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Party panders to special interests to raise the deficit to take away Americans' personal medical freedoms

(This article deals with politics and the internet -- those who do not wish to read about these topics are forewarned)

The Republican National Party (RNP) published its platform -- entitled "We Believe in America" -- on Aug. 29, 2012, presenting the party's federal vision for America.  The platform claimed three primary authors -- Senator John Hoeven (R-N. Dakota), Governor Bob McDonnell (R-Virg.), and Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).

In our first piece we analyzed the internet policy and free speech side of the platform.  In this article we offer up nuggets from the scientific side of the platform.

I. Digging Into the RNP "We Believe..." Platform

Reading the document I think the public may find many appealing aspects in the platform, starting with the subtitle "Reforming Government to Serve People" -- surely a worthwhile goal given today's state of hyper-deficits and inconsistent taxation.

But the troubling aspect of the platform from the perspective of a technology and science observer is the high degree of inconsistency and obfuscation amongst the various platform planks (though to be fair I fear we shall find similar problems in the Democratic National Party's (DNP) platform).

Let's dig into what exactly the platform says -- after weeks of rumors and speculation -- but first let's be perfectly clear what the platform is.  

It is somewhat of a myth to say that America does not have or has never had viable third parties -- President Andrew Johnson, the man who succeeded President Abraham Lincoln -- was effectively a third-party president after publicly renouncing the Democratic Party while in office, while also refusing to join the Republican ranks.

But in all practicality, the nucleus of political power in America today is largely binary.  And today it takes millions of dollars to get elected to office.  2008 marked the first race in which the average "price" of a seat in the House of Representatives passed the $1M USD mark.  The candidate with more money won 9 out of 10 federal races.  Much of that funding comes from the national party, which in turn receives a mixture of money from small donors and hefty special interests.

 
RNP

Against that backdrop, consider that the RNP's and DNP's platforms are non-binding, yet they do carry substantial weight and pressure.  Candidates who buck the carefully laid out talking points in the platform risk losing funding, and by proxy losing a job opportunity.  Of course there may be some element of pandering to the platform -- so it's not impossible to fathom that either party might adopt a plank (passage) that they have no real intention of enforcing.

II. Science v. Religion: The War on Drugs, Research, and Medical Freedoms

The RNP platform offers an incredible degree of cognitive dissonance. Most of it deals with the Republican party proposing large, intrusive federal expensive expenditures to regulate personal choices on medical interest at the behest of special interests or religion basis, not a scientific basis.

-- restricting scientific research or medical freedoms for religious (and not scientific) reasons, or at the behest of special interests.  For example the RNP states (pg. 34):

We call for expanded support for the stem-cell research that now offers the greatest hope for many afflictions– with adult stem cells, umbilical cord blood, and cells reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells–without the destruction of embryonic human life. We urge a ban on human cloning and on the creation of or experimentation on human embryos. We support restoring the Drug Enforcement Administration ban on the use of controlled substances for physician assisted suicide. We oppose the FDA approval of Mifeprex, formerly known as RU-486, and similar drugs that terminate innocent human life after conception.

So the party's plank basically states: ban embryonic stem-cells that could be used to treat disease victims, ban the morning after pill, and ban assisted suicide.

Embryonic stem cells
The RNP wants to ban embryonic stem cells that could treat paralysis victims. [Image Source: Metrolic]

Likewise (pg. 38) the RNP states:

The resources of the federal government’s law enforcement and judicial systems have been strained by two unfortunate expansions: the overcriminalization of behavior and the over-federalization of offenses. The number of criminal offenses in the U.S. Code increased from 3,000 in the early 1980s to over 4,450 by 2008. Federal criminal law should focus on acts by federal employees or acts committed on federal property – and leave the rest to the States. Then Congress should withdraw from federal departments and agencies the power to criminalize behavior, a practice which, according to the Congressional Research Service, has created “tens of thousands” of criminal offenses. No one other than an elected representative should have the authority to define a criminal act and set criminal penalties. In the same way, Congress should reconsider the extent to which it has federalized offenses traditionally handled on the State or local level.

Yet on (pg. 37-38) they comment:

To that end, we support mandatory prison sentences for... repeat drug dealers... 

... a comment that alludes to the party's ongoing support of marijuna prohibition.  The marijuana issue is notable, as nearly half of criminals in U.S. prison have lost their liberty due to non-violent drug offenses, with a half of those prisoners (a quarter of all prisoners) being imprisoned for marijuana offenses.  

To put this in context, the U.S. has lost almost $2T in tax revenue on marijuana alone in the four decade "War on Drugs", launched by Republican President Richard Nixon, while spending $1T USD in taxpayer money for bloated federal enforcement.  Meanwhile, all three of America's last presidents -- Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama acknowledge consuming marijuana as youths (though Bill, famously, "did not inhale").  And the world's most prominent medical experts are in general agreement in the peer-reviewed literature -- marijuana is no more harmful to health and society than alcohol (legal) or tobacco (legal) -- in fact, in may be substantially less harmful.

To recap the Republican party wants to spend billions in taxpayer to jail, imprison, and otherwise financially ruin the lives of those who use the morning after pill, use a low-harm drug (marijuana), or who do research using embryonic stem cells.  It wants to expand federal government to act as moral police dog for the nation.  And it wants to ban a person's own right to end their life, even in cases where of chronic pain and suffering.

Yet the party claims it is about personal liberties and reducing the federal budget/deficit.

Some parts of the moral stands (e.g. the reproductive rights parts) may be mere pandering and may not see serious legislative action (although they may).  But the RNP is following narrowly the DNP's line of spending billions in the "War on Drugs", which is largely the "War on Marijuana".  It is extremely hard to see that war as anything other than an effort to funnel money to the alcohol and tobacco industry. 

Marijuana Mexico
Both Obama and Romney have accepted around $200,000 from the alcohol industry to keep marijuan illegal.  Both candidates plan to rack up billions in deficit debt to pander to the special interest bosses. [Image Source: AFP]

Tobacco Lobbyists have spent almost $2.5M USD this election cycle, with over 2/3rds of that money going to Republicans [source].  The alcohol industry has spent close to $5M USD [source].  Republicans have a slight edge, but overall the alcohol industry is much more equal in funding both parties, with both presidential candidates accepting close to $200,000 in special interest money.  Perhaps that's why both candidates want to continue the war on drugs, wasting taxpayer money to manipulate the "free market" -- after all, they've been paid to have that opinion.

Clearly there's a huge contradiction between the various planks in the RNP platform.

Source: GOP



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RE: I fail to see religion's
By EricMartello on 9/14/2012 4:38:30 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The difference between a car and it's parts and a human at it's zygote stage and adult stage is that the car parts DO NOT SELF ASSEMBLE INTO A CAR.


The process of assembly is irrelevant. We can't fit a team of overpaid union workers into every womans' womb to build the embryo into a human so the individual cells do it for us over a period of 9 months.

BTW your excessive usage of elementary school biology terms is not adding any credibility to your philosophical argument. Just sayin. Nobody reading your posts believes you have any real scientific understanding or knowledge of humans' biological processes.

quote:
The fact that the difference between the zygote and toddler stage of a human being is 'irrelevant' is only so to one who hasn't the foggiest idea that a continuum has no breaks


It is irrelevant because they are two entirely different things. This "continuum" you're talking about is more highly opinionated, philosophical nonsense. If you cannot see the difference then you are not thinking logically.

quote:
Does incomplete assembly mean non-human? I dunno, as someone born with no legs if they are human.


Absolutely. Humans can exist without certain "parts" being included (i.e. limbs) but we cannot exist without a heart, a brain, blood...fundamental things that are simply not present in an embryo and even at later stages are not ready for prime time - like the engine block of a car vs the fully assembled engine.

quote:
Folks see killing retards and whatever else society deem the unfit as horrible because they can see those individuals. There is no logical difference between that and abortion, so I'm starting to think you are indeed a moral freak.


It's actually beneficial to humans as a species to maintain a standard of quality in our gene pool. The natural processes of life are quite vicious and violent - which seems "bad" and "cruel" but also tempers life to make it more resilient.

This has nothing to do with morality and more to do with practicality. Your "morals" condemn a retard to a life of dependence...they live looking through a window and being aware enough to know everything they can't do or will never be able to do. Some people may consider that a version of hell - but you're bleeding heart demands we embrace these people and let them live out their days/weeks/years rather than euthanizing the defects and keeping healthy people who have a higher chance of improving the human race as a whole.

quote:
If you take me out of the environment I am designed for (and that comprises an extremely tiny % of the universe) I would cease to function.


You really have no argument for what I said and it is quite apparent in your responses. THIS is an example of a straw man - which by definition is you attempting to present a similar but irrelevant example as being "identical" and suggesting that if A is true so is B.

You, as a human, are a sentient being who can function with some semblance of free will. You can choose to place yourself in a safe environment or a harsh environment - an embryo is not "designed to exist" in the womb because it is not designed to exist. It is designed to provide a framework for building a human out of biological parts. Until it can exist on its own as a sentient being independent from a host it is not alive.

quote:
There is absolutely no difference between James Cameron in a submarine at the bottom of the Marianas Trench and a human baby before its born.


No, not really. James Cameron is a sentient being who can function independently of his host. He can think and make his own choices. An embryo cannot because it is not alive - it is a human in development.

You need to cool it with the metaphors that range from inaccurate to entirely false and try to put forth some fact, or just accept that you've taken position that makes no logical sense to anyone other than yourself.

Nothing you've said is even thought-provoking in terms of making anyone feel that abortions are some evil that should be stopped.

quote:
I'm too pro-science to be pro-choice. Except your definition is totally bunk, because you cannot prove that a zygote is a non-living organism.


An embryo is made up of living cells and whether or not it's alive doesn't even matter to me because based on my "life valuation scale" it falls below insects. I have no problem swatting a mosquito and if research on embryos can lead to new treatments or improvements to make life better for humans that did make it out of the hole I would be quite supportive of said research.

You are obviously ignorant in terms of scientific understanding, although you seem to think that repeatedly using the word "zygote" equates to you having a PhD in biology.

You talk like a pro-life pamphlet given out by a church and you are no more a scientist than a banana is proof that "some intelligent being" exists.


RE: I fail to see religion's
By Asetha on 9/16/2012 2:05:32 PM , Rating: 2
While it's news to you, I don't get my pro-life position from any church. I get it from the embryology text i cited above. The authors plainly state that a human life begins at conception.

When you write your embryology text, let me know. My excessive use of elementary biology cited the above literature whilst you have provided jack squat in terms of science-based sources (Peter Singer is not a scientist). Thus you can yap all you like about my non-biological background (civil eng) but in the final analysis you have provided nothing beyond your subjective opinion.

quote:
whether or not it's alive doesn't even matter to me because based on my "life valuation scale" it falls below insects


Thanks for the concession speech. As I said, your subjective opinion. Not scientific fact. As cited above.

Thanks for playing, though.


RE: I fail to see religion's
By corduroygt on 9/16/2012 3:56:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
. As I said, your subjective opinion. Not scientific fact. As cited above.

You have no clue what "a scientific fact" is. Your "non-church" sources are all religious idiots who claim to use science for their benefits. Regardless of the fact, I'd value any embryo over your life any day.


RE: I fail to see religion's
By Asetha on 9/17/2012 12:01:44 AM , Rating: 1
Good to see you again, troll. Unfortunately for your argument the source cited above is consistent with the views of the leaders of the largest abortion providers in the UK and the USA.

Ann Furedi, CEO of the largest abortion provider in the UK, says

quote:
We can accept that the embryo is a living thing in the fact that it has a beating heart, that it has its own genetic system within it. It’s clearly human in the sense that it’s not a gerbil, and we can recognize that it is human life… the point is not when does human life begin, but when does it really begin to matter?


Source: Ann Furedi, “Abortion: A Civilised Debate,” Battle of Ideas, (London, England, November 1, 2008).

And another:

quote:
"The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter – the beginning is conception."


-Dr. Watson A. Bowes
University of Colorado Medical School

quote:
"By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception."


-Professor Hymie Gordon Mayo Clinic

quote:
"I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception."


- Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni Professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics, University of Pennsylvania

quote:
"After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being. [It] is no longer a matter of taste or opinion...it is plain experimental evidence. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception."


-Dr. Jerome LeJeune Professor of Genetics, University of Descartes

quote:
"It is incorrect to say that biological data cannot be decisive...It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception."


- Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth Harvard University Medical School

I guess the guys I quoted above have a scientific fact is either, then. Those
quote:
religious idiots
abuse science for their own benefits, as there is no benefit in spouting some bullshit to appease trolls like you.

I'm glad you FINALLY came to the heart of your argument - whether the unborn are human/alive or not is not part of your argument. You don't care about the biology, else you'd acknowledge the positions of the
quote:
religious idiots
I quoted above.

Thanks for playing, troll. Bring some grown-up arguments if you want to be taken seriously next time, though. Refuting your infantile bleating and ad-hominem fallacies gets boring.


RE: I fail to see religion's
By Asetha on 9/17/2012 4:15:08 AM , Rating: 2
Woops. I meant those guys I quoted must not have any idea what a scientific fact is, either.


"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

















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