The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Monday, June 14, 2004

The stem cell test

It's politics. No matter what the system of government, many decisions will be made that all parties would admit (in private, at least!) to be suboptimal, in order to satisfy some political requirement or other.

Here, for instance, we've regularly contemplated (latterly, rather fitfully) the cesspit that the California Correctional Peace Officers Association has made of Golden State politics. The sky-high incarceration rates and lax management of jails in California are no accident: they have been deliberately engineered by politicians to secure the continuing support of the CCPOA [1].

It's a dirty business; but at least legislators have the compensation of knowing that it's 'minorities' and 'white trash', rather than their kind of people, who bear a disproportionate share of the cost.

And wasn't it the Ink Spots who sang
Into each life some rain must fall
But too much is falling in mine

When it comes to the Federal funding of stem cell research, such base political imperatives should not prevent a sufficiently broad coalition from coming together to do the right thing for once.

On June 10, I mentioned the letters sent to Bush by 206 members of the House and 58 of the Senate looking for a relaxation of the funding regime.

Some legislators categorised as pro-life are behind the initiative - Trent Lott, even!

And John Kerry has, of course, come out in support as well.

Is it possible that Big Pharma, so generously treated in last year's Medicare Act, might decide to put something back by getting behind the campaign? (Clearly, this wouldn't be pure altruism on their part either!)

My guess is that there is zero chance of action before November 2: Bush's position is clear, and I can't see him wanting to give his base conniptions by going wobbly [2]. Even if - how? - Congressional action could effect a change, there can scarcely be the time in the remaining legislative days.

Over to you, President Kerry...

Meanwhile, progress is possible in the Golden State: another initiative, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act has qualified for the ballot in November [3]. The proposal is for a new state agency with $3 billion of funds raised by a bond issue - to add to the $15 billion of borrowing already authorised in 2004.

The position of Governor Schwarzenegger? According to this, he's keeping his head down.

  1. For over a dozen CCPOA-related pieces on the Plawg, search on the acronym.

    Big upcoming challenge to CCPOA rule in November: an initiative is on the ballot to reform the three strikes law. The group proposing the initiative - Citizens Against Violent Crime (CAVC); texts of the initiative, the Three Strikes and Child Protection Act of 2004, here and here (both PDF) - they look identical to me, but both links from SoCalLawBlog - which is opposed - as is this guy. California voters polled support the initiative 76:10, as does the San Francisco Chronicle (June 13)

    Very early days, though: hopefully, I'll be returning to examine the merits.

  2. If there is a base-stroking October Surprise, one might imagine Bush relenting on stem cell funding to throw a bone to affronted swing voters. Talk about your long-shots...

  3. A California Secretary of State's list of initiatives on the November ballot - mostly unlinked! The stem cell initiative's own site.


A Boston Herald piece, off a meeting in the city of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), raises a potential problem with state funding initiatives for stem cell research:
Researchers are concerned, however, that federal guidelines will pose problems when state-supported researchers want to share their information.

A Newsweek piece wraps the subject - kinda - and says Maria Shriver, whose father suffers from Alzheimer's disease,
has forged an alliance with Nancy Reagan on stem cells

With the upcoming initiative, interesting pillow talk with the Governator, then...

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