By Anonymous on March 09, 2009

This was an easy step, but it was the right step, and it was the humane step.

When he signed the Executive Order lifting the federal ban on new embryonic stem cell research, President Obama was making good on a campaign promise. That’s what made it right. He was taking an action that is popular with the vast majority of the American public. That’s what made it easy. But it’s also an action that holds out the promise of curing a whole variety of debilitating diseases from diabetes all the way to Parkinson’s. That’s what made it so humane.

In a graceful touch, Obama invoked the famous and the unsung who fought so hard for embryonic stem cell research.

“As we restore our commitment to science, and resume funding for promising stem cell research, we owe a debt of gratitude to so many tireless advocates, some of whom are with us today, many of whom are not. Today, we honor all those whose names we don’t know, who organized, and raised awareness, and kept on fighting – even when it was too late for them, or for the people they love. And we honor those we know, who used their influence to help others and bring attention to this cause – people like Christopher and Dana Reeve, who we wish could be here to see this moment.”

On Monday, Obama also signed a Presidential Memorandum ten ensure scientific integrity in government decision-making. His Administration, he said, will “base our public policies on the soundest science.” And he pledged to “appoint scientific advisers based on their credentials and experience, not their politics or ideology.”

What a refreshing break from the Bush-Cheney policies, which amounted to Lysenkoism—not only on stem cell research but also on global warming.

In typical fashion, the Republican Party remained the heartless party of no.

House Republican Leader John Boehner said Obama’s move “rolled back important protections for innocent life, further dividing our nation at a time when we need greater unity to tackle the challenges before us.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell provided his usual echo: “With this announcement, the government is, for the first time, incentivizing the creation and destruction of human embryos at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer.”

They talk about the destruction of human life, but fertility clinics around the country have their freezers full of embryos that they will never use and that they’ll ultimately toss in the garbage. Why not use these embryos to save lives instead?

Boehner and McConnell care more about the frozen embryos that are going to be discarded than the real-live human beings who are needlessly suffering today.

The Republican leaders are lost in the wilderness of their own barren ideology.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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