama and his speech:

President Obama went to hell not with the stroke of a pen, but with the cluck of a tongue. His executive order was an error. His statement at the executive order signing ceremony was a mortal error: “In recent years, when it comes to stem cell research, rather than furthering discovery, our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values.”

A false choice is no choice at all–Tweedledee/Tweedledum, Chevy Suburban/GMC Yukon XL, Joe Biden/Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Is there really no difference “between sound science and moral values”? Webster’s Third New International Dictionary states that science is, definition one, “possession of knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding.”

After noting a few things that science “knew” over the last 3500 years, including an extremely embarrassing entry in Encyclopedia Britannica in 1911 on race, O’Rourke reflects on how moral values have held up in Western civilization:

Now let’s look at the things morality has known. The Ten Commandments are holding up pretty well. I suppose the “graven image” bit could be considered culturally insensitive. But the moralists got nine out of ten–a lot better than the scientists are doing.

O’Rourke then lets Obama have it for his specious reasoning:

[You] said that scientific progress “result from painstaking and costly research, from years of lonely trial and error, much of which never bears fruit, and from a government willing to support that work.”

Thus it was that without King George’s courtiers winding kite string for Ben Franklin and splitting firewood and flipping eye charts to advance his painstaking and costly research into electricity, stoves, and bifocals, Ben’s years of lonely trial and error never would have borne fruit. To this day we would think the bright flash in a stormy summer sky is God having an allergy attack. We would heat our homes by burning piles of pithy sayings from Poor Richard’s Almanac in the middle of the floor. And we would stare at our knitting through the bottoms of old Coke bottles.

We’d probably have telephones and light bulbs if President Rutherford B. Hayes (a Republican) had been willing to support the work of Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison. As you say, Mr. President, “When government fails to make these investments, opportunities are missed.” (Although the light bulbs would now have to be replaced by flickering, squiggly fluorescent devices anyway, to reverse global warming.)

This is the central conceit of Obama’s move on stem cell research.  The idea that none of the promises of research could possibly be realized without government money is, simply put, absurd.  Obama spoke of “lifting people out of wheelchairs,” but in fact, hEsc research has failed to provide any therapies at all.  Adult stem-cell research has resulted in a few dozen successful therapies, and enjoys private research support as well as public funds because the investment is better — and less morally fraught.  George Bush struck the correct balance in not blocking research, but in ensuring that federal funds would not get spent on processes that destroy human life for little practical purpose.

The Anchoress notes:

PJ O’Rourke is dealing with cancer, right now, so if he wanted to, he could defend the president’s recent executive order promoting (with his typical strawmen and ungenerously snide references to his predecessor) the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. He could wail and weep “poor me, I might need this research. I might get healed with it, and since the world is all about me, me, me, we should take this big moral jump and try! For me!”

O’ Rourke could ignore the fact that embryonic stem cell research (which did go on during the Bush years, despite the false narrative that is never corrected) has thus far yielded no effective therapies (but plenty of nightmares, despite the false narrative that is never corrected).

He could ignore the fact that if anything good was coming out of Embryonic stem cell research private capital would have been fighting all along (as they were perfectly, legally, able to do these past 8 years) to invest in the game instead of avoiding it like plague, while calling the president “heroic” (as the WH did) for “flicking his wrist” and creating a law.

He could do that, and immediately some “compassionate” sorts would jump on the opportunity to cry for him and bolster their case against lives less obvious.

But to his immense credit, O’ Rourke goes in the other direction and chooses to engage in some intellectual honesty. Brutally.

Yes, he did.  Be sure to read it all.


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But to his immense credit, O’ Rourke goes in the other direction and chooses to engage in some intellectual honesty. Brutally.

Which is all it takes to reduce the left top babbling, enraged incoherence.

ddrintn on March 16, 2009 at 5:31 PM

*to

ddrintn on March 16, 2009 at 5:31 PM

OH man, that is some great writing.

carbon_footprint on March 16, 2009 at 5:32 PM

Wow, just finished reading that PJ piece.

EPIC take-down.

Norwegian on March 16, 2009 at 5:33 PM

Nicely played, Mr. O’Rourke.

MadisonConservative on March 16, 2009 at 5:38 PM

That is why he’s the best and reading Holidays in Hell changed my political perspectives.

Techie on March 16, 2009 at 5:39 PM

Mr. O’Rourke just called the president a liar. Or did he call him disingenuous? Either way, Mr. O’Rourke called his bullshit.

Thank you, Mr. O’Rourke. Well said.

mchristian on March 16, 2009 at 5:42 PM

A false choice is no choice at all–Tweedledee/Tweedledum, Chevy Suburban/GMC Yukon XL, Joe Biden/Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

ROTFLMAO

capitalist piglet on March 16, 2009 at 5:43 PM

A false choice means there’s no choosing. The president of the United States tells us that sound science and moral values are united, in bed together. As many a coed has been assured, “Let’s just get naked under the covers, we don’t have to make love.” Or, as the president puts it, “Many thoughtful and decent people are conflicted about, or strongly oppose this research. And I understand their concerns, and I believe that we must respect their point of view.”

carbon_footprint on March 16, 2009 at 5:46 PM

Always have enjoyed that O’Rourke fellow.

myrenovations on March 16, 2009 at 5:50 PM

If the promise is so great, and there are no laws against it as such, let private business and university endowments, etc., fund the embryonic stem cell research if they all think it’s so wonderful.

Taxpayers should not be forced into paying for what many consider a moral abomination which goes against protecting and respecting “life” in the “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” fundamentals of our government.

Obama is a shamelss airhead and pseudo-scientific pimp for power.

profitsbeard on March 16, 2009 at 5:50 PM

Ain’t nothing like a reaming WITH style AND substance.

Something Obama wouldn’t know anything about.

GarandFan on March 16, 2009 at 5:52 PM

A false choice is no choice at all–Tweedledee/Tweedledum, Chevy Suburban/GMC Yukon XL, Joe Biden/Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

ROTFLMAO

capitalist piglet on March 16, 2009 at 5:43 PM

Does this mean we’ll see video of Joe humping a dog at the Westminster Dog Show on Conan?

teke184 on March 16, 2009 at 5:53 PM

My son has type 1 diabetes. If I thought it would cure him I would favor ripping the pancreas out of prisoners to use for donations.
That said, I have to put morality ahead of “pure science” and reject that line of research. You can’t destroy one life to save another.
I respect P.J. all the more for rejecting Obama’s BS. Despite the slight potential for personal gain.

redshirt on March 16, 2009 at 5:53 PM

Mr. President, any high school debate team could do better.

Logic and reason were never his forte. That’s why they are largely absent from all of his speeches. He plays on emotion because it is easier and more effective than asking people to consider causal relationships in their thinking.

Joe Caps on March 16, 2009 at 5:55 PM

By the way, science does not proceed from trial and error.

The article to read is John Platt’s classic, Strong Inference.

Yeah, it’s that Platt from molecular biology.

Obama’s a rube.

jeff_from_mpls on March 16, 2009 at 5:57 PM

Nice to know that after I put down National Lampoon at age 16 and grew up, P.J. O’Rourke grew up with me.

He is such a great wit and a great intellect. Keep on skewering the left, P.J. Touché!

J.J. Sefton on March 16, 2009 at 6:03 PM

Which is all it takes to reduce the left top babbling, enraged incoherence.

ddrintn on March 16, 2009 at 5:31 PM

well he put the genie back in the bottle…

maybe Soros had money tied up in the research stock?

sven10077 on March 16, 2009 at 6:04 PM

Although the light bulbs would now have to be replaced by flickering, squiggly fluorescent devices anyway, to reverse global warming

God how I love P.J. but I didn’t know he has cancer. One of my favorite P.J. quotes…..

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
P. J. O’Rourke

Great editorial, and Godspeed to one of my all-time hero’s.

Knucklehead on March 16, 2009 at 6:11 PM

I hope P. J. gets better, he is my favorite political humorist. I don’t think anything will ever beat “Parlimant of Whores”.

Rode Werk on March 16, 2009 at 6:13 PM

Profound.

canditaylor68 on March 16, 2009 at 6:14 PM

Excellent article – I always enjoy his writings.

Only a matter of time that he’ll be castigated by the smarmy sleaze of the podium, Gibbs, fishing for laughs from the pinhead media.

tru2tx on March 16, 2009 at 6:15 PM

By the way, science does not proceed from trial and error.

jeff_from_mpls on March 16, 2009 at 5:57 PM

Exactly so. As I pointed out to “analysts” in the ’80s, the trouble with trial and error is that the more intelligence and imagination you possess, the more possibilities present themselves. Simply put, no intelligent person has enough time remaining in his or her life to discount every possible theory. At this point triage (in the form of Occam’s razor) becomes necessary to avoid analysis paralysis.

A student of mine admirably summed this up by terming it “The Empirical Dilemma.” It’s scarcely surprising that idiots like Al Gore and 0 view this as good science.

warbaby on March 16, 2009 at 6:16 PM

I don’t think anything will ever beat “Parlimant of Whores”.

Rode Werk on March 16, 2009 at 6:13 PM

Give War A Chance ranks right up there as well.

myrenovations on March 16, 2009 at 6:17 PM

No ode to science is without an couplet or two in favor of Josef Mengele.

And for honesty in science, note the total lack of the word “embryonic” on this California governmental website, whose funding priority per Prop 71 is to preferentially fund experiments using eHSCs over all other stem cell types.

unclesmrgol on March 16, 2009 at 6:18 PM

He is on Maher’s show often. I hope he is soon for this discussion. I might have to tune in to watch it.
But I might not…

redshirt on March 16, 2009 at 6:18 PM

Now let’s look at the things morality has known. The Ten Commandments are holding up pretty well. I suppose the “graven image” bit could be considered culturally insensitive. But the moralists got nine out of ten–a lot better than the scientists are doing.

Science isn’t supposed to “know” anything about morality, there’s no point comparing the two. The debate over the ethics of stem-cell research is appropriate and productive, but O’Rourke is wrong to imply that science has failed in any way because it raises the possibility of stem-cell research, or because it hasn’t directly produced moral guidelines. That’s like criticizing a moral philosophy because it hasn’t discovered any natural laws.

I have a lot of respect for O’Rourke, so it’s sad to see him jump on the growing conservative anti-science bandwagon. There was no need for him to disparage science to make his argument that Obama’s new ESC policy is immoral.

RightOFLeft on March 16, 2009 at 6:18 PM

So in order to demonstrate a flawed reasoning of Obama, PJ begins by stating that religion is the foundation of morality. I see. OK, moving along. Nothing to see here.

radiofreevillage on March 16, 2009 at 6:27 PM

I think O’Rourke’s point that “science” has scored much worse than 9 out of 10 for the last 100 years speaks for itself.

As long as “science” is used to defend things like the Great Global Warming Terror, being anti-science should be worn as a badge of honor (although perhaps, just in the interests of accuracy, the term should be anti-”science”.)

warbaby on March 16, 2009 at 6:27 PM

A cancer patient and best-selling author at odds with Obama’s claim about the benefits of federally funded stem-cell research? Sounds like it would be a great peg for one of the network shows to have P.J. on for a talk.

But of course, unless he attacks Rush Limbaugh, tells Laura Inghram to kiss his fat ass or breaks off his engagement to Bristol Palin, there’s no way in hell that he’s getting on anything else but Fox.

jon1979 on March 16, 2009 at 6:32 PM

pj and ed miss the point completely. instead of “striking the correct balance,” bush did block science, with complex regulations that made every kind of stem cell research – gov’t funded and private – difficult.

as a matter of fact, a bipartisan majority of americans supported funding and otherwise supporting stem cell research. as opposed to, say, the iraq war. (talk about destroying human life for little practical purpose.)

sesquipedalian on March 16, 2009 at 6:33 PM

O’Rourke wasn’t disparaging science. He was disparaging people who believe that science is all that matters and morality has no place in discovery.

mchristian on March 16, 2009 at 6:33 PM

Where has PJO’R been all this time? He was great in the 80s/90s (his Modern Manners, for example), but I haven’t seen him since. (Is it just me?)

Tzetzes on March 16, 2009 at 6:35 PM

O’Rourke did not say science was wrong. In the context of what Barry Soetoro said , he was stating the obvious that science has proven throughout centuries to be fluid in MANY cases and outright wrong. Get it? The use of the word science is being debated by Mr. O’Rourke. Stand back and take a deep breath, shallow reader types.

MNDavenotPC on March 16, 2009 at 6:36 PM

“Science isn’t supposed to “know” anything about morality, there’s no point comparing the two.”

Is that supposed to be an apology for Dr Joseph Mengele?

GarandFan on March 16, 2009 at 6:37 PM

Is that supposed to be an apology for Dr Joseph Mengele?

GarandFan on March 16, 2009 at 6:37 PM

Get a grip.

RightOFLeft on March 16, 2009 at 6:38 PM

I’m greatly saddened to hear of P.J.’s cancer.

oldleprechaun on March 16, 2009 at 6:42 PM

I don’t think anything will ever beat “Parlimant of Whores”.

My favorite political book. i had to buy an extra “keeper” copy in case the one I loan to people fell apart. My favorite quote from the book:

“I have only one firm belief about the American political system, and that is this: God is a Republican and Santa Claus is a Democrat.

God is an elderly, or at any rate, middle-aged, male. A stern fellow, patriarchal rather than paternal, and a great believer in rules and regulations. He holds man strictly accountable for their actions. He has little apparent concern for the material well being of others. He is politically connected, socially powerful, and holds the mortgage on everything in the world. God is difficult. God is unsentimental. It is very hard to get into God’s heavenly country club.

Santa Claus is another matter. He’s cute. He’s non-threatening. He’s always cheerful. He loves animals. He knows who’s been naughty and nice, but never does anything about it. He gives every one everything they want, without a thought of quid pro quo. He works hard for charity and is famously generous to the poor.

Santa Claus is preferable to God in every way but one: there is no such thing as Santa Claus!

-P.J. O’Rourke – Parliament of Whores — Prologue

Sloan Morganstern on March 16, 2009 at 6:42 PM

Ah, Ed didn’t even quote the best parts.

Count to 10 on March 16, 2009 at 6:44 PM

to the user of long words…… please cite your reference for said assertion of bipartisan support for embryonic stem cell use. Oh, and the millions of those killed by Hussein and his minions might have a slight quibble with your other uninformed comment.

MNDavenotPC on March 16, 2009 at 6:47 PM

So in order to demonstrate a flawed reasoning of Obama, PJ begins by stating that religion is the foundation of morality. I see. OK, moving along. Nothing to see here.

radiofreevillage on March 16, 2009 at 6:27 PM

Nah, he’s just stating that religion contains the codification of morality, which should be fairly obvious.

Count to 10 on March 16, 2009 at 6:48 PM

have a lot of respect for O’Rourke, so it’s sad to see him jump on the growing conservative anti-science bandwagon. There was no need for him to disparage science to make his argument that Obama’s new ESC policy is immoral.

There’s probably a good scientific reason why embryonic stem cells have led to such failures while adult or cord blood stem cells have led to clinical successes, which go beyond morality.

What causes embryonic stem cells to differentiate into the staggering array of different types of cells in the human body when they divide? Most likely, complex stimulations by many hormones secreted by the woman’s womb during pregnancy. A woman’s womb was very carefully designed (by God or evolution, take your pick) to turn embryos into babies, with the process controlled by thousands of chemical reactions. Take embryonic stem cells out of a womb, put them in a different chemical environment, and they don’t know what to do, and can do something random, unexpected, and usually harmful.

Adult stem cells, on the other hand, are accustomed to the chemical environment of the organ in which they live. Take a liver stem cell (for example) from one person’s liver, and put it into someone else’s liver, and it develops liver cells, because that’s what it “knows” how to do in the chemicals normally present in a liver.

Supporters of embryonic stem cells like to tout them as “pluripotent” (able to do many things), but since they’re not well-directed, when implanted outside a womb, they become “a jack of all trades and a master of none”, basically loose cannons. Adult stem cells have already been “programmed” (by their host organ) to do one specific job, but the do it well, and predictably.

It’s not good enough for a stem cell to be capable of something–it has to get with the program. For an embryonic stem cell, no womb, no program.

Steve Z on March 16, 2009 at 6:50 PM

Give War A Chance ranks right up there as well.

myrenovations on March 16, 2009 at 6:17 PM

I have no idea what that is, but I like it already.

Count to 10 on March 16, 2009 at 6:51 PM

But of course you knew that 2 days later Obama Signs Bill Banning Federal Funding of Embryonic Stem Cells

faraway on March 16, 2009 at 6:52 PM

I love P.J. O’Rourke and have wondered lately what he is up to. So sad to learn he has cancer.

LASue on March 16, 2009 at 6:52 PM

RightOFLeft on March 16, 2009 at 6:38 PM

ROL, it would hardly seem difficult to make the connection with Mengele here. Mengele, a monster, used the exact arguments(“they’re not quite human, and therefore not as important as we are”) to justify “experimenting” on human beings in the ’30s and ’40s.

Follow the links on the Anchoress site for some follow-up on this. It’s certainly been established to my satisfaction that Embryonic Stem Cell Research is perfect as a cause celebre for the left because (a) it seems to promise eternal life and youth to The Children Who Are Liberals, and (b) it “justifies” abortion. After all, if I can stave off middle age for another few years, why shouldn’t I murder my children?

Mentioning Mengele might perhaps be seen as a corollary of Godwin’s Law, but it’s certainly accurate in this case.

warbaby on March 16, 2009 at 6:54 PM

Steve Z on March 16, 2009 at 6:50 PM

I’m not talking about his opposition to ESC. There are valid reason to oppose it on moral grounds. I’m talking strictly about the tone of his article, specifically his apples-to-oranges comparison to the ten commandments.

RightOFLeft on March 16, 2009 at 6:55 PM

Steve Z on March 16, 2009 at 6:50 PM

I’m not sure that any of that is valid, but I will agree with the point: there is probably a perfectly reasonable explanation for why embryonic stem cells have been basically useless.
You would think that they would have successes with animals to hold up before clambering to offend people’s sensibilities with the human version. I sense and ulterior motive.

Count to 10 on March 16, 2009 at 6:55 PM

How can anyone oppose the Obama Wheelchair Levitation Project?

econavenger on March 16, 2009 at 7:02 PM

to the not politically correct dave:

February 15, 2005: More than three out of five Americans (63 percent)now back embryonic stem cell research, and even higher levels of support exist for bipartisan federal legislation to promote more such research (70 percent) and the growing number of state level initiatives to encourage stem cell work (76 percent do or might support such measures).

July 19, 2006 – President George W. Bush vetoes House Resolution 810 (Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act).

sesquipedalian on March 16, 2009 at 7:13 PM

Wow. I felt that slap, and I wasn’t even the target…

karl9000 on March 16, 2009 at 7:17 PM

warbaby on March 16, 2009 at 6:54 PM

Comparing ESC research to Mengele’s experiments is insulting to Mengele’s victims, but that’s beside the point. Morals are values-dependent, and science is incapable of making values judgments. This is not a failure of science, it’s a reasonable limitation.

Science should be subject to the same ethical limits as any human behavior. I’m not saying it shouldn’t. It’s just irrelevant to compare it to religious morality.

RightOFLeft on March 16, 2009 at 7:18 PM

That’s what the liberals and subcons who worship science will never admit. When the science is clearly against fetal stem cells, and yet they push them anyway, what does that tell you? That dead babies and wasted government grants are a worthy goal, and only “backward religionist luddites” are against dead babies and wasted government grants.

TMK on March 16, 2009 at 7:19 PM

also, what happened between saddam and his millions is their business, so let’s drop the moral angle. prosecute henry kissinger first, then come with the moral angle.

sesquipedalian on March 16, 2009 at 7:26 PM

Let me state clearly that I am not in favor of creating embryos for research, nor am I in favor of using taxpayer money to make political satements. Nevertheless, embryos are created and that is where Mr Obama has taken the opportunity to poke his finger in you eye.

Now, if all you would take a long look at your opinions, you would come out viciously against invitro-fertilization. You would be demanding laws that prohibit fertilizing a half dozen embryos, out of which only one is seleted for implantation. For every invitro-pregnancy, at least five unborn children will die. With no embryos laying around in freezers, there will be no debate.

Pelayo on March 16, 2009 at 7:37 PM

Comparing ESC research to Mengele’s experiments is insulting to Mengele’s victims, but that’s beside the point. Morals are values-dependent, and science is incapable of making values judgments.

RightOFLeft on March 16, 2009 at 7:18 PM

First of all, you seem to feel that Mengele’s “subjects” have/had more right to victimhood status than unborn babies. I disagree.

Secondly, you continue to ignore the fact that “science” is performed/justified by human beings, who are often (as Mengele) fatally flawed. The argument that there exists some perfectly subjective “science” distinct from the often-unexamined prejudices of its practitioners is absurd.

This is in fact the false contention that 0 and Algore make continually, and is the intellectual equivalent of “He’s got a Master’s degree. In Science.”

warbaby on March 16, 2009 at 7:38 PM

That’s what the liberals and subcons who worship science will never admit. When the science is clearly against fetal stem cells, and yet they push them anyway, what does that tell you? That dead babies and wasted government grants are a worthy goal, and only “backward religionist luddites” are against dead babies and wasted government grants.

TMK on March 16, 2009 at 7:19 PM

Only backward religionist luddites think that scientists have no goal other than to destroy embryos and waste government grants. Some scientists believe that ESC research can produce viable medical treatments. Like many Americans, they do not believe that an embryo is a baby, or even alive in any meaningful sense, and thus find no ethical problem with experimenting on them.

There’s another point that Ed’s post misses, which is that even failed experiments can enrich our understanding of ourselves and our universe. It doesn’t make sense to oppose ESC research because it hasn’t directly produced any treatments. Science is often a process of elimination, and failed possibilities can often teach us more about a problem than tentative successes.

The fact that many medical scientists see this as promising should have more weight on its technical merits than the fact that it hasn’t turned into a profitable treatment yet. That’s why we have government funding of research, in fact. The hard work of discovery sometimes requires an investment in certain failure, an investment that for-profit labs cannot afford to make.

RightOFLeft on March 16, 2009 at 7:47 PM

sesquipedalian on March 16, 2009 at 6:33 PM

First off, national defense is one of the few things government is obigated to spend money on and we have an all volunteer force. Second, if government has to fund something the private sector can produce, and always produces better, it doesn’t work. This is the point P.J. makes when he points out that science does progress without the assistance of government and goes one to list the accompolishments of private citizens inventing things on their own time and nickel. Furthermore, if there is really a bi-partisan majority of people supporting stem cell research it’s because they are as ignorant of the failures of embryonic stem cell research as your are. Ed even provided a link showing the results of the two types of research, and the disparity of results for the embryonic vs. adult:
http://stemcellresearch.org/facts/treatments.htm

If you disagree with it, then the burden of proof is on you. But don’t give me this consensus of Americans BS, how many of them are scientists?

celtnik on March 16, 2009 at 7:49 PM

warbaby on March 16, 2009 at 7:38 PM

Sick. I guess you are an anti war pacifist right?

Ever child killed by a cluster bomblet makes you outraged to the point of protest I bet.

barkolounger on March 16, 2009 at 7:51 PM

First of all, you seem to feel that Mengele’s “subjects” have/had more right to victimhood status than unborn babies. I disagree.

Secondly, you continue to ignore the fact that “science” is performed/justified by human beings, who are often (as Mengele) fatally flawed. The argument that there exists some perfectly subjective “science” distinct from the often-unexamined prejudices of its practitioners is absurd.

This is in fact the false contention that 0 and Algore make continually, and is the intellectual equivalent of “He’s got a Master’s degree. In Science.”

warbaby on March 16, 2009 at 7:38 PM

No, I think that embryos aren’t “unborn babies.” That’s your misunderstanding. The heart of this dispute is whether an embryo has the same status under ethics as a baby. I don’t believe it does. That’s a different argument, though.

Your second point is completely irrelevant, which is probably why I ignored it.

RightOFLeft on March 16, 2009 at 7:52 PM

barkolounger on March 16, 2009 at 7:51 PM

I’m sure you think you have a point. Maybe it’s obscured by the spit on your monitor screen.

warbaby on March 16, 2009 at 7:53 PM

RightOFLeft on March 16, 2009 at 7:47 PM

I’ll say it one mre time, government didn’t restrict research on ESC, the Bush administration said they wouldn’t fund it with taxpayer money. It has also been noted time and again that the adult variety actually produces results and is funded privately. You are either being intentionally ignorant, or lying.

celtnik on March 16, 2009 at 7:53 PM

I’ll say it one mre time, government didn’t restrict research on ESC, the Bush administration said they wouldn’t fund it with taxpayer money. It has also been noted time and again that the adult variety actually produces results and is funded privately. You are either being intentionally ignorant, or lying.

celtnik on March 16, 2009 at 7:53 PM

Yes, I know. I think it should be funded.

RightOFLeft on March 16, 2009 at 8:04 PM

if there is really a bi-partisan majority of people supporting stem cell research it’s because they are as ignorant of the failures of embryonic stem cell research as your are.

but this is not the point, because most opponents of ESC research are against it on a moral, rather than empirical basis. we all know that most research involves the basic concept of “trial and error,” an intrinsic part of which is failure. success is never guaranteed, but that doesn’t mean that we should stop looking for the cure for cancer, diabetes, HIV, etc.

as far as the benefits of government-supported research: government can guide scientific research, setting goals that would not otherwise be given priority in an exclusively profit-oriented environment, but are nonetheless important leaps for mankind.

sesquipedalian on March 16, 2009 at 8:30 PM

sesquipedalian on March 16, 2009 at 8:30 PM

The assertion that “we all know that most research involves the basic concept of “trial and error” is categorically untrue, as are most statements that begin from the egregious falsehood “we all know.” Much, if not “most”, research is conducted to establish the truth of a ground-breaking insight.

As stated above, “the trouble with trial and error is that the more intelligence and imagination you possess, the more possibilities present themselves. Simply put, no intelligent person has enough time remaining in his or her life to discount every possible theory. At this point triage (in the form of Occam’s razor) becomes necessary to avoid analysis paralysis.”

This is indeed The Empirical Dilemma.

warbaby on March 16, 2009 at 8:38 PM

Wow, PJ needs to write for Rick Santelli. And thanks Ed for adding the Anchoress take.

Mark30339 on March 16, 2009 at 8:58 PM

Much, if not “most”, research is conducted to establish the truth of a ground-breaking insight.

well, the possibility of using ESC to develop the means of curing a variety of diseases and conditions seems like a pretty ground-breaking insight. developing the insight into tangible achievements also involves a lot of experimenting. can you cite any major scientific breakthroughs that did not involve trial and error, or endurance in the face of possible failure (while sparing me the story of newton and the apple)?

sesquipedalian on March 16, 2009 at 9:01 PM

sesquipedalian on March 16, 2009 at 9:01 PM

Nice of you to continue to miss the point…

warbaby on March 16, 2009 at 9:05 PM

I’m greatly saddened to hear of P.J.’s cancer.

oldleprechaun on March 16, 2009 at 6:42 PM

Me too.

Maxx on March 16, 2009 at 9:11 PM

So in order to demonstrate a flawed reasoning of Obama, PJ begins by stating that religion is the foundation of morality. I see.

radiofreevillage on March 16, 2009 at 6:27 PM

No, you don’t. Read it again. And refute the article with a real argument next time.

ddrintn on March 16, 2009 at 9:14 PM

Obama spoke of “lifting people out of wheelchairs”…

Wait. I thought “The One” could simply say, “Take up thine wheel chair and walk”, and the lame would leap for joy!

OscarSchneegans on March 16, 2009 at 9:17 PM

Nice of you to continue to miss the point…

you have your point, i have mine. i think mine is more relevant.

which position would you like me to appreciate: 1. that research, and especially gov’t funded research, is futile because of the endless possibilities; or 2. that ESC research involves the unethical treatment of embryos? you would have more success with the latter, which i respect but do not share.

sesquipedalian on March 16, 2009 at 9:23 PM

Looking forwards to Michael J. Fox’s selfless response.

/s

Maquis on March 16, 2009 at 9:44 PM

sigh…

Since (1.) has got nothing to do with “government funded” and (once more) everything to do with the ludicrous equation of “research” to “trial and error,” I’ll have to go with (2.), which is in fact what O’Rourke was discussing in the first place.

warbaby on March 16, 2009 at 9:45 PM

but this is not the point, because most opponents of ESC research are against it on a moral, rather than empirical basis.

Irregardless of the moral arguments the empirical arguments are still valid. ESC doesn’t work, get it through your head. Let private companies continue to donate money for research for something that works. i.e., ASC instead of the taxpayer subsidized welfare for lazy scientists.

celtnik on March 16, 2009 at 9:57 PM

We’d probably have telephones and light bulbs if President Rutherford B. Hayes (a Republican) had been willing to support the work of Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison. As you say, Mr. President, “When government fails to make these investments, opportunities are missed.” (Although the light bulbs would now have to be replaced by flickering, squiggly fluorescent devices anyway, to reverse global warming.)

Pwned

Upstater85 on March 16, 2009 at 10:15 PM

What we will do to live forever

I fear the future

Jamson64 on March 16, 2009 at 10:30 PM

The stem cell discussion is one of my favorite examples of the left’s use of The Big Lie. Simply repeat something enough times and it becomes received wisdom because the media is both corrupt and lazy.

Bush did NOT ban private stem cell research. He simply RESTRICTED FEDERAL funding of stem cell research to a pool of cells already in existence so that we would not get into the dubious business of recycling aborted babies.

Barack will get to parade his moral vanity here, but the decision will mean NOTHING to science. There will not be any stem cell therapies in our lifetime resulting from this decision. But a few politically connected research shops will get some gummint gravy courtesy of the US taxpayer.

johnboy on March 16, 2009 at 10:35 PM

Obama promised sound scientific reasoning in decision making. What happened with Yucca Mountain?

http://www.usnews.com/articles/news/energy/2009/03/16/lessons-from-the-yucca-mountain-nuclear-waste-storage-debate.html

The man is a joke and only his followers are funny.

Jamson64 on March 16, 2009 at 10:40 PM

sesquipedalian

I think that what the “ineffective” line of attack is really getting at is an objection that the proponents of embryonic stem cell research are often disingenuous for two reasons 1) ensuring continuation of gov’t funding for their unpromising line of research (you can see the same buncombe with the proponents of solar energy before Congress) and 2) a sublimated sympathy with abortion politics. In any case, put it to a vote, not an executive order. If people don’t want to be involved in embryo experimentation, they have the right to that resistance even if it is counterproductive in your opinion. Your argument about the Iraq War is not analogous. The Iraq War was put to a vote of the people’s elected representatives, not merely a executive order, and Congress, including a majority of Dems, voted for it. Put it to a vote and let the chips fall where they may and don’t pretend that the science of a scientific investigation is synonymous with the morality of that investigation. Indeed, down that path trod Mengele.

shazbat on March 17, 2009 at 2:04 AM

Science isn’t supposed to “know” anything about morality, there’s no point comparing the two. The debate over the ethics of stem-cell research is appropriate and productive, but O’Rourke is wrong to imply that science has failed in any way because it raises the possibility of stem-cell research, or because it hasn’t directly produced moral guidelines. That’s like criticizing a moral philosophy because it hasn’t discovered any natural laws.

I have a lot of respect for O’Rourke, so it’s sad to see him jump on the growing conservative anti-science bandwagon. There was no need for him to disparage science to make his argument that Obama’s new ESC policy is immoral.

RightOFLeft on March 16, 2009 at 6:18 PM

.
We expect scientists to understand morality, and history has shown that those that don’t, fail to produce good science as well.

darktood on March 17, 2009 at 5:15 AM

The Iraq War was put to a vote of the people’s elected representatives, not merely a executive order, and Congress, including a majority of Dems, voted for it.

well, congress voted to fund ESC research, and bush vetoed it, so i don’t get what you’re trying to argue here.

sesquipedalian on March 17, 2009 at 7:34 AM

Way to be PJ! This is a perfect example of the intellectual dishonesty and moral vacuity of the left and their dear leader. An intellectually honest review of the results of stem cell research reveals a mixed bag, but NOT when investigating the results of embryonic stem cell research. Instead up to this point we have tumors, growths, and nothing of substance to build on. Of course, one has to be intellectually honest as well as exhibit a modicum of moral clarity to admit that the harvesting of human life for some non-specific, fantastical “cure” may well be worse for society than the disease itself. If only nitwits like Michael J. Fox had the strength, morality, and honesty of PJ.
God Bless you Mr. O’Rourke!

stu.b.con on March 17, 2009 at 8:03 AM

The Anchoress’s by-line for so long has been

“When small men begin to cast big shadows, the sun is about to set.”

Man, is that true right now. Time to shutter the windows and bring in the lawn furniture.

ttime500 on March 17, 2009 at 10:25 AM