Republicans Again Attack Human-Animal Hybrids


At a previous blog I recall mocking George Bush for talking about banning human-animal hybrids in his 2006 State of the Union Address.  I found it a strange position coming from a man who is half-human, half-chimp:



Senator Sam Brownback has introduced a bill, which has the support of 9 Republicans and 1 Democrat (Mary Landrieu) to ban the creation of human-animal hybrids. P.Z. Myers has explained the actual science:

One teensy little problem: these clowns do not understand the science. We actually aren’t planning to creating a slave-race of beast-men; the technology isn’t there, for one thing, and for another, that’s really not at all an interesting goal. No one is planning on operating on any human persons, or even violating them; the focus is all on cells and molecules. This is routine stuff. In one hand, you’ve got a dish full of human cells — it doesn’t talk, it can’t sign a consent form even if it had the capacity to understand one — and you want to know what makes them tick. In the other hand, you’ve got a collection of hard-won tools you’ve gathered from work in mice or worms or flies; interesting vectors, genes that act as indicators or switches, ways to basically reach into a cell and toggle states. Scientists have had these for years, and we’ve regularly used these tools to manipulate cells and puzzle out what happens.

Another example: we want to know what genes on different human chromosomes do, but it is highly unethical to do random mutagenesis on human gametes, bring them together, and then raise up the fetus in a volunteer’s womb to find out what interesting ways it might go kablooiee. One technique that has been used is to make mouse-human hybrid cells: use a little ethylene glycol to weaken the cell membranes, push a mouse cell next to a human cell, and presto, they fuse. They then recover and go through cell divisions, and the hybrid cell begins to lose pieces of the unnatural excess of chromosomes it’s got. You can then screen the resultant cells and correlate the presence or absence of gene products with the presence or absence of specific human chromosomes.

I know. It sounds so nefarious.

One more example: scientists have made transgenic pigs carrying five human genes. The idea is to create animals that can be a source for xenografts — transplanted organs — in humans with a reduced level of rejection. These pigs would become illegal under the Brownback bill, because they mingle a blessedly human H-transferase gene with pig cells. This is not to argue that there are no ethical considerations in these kinds of experiments, since there certainly are: we can argue about the ethics of creating species of pigs with the specialized purpose of providing organs for human use (it’s about as great a moral dilemma as raising pigs for meat), and there’s also the concern that hybrid pigs will also be dangerous incubators for training viruses to respond to human epitopes. But the ethical debates aren’t the domain of crude science-fiction versions of the science that these clueless lawmakers think them to be.

I’d like Brownback to answer a simple question. Does putting the human insulin or growth factor gene into E. coli violate the dignity of the human person? If it does, he’s suggesting shutting down a good chunk of the pharmaceutical industry.

“Birther” Doesn’t Have To Go To Afghanistan

There is some news in followup of yesterday’s post about a soldier went to court to fight deployment to Afghanistan by claiming that Barack Obama is not legitimately Commander-in-Chief, citing conspiracy theories which claim he is not a natural born American citizen. The far right WorldNetDaily site reports that the deployment orders were rescinded.

Some conspiracy theorists on the right, including at WorldNetDaily, are using this to try to add validity to their conspiracies about Obama’s birth certificate. Many other conservatives are staying away from these conspiracy theories. Mudville Gazette argues that the whole court case was a sham as Major Cook was never legally obligated to go to Afghanistan.

In another sideline to this case, David Weigel has described how Cook is a frequent poster at the misleadingly named conservative site Free Republic.

Pat Buchanan’s Strategy For The GOP

Pat Buchanan, who has made a career out of pandering to racist and anti-Semitic beliefs, has some advice for the Republican Party–engage in more race-baiting:

In 2008, Hispanics, according to the latest figures, were 7.4 percent of the total vote. White folks were 74 percent, 10 times as large. Adding just 1 percent to the white vote is thus the same as adding 10 percent to the candidate’s Hispanic vote.

If John McCain, instead of getting 55 percent of the white vote, got the 58 percent George W. Bush got in 2004, that would have had the same impact as lifting his share of the Hispanic vote from 32 percent to 62 percent.

But even Ronald Reagan never got over 44 percent of the Hispanic vote. Yet, he and Richard Nixon both got around 65 percent of the white vote.

When Republican identification is down to 20 percent, but 40 percent of Americans identify themselves as conservatives, do Republicans need a GPS to tell them which way to go?

Why did McCain fail to win the white conservative Democrats Hillary Clinton swept in the primaries? He never addressed or cared about their issues.

These are the folks whose jobs have been outsourced to China and Asia, who pay the price of affirmative action when their sons and daughters are pushed aside to make room for the Sonia Sotomayors. These are the folks who want the borders secured and the illegals sent back.

Had McCain been willing to drape Jeremiah Wright around the neck of Barack Obama, as Lee Atwater draped Willie Horton around the neck of Michael Dukakis, the mainstream media might have howled.

And McCain might be president.

(Hat top to Matthew Yglesias who read Human Events today so that the rest of us don’t have to.)

The Southern strategy worked for years, but it has now turned the Republicans into a regional party unable to win national elections. Besides desiring to pander to the types of views which also limit Republican support to primarily conservative white males, Buchanan shows another tendency of the far right. Beyond racism, distortions of the facts is typical of the far right, and Buchanan demonstrates this with multiple untrue claims about Sonia Sotomayor.