Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Life of the Party

I'm sure that none of this will come as a surprise to any of you, but once again the Republican mystic insane religious zealot cabal and I have disagreed on a major issue, this time stem cells. This has been a Cirque du Soleil of ultra-conservative mastery of bad rhetoric: who can forget Bush appearing amid the throngs of Snowflake Babies, senator Brownback's memorable assertion that stem cell research would have killed Mother Teresa, John F. Kennedy and (!) Ronald Reagan, and Michael Steel of Maryland's well-publicized comparison of stem cell research to Nazi medicine? Oh, oh, this makes me tired and mad, almost too mad to blog. As I have said repeatedly over the last six years, this particular ultra-conservative constellation is almost impossible for me to understand. Starting a war in Iraq in order to line the pockets of Bechtel and Halliburton (even I will admit that this is probably not the only reason) is evil but nonetheless comprehensible since it's about money. But blocking stem cell research (like fighting evolution) just doesn't make any sense to me: there's no money in it, and (if the New York Times is right) it doesn't even play well with the moderate conservatives.

Bush has repeatedly justified our continued presence in Iraq as a kind of homage and compensation for the soldiers who have sacrificed their lives there in order to protect American and Iraqi lives in the future. Yet he has no trouble condeming scientific research that consumes stem cells as morally evil? This is classic Party of Life biopolitics: the state is responsible for fostering the production of killable, technically living bodies, not making sure that anyone has a decent life.

If we extend his logic, which casts fertility clinic doctors and research scientists as premeditated murderers, shouldn't we make masturbation and menstruation capital crimes? Every woman who cruelly and selfishly allows herself to go un-pregnant for a month could be murdering the next Martin Luther King! Every man who jerks off to a crudely photoshopped picture of Britney Spears as a centaur could be slaughtering the next Strom Thurmond! In some cases, in the womb, two eggs are fertilized and larger, more viable blastoma consumes the weaker one: FIRST DEGREE MURDER! As soon as the baby is born, it should be sent to a special infant's prison, and its perfidious mother should be tried as acessory or at least beaten with a strap by her husband.

Perhaps reading the Times editorial page or almost any other media outlet will give a more coherent and less histrionic picture of the situation, but this is what happens when we somehow have let ourselves be governed by a bunch of superstitious wierdos who base their decision making on opinion polls and the Book of Revelation. More and more poltical cartoonists and editorialists are catching on to the fact that our home-grown fundamentalist authoritarian oligarchy is not too too different from the Universal Islamic Calihpate that we are supposed to fear so constantly. If my fieldwork weren't turning out to be so oddly, surprisingly uplifting and positive, I would be really depressed now. It's a black pass we come to when the international pharmaceutical industry is doing a better, dramatically more humanitarian job than our government.

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