Today's Blogs

Stemming the Tide

Bloggers lambaste and laud the president for vetoing federal support of stem cell research. They also discuss the Iraq prime minister’s condemnation of Israel for using excessive force against Hezbollah.

Stemming the tide: President Bush used his first veto ever to reject legislation to allow government-funded embryonic stem cell research. Bush made the announcement to a crowd dotted with babies born by in vitro fertilization of “adopted embryos.” The Senate failed 235 to 193 in a bid to override the veto.

Jonathan R. at GOP Bloggers calls it “An Awful First Veto.” “This is potentially bad policy and certainly bad politics. …. Nary a veto was issued against massive spending bills, although Americans would have supported a President who showed at least some semblance of fiscal conservatism. Now, President Bush will veto his first bill to block an initiative that a clear majority of Americans support?”

­Kitchen sink blogger James P. Burke at Aces Full of Links explains why Bush’s stem cell stance doesn’t hold water. “[I]f Bush or his supporters actually cared about these embryos, wouldn’t he oppose the activities that produce excess embryos that end up getting destroyed? Shouldn’t fertility treatments be banned for the same exact reason?” DarkSyde at lefty group blog Daily Kos makes a more detailed point. “ESC [Embryonic Stem Cell] lines come from material stored at fertility clinics which is already slated for destruction. Preventing these blastocysts from being used for research won’t ‘save’ them. It simply means they’ll be disposed of in a medical waste facility instead of being used to find cures for disease. The only reason to restrict federal approval of new lines is to appeal to a minority of extremist social conservatives and it comes at the cost of possibly delaying or denying treatment–and in some cases life itself–to millions of people.” Meanwhile, lefty Wisconsin blogger Seth Zlotocha at In Effect susses out some of the scientific questions.

Other bloggers say Bush’s science and decision-making are sound. Right-wing stalwart Ed Morrissey at Captains Quarters Wednesday reiterated his support, arguing that the efficacy of embryonic stem cell research hasn’t been proven.“The lack of federal funding should make little difference, if the science is sound for hESC. It’s not, or at least it isn’t commercially viable, which is why researchers want the federal government to pay for it. Pharmaceuticals won’t underwrite it because adult stem cells and umbilical-cord stem cells have had much more success.” Shay at Booker Rising, a site for black moderates and Republicans, expounds on the Captain’s point. “[I]f stem cell research is the next big thing, then why isn’t private industry all over it to generate new cell lines? The research and development dollars they plugged in would be more than made up by profits from medicinal cures. Could it be that it’s (1) too iffy an enterprise; with (2) highly dubious benefits; and thus (3) scientists want a government guarantee — which will reward inefficiency?”

Here’s more on the stem cell legislation.

Is Israel a bully? Iraq Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki slammed Israel’s debilitating strikes against Lebanon and called on Arab leaders to follow suit.

At Cutler’s Blog, Jonathan Cutler, an associate professor at Wesleyan University, wonders if Maliki’s stance on Israel will foster more instability in Iraq. “Maliki isn’t going to help Right Zionists exploit any intra-Shiite rivalry. How far will he go in his dissent? Would he actually try to call Iraqi Shiites onto the streets? Unclear. But his statement calling on the ArabLeague to step up to the plate seems to have more to do with embarrassing Arab officials than actually using his own leverage (such as it is) with Iraqi Shiites.”

The fact that the Bush administration had a hand in establishing the current Iraqi government is not lost on bloggers. “While Bush has condoned Israel’s recent military incursion, the man he embraced during his trip to Iraq moved closer to being in step with Iran on Wednesday. … The notion that invading Iraq would somehow be good for Israel appears ever more farcical with each twist in this unfortunate tale,” writes a poster at liberal group blog Truth Dig. And a droll Andrew Daniller at left-leaning Blog DC responds to Maliki’s condemnation of Israel thusly: “Way to install a government friendly to American interests. Hey, at least he hasn’t demanded the complete destruction of Israel… yet.”

Here’s more on Maliki’s comments.