November 13, 2007

"If you don't pass universal health care by July of 2009... I'm going to use my power as president to take your health care away from you."

John Edwards threatens Congress ... idly.

The Democrats often criticize Bush for having an overbroad theory of executive power, but at least when Bush grasps for power, it's for things the President can do on his own, leaving Congress and the courts hard pressed to stop him. But Edwards it promising to do something that a President can't possibly do on his own.

129 comments:

campy said...

His backup plan is to threaten to hold his breath 'til he turns blue.

Lindsay said...

Well, just playing with the idea --couldn't he veto the appropriations bill that includes congress's health care? At first it seems doubtful he would be able to overcome an override, but what if he had a Democratic majority solidly backing his health care bill and could use the veto threat to persuade enough Republicans or Democratic doubters to his side? Improbable, but not implausible, no?

former law student said...

I assume the Executive branch is in charge of paying the bills. They could announce that they would sit on invoices submitted by mds and hospitals until health care was enacted.

Richard Fagin said...

The Post article states that John Edwards is making a campaign promise he can't keep. Was that anything like another promise of his that if he and John Kerry were elected then Chris Reeve would just rise up out of his wheelchair and walk?

Sen. Edwards is taking the skills that worked extremely well for him as a personal injury lawyer and is applying them to election campaigning. Unfortunately for Sen. Edwards, the rules of evidence in election campaigns are a lot looser than in court.

Dave said...

former law student, you might want to check "Richard Nixon" and "impoundment" for info.

Congress doesn't like it (as a group) when presidents mess with their prerogatives. Article I would appear to give Congress more than adquate power to rein in any president *if* enough of them want to do it.

Trying to take away their health care would probably be enough.

christopher said...

Richard Fagin said...

Was that anything like another promise of his that if he and John Kerry were elected then Chris Reeve would just rise up out of his wheelchair and walk?


He didn't say that and you know it.

PatHMV said...

"If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve will get up out of that wheelchair and walk again," Edwards said.

John Edwards, reported by CNN on Oct. 12, 2004

christopher said...

The operative phrase is "people LIKE Christopher Reeve."

Peter said...

Christopher,

Here is the exact quote, according to the Washington Post:
This is John Edwards on Monday at a rally in Newton, Iowa: "If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again."

So now we have the exact wording, we can get on with the hard work of making John Edwards look silly. Well, maybe not HARD work.

Pete said...

Uh, who's more like Chris Reeves than Chris Reeves?

christopher said...

Christopher Reeve had just died that day when Edwards said it.

Obviously, what you're saying he meant is not what he actually said.

christopher said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DWPittelli said...

christopher: "He didn't say that and you know it."

Pretty close, I'd say.

"If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again."

christopher said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
TitusRK said...

Do you have any views about any of the republicans.

It seems like every other post here is Hilary, John Edwards, Obama.

Come on girl, we are republicans. We know the defeatocrats suck. You don't have to highlight their suckiness.

But how about highlight the fabulousness of the republicans.

How about Bernie Kerik? Any thoughts on that? Nah, let's talk about Hilary's laugh and tits and Edwards haircut.

JohnAnnArbor said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
christopher said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jeff said...

Give it up. christopher's entire method of debate is to parse. As most people use conversations to present an idea or thought and rarely run what they say through a lawyer there is usually something for the dishonest person to contest. Followed closely by calling the other person an asshole.

Daryl said...

Fred Thompson should announce that if Congress won't vote to fund the war in Iraq, he'll take their health care away.

He's got a good sense of humor and can really take the mickey out of a pompous creep like Edwards (witness his success against Michael Moore).

christopher said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JohnAnnArbor said...

Edwards' idea of health care is to sue the doctors for "mistakes," make sure the juries have no scientists or engineers on them (who see through the emotional BS and spot instantly the scientific BS Edwards' paid marionettes parrot under oath), win gigantic judgments (and taking a huge percentage), ruining good doctors' careers--then complain that health care is expensive. Never mind that cerebal palsy happens sometimes for easons unknown--it MUST be the doctor's fault! Sue the bastard!

So now doctors do unnecessary Caesarians to rip babies out as fast as possible to avoid getting sued. And the cerebal palsy rate is no lower. And ob/gyn insurance in North Carolina is astronomical. But Edwards DOES have a nice, big house!

Ann Althouse said...

Stop the pointless attacks on each other. I'm going to delete some of these boring and abusive comments. It's a stupid waste of space. Get your own blog if this is all you have to offer. Christopher, especially, is a troll as far as I'm concerned. He can redeem himself with substantive comments (and nothing else). And don't argue with me about this.

christopher said...

Wow. Here come the blog police...

JohnAnnArbor said...

The point of Edwards' quote: he was promising that the paralyzed would walk again--if only the right people were elected.

The crassness of that is stunning, to normal people.

jeff said...

Actually he died two days before. That's me parsing your argument. What possible difference does it make if he promised that Chris Reeve will walk again or people like Chris Reeve will walk again? The point is he made a promise he knew he couldn't keep. It was a statement you make to a jury to screw the obgyn. How is it relevant WHICH individuals person he is speaking about?

TitusRK said...

Good evening fellow republicans.

Tonight, believe it or not, I am not horny.

I am over work currently. We are going through a large expansion and I currently hate talking to all people. I hate pretending to care about people's "needs". I almost screamed at this bitch in front of me at a store who didn't have enough money for her items and was taking the longest time to decide which items to not purchase.

I have to go on a "field visit" this week in Newark and I am going to be in the operating room all day-gross. I am going to be watching hernia repair surgeries-not fabulous. Clothes, if you have to ask, will be scrubs. Thank God no one will have a camera around. My stock would go down if I was seen in that outfit.

How is everyone else?

I purchased some lube on my way home so I may do a little wanky later tonight (alone).

Steven said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TitusRK said...

It's a turn on when Althouse lays down the law.

Can I call you mommy? It's very hot.

jeff said...

Well, I am almost afraid to ask, but Titus, how was your weekend? You said you were going out Sat night? Did you have a good time?

christopher said...

Reeve died on the 10th, the day Edwards said it.

http://listing-index.ebay.com/actors/Christopher_Reeve.html

JohnAnnArbor said...

The point of Edwards' quote: he was promising that the paralyzed would walk again--if only the right people were elected.

The crassness of that is stunning, to normal people.


Caca de toro. The crassness of Bush refusing to fund the research is what's stunning.

I'm sorry, make that morally repugnant.

cubanbob said...

Ms. Althouse,

As a law professor perhaps you can answer this; when congress clipped the Nixon administration with both the impoundments and war act, were they ever ruled on by the Supreme Court? If not, then Bush could now do so, or whomever is next elected President do so as well is simply order the agencies not to spend the money. I do not know if this matter was ever resolved fully by the court. Congress obviously can appropriate whatever funds it wants, but can it compel the executive to spend the funds? I suspect that neither party has ever really wanted to press the matter in the courts since it could backfire on the executive branch. And just as equally on the Congress. If a president can do this it would give the executive considerable clout over Congress ( and less cover to hide from doing the unpleasant political cuts). On the other hand if the courts were to rule against the executive it would be a nightmare for the Congress. They would be the ones holding the bag instead.

JohnAnnArbor said...

The crassness of Bush refusing to fund the research is what's stunning.

Actually, his administration is the first to fund stem sell research. Lots of progress has been made there, too. Fascinating what they can do with cord blood and adult stem cells.

You probably mean blending up embryos, though. Edwards implied if you just hand him the blender and the embryos, the paralyzed would walk.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Congress obviously can appropriate whatever funds it wants, but can it compel the executive to spend the funds?

That's the question, right there. Wouldn't it be cool if Bush--or any president--just stopped funding stupid earmarks, like hippie museums and buildings named after congresscritters?

jeff said...

"The crassness of Bush refusing to fund the research is what's stunning."

In what way is that stunning? You know the Gov funds adult stem cell research. You know it also funds existing stem cell lines. And finally you know that Clinton didn't fund any of it.

Where is medical research listed as a government responsibility? You know that research is currently underway in the private sector where the vast majority of medical breakthroughs take place.

So you are on record here of approving the knowingly making false promises as long at it servers a bigger purpose that you approve of?

Revenant said...

But Edwards it promising to do something that a President can't possibly do on his own.

This may be petty, but any threat to "use [his] power as President" is an empty threat when it is coming from John Edwards.

jeff said...

"Bush could now do so, or whomever is next elected President do so as well is simply order the agencies not to spend the money."
Assuming he did, couldn't that be considered a separation of powers thing, by making the executive branch the real power over spending which is the legislative branch responsibility? I mean, if the budget is approved, even over a veto, isnt that a done deal?

christopher said...


Where is medical research listed as a government responsibility?


I'm talking about a moral responsibility. It's the sort of thing government does for the common good...a concept obviously that you don't believe in.

jeff said...

Would it at all trouble you to read my entire comment? And the ones from johnannarbor? You say for the common good. But if most if not almost all medical breakthroughs come from the private sector, then my position IS the common good. Not to mention the part about how the government paid for NO stem cell research before Bush. So assuming that Kerry would have followed Clinton's example, me voting for Bush is what enabled whatever government sponsorship of this type of research. Which means if YOU didnt vote for Bush, I care more for the common good than you do.

Simon said...

Daryl said...
"Fred Thompson should announce that if Congress won't vote to fund the war in Iraq, he'll take their health care away."

Well, shoot, why not just say that if Congress overrides his veto of any bill, he'll take their health care away. Are we happy with that? Would that pose a political or Constitutional crisis?


christopher said...
"The crassness of Bush refusing to fund the research is what's stunning."

Listen very carefully, for I will say this only once. Every scientist, quack and kook - up to and including Doctor Mengele - believes that there are some ethical limits on medical science. Without exception. The argument about stem cell research - even once it's understood that the objection is really very limited, covering only embryonic stem cell research - is over where those boundaries are. And as soon as its formulated in neutral and accurate terms, it turns out to be a spat over where the ethical boundaries of science lie - you say it's there, I say it's here. You people act as if you can stand on a lovely clear-cut moral hill, but you do no such thing; you have one opinion as to where the boundary is, and you disagree with others who have a slightly different conception, which is a much less self-contained case than you might imagine.

JBlog said...

I don't know what it is about Edwards -- he just seems absolutely intent on convincing everyone he's a dim-witted dilettante

Revenant said...

Would it at all trouble you to read my entire comment?

Would it trouble you to read Ann's 6:45 PM comment? :)

Not to get all hall monitory or anything, but she did request pretty strongly that the back-and-forth insults with Chris stop. Its her blog, we should respect her wishes (even if others don't).

jeff said...

"You people act as if you can stand on a lovely clear-cut moral hill,"

You people?

This people would have an issue if stem cell research was outlawed, but it isn't. Which means my moral stance on this issue is the same as christopher. Which I freely admit would be different that some others that post here. Which I would respect as they would mirror my mother's position. Where the moral difference is in this discussion would be:
is the government morally responsible to fund the research? My opinion is no.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Ann, if you get a chance, could you answer cubanbob's question? People have mentioned Nixon and some conflict about spending authority he had with Congress. Is the President absolutely bound to spend every cent that Congress writes into law, or can he/she/it just choose not to spend money on certain parts of what Congress authorized?

jeff said...

"Would it at all trouble you to read my entire comment?"

How is that an insult? It is a legitimate question. His comment
included:
"a concept obviously that you don't believe in."

but in my comment I referred to I stated

"You know that research is currently underway in the private sector where the vast majority of medical breakthroughs take place. "

Which he apparently missed. Other than repeating the same comment, what would be your solution?

Henry said...

The whole problem with the stem cell issue is that it's an issue. The Federal government funds an enormous amount of medical research. It doesn't fund much embryonic stem cell research, but then, there's very little reason to say that it should.

Sure, embryonic stem cell research seemed like hot stuff once upon a time -- oh yeah, it was better than cold fusion and medical marijuana put together. And Bush certainly made a fool of himself parsing the moral case for funding it, but just not very much.

Personally, I'd rather the government secure the flu vaccine supply than chase after medical mirages.

christopher said...

jeff said...

is the government morally responsible to fund the research? My opinion is no


Apparently, the price of civilization is too high or something.

Ken said...

christopher,

You state funding stem cell research is a moral duty. As such it is in the realm of religion. You are asking the government to hold a gun at my head to collect taxes for actions that I consider immoral. Please explain how this does not establish a state religion in contravention of the first amendment.

Simon said...

John, while we await an answer from Ann, if she so pleases, since we know she like to incite people to think around questions, let me turn your question around into a different context. You're asking whether the President has to spend every cent appropriated by Congress. When it isn't appropriating money, Congress also decides that certain actions are crimes; would you say that the President (per procurationem the several U.S. Attorneys) must also prosecute anyone who undertakes such action, or do you think s/he retains what we might term "prosecutorial discretion" in the enforcement of laws?

Simon said...

Jeff, I was addressing Chris' comment specifically, and in that context, by "you people" I meant to refer to those who are in favor of embryonic stem cell research who act as if the question is a clear cut, simple, obvious no-brainer choice without even the faintest shade of moral difficulty. There are of course those who come out in favor while acknowledging the incredibly difficult nature of the question (or even merely acknowledging that there is a serious and valid ethical issue), but I didn't take Chris' comment to suggest he's one of those people.

jeff said...

christopher, willfully or not, you are completely ignoring my point. It is my belief that the private sector will produce a medical breakthrough quicker and cheaper than having the government fund it. My belief is based on recorded history. By having the government fund it, we could hinder or delay this breakthrough as we would be pulling scientists and doctors who otherwise might be working in the private sector and having them focus on whatever the congressmen or Senators who are cutting the checks want them to focus on.

If you want, we can debate that. But to assume that someone who is against federal funding is against advancing civilization is assuming facts not in evidence.

How was that, revenant? The problem with typing is there is no inflection. I need to learn some emoticans I guess.

christopher said...

Ken said...

christopher,

You state funding stem cell research is a moral duty.
As such it is in the realm of religion.


No it isn't.

You are asking the government to hold a gun at my head to collect taxes for actions that I consider immoral.

If I had to list the things that government does with my tax dollars that I consider immoral we'd be here all night.

jeff said...

simon, I know. I worded my response incredibly poorly. What I should have said was while the moral aspect is what usually drives this conversation, in this case the moral aspect was ignored and the focus was on who pays for it. As in my last post, I need to figure out some way to reflect inflection in my posts so they don't come out as condescending or rude, except of course when I intend to be condescending or rude. My fault. Same thing to revenant. Sorry.

jeff said...

moral aspect of the type of research rather. We were discussing the moral aspect of who should pay for it. OK. I THINK thats what I mean.

JohnAnnArbor said...

When it isn't appropriating money, Congress also decides that certain actions are crimes; would you say that the President (per procurationem the several U.S. Attorneys) must also prosecute anyone who undertakes such action, or do you think s/he retains what we might term "prosecutorial discretion" in the enforcement of laws?
I've always been under the impression that there's discretion from the police officer not writing a particular ticket all the way up to federal prosecutors. And it would be much harder to enforce a "no-discretion" policy compared to a"you-must-spend" policy. FOr the latter, the money's either spent or not. For the former, you'd have to prove a crime was committed and the prosecutor ignored it--sometimes obvious, but often not, especially the more technical the law in question gets.

garage mahal said...

Personally, I'd rather the government secure the flu vaccine supply than chase after medical mirages.

Sure, the flu is just like mirages such as Parkinson's and Type 1 Diabetes, just like a blastocyst is just like a real human being. You people fucking amaze me. You don't mind a 2 trillion dollar clusterfuck adventure, you don't mind 9 billion lost in a shithole across the planet, and you don't mind our Treasury being looted in front of your very eyes, but touch a clump of cells in hopes of curing our most hideous diaseases and your world stops turning.

Come over to my house and see the 4 shots/day of insulin my 5 yr old daughter endures, the maddening amount of glucose fingerpokes and 24/7 monitoring what enters her mouth and you can tell her all about morals, and your love for clumps of cells. Asshole.

christopher said...

garage mahal:

Amen.

Revenant said...

Other than repeating the same comment, what would be your solution?

Not replying to him.

jeff said...

revenant.
maybe so. I suppose debating with someone who ignores what you say and continues to argue against a point your not making is just emulating Sisyphus.

AJ Lynch said...

Does any Kerry_Edwards supporter really believe in their heart that if the 2004 election had been won by their candidates that people with MS or spinal cord injuries would be walking within two terms (8 years)?

I know people with these tragic conditions - I think it was cruel and selfish to them and their families for John Edwards to exaggerate and lie (boast) that a Kerry pressidency would cure these. It told me a lot about John Edwards.

Palladian said...

"Come over to my house and see the 4 shots/day of insulin... blah blah...her all about morals, and your love for clumps of cells. Asshole."

You know, technically your daughter is just a clump of cells.

Or do you believe in all that soul claptrap that the horrible Bible-beaters rattle on about?

Simon said...

"Come over to my house and see the 4 shots/day of insulin my 5 yr old daughter endures, the maddening amount of glucose fingerpokes and 24/7 monitoring what enters her mouth and you can tell her all about morals, and your love for clumps of cells."

Let's address that with a reductio ad absurdum: It turns out there's a cure for that, but it can only be manufactured by harvesting the amygdala from persons who have developed certain physiosychological characteristics; specifically, a total cure can be manufactured by lobotomizing millions of American liberals. But science is science, right? There shouldn't be ethical limits on research, and those folks are just clumps of cells. Right? Or do you, too, admit that there are ethical lmits on medicine?

Richard Fagin said...

Well now, let's see. We had a half bazillion comments arguing the accuracy of my quote of Sen. Edwards' 2004 campaign statement, and another half bazillion comments about the morality of stem cell research.

I quoted the Senator accurately enough to make the point that he's given to bombastic and demonstrably false statements. I also mentioned that he is skilled as a personal injury lawyer and that his declamation style, which includes bombast, is quite effective for such purpose. I don't like the Senator. I find him creepy. But it makes no sense to disregard his skill and accomplishment as a trial lawyer, whatever you think of the merits of his clients' cases. What it appears Sen. Edwards is forgetting is that when you make campaign statements, you can and do get fact checked and excoriated by the press. That doesn't happen at a trial because the evidence allowed in is limited, and you only get one opponent (more or less) putting on opposing witnesses. My point was that the Senator is trying to use skills that are not really suitable for an election campaign.

Whatever the merits or morality of stem cell research, including embryonic stem cell research, no one confined to a wheelchair is getting up and walking away from one any time soon based on stem cell research. And President Edwards isn't taking away health care from members of Congerss in July 2009.

garage mahal said...

You know, technically your daughter is just a clump of cells


Daughter here, and blastocyst here.

See any difference? Anymore stupid questions moron?

christopher said...


garage mahal said...
Daughter here, and blastocyst here.

See any difference? Anymore stupid questions moron?


Too late.

Simon's theoretical about lobotomizing liberals to cure disease was as stupid as they come.

SteveR said...

As a person with MS, it infuriates me when politicians use an issue like embryonic stem cell research as an elixar to gain votes. I've seen it on MS boards-- "George Bush is keeping me from walking" This latest statement from Edwards (and the Reeves comment from 2004) show he's much better at convincing a jury about the responsibility of an OB-GYN to deliver perfect babies every time than making a convincing arguement that he's fit to be POTUS.

Third in Iowa, third in NH.... done.

jeff said...

"Anymore stupid questions"?
Yes, One.
Are you donating to the private companies who are doing the research you are so passionate about? And since the private companies have produced more results, why do you prefer to dictate research be done in a less efficient manner? Especially since you have a family member who could be positively effected by this research. christopher will not address this. Will George?

jeff said...

"Simon's theoretical about lobotomizing liberals to cure disease was as stupid as they come."

What he did was take George's argument to one logical conclusion. Which as you said is stupid. That's his point.

christopher said...

And since the private companies have produced more results, why do you prefer to dictate research be done in a less efficient manner?

An incredibly stupid question.

The real question should be -- Why shouldn't research be done both by government and privately?

The answer is -- there's no reason. We should encourage both.

Frankly, the government should be doing this on the scale of a Manhattan Project. And it would be, if not for the objections of the religious trolodytes who currently control the Republican Party.

Revenant said...

Daughter here, and blastocyst here. See any difference? Anymore stupid questions moron?

Sheesh, garage, I actually agree with you about stem cell research, but you couldn't do a worse job of making your case if you tried. I mean, do you have a rational explanation for why your daughter has rights that a genetically identical blastocyst does not? Or are you just planning to stick to the "pictures and rage" approach?

Come on, now, give us a *rational* reason why it is an obvious fact that your daughter's life is more important than that of a genetically human blastocyst.

christopher said...



Come on, now, give us a *rational* reason why it is an obvious fact that your daughter's life is more important than that of a genetically human blastocyst.


This is a joke, right? You can't seriously be making the case that it isn't.

jeff said...

"An incredibly stupid question."
Why? Because you say so isn't sufficient. Why do you insist on pushing money into inefficient projects?

"We should encourage both."
There isn't an inexhaustible supply of the type of scientist and Drs that do this sort of thing. For every Dr and scientist doing research for the government (and it will be research dictated by the government, not necessarily the research that has the best promise)you are removing a scientist and Dr from the private sector where the best chance for finding cures lies.

"if not for the objections of the religious trolodytes who currently control the Republican Party."

Again, I point out that ANY government research started with the current president. There was NO government financed research before this. What was the reason then?

"Frankly, the government should be doing this on the scale of a Manhattan Project."
And the people with cancer? Where is their manhattan project?
Aids? What about them?
Someone made fun of the flu vaccination, but the flu kills 36K people a year in the US. Yet when someone mentioned the government provide vaccinations for the flue he was ridiculed and insulted. The flu killed 50 million people world wide in 1918. Where is the manhattan project to make sure that doesnt happen again? You want to know where the manhattan project is? It's in the private sector.

Revenant said...

The real question should be -- Why shouldn't research be done both by government and privately?

Because the government is lousy at funding directed research. Every dollar you give to the government to spend on finding a cure for diabetes is a dollar you should have invested in a medical R&D firm instead.

christopher said...


Because the government is lousy at funding directed research. Every dollar you give to the government to spend on finding a cure for diabetes is a dollar you should have invested in a medical R&D firm instead.


You're so right. That's why the public sector developed the A-bomb and went to the moon.

garage mahal said...

Come on, now, give us a *rational* reason why it is an obvious fact that your daughter's life is more important than that of a genetically human blastocyst.

If a house is burning and in it there is a petri dish with 5 blastocysts on the counter, and also one 4 yr old girl, would you grab the petri dish with 5 potential humans, or the girl? I'd save the girl, that's my rational answer to your question.

Simon said...

What Jeff and Revenant said. Even for those functions that are legitimately within its ambit, the more functions government can leave to the private sector the better, because government is all-but inherently inefficient compared to the private sector, as a sort of super-monopoly.

Revenant said...

This is a joke, right? You can't seriously be making the case that it isn't.

I'm not making a case for or against the proposition. I'm asking Garage to, since he feels so strongly about it. I already pointed out that I see nothing wrong with embryonic stem cell research.

Maybe moral difference between the two genetically human "lumps of cells" is obvious to you. Well, it is obvious to me that there's nothing wrong with making a person you catch planting a roadside bomb in a war zone feel agonizing pain until he tells you where he put the other bombs. Lots of stuff is "intuitively obvious". That's the stuff we tend to fight over the most, because (a) our intuitions differ and (b) we're using intuition -- not reason.

Simon's quite right. There aren't obvious rational answers to questions like "is embryonic stem cell research morally acceptable".

Simon said...

christopher said...
"That's why the public sector developed the A-bomb and went to the moon."

Among your many assumptions are that (a) the A-bomb is a public good and that (b) the Apollo project was the most efficient way to move mankind forward in space. Under NASA, true, we went to the moon. But then we came back and trod water for thirty years, and now (as Newt Gingrich has mockingly pointed out) NASA has a plan to go back to the moon within twenty years.

christopher said...


Simon's quite right. There aren't obvious rational answers to questions like "is embryonic stem cell research morally acceptable".


Then why not outlaw the research in the private sector, if you you have moral objections?

If its as bad as, say, abortion, why aren't you trying to get it made illegal?

Revenant said...

I'd save the girl, that's my rational answer to your question.

So you don't actually have an answer, then? That's too bad.

jeff said...

"Then why not outlaw the research in the private sector, if you you have moral objections?"

The people with the moral objections probably will not donate or invest money in the people that do that sort of research. Those who don't will.

christopher said...


Among your many assumptions are that (a) the A-bomb is a public good and that (b) the Apollo project was the most efficient way to move mankind forward in space. Under NASA, true, we went to the moon. But then we came back and trod water for thirty years, and now (as Newt Gingrich has mockingly pointed out) NASA has a plan to go back to the moon within twenty years.


So you're saying that the public sector would have gotten us to the moon before 1969?

Sure thing. Now I'd like to interest you in some bridgefront property in Brooklyn. Call me.

Oh, and btw, Newt Gingrich is a large idiot who couldn't even get tenure at that jerkwater community college he taught at, so I'd be careful about quoting his opinion on anything. You just look silly...

Simon said...

christopher said...
"Then why not outlaw the research in the private sector, if you you have moral objections?"

Perhaps because it is a question without an obvious moral answer, as I've said and Rev has underlined. Now, as you'll infer, I have my view, but suppose you don't buy into my view, as I don't think Rev does. Suppose you're not sure about the ethics of it, or suppose you're not sure how to balance the ethics against the potential medical benefits. If one is less sure than I am on the one side or you and GM on the other, a rational strategy might be to say "I think that it ought to be legal, but I don't want my money qua a taxpayer going to it." Similiarly, since you brought up the abortion comparison, I think that there are people who would describe themselves as politically pro-choice and personally pro-life (a position that I'm fairly leary of, see comments passim) who absolutely want abortion to remain legal but who would be horrified at the idea of being asked to pay for it through some kind of government-funded healthcare.

Simon said...

christopher said...
"So you're saying that the public sector would have gotten us to the moon before 1969?"

No, I'm questioning the validity of "g[etting] us to the moon before 1969" as a metric by which to assess success. I'm saying that the private sector might well have gotten us further than we are now, which I think is a much better standard.

jeff said...

"So you're saying that the public sector would have gotten us to the moon before 1969?"

Where do you think NASA got the people and the parts to get to the moon? They just threw money at contractors in the private sector. Lots and lots of money.

Why would you think they couldn't? What would be the financial incentive for them to get there? Identify that, and yes. You would have gotten to the moon.

"Newt Gingrich is a large idiot who couldn't even get tenure at that jerkwater community college he taught at"
He is also an incredibly intelligent man. If you disagree with his viewpoint on something, tee it up and we can compare yours with his. But even his political enemies recognize his intelligence.

reader_iam said...

Simon: What about investing in private companies that conduct such research? Do those opposed to stem cell search have a moral obligation to research and make sure they are not investing either directly or indirectly (through mutual funds or other-administered pension plans, for example) to such companies?

I know this is a slight tangent, but since you are addressing the monetary interest/vote, I'm interested in your response.

christopher said...

He is also an incredibly intelligent man. If you disagree with his viewpoint on something, tee it up and we can compare yours with his. But even his political enemies recognize his intelligence.

Really? You have poll numbers on how many of his political enemies think he's smart?

I repeat -- Newt's an idiot who couldn't even get tenure at the jerkwater community college he taught at.

The guy who said that it was the Democrats fault that Woody Allen was fucking his stepdaughter is smart?

Hilarious...

Henry said...

What is it with the you people? Let me try again to point out the difference between research and hype, by picking up the cold fusion analogy I mentioned earlier.

When researchers at the University of Utah "discovered" cold fusion, the Utah State legislature swung into action. They weren't really sure what the hell to do, but they wanted to do something, to make sure anyone who wanted to save the world had to travel to Salt Lake City to do so.

Embryonic stem cell research has had a similar trajectory. What looked like a promising line of research was turned into a kind of reverse golden goose. Stuff it with enough money and it would surely lay golden eggs.

So why are you people so bitter? Is it because medical miracles are hard to come by? Why is it not because claims were made that no politician had any right to make?

This isn't an all or nothing question of government funding. What the government should do is what it does -- get funding to scientists in dull bureaucratic fashion, well out of view of political snake oil sellers.

jeff said...

"Really? You have poll numbers on how many of his political enemies think he's smart?"

Well Clinton does. (Bill) Most of the democrats he served with do. He is generally regarded as one of the smarter former members of the house. Because you disagree with him on policy is not an indicator of his intelligence.

I see rather than describe a policy of his you disagree with, you went with the ad hominem insult.

Are you sure you want to use random statements as a basis of intelligence? I can probably find something from Bill Clinton. Maybe the definition of the word "is"? Yet I think he is also a very intelligent man. And he has done some stupid things.

If you assume everyone you disagree with is an idiot, you eventually will be the only smart one in the room. Any room.

christopher said...

He couldn't get tenure at the jerkwater community college he taught at.

That's not ad hominem, it's a fact.

Newt's reputation as an intellectual is obviously, shall we say, overstated.

If you want to debate his policy positions, fine, but I can't think of a single one that isn't moronic.

Simon said...

reader_iam said...
"Simon: What about investing in private companies that conduct such research? Do those opposed to stem cell search have a moral obligation to research and make sure they are not investing either directly or indirectly (through mutual funds or other-administered pension plans, for example) to such companies?"

I think the answer to that's basically yes, at least in the sense that you've probably got some obligation to yourself. At the threshold, I'd add that I think you have a greater obligation when investing in a company than in simply buying a product it's had some hand in (and by the same token, I think one can legitimately criticize the Chinese or Burmese governments and still buy products made in those countries), and that obligation is at its zenith when investing directly in a company. (In indirect investments - you bring up mutual funds, but you could also bring up pensions - the money trail is often far less clear and far more diffuse.) In those cases, I think you want to look long and hard at the ethical involvements of those companies. There are obvious examples - if you're ethically opposed to GM foods, for example, don't buy Monsanto stock, but there are less obvious examples, too - the reason we don't own Microsoft stock, for example, isn't because we're viscerally hostile to Windows Vista, but because of what we understand to be the Bill & Melinda Gate Foundation's support for abortion providers.

Ultimately it depends on your level of comfort with where your money is going, and when investing, you have to ask when a drop in the pond becomes more than you can tolerate going to a cause you disapprove of. You could make a similiar point about buying records by artists who you suspect may funnel that money - even though your own contribution is relatively infitessimal - so causes one opposes, and Ann raised that issue not long ago.

In any event, though, I think the key difference between the government or a recording artist or a corporation is compulsion - the government can compel you to give them money which they will then give to a cause that you may find horrifically unethical.

Doyle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Simon said...

Henry said...
"What is it with the 'you people'?"

Please refer to the clarification in my 7:44 PM comment.

jeff said...

"Newt's an idiot "

ad hominem

Three times I have asked you for an example of one and three times you declined.

"I can't think of a single one that isn't moronic."

"(Gingrich) stated that he believes that global warming is indeed an occurring phenomenon: "My message, I think, is that the evidence is sufficient that we should move toward the most effective possible steps to reduce carbon loading in the atmosphere."

I disagree with this statement of his. You consider it moronic according to your last post. Yet I don't think him an idiot.

Disagreeing with you does not an idiot make. That's the way of the world. Sorry.

You know he has a BA, a MA and a PHD. I don't know how that compares with you, but it ain't bad.

downtownlad said...

There's nothing unconstitutional about this.

Congress has banned torture, yet Bush still tortures.

So it's irrelevant what laws Congress passes.

Bush has shown that the President is the decider.

It will be really interesting to see what President Hillary decides to do.

christopher said...

jeff said...

"Newt's an idiot "

ad hominem


No, it's not. If you can't get tenure at a crappy community college, I think we can all agree you're not the sharpest tack in the box, okay?

Especially if, like Newt, you're also a guy who's trying to promote the idea that you're a supreme intellectual whose opinions are worth more than, say, an unemployed truck driver thinking about calling the Rush Limbaugh show.

Revenant said...

Under NASA, true, we went to the moon. But then we came back and trod water for thirty years, and now (as Newt Gingrich has mockingly pointed out) NASA has a plan to go back to the moon within twenty years.

Plus, as you noted with the A-bomb, the moon landing wasn't a public good. There was, and is, no reason to send people to the moon, aside from the fact that doing so is really cool. Was that really worth the $11 billion per person we spent to land those twelve men on the moon? Heck, garage and christopher complain that we're spending a couple of thousand dollars per liberated Iraqi. :)

There is also a fundamental difference in the "Manhattan Projects" being discussed here. The original Manhattan project had a goal: build an atomic bomb. The second, metaphorical, Manhattan project (the Apollo missions) had a goal: land a man on the moon and return him to Earth. The proposed stem cell "Manhattan Project" has a "goal" of "research stem cells", which of course isn't a goal at all. There are no success criteria, no failure criteria. Just a license to spend money, forever, without regard to whether or not it is money well spent, so long as stem cells are involved somehow. What's our exit strategy? :)

michilines said...

but at least when Bush grasps for power, it's for things the President can do on his own

Not true, factually.

Follow the Medellin case.

nora said...

The gov't does not pay the medical bills for Congress. The gov't pays a portion of the premium. All federal employees get the same health coverage as the Congress. It is not any better or worse than what you can buy yourself--depends on how much you want to pay. The gov't should do the same for the genuinely uninsured--pay for the premiums, not the medical care itself. This would save billions of dollars plus it would give those covered by the gov't premium paying program the exact same choice as Congressmen get. I have federal health insurance, It's not anything special. Edwards is being a demagogue.

reader_iam said...

An observation, with regard to the NASA expenditures--and with the obvious caveat that it's based on an after-the-fact perspective, which did not affect the beforehand equation, at least I don't think:

Isn't it true that, as it turned out (however unintended), tremendous ancillary benefits, in a whole host of areas, resulted from the space race/endeavour? Ought we to take that into account, so to speak, when evaluating the, well, value--long term--of the dollars spent?

Am I out to lunch here in bringing this up for consideration?

jeff said...

If you call someone an idiot solely because you disagree with him on policy, its a text book definition of
ad hominem attack. Just for my own curiosity, you are not referring to the thing at West Georgia college are you? Surely you don't hang this on something that was almost 30 years ago? Not to mention it wasn't a community college. Looks like he was first elected to congress right around this time also. Tell me that isn't what you have been refering to.

jeff said...

"I can't think of a single one that isn't moronic."

"...prompted FDA reform to help the seriously ill, and initiated a new focus on research, prevention, and wellness. The American Diabetes Association awarded him its highest non-medical award, and the March of Dimes named him 1995 Georgia Citizen of the Year. Today Gingrich serves as a board member of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation."

You find all of that moronic? Really?

Revenant said...

If you want to debate his policy positions, fine, but I can't think of a single one that isn't moronic.

Some obvious ones that come to mind:

(1): He's against teaching creationism and "intelligent design" in science classes.

(2): He would like to try offering high schoolers personal financial incentives for good grades, to encourage them to study instead of working part-time jobs for spending money.

(3): He wants to encourage the health-care industry to switch to digital record keeping, so there are fewer errors and lower costs.

(4): He believes that attempts to ban "obscenity" from the Internet are probably unconstitutional.

There are others, but those are four decidedly non-moronic positions.

Ofc. said...

I'm just amazed that there are still people who think tenure has any connection to intelligence.

Simon said...

Revenant said...
"Plus, as you noted with the A-bomb, the moon landing wasn't a public good."

Well, at very least you can assemble a case that it wasn't a public good - as Reader notes, there were tangible public goods that accrued, and it's also difficult to assess how much of a public good the mission caused by achieving its informal goal of sticking it to the Soviets in full view of the world. To the extent it contributed to more terrestrial and base political realities, one could assemble a case that it was a public good. This isn't to disagree with your point, just to note a qualification.

christopher said...

http://www.house.gov/house/Contract/CONTRACT.html

The Contract for America. Newt's baby. Wrote it all.

Moronic to the max...

Revenant said...

Isn't it true that, as it turned out (however unintended), tremendous ancillary benefits, in a whole host of areas, resulted from the space race/endeavour?

If by "tremendous" you mean "ancillary benefits so great that we have to think 'wow, that was money well spent'" then the best answer would be... "hell no".

Simon said...

michilines said...
"Not true, factually. Follow the Medellin case."

Great point.

Simon said...

Chris, I'd be hard pressed to think of anything in the contract I disagree with, although I admit I've cooled a little on term limits (Easterbrook raised a great point recently that the problem is that they tend to foster the creation of a permanent ruling class that oversee the short-term political staff; I don't say this defeats term limits, but I do say it gives one pause). Which provisions do you think were bad policy in the contet of that time and why?

Revenant said...

it's also difficult to assess how much of a public good the mission caused by achieving its informal goal of sticking it to the Soviets in full view of the world.

Well, if we're going to go into the realm of indirect public goods such as that, I think it has to be conceded that the atomic bomb was a much greater public good. Especially since the atomic bomb project cost less than a fifth of what the Apollo project does, in constant dollars.

But I don't think it is reasonable to count secondary benefits, especially when the opportunity costs are hidden. If you took $100 billion and air-dropped it onto a major American city you'd probably see a lot of interesting developments too, but would you see NET benefits across the country as a whole? I doubt it.

jeff said...

The contract for America is what got the Republican's control of the house during the Clinton administration. Had the Republican's remembered what was in it, they might still control the house.

christopher said...

jeff said...

The contract for America is what got the Republican's control of the house during the Clinton administration.


A poll taken after the election revealed that a large majority of the American people had never even heard of the Contract With America.


Had the Republican's remembered what was in it, they might still control the house.


See above. Dream on....

jeff said...

" * FIRST, require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress;
* SECOND, select a major, independent auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of Congress for waste, fraud or abuse;
* THIRD, cut the number of House committees, and cut committee staff by one-third;
* FOURTH, limit the terms of all committee chairs;
* FIFTH, ban the casting of proxy votes in committee;
* SIXTH, require committee meetings to be open to the public;
* SEVENTH, require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase;
* EIGHTH, guarantee an honest accounting of our Federal Budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting. "

You find all that moronic? I like every one of those. I'd be hard pressed to understand who would be against them, but perhaps you can make your case?

jeff said...

I like the rest of it to. I would love to hear Chris describe which part he found objectionable.

And I stand by what I said. Had the Republicans remembered what was in there, they would still control the house.

reader_iam said...

As it happens, Rev, I wasn't coyly saying that. I don't know the answer. I'm suggesting it's worth considering, and also worth thinking about whether research exists in a vacuum or on a continuum (or both).

Or something like that. I freely admit that I don't have the correct, or more precisely, sufficient and necessary vocabulary to express that well. I keep thinking that there might be more engineers and science (and science-historians, or at least -knowledgeable) types around here that we're aware of. It would be cool if they'd weigh in.

That's basically it. I'm not forwarding an argument, much less presenting one. I'm posing an inquiry. That's all.

jeff said...

"A poll taken after the election revealed that a large majority of the American people had never even heard of the Contract With America."

Did they also say they hadn't heard of the principles contained in said contract? The ones the republicans ran on. That would have been in their commercials? In their debates? Campaign literature?

Come on Chris. Debate what you disagree with. Stop being contrary and give specifics.

christopher said...

jeff said...

"A poll taken after the election revealed that a large majority of the American people had never even heard of the Contract With America."

Did they also say they hadn't heard of the principles contained in said contract? The ones the republicans ran on. That would have been in their commercials? In their debates? Campaign literature?


The Contract with America was an advertising supplement in fucking TV GUIDE.

That's how serious it was.

I stand by what I said. Had the Republicans remembered what was in there, they would still control the house.

Nobody else remembered it a week after the election. It was a stunt, and a not particularly successful one at that. Plus, the Republicans themselves didn't take it seriously except as a campaign gimmick.

How old were you in 1992? Twelve?

Blake said...

Hey, without the Apollo program would we be here? Didn't the massive investment result in technology that made DARPAnet and the rest all possible?

Without that, would we be privileged to read comments from Christopher and Lucky and...

Never mind.

reader_iam said...

Heh.

reader_iam said...

The Contract with America was an advertising supplement in fucking TV GUIDE.

Which pundits on both sides kept alive assiduously, at the time and for many, many, many, many years thereafter, in one way or another, for one reason or another. And then, Lord help us, resurrected. Repeatedly. Still, even.

a;lkfhpoeriuaporiueoiw.

Oh, heck, I can't figure out how to, in not-in-person terms, to enact the process and procedure of artificial resuscitation. Not that creative.

But I'm sure you get the drift. Anyone with an idea of how to do the pictorial, step up!

cubanbob said...

garage mahal;

As a diabetic, a father and as someone who has had several relatives die terrible deaths from diabetes and diabetic related conditions ( and loss a loved one to Parkinson's) I certainly can emphasize with your rage.

That said your comments are profoundly wrong for various reasons. First from a medical point of view even if for the sake of argument you could clone a complete and functioning pancreas and have it transplanted in to your daughter, that would not truly cure her type one diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an immune system disorder that for some reason when after being exposed to a virus the body attacks the pancreas after clearing the initial viral infection. Therefore until this basic problem is fully understood and solved there can be no real cure for your daughter's condition. At best, a new pancreas can be transplanted ( which will be a major improvement for her to be sure)but so far this type of therapy has been largely a failure. The reason being that the beta cells are particularly susceptible to toxic effect of the immune suppressant drug regiment. In your daughter case even if she had a transplant the was entirely compatible with her antigens, it would still fail without the immune suppression drugs because her immune system is primed to kill her beta cells. All beta cells. So cloning is no option for her until this problem is resolved.

As for cloning, there are several false assumptions bandied about. First there is no known successful organ cloning of any kind to date period. Second adult stem cell research has been more successful than embryonic stem cell research to date. Third the ban is only on the US Government funded embryonic stem cell research. The rest of the world is under no US Government funding ban. Fourth their is no ban on private research in the US.

Some commenter's have been making the false comparison of both the Apollo and Manhattan Projects to these basic medical research projects. Simply throw enough money at the problem and the solution will be found. If only it were so. Those projects were engineering projects. The basic science was already done and the feasibility of the outcome concluded. It was a a matter of the right amount of engineering and scientific talent harnessed to the goal whose outcome was already pretty much known. Not so in terms of the fundamentals of the biology needed to make cloning workable. I would guess to make the atom bomb and moonshot analogies in terms of the medical science level necessary to make cloning viable somewhere between 1890 and 1915 to the bombs 1945 and the lunar landing's 1969. Why is it implicitly assumed that if the US Government does not fund something therefore nothing in that field will be advanced? Throwing excess funding to a field that is not ripe enough to absorb it usefully does not advance the subject but merely wastes funds that at that moment can be better used elsewhere in other areas of science.

I suspect more research in to creating vaccines to prevent infectious diseases would advance the field of immunology faster and the spin off result would be a better understanding of the immune system that can be useful in treating garage mahal's daughter. Bill Gates and his foundation may help diabetes research more effectively than any government stem cell research.

Ralph said...

1992?
Christopher has broken the time-space continuum!

Revenant said...

Didn't the massive investment [in Apollo] result in technology that made DARPAnet and the rest all possible?

Nope.

Blake said...

Rev,

Yeah, I know. It was just a cheap shot.

cubanbob said...

If there are any lawyers reading this comment thread, I really would love to know the status of the impoundments issue. If the matter has never been resolved fully by the courts, then the Republicans would be foolish in the extreme not to flog this a reason to vote for them. That is to get a majority in Congress along with the Presidency to appoint judges that would uphold the President's right to impound funds. Prior to Nixon every president presumably had the power to so so and on occasion probably did so. That may well be a factor why the federal deficits were by and large never so large and the debt so big relative to GDP in peacetime or during times of small wars in the past prior to Nixon.

But then again if there were successful they would have to start acting responsibly in both curtailing taxes and spending. That means being Dad again instead of being a less cuddly version of Mommy. And that ain't fun. Therefore that ain't never going to happen unless that nut who takes money from Nazi's Ron Paul gets elected.

C. Schweitzer said...

Not because I care that much, but more because inaccuracies annoy the batcrap out of me--

Christopher has made the assertion several times that Newt Gingrich was denied tenure at the "jerk water community college he was at."

1) The University of West Georgia hasn't been a community college since 1957. And it's been a university since 1971.

2) It is hardly a "jerkwater" institution. It has Georgia's only Honors College and has been named one of America's best value colleges.

3) Gingrich received numerous awards and accolades at the time for his teaching from colleagues and administrators. He was denied tenure only because he didn't have a record of publication at that time.

4) Tenure is very hard to get anywhere, especially in the humanities where publication is prized way above teaching.

I'm no Gingrich supporter by any means, but he's no dummy.

Look, can we dislike people's policies without resorting to lying about them? It doesn't matter--there is zero chance that this information will elicit a factual correction of any kind.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that the other posters made the point fairly well that Edwards' statement about Reeves was grossly inaccurate. That was either through inability to understand the issues or was intentional. Neither make him look good.

The reality is first that the only thing banned by the Bush Administration is federal funding for embryonic stem cell research using new lines of such cells. This means that private research is fine. Federal funding of other types of stem cell research is fine, as well as funding of research using the approved lines of cells.

But even if that prohibition were not in effect at the time, and Reeves were living today, embryonic stem cell research would not have helped him.

Why? Of all types of stem cell research, early on seemed to have the most promise. But the reality is far, far, different. The basic problems can be summed up in two words: cancer and rejection.

Neither should have been a surprise. Taking cancer first, there are two basic types, that can be categorized as fast and slow. The difference is that the former involves out of control replication of cells. The later involves cells refusing to die upon command. Prostate cancer is in the later category. Not surprising though that the embryonic stem cells often end up as the former, fast growing, cancers. After all, the almost omnipotent cells are taken from a point where they are expected to divide until there there is a whole, grown, person as a result. Whatever turns off this cell division seems to be in short supply in embryonic stem cells.

The rejection problem was a surprise to me, but in retrospect it too makes sense. The idea seemed to be to inject these cells into areas where they could take the programming of the surrounding cells and become like them. Thus, they could possibly regrow nerve cells by being around other nerve cells. The first part of the problem is that this requires that they be somewhat diffuse. But being diffuse means that they provide more surface area for the immune system to recognize as foreign. And, of course, they are foreign, since they invariably have no genetic relationship with the recipient. The result appears to be notably worse rejection problems that seen with unmatched organ donations.

This is the technology that Edwards claimed would have let Chris Reeves walk again.

Simon said...

christopher said...
"A poll taken after the election revealed that a large majority of the American people had never even heard of the Contract With America."

Irrelevant sample pool: The relevant demographic is Americans who actively voted in the 1994 midterm elections. And I note you've continued to decline the invite to say which planks you actually disagree with.

MadisonMan said...

nora, there are several federal employees that work in the building I work in. Their health care is not at all like the health care our Congressmen (men being gender neutral) receive. It is, as you say, nothing special.

Henry said...

Simon -- Did you use "you people" too? I was actually responding to Garage Mahal's use of it (in fantastical fashion) in his reply to me.

Seems like everyone is using it now. It's going to lose its power.