Bush proven right on stem cell research

Fifteen years ago, President George W. Bush banned the use of federal money for extracting stem cells from human embryos.  At the same time, he doubled funding for finding alternative sources.  Today, virtually all stem cells used for medical treatments and research come from adult sources and do not involve the destruction of human life.

President Bush’s controversial decision has been vindicated, and it exemplifies the application of moral principles to scientific research.  So says Christopher White in Crux. [Read more…]

Clinton Foundation pay for play

The Associated Press, no less, has been investigating the Clinton Foundation.  It reports that over half of the people Hillary Clinton met with as Secretary of State outside of the government were donors to the foundation.

Meanwhile, as Clinton’s clandestine e-mails come out, more questionable details about the foundation are surfacing.  For example, in 2013 its income was $140 million, but it gave out only $9 million for its stated philanthropic purposes.   See also this. [Read more…]

Outcome-based vs. morality-based voting

A lot of us dislike both of the major party candidates.  Quite a few of us also dislike the minor party and independent candidates.  So we are agonizing over what to do come election day.  Perhaps it would help to think through what factors should enter into the act of voting.

The usual approach is to consider which candidate, in your opinion, would be the best in office.  Or, whleast bad.  The focus is on the outcome or possible outcome of the election.

John Mark Reynolds proposes another approach.  He gives a scenario of an election between three very-flawed 19th century candidates.  (He says nothing about the current presidential election, though we know what he means.)

He argues that one person’s vote will do little to have an impact on the election’s outcome.  But it will have an impact on the person casting the vote.  Voting for an evil candidate–even the lesser of two evils–involves the voter in that evil.  Presumably, though Reynolds does not say this, the best solution would be not to vote at all.  Reynolds is arguing for what we could call morality-based voting.

What do you think of his argument (excerpted and linked to after the jump)?

Is there a moral duty to vote?  Is Reynold’s approach a moralistic quest for purity that evades our responsibility as we live in a fallen world?

What are other ways to think about voting?  What other factors should be considered? [Read more…]

Morality as politics

The Pew Research Center has conducted a study finding that 64% of church goers heard political issues being preached from the pulpit.  Those “political issues” included abortion, homosexuality, religious liberty, the environment, and economic inequality.

Now those are mostly moral–not political–issues.  Churches have always taught about sexual morality and respect for human life.  They have also addressed issues of social morality.  That is not being political.  The Pew study found that only 14% heard political candidates being promoted or criticized.

What’s interesting here is that the researchers consider moral beliefs to be nothing more than political positions.  To be sure, government dictates about morality gives them a political dimension they normally would not have.  This is especially true when the government requirements run counter to the church’s traditional moral teachings.  Of course the church must push back against that.

But the problem isn’t churches meddling into politics.  It is the government meddling into morality.

[Read more…]

A pig with a human brain

The ethical issues involved in combining human DNA with animal DNA are so great–and so obvious–that the federal government at first refused to fund those kinds of experiments.  But now, reports Timothy Willard,  the National Institute for Health has rescinded the ban.

Willard reports on the kind of experimentation your tax dollars will be going towards:  A researcher from the University of California, Davis, that is planning to inject human embryonic stem cells into a pig embryo.  The fetus will then be implanted into the womb of a pig, who will give birth to the human/pig organism (known as a “chimera” for the mythological monsters who are combinations of various animals).

The researcher says he is doing this for the universal excuse of some day curing disease and making more compatible organs to transplant.  But he openly acknowledges what can go wrong.

Since he can’t really control what those human stem cells might turn into, if two adult chimeras mate, the result might be a a human baby with a pig as his or her parents.  Or we might have a pig with a human brain and human consciousness.

But don’t worry, he says.  If anything goes wrong, he will abort the fetus.  This is apparently what convinced the NIH that the experiments can be ethical.

[Read more…]

Trump’s knee-jerk retaliations

Donald Trump has the pathological habit of responding to every criticism by lashing out with vicious personal ad hominem attacks against the critic and, if possible, his or her family.  He did it in the primary campaign, most notably by mocking the appearance of Ted Cruz’s wife and accusing his father of complicity in the Kennedy assassination.

Now he has struck out at a father whose son was killed fighting in Iraq for criticizing him at the Democratic convention.  Also at the fallen soldier’s mother, even though she never said anything.

But it keeps going:  The two Republicans who most took him to task for insulting the grieving family were House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain.  So Trump is retaliating against them by refusing to support them in their re-election primary campaigns!

These men, professional Republicans that they are, have swallowed their misgivings and said that they are supporting Trump.  But he won’t support them.  So much for party unity.

Imagine the retaliations that would be possible for President Trump! [Read more…]