Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Can Stem Cells Cure Stupidity?

So our glorious leader is a bit miffed that the House of Reprentatives, last week, voted handily to provide federal funding for stem cell research.

You see, he came up with this ridiculous compromise that only allowed the use of existing stem cell lines while not allowing those extra embryos that are routinely discarded to be used for anything other than, well, garbage.

Sure these folks are encouraging the "adoption" of embryos, and I am all for it, however, only a tiny fraction of extra left-over embryos are "adopted" and a majority of those that are "adopted" die during implantation anyway.

So when the Republican controlled house votes 238-194 in favor of not falling any further behind South Korea in the area of curing diseases than we already are, Bush gets mad.

He says the bill "violates the clear standard I set four years ago."

Um. No it doesn't.

Our glorious leader seems to forget that he doesn't get to make the laws, and that Congress doesn't have to follow his standards, no matter how clear they are. You see, we have this little thing we like to call separation of powers. The Legislature writes the laws, and the President enforces them. Just like we learned in the sixth grade.

When the President lays out a standard, assuming it isn't violative of a statute or the Constitution, administrative agencies like the NIH are supposed to follow it. He can tell them what to do. Thus, they can presumably violate it.

No, Congress writes the laws. The law in this case is the 1996, Dickey Amendment passed by Congress and signed by Bill Clinton which seemingly outlawed the spending of federal funding on any research that would lead to the death of an embryo. Later, once it was discovered that stem cell lines could be isolated and replicated, Clinton (in true Clintonian fashion) found some wriggle room and the NIH started funding aspects of stem cell research which led to the sixty some cell lines we are stuck with today. (they just made sure it was private funding that did the killing and federal funding which did the replicating)

Bush crafted his compromise from this framework. His "clear standard" is merely his own squishy interpretation of the Dickey Amendment. Just as squishy as Clinton's. But it isn't like President Einstein understands that. He apparently thinks he wrote the law, and furthermore, that Congress, in passing a bill, somehow violated his law. It would be funny if it weren't so pathetic.

Sorry Mr. President. You don't get to tell Congress what it can or can't pass. You can veto it, and we all expect that you will (because Mr. Dobson told you to), but you cannot say they violated anything.

In a perfect world, the Senate companion to this bill will pass the Senate and it will become law (despite your inevitable veto) and then someone uses federal funding for stem cell research to discover a cure for stupidity. Then we will never have to endure another president like you.

Dare to dream.


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