Monday, November 27, 2006

OK, I'm going to try this "quitting blogging" thing again...

At the chiding of a spouse and a clerical friend, I'm going to try, once again, to give up blogging. So much to say, but there will always be stuff to say.

Maybe I'll take up smoking instead.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Where's the pro-death interfaith service this year?

You may recall that last time Kathleen Sebelius was inaugurated, she had her interfaith hootenany at Assumption church, across the street from the Statehouse. Sensible people and faithful Catholics went ballistic--the pastor at Assumption (the parish of my father's childhood, BTW) was letting a pro-death pol celebrate her Tiller-funded victory in a Catholic church.

So they went to the chancery with their concerns, and Archbishop Kelleher wrung his hands a little in the press, but he refused to use his authority (your staff has a hook on the end for a reason, your Grace), and he let the sacrilegious show go on.

Well, it's time once again for Sebelius to go through her celebration of herself, and I just got an email from a concerned Knights of Columbus member asking us to contact the chancery and ask Archbishop Naumann to make sure it doesn't happen again. Naumann seems to be of stronger mettle than Kelleher, based on his recent columns dealing with Sebelius and her worldview, so we hope this won't be an issue, and we hope that Sebelius's enablers will not even attempt to defile a Catholic church again, but it wouldn't hurt if you contacted the chancery and let him know you're concerned, now would it?

abnoffice@archkck.org
12615 Parallel Parkway
Kansas City, KS 66109
Phone: (913) 721-1570
FAX: (913) 721-1577

And if you decide to call, do be nice to Mrs. Klingele. She is NOT one of the rats of which I spoke earlier.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Another post from retirement...

As I sit here in the virtual retirement community, my thoughts go back the heady days of blogging, and I hop online to page through the website of that repulsive little rag I love to hate, the Kansas City Star. Whenever I didn't have anything to say, I could go to www.kansascity.com and get fuel for an instant rant.

What's been in it lately?

On Thursday, a report on the chancery rats' plan* to put the church out of business in Wyandotte County: lull the parishioners to sleep with administrative consolidations, quietly transfer money from the solvent parishes to the ones that are broke, and keep the buildings open for a year or two, so that no one's looking when they start selling off property. Folks at Holy Family, and St. Cyril's, and Our Lady & St. Rose, don't think for a moment you've dodged the bullet! Look at what Meitler did in St. Louis. It's still coming....

And today, the Saturday Faith spread....always a good laugh (or it would be if you didn't cry out for the lost souls who put it together). Bill Tammeus thinks it would be a good idea if that evangelical preacher Ted Haggard would embrace his sin, rather than repent of it. Gotta love this line:

If people assume their sexual orientation is sinful, there’s no way they can love their truest selves. That means a balanced, loving, authentic, responsible life of service to others is impossible.
See it's sexual "orientation," what we used to quaintly call "temptation," that evil, orthodox Christians condemn, it's not the act of will--i.e., actually engaging in buggery. Because, of course, we don't have free will. We aren't creatures of reason (except for the folks running the Stowers Institute. They are.). We're all beasts, subject to our passions, etc, etc., etc.

Now I remember why the Curmudgeons don't take the Star.

--Mudgie

*I'm not including the Archbishop among the rats, but I do wonder why he won't get a cat, or at least set some traps. His brother priest from St. Louis, now his episcopal neighbor, has made good use of his, but could probably spare a few.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bruskewitz at it again

Haven't had much commentary on strictly Church stuff lately, what with having given up blogging and with my previous focus on the fight against the Missouri cloning amendment. But yesterday in the car, I heard an audio replay of EWTN's The World Over, in which Raymond Arroyo went to far less effort to conceal his disdain for most of what the USCCB is up to than he has in previous years.

And apparently, many of the Bishops put forth even less effort than Mr. Arroyo. Arroyo had a number of Bishops commenting on various things---the disconnect between "official priorities" and staffing; the line items in the USCCB budget; the method by which business is conducted).

Among the snips he played for us was one from Lincoln Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz. The impeturbable ordinary of the Cornhuskers rose during discussion of some-or-another document (I think it was The Spiritual Value of Fibre: a Pastoral Response to the USDA's Proposed Revisions to the Food Pyramid), and quoted Cardinal Ratzinger on the pointlessness of the national bishops' conferences. I checked yesterday and today to see if the audio of the program was available at EWTN.com, but it's not. When it is, if I'm around, I'll find it, link to it, and tell you at what point in the clip you'll hear it.

But it was pure Bruskewitz: he quoted Ratzinger (whatever happened to the Cardinal anyways?) stating that the national conferences had no teaching authority and no ecclesial role to play. Bruskewitz just wanted everyone in the room to keep that in mind, he said, as they considered the document. To that, Bill the Bankrupt Bishop Skylstad, at the podium, meekly asserted that the statemnts he quoted were 20 years old, and that of course Skylstad saw great value in the Bishops' conferences and they've done great things (like give him an excuse to leave his mess in Spokane behind?).

I think Dusty posted on this, too. One or the other of us will probably have a link up when the program is archived online.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Don't spoil this...

Another thing I've had time to do since I gave up blogging is reading the opinion pages.

And here's one I read this morning. Whaever you do, DON'T spoil the column by scrolling to the bottom to see who the author is until you've finished reading (no, it's not "Just Tom" Gumbleton, but it could be).

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

USCCB Budget

Yes, I'm no longer blogging, but...

For those of you keeping score, the budget for the Vatican is reported to be about $250 million. That's about what it costs, say scattered reports, to run an entire government, and conduct the business of the Church in Rome (including dry cleaning all those white cassocks and preserving all those artifacts and historic buildings).

By contrast, the USCCB has a budget of $139 million.

OK, so the USCCB has no diplomatic missions to fund. It has no army to support. No streets to sweep. No centuries-old buildings to maintain. No artwork. No tourists to its modern office building. No Piero Marini productions to stage. No need for somebody to vacuum up dustbunnies in the Paul VI audience hall. And most significantly, it has virtually no canonical authority. It does nothing but issue statements that make Teddy Kennedy proud. And somehow, the USCCB spends more than half of what the Vatican spends each year.

And somehow, none of us can be surprised.

If you live in a diocese where your Bishop isn't a loonie, are you asking your Bishop what's going on back there?

--Curmudgeon

Hat tip to somebody. I saw this a while back somewhere, and meant to post on it before I gave up blogging. As it was, I had to go rediscover the data, but you get the idea.

Anglican Schmanglican.

Well, at least it's obvious that the British hierarchy isn't particularly interested in winning souls to the one true faith. Twice this summer, in June and in July, before I gave up blogging, I ranted against the (widely expected) non-response of American prelates to the latest Episcopalian outrage. At least the Americans and the Brits are in step:

English Catholic, Anglican bishops in 1st joint meeting

In England as well as here, it's no skin off the real Bishops' back that the heretics are "consecrating" chicks as "bishops" and giving the green flag to infanticide. They must stand shoulder to shoulder with the laymen in the pretty robes who have occupied our Churches for centuries, and see to "our responsibility to work together as partners in mission and service to the people of our country."

Shh! Don't as what mission, or what service.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Doctor Bombay.

I just noticed, via Dusty, that Dr. Bombay, a Kansas City youngster and a reader and commenter here, started his own blog some time ago: Confraternity of Uber Catholics.

Dusty has a good list of Kansas City Catholic bloggers HERE. Nice to see it, especially since I've given up blogging.

Ah, Kansas City!

Now that I'm not blogging anymore, I had time for a little drive while the rest of the Curmudgeons were napping. I happened to be headed southeast when a picture that sums up Kansas City came into frame on my camera phone. Here' it is:

1. A Planned Parenthood Clinic in the foreground .
2. The Stowers Institute for Child Sacrifice in the background (look down the alley).
3. Between them, a road sign for, "Emmanuel Cleaver II Boulevard," named after our pro-abort, corrupt former mayor and current congressman (oh yeah, and protestant minister).



And, just for good measure, here's a picture of the "Clone Me State" flag wafting in the breeze in front of the Stowers Institute.

I've got now got a State Senator who's sole agenda is to promote her own "alternative" lifestyle, I've got a new form of baby-killin' enshrined in my constitution (with a promise of public funding to come), not to mention a goofball New Age channelling mayor, and a billion dollar light rail system with gondolas to boot. Meanwhile, they can't keep the noise under control, the graffiti cleaned up, and the potholes filled. Everything you hate about the last century is right here in Kansas City. Everything that's bad about big city politics is right here in Kansas City. Please somebody get me out of here!

Monarchy Now! Viva Franco!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Post Election Optimism: the Missouri Ethical Reseach Inititative

I know I've given up blogging, but, just one more post....

Well, I told some friends of mine who were quite upset about the elections to get their chins up! It's odd, me being the optimist. Perhaps my medication is out of balance or something, but here I am, actually getting people to take heart is what seems like an all-out defeat.

As for the losing Republicans, so what? People, those guys weren't our friends. I know who my friends are. I wrote in Mrs. Curmudgeon for every office except one. It's true, I voted for Jim Talent. But it wasn't really a vote for Talent; it was a more effective vote against McCaskill than a vote for Mrs. Curmudgeon would have been (at least I won't regret that one, like I do my vote for that scoundrel Matt Blunt on the same grounds two years ago).

The neo-cons used us (as they have been since before 1980). When you start to feel sorry for Rick Santorum, recall two words: "Pat Toomey." Rickie sold right-thinking folks out last time. He deserved to lose. So did Talent.

You've probably read some clowns in Reuters and elsewhere writing about how the Republicans need to rethink their ties to the religious right. Well, how about this? The "religious right" and the paleo-conservatives need to rethink their ties to the Republicans. It's time for them to really take over the party and throw the neo-cons out, not just continue on as the door-to-door footsoldiers for the neo-cons. It's not time to throw the evangelicals and serious Catholics and paleocons out (although we all do need to have a little talk with some of the evangelicals about their embarrassing, over-the-top, flag-waving patriotism. It approaches idolatry. Also, they need to get over this Israel thing. The Israelis are not our friends, and the theology for supporting them is heretical. Anyways, I digress.). If we can't take over the Republican party, we need to leave it (that is, you need to leave it. I left shortly after voting in the 1988 elections). Without us religious freaks and right-wing nut-jobs, the GOP will have about as much clout as the Libertarian party does.

In the end, the GOP defeat will help the counter-revolution--if we play it right. Face it--none of the bad things that are going to happen in the next few years would be avoided because Denny Hastert and Trent Lott (or whomever it was until this week) kept the gavel. All that bad stuff would have happened anyways under the country-club Republicans, and we would have felt violated, to boot. All least now we can blame Obama Bin Ladin and Hilary and Teddy and those other folks for all the crap.

This big GOP loss could maybe get folks to quit waiving their damned plastic American flags (made in China, of course) and bring folks back to some first principles: away from centralization, ideological nation-building ("planting the seeds of democracy"), and "big bidness" and towards subsidiarity, local government, prudence in international entanglements, and "a preference for the old and tried, rather than the novel and unproven," to paraphrase Russell Kirk, who was paraphrasing someone else.

Anyways, to the other stuff on the ballot locally: I can't wait for my gondola ride past the Liberty Memorial! Y'all took my suggestion about Clay Chastain's absurd plan seriously! It'll be beautiful, floating through the air on a weekday afternoon in a gazillion-dollar, gold plated gondola, looking down on a monument that celebrates Woody Wilson's deceitful intervention in the Great War and the American role in the final destruction of Catholic Europe. Yes, it'll be beautiful. I'm surpised the gondola ride won't be routed past the Stowers Institute facilities, since they're seem to be on the upswing after the passage of Amendment 2.

Or are they really on the upswing? Our local Canaanites, Jim and Virginia, blew about 30 million bucks on their little child sacrifice referendum, and for all that money, they continually lost ground throughout the campaign. Too bad it didn't go on another week, eh? The Stowerses and their bottomless purse were very nearly beaten by a rather uncoordinated, rag-tag group of evangelical and Catholic volunteers in a half dozen organizations, a couple of Catholic bishops, a bunch of people throwing $5 and $10 bills in a basket, a freelance designer with a hole in his head, and some guys stuffing bumper stickers into envelopes while they drank beer in their basement! What does THAT trend bode for the future of Stem Cell research in Kansas City?

There was an article and a column in that despicable rag, the Kansas City Star, today. Kansas City Catholic, has some commentary on it. The article forewarned of continued efforts to bring the mad scientists at Wash U. and the Stowers Institute back to reason.

What might those efforts look like? I was thinking about it while I was working the polls on Tuesday morning, and I decided it might look something like this:

Missouri Ethical Stem Cell Research Initiative (Petition/Ballot Language)

Shall the Constitution of the State of Missouri be amended to (a) conform the definition of "clone a human being" to the current, generally accepted scientific definition, i.e., to create a human blastocyst, identical to one of the cell donors, by asexual means; (b) require that stem cell research within the state of Missouri be conducted in accordance with generally applicable laws; and (c) ensure that the legislature and state and local agencies retain the same policy-making authority and discretion when considering public incentives for stem cell research organizations that they exercise with other applicants for such funding.


Could it be that there's no reason for celebrating over at the Missouri Coalition for Lifesavin' Cures? Could it be that they suddenly realize their lawyers have just built the coffin they'll be buried in?

Just some thoughts.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Clone & Kill Amendment: A Doctor's Perspective

Really, I'm done blogging after this, but I do want to finish strong with respect to the evil Missouri Clone & Kill Amendment. I broke my hiatus yesterday to take one last shot at Jim Stowers' attempt to buy off Missouri from an attorney's perspective, and it's turned into a trio of posts from each of the three traditional professions. Earlier this morning, I posted the cleric's: Bishop Finn's last Catholic Key column on the issue. And now this post from a physician/researcher at Washington University's School of Medicine finishes us out.

While the letter is making the rounds via email under the subject line A Distinguished Professor Changes His Mind, and most of my regular Missouri readers have likely already seen it, it isn't public, like Finn's column, and I don't have the author's permission to use his name, so I'm deleting it out, as I did with the lawyer's:

Dear Friends,

This is a letter that I find difficult to write because I am not a political person, and I don't believe in imposing my views on others. But I am deeply troubled by the inaccuracies that are being used to shape public opinion in favor of the Missouri stem cell amendment on the November ballot and I feel a responsibility to speak out since I understand the scientific and medical issues.

If you read nothing else, please read this: Amendment 2 is a deceptive piece of legislation that may mislead Missourians into approving a constitutional right to human cloning, something over 80 percent oppose. It would create a uniquely privileged status for biotech special interests to do human cloning experiments with taxpayer money.

If the industrial revolution were just now starting and we had the choice of developing a society dependent on solar energy rather than oil, is there any doubt that we would choose solar energy? I think that we face a similar choice today regarding embryonic stem cells versus adult stem cells.

Embryonic stem cells may seem to the lay person to offer greater promise for cures, but even if this were true (which it is not), embryonic stem cell therapies will create an insatiable and unceasing demand for more and more women's eggs. And once a hugh biotech industrial complex is established that is dependent on women's eggs to generate more and more cloned stem cells, it will be impossible for us to get rid of it. In contrast, investing our resources in adult stem cells will ultimately result in similar or greater cures than embryonic stem cells without creating a biotech industrial complex that pursues women's eggs the way oil companies plunder our landfor oil profits.

The basic arguments for the stem cell amendment are essentially that (1) embryonic stem cell research has tremendous potential for curing a wide variety of diseases, and (2) any concerns that this research will be abused are unfounded because we can trust the medical and scientific community to regulate itself.

Being knowledgeable of stem cell biology and related medical research, I am deeply skeptical that either of these arguments is true.


As many of you know, I am a physician-scientist at Washington University School of Medicine and have received millions of dollars in research funding, part of which has been for stem cell research related to cancer. I approached this amendment without preconceived opinions and have read the amendment carefully. I have listened to the arguments on both sides. After sifting through the rhetoric, I have concluded that there is nothing about embryonic stem cells that would indicate that they are better than adult stem cells for curing human disease. In fact, there are many problemswith embryonic stem cells, such as rejection and cancer formation. Further, adult stem cell research and therapies do not endanger women who must donate eggs for embryonic stem cells.

These deceptive tactics by the amendment proponents say to me that "you are not intelligent enough to understand the issues so I will intentionally deceive you for your own good."

As a medical professional, I believe that my responsibility is to make sure the public understands the issues so that they can make up their own mind. Thus, my goal in this letter is not to convince you of my personal opinions, but to make sure you have the facts from a doctor and scientist who understands the issues and does not have political or monetary motives.

Some of the most common arguments in favor of the amendment are as follows:

Argument # 1: Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), which is the type of process for creating stem cells that is at stake in this amendment, is not human cloning.

MY RESPONSE: When scientists talk about cloning, SCNT is exactly what they are talking about. SCNT is the medical dictionary definition of cloning. The amendment proponents claim that SCNT is not cloning unless the cell is placed into a woman's womb, but that has never been the medical definition of cloning. That is like saying that a nuclear bomb is not a weapon unless it is dropped on people. The potential for harm and abuse is great, even if one does not intend to act on this potential!

The fact is that this amendment not only allows human cloning, it creates a uniquely protected right to perform human cloning!

Argument #2: Embryonic stem cell research has the potential for curing many more diseases than adult stem cells.

MY RESPONSE: There is no scientific evidence for this claim. Many people have been led to believe that we have not yet seen the incredible curative potential of embryonic stem cells because this research is banned. The truth is that embryonic stem cells is not banned and never has been. Embryonic stem cells have been researched for many years and have been reported in the medical literature as early as 1963! And yet, there is no evidence that embryonic stem cells have cured any disease, even in animals.

But what is really frustrating for someone like me who is involved in stem cell research is that the success of adult stem cells is being ignored by the amendment proponents. Advantages of adult stem cells over embryonic stem cells:

(1) they are the only stem cells that have been shown to cure disease in animals,

(2) they do not require egg extraction and the associated risks to women,

(3) they have amazing plasticity (the ability to change into many different cell types) that far exceeds anyone's expectations. For example, stem cells from bone marrow can be turned into brain cells.

If adult stem cells are likely to be just as good, if not better, than embryonic stem cells, why expose women to risky egg extraction and create a huge demand for eggs that will surely end up in the exploitation of poor, disadvantaged women and young, college-aged women with limited financialresources?

Argument #3: SCNT will not endanger women.

MY RESPONSE: To be honest, this is my greatest concern. Despite loud cries to the contrary, the widespread use of SCNT for medical research and treatment will unquestionably jeopardize the health of women, particularly poor disadvantaged women and young, college-age women with limited financial resources who will be tempted to allow themselves to be given synthetic hormones and undergo surgical procedures to extract eggs in exchange for monetary awards. We are not talking about a few hundred cloned embryos, but rather, millions and millions will be needed for this research!. And the need for more eggs will never end. Even if laws are passed to regulate this process, profiteers will undoubtedly go to third world countries to find willing subjects.

Argument #4. How could this amendment be a bad idea when leading scientists and physicians support it?

MY RESPONSE: Many scientists and physicians, including myself, support adult stem cell research, but are deeply concerned about embryonic stem cell research and human cloning. The reason that you do not hear more experts speak out against this amendment is that their voices have been muted.

The amendment proponents have identified one wealthy couple in Kansas City who donated virtually all of the $16 [now nearly $30] million that is being used to saturate the media with pro-amendment information. Meanwhile, those who are concerned about this amendment have been denied the opportunity for public debate and discourse by our medical schools and universities. Suffice to say, the freedom of speech violations at ostensibly liberal universities to suppress voices against this amendment are breathtaking!

Final Thoughts

If for no other reason, I am deeply disturbed by this amendment because of the deception being used to promote it. For example, Cynthia Kramer, who is running for state office in our district, has used this issue to promote her campaign by implying that her life-threatening disease could have been treated more effectively with embryonic stem cells. After questioning her campaign office and reading the text of many of her interviews and website statements, I can find no evidence for this claim. In reality, she received adult stem cells in the form of a bone marrow transplant, and the factthat she is still alive is evidence that this adult stem cell transplant was successful! When she went to Israel seeking a 'cure' for her disease, they told her to come back to Missouri where she could get the best care available anywhere!

I personally know of many other examples of deliberate deceptions, intentional misinformation, and freedom of speech violations.

My practice focuses on patients with cancer, and I am profoundly wounded when one of them dies of their disease. I am in the trenches every day, and I understand what is at stake. But I am convinced that this amendment is not the right direction for our state. There are much more effective ways we can spend our money and time without endangering women.

We all have to make our own decisions, and democracy only works well if we make those decisions based on facts. Whatever opinion you develop on this issue, I hope that it is based on facts. Please feel free to email me if you have more specific questions or if you would like to talk.Thanks for your attention.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
______________________________
[Distinguished Professor
Washington University School of Medicine
St. Louis , Missouri]

Tags: Missouri Amendment 2 Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures Jim Stowers Institute Missouri Coalition for Human Cloning Missouri Roundatble for Life Missouri Right to Life Embryonic Stem Cell Research Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer Cloning They're Lying It's Cloning Vote No. Bumper Sticker bumpersticker

Clone & Kill Amendment: A Cleric's Perspective

There are traditionally three professions: law, medicine, and ordained ministry. It seems appropriate, then, to present three perspectives on the Clone & Kill Amendment: a lawyer's (which I've done) a cleric's (which I'm sharing below), and a physician's (which I'll post shortly).

Bishop Robert W. Finn has been front-and-center in his opposition to Amendment 2, from the initial battle against the deceitful cloning petition language, up until Thursday, when he had a short column in the Kansas City Star that was geared to the unchurched and poorly catechized folks who read that rag. Here, though, I'm running his last column in the Catholic Key, which is a little meatier than the Star column (leaving aside the issues I've had with the Catholic Key).

Thanks to all who helped us know the truth: Vote No on Amendment 2
By Bishop Robert W. Finn
Kansas City-St. Joseph

In their most recent (Oct. 22, page B8) editorial endorsement of Amendment 2, the Kansas City Star newspaper characterized the opposition of church leaders to the proposal using words such as "misleading," and "lying," and said we have attempted to "frighten" or "confuse" voters.

The heart of the Universal Church's opposition to this research is well-founded in her teaching. It is a teaching based on strong science about the beginnings and the dignity of human life. It presents basic moral principles, such as: Human life is meant to be brought into the world as the product of the married love and intimacy of a husband and wife. It is gravely immoral to directly take an innocent human life. The end does not justify the means, therefore we cannot willingly do something that is seriously evil, even if it results in a good end, for example, a cure.

We have done quite a lot on this issue and I commend the efforts of our Respect Life Office, the The Catholic Key, our pastors and deacons, many faith-filled scientists, professors, lawyers, businessmen and other everyday faithful folks and benefactors for helping us use our rather meager resources so that people will know the truth and Vote No on Amendment 2.

A few weeks ago on Oct. 7, Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, I committed this effort to Mary. Polls now are actually showing a notable drop in "yes" votes! - registering less than 50 percent! In light of the great mismatch in human material resources by which we have had to respond to this attack, if we prevail, I could only give God the victory. From the start this has been a supernatural battle. Keep praying. Keep working.

Below are some quotes that I share with you on this eve of the election.
"No objective, even though noble in itself, such as a foreseeable advantage to science, to other human beings or to society, can in any way justify experimentation on living human embryos or fetuses." - Donum Vitae: "Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation - Replies to certain questions of the day," from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Feb. 22, 1987).

"It is immoral to produce human embryos destined to be exploited as disposable 'biological material.'" - Donum Vitae.

"It is a duty to condemn the particular gravity of the voluntary destruction of human embryos obtained 'in vitro' for the sole purpose of research, either by means of artificial insemination or by means of 'twin fission.'" - Donum Vitae.

"Attempts or hypotheses for obtaining a human being without any connection with sexuality through 'twin fission,' cloning or parthenogenesis are in opposition to the dignity both of human procreation and of the conjugal union." - Donum Vitae.

"These procedures are contrary to the human dignity proper to the embryo, and at the same time they are contrary to the right of every person to be conceived and to be born within marriage and from marriage." - Donum Vitae.

"It must be recognized that cloning has exactly the same result as that of fertilization. There are no grounds for asserting, in spite of genetic abnormalities, that cloning does not produce a zygote." - From the Pontifical Council for the Family, "Cloning: The Disappearance of Direct Parenthood and Denial of the Family" (August 2003).

"Even if the presence of a spiritual soul cannot be ascertained by empirical data, the results themselves of scientific research on the human embryo provide 'a valuable indication for discerning by the use of reason a personal presence at the moment of the first appearance of a human life: How could a human individual not be a human person?'" - "Evangelium Vitae" ("The Gospel of Life"), no. 60, Pope John Paul II, 1995.

"Over and above the strict moral duty not to produce [the cloned embryo], there are many serious reasons for holding not only that embryos obtained in this way should be duly respected as befits their human dignity, but also that they are human persons who are first manipulated and then destroyed." - From the Pontifical Council for the Family, "Cloning: The Disappearance of Direct Parenthood and Denial of the Family" (Aug. 8, 2003).

"Therapeutic cloning, the production of human embryos as suppliers of specialized stem cells, embryos to be used in the treatment of certain illnesses and then destroyed, must be addressed and prohibited. This exploitation of human beings, sought by certain scientific and industrial circles, and pushed forward by certain economic interests, retains all its ethical repugnance as an even more serious offence against human dignity and the right to life, since it involves human beings (embryos)who are created in order to be destroyed." - Intervention of Cardinal Renato Martino at the United Nations's International Convention Against the Reproductive Cloning of Human Beings (Nov. 19, 2001).
"... Every process involving human cloning is in itself a reproductive process in that it generates a human being at the very beginning of his or her development, i.e., a human embryo. The Holy See regards the distinction between 'reproductive' and 'therapeutic' (or 'experimental') cloning as unacceptable by principle since it is devoid of any ethical and legal ground. ... Therefore, human cloning should be prohibited in all cases regardless of the aims that are pursued." -Holy See to the United Nations (February 2003).

Tags: Missouri Amendment 2 Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures Jim Stowers Institute Missouri Coalition for Human Cloning Missouri Roundatble for Life Missouri Right to Life Embryonic Stem Cell Research Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer Cloning They're Lying It's Cloning Vote No. Bumper Sticker bumpersticker

Friday, November 03, 2006

Clone & Kill Amendment: A Lawyer's Perspective

Yes, I'm done blogging, but it's been suggested that I say one more thing about the Clone & Kill referendum on Tuesday, Missouri Amendment 2. We're making progress, it appears. Support for the initiative is faltering, I hear.

Now, if you just feel you have to vote "yes" on something, vote "yes" (if you're in Kansas City) on the latest light rail proposal. The light rail proposal (which includes a beautiful gondola ride, too) is a laughable waste of money, but at least on that issue you can satisfy your urge towards affirmation and nobody will get killed (at least not intentionally).

Anyways, I'm responding by rerunning a pretty good email I received that explains, from a lawyer's perspective, the economic fraud that's being attempted. After all, if you read this blog over the last year, you don't need me to tell you the proposal is utterly immoral. But you might have a friend who isn't deterred by wickedness (unfortunately, there are a lot of those friends around). He might be deterred when he understands how the baby-manufacturing and baby-killing scientists plan to squeeze money out of us. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

A fellow who reads this blog emailed me a response he wrote to help a friend of his answer a very good question that I'm not sure I fully understood until tonight: It is really true that Amendment 2 will cause public money to be used for embryonic stem cell and cloning research? The answer is "yes," but of course, it's a convoluted "yes." Assuming that he forwarded this to me to share with the world, I'm posting it here with only minor edits:

The Question:

----- Original Message -----

From: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

To: XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Sent: Tuesday, October 17, 2006 6:51 PM

Subject: Stem Cell Question

Hey XXXXXXX, I was having a debate on the Stem Cell amendment at work, trying to convince a few people that there are both moral and political reasons to vote no. As they are both for scientific advancement, they don’t care so much about the moral implications, but they were intrigued by the public funds being used for private profit argument. But then they did their own research and found this.

YES on 2 also makes good economic sense for our state. Amendment 2 does not ask for or require state funding for any type of stem cell research. In fact, it will generate new state revenues and quality jobs by ensuring that Missouri medical institutions can keep and attract private funding for stem cell research. In addition, the development of stem cell cures for costly diseases like diabetes would significantly reduce health care costs for patients – and help reduce taxpayer-funded Medicaid costs.

This info came from the link below.http://www.missouricures.com/facts.php

Is there any good way to prove that this site is lying? Now they think the info I’ve been providing is false. I can do my own digging, but since you’ve been so involved in the effort I thought you were a good person to contact.

Thanks,

XXXXXXXXXX. . . . . . . .

The Answer:

----- Original Message -----

From: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

To: XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Sent: Tuesday, October 17, 2006 9:45 PM

Subject: RE: Stem Cell Question

An excellent question you ask about public funding for Embryonic Stem Cell and cloning research! The answer is a little lengthy and convoluted, and few people (outside of those who negotiate economic incentives for a living, and lawyers and professors who play sophistical games with language) really understand how the bad guys will exploit the system. I hope you don't mind that I'm going to answer your question anonymously and forward it to a blogger or two that I know for wider circulation.

Before you read all this, print out the actual amendment language which I've attached. [CLICK HERE TO GET IT]

Note that this is NOT the ballot language you'll see in November; the general public is too stupid (think the bad guys), to read and vote on the actual amendment language. The ballot contains just a "plain language" gloss on this operative language--and a convenient one that allows the bad guys and their allies in the Secretary of State's office to add and the judiciary to maintain another layer of obfuscation. For our purposes, we need to look at the real amendment language.

The whole amendment is just a big dirty lawyer's trick, of course. Most obviously, they've redefined "cloning" from the generally accepted scientific definition to a new one that excludes Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT), the method by which other mammals, including Dolly the sheep, are cloned, and the method of cloning human beings, who, if not killed for medical experiments within a few weeks of creation, would develop as babies that are genetically identical to the donors of the cell nuclei). In the real world, words mean what they mean. In politics, words have no meaning at all. But in legal documents (legislation and contracts), words can mean whatever the drafter wants them to mean, because it's a closed system in which the drafter controls the definitions.

Now, to your answer: you must start by saying that on its face, the Amendment does not call for the direct allocation of public funds for the research. But this is another dirty lawyer's trick.

First, see Section 38(d)2(7). This section seems like it's saying that embryonic stem cell (ESC) and cloning researchers must follow state and local laws of general applicability. But the requirement that anyone follow generally applicable law is always presumed, and it's not necessary to state that in a constitutional amendment, is it? The real purpose for this section is found in the phrase "...to the extent that any such laws do not (i) prevent, restrict, obstruct or discourage any stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures . . . or (ii) create disincentives for any person to engage in or otherwise associate with such research or therapies and cures." The real effect of this section is to exempt ESC and cloning researchers from laws of general applicability if (i.e., "to the extent that") such laws inhibit their research.

How far does this go? If there is a state regulation that recognized parental ownership of frozen embryos stored at fertility clinics (a tragedy in itself), and dictates that the embryos cannot be intentionally destroyed or otherwise used without the parents' permission, then, well, that is a generally applicable law. But if that generally applicable restriction on use of other people's embryos is determined to "obstruct or discourage" ESC research, the ESC researchers are exempt from it.

The amendment would let the researchers go in and simply commandeer the embryos without parental permission (but it would prohibit the researchers from compensating the parents for their loss, of course). If there are laws to protect patient safety or privacy, but those laws tend to "obstruct or discourage" ESC and cloning research, then the ESC and cloning researchers are exempt from them. Taken to an extreme, if there are state laws against using human tissues (e.g., a woman's ova) for research without the donor's informed consent, ESC and cloning researchers would be exempt from those laws if they could show it obstructs or discourages ESC and cloning research.

Likewise, if there are state laws prohibiting public funds from being used in ESC and cloning research (and there are, under the Missouri Department of Economic Development and the Missouri Development Finance Board regulations, as we recently learned), those regulations are invalidated "to the extent that" they "prevent, restrict, obstruct or discourage" ESC and cloning research, which, of course, they do!

Now let's look at Section 38(b)5. This Section is even more straightforward in facilitating public funding of ESC and cloning research. It doesn't directly appropriate money, of course. But as you may know, there are a gazillion ways to divert public money to private purposes. At the local level, companies with political clout (or who hire lawyers and consultants with political clout) can divert property taxes, sales taxes, and earnings taxes generated by their activities from the public coffers back into their own pockets. The programs to do this are myriad: Chapter 100 plans, Chapter 353 plans, Tax Increment Financing plans, Industrial Revenue Bonds, LCRA programs, etc., etc. At the state level, additional programs like the "Missouri Quality Jobs" program, state-level tax increment financing plans, state economic development grants, and other jobs training programs can result in diversion of tax revenues from the public coffers back into private hands. Some of these programs are "entitlements"; i.e., if you meet the qualifications, you get the money. Others of these programs, like TIF financing, are discretionary: city or state officials ultimately make a policy decision to approve or deny public funding under the program for any reason or no reason.

Ordinarily, local and state governments are cautious in granting incentives like TIF financing, and they reserve that financing only for what they, as the policy-makers, deem to be the most worthwhile projects for their community. Knowing that, now read Section 38(b)5, and you can see what they're getting at:

To ensure that no governmental body or official arbitrarily restricts funds designated for purposes other than stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures as a means of inhibiting lawful stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures, no state or local governmental body or official shall eliminate, reduce, deny, or withhold any public funds provided or eligible to be provided
to a person that (i) lawfully conducts stem cell research or provides stem cell therapies and cures, allows for such research or therpies and cures to be conducted or provided on its premises, or is otherwise associated with such research or therpies and cures . . . on account of, or otherwise for the purpose of creating disincentives for any person to engage in or otherwise associate with, or preventing, restricting, obstructing, or discouraging, such stem cell-related activities.

What does this mean? This means that if a ESC and cloning research group applies for public money through one of these economic incentive packages, and they meet the bare objective qualifications for the program, they cannot be denied funding under a program (even if it's a discretionary program). If you're on the Booneville City Council and someone comes to you with a request for TIF assistance on their new hotel or Best Buy store or widget factory, you have some discretion. You get to decide whether the hotel or store or factory is so important to the City of Booneville that it's worth diverting tax dollars to construct it. But if Cloneandkill, Inc., applies for TIF financing on a new lab to be built in Booneville (yes, in Booneville), then so long as they meet the bare minimum requirements, it would seem that you, as a government official, would not have any discretion: you may not "eliminate, reduce, deny or withhold any public funds" from Cloneandkill. Cloneandkill and allied companies, foundations, and universities get better, rubber-stamp treatment of their scientifically dubious and morally heinous ESC projects than any other sort of commercial or scientific endeavor. If they don't get every cent of "corporate welfare" that they request, instead of negotiating with the city or the state as ordinary applicants would, they can simply go to court and argue that the denial is unconstitutional.

So you can see (I hope) that the door to funding is opened wide by Amendment 2, and thanks to Section 38(c)7, which I won't retype here, the door can't be closed, except by repeal of the amendment. The two sections I discussed above don't expressly appropriate money to the ESC crowd (unlike California, where the Clone-and-Kill referendum did expressly appropriate many millions of taxpayer dollars), but they do make it almost impossible to refuse the ESC crowd any opportunity to dip into the public trough.

That was worth reading again. Do remember to VOTE NO ON 2!

Tags: Missouri Amendment 2 Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures Jim Stowers Institute Missourians Against Human Cloning Missouri Roundatble for Life Missouri Right to Life Embryonic Stem Cell Research Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer They're Lying It's Cloning Vote No. Bumper Sticker bumpersticker