Stem cell research has been a big deal during this political season. Actor Christopher Reeve was a proponent of stem cell research before his death earlier this month. Senator Kerry and others have used it as a tool to beat on President Bush, who supposedly banned stem cell research. Of course, that’s a lie — President Bush never banned it, as I’ve pointed out before. The topic simmered in this year’s political soup, occasionally rolling to the top like a carrot in boiling stock. Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post wrote of this latest burst on October 15th:

It turned out days later that the Kerry campaign has a plan — nay, a promise — to cure paralysis. What is the plan? Vote for Kerry.

This is John Edwards on Monday at a rally in Newton, Iowa: “If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again.”

In my 25 years in Washington, I have never seen a more loathsome display of demagoguery. Hope is good. False hope is bad. Deliberately, for personal gain, raising false hope in the catastrophically afflicted is despicable….

As a doctor by training, I’ve known better than to believe the hype — and have tried in my own counseling of people with new spinal cord injuries to place the possibility of cure in abeyance. I advise instead to concentrate on making a life (and a very good life it can be) with the hand one is dealt. The greatest enemies of this advice have been the snake-oil salesmen promising a miracle around the corner. I never expected a candidate for vice president to be one of them.

Recently, stem cell research hit the news again with California’s Proposition 71. This proposition would take $3 billion from Californians ($6 billion after interest kicks in — yes, that’s billion with a b) to fund embryonic stem cell research. The Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is backing Prop. 71, but not all Republicans are equally in favor of it. Actor and director Mel Gibson has come out publicly against Prop. 71.

In an October 28 appearance with Diane Sawyer of ABC’s Good Morning America, Mel Gibson had this to say:

I’m very concerned with, with, with the stem cell question. I’m for stem cell research. I think it can do a lot of good. When I heard about Proposition 71 to sort of promote stem cell research, I was overjoyed, you know, because it can do so much good. But then I began to look further into the proposition and I found that the cloning of human embryos will be used in the process, and that for me, I have an ethical problem with that.

Here is another exchange from the same show:

[Diane Sawyer] One challenge that is raised is this is not a human being. This is a group of cells clustered in a petri dish, barely visible …

[Mel Gibson] Well, I was never in a petri dish, but at one stage, I was that little cluster of cells myself, as were you, as was the doctor, as is everybody. Tell me anybody who wasn’t that at some point in their development and I’ll give you a cigar.

You can read the whole transcript from this show on LexisNexis. In addition to this show and other media interviews and radio guest spots, Mel Gibson recorded a short ad speaking out against Prop. 71. The transcript is below; you can listen to the original on www.NoOn71.org:

Research on adult and umbilical cord stem cells have led to cures in 300,000 cases. But that’s not what Proposition 71 is about.

This is Mel Gibson. I’m concerned that people aren’t fully informed about Prop 71. We’ve got a lot of questions to ask, like, “Why are we being misled into thinking Prop 71 isn’t about cloning, when it is?” That’s what it says. “Somatic cell nuclear transfer,” and that’s a scientific term for cloning.

If cloning human embryos for destruction is so promising, why aren’t private companies paying the six billion dollars? Because in 23 years, embryonic stem cell research has not produced a single human cure. All it’s yielded is tumors, rejection and mutations.

See, bad science doesn’t attract venture capital, so why should the taxpayers be bled dry?

This is Mel Gibson. I’m voting No on Prop 71. Creating life simply to destroy it is wrong, particularly when there are effective alternatives readily available.

Why should the public be forced to fund something that could be handled by private industry? If this really is the end-all, be-all cure of the century, wouldn’t you expect wise-minded investors to toss a few dollars toward embryonic stem cell research? Of course they would. But they don’t, because the interesting research is coming from adult and umbilical cord stem cells. Heck, they have even found adult stem cells in fat, and if there is one thing the adults in this country have in good supply, it is fat.

There is no need to push embryonic stem cell research while adult and umbilical cord stem cells are available. And it certainly should not be achieved at public expense.

Addendum (11/3/2004): Well, Californians passed it. I hope they don’t mind ponying up the six billion dollars.

Since I work in the computer software industry, I enjoy walking past the cubicles and offices of my fellow employees. I’ve had the chance to discover that when it comes to office decoration, there are several schools of thought.

Some are what I call “business plain,” with only work-related information on the desk and walls. A family photo or occasional calendar is about the only indication this denizen has a personality. Boring!

If I were to hazard a guess about what type of office is the commonest, I would suggest the themed office. This is a space strewn with paraphernalia from some favorite movie, game or sports team. Within just a few feet of my office space, there are posters for the local college football team, a large model of the Iron Giant, and signs indicating the Tech Wizard is in, accompanied by a row of wizardly models and items. Office toys in these places are a must. Zen gardens are common, as are little toys like kinetic art sculptures and squeeze balls. Several people went wild with Nerf guns at Microsoft, and it was not uncommon to see Nerf battles raging down the halls. Magnetic poetry sets are great for the break room fridge or the hallway whiteboard.

Some cubicles are heavy on posters, whether inspirational — “Unity!” “Perseverance!” “There is no ‘I’ in ‘TEAM’” — or very geeky — “There are 10 people in this world: those who understand binary, and those who don’t.” “2 + 2 = 5 for very large values of 2.” or “I’m lost. I have gone out to find myself. If I return before I get back, please ask me to wait.”

Then there are the few offices that really stand out. I’m thinking of one with 50+ posters and stickers. Most are of the insultingly funny variety: “Did you eat a bowl of stupid this morning?” “My imaginary friend thinks you have serious issues.” “I’m sad that you suck.” When you find an office like this, stop and make friends with the owner. This is the person who totes the Xbox into the office for some lunchtime play, or who knows the people who do.

Some offices succumb to too much cute. These offices have dozens of pictures of family, dogs, cats, and sometimes calendars of dogs and cats. Grandparents are drawn to these offices, sensing a kindred spirit. You can recognize them by the photo album tucked under an arm. Unless you are also armed with your own family photos, avoid these offices. If you’re a diabetic, run.

None of this office décor is a problem in the workplace (assuming you are not diabetic), but some things are best kept out of the office. For instance, few things rile people up faster than religion and politics. Since I now live in a battleground state, there is a pretty even mix of Republicans and Democrats in my office. Emotions run high when it comes to politics, particularly in an election year, so placing a large Bush or Kerry sign in my office would be guaranteed to cheese off half my co-workers. This is not the wisest way to start a new job.

Religious or political differences between co-workers are bad enough, but when these things happen between employer and employee, it is tantamount to harassment. If my position or chances for promotion are based on my participation in the boss’ religion or adherence to his chosen political party, that has clearly crossed the line of acceptability.

People are still likely to express their deeply-felt beliefs. One of the guys at my workplace wears a lanyard with the initials W.W.J.D (What Would Jesus Do?) on it. In another cubicle, there are several Bible verses written on a small card attached to the wall. Neither of these instances crosses the line for me, but I am religious myself and have little difficulty with such items. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell what others may find offensive. People have claimed that merely seeing a Bible on a co-worker’s desk is an offense worth suing over. Other people have been fired for wearing a cross to work. The problem lies not in the nature of the subject matter, but rather in the offensensitivity of others.

But what is too much? Who draws the line? Sadly, the final judgment lies with those who are offended. This means that an innocently intended comment, political opinion, or religious idea could be seen as offensive. In a society where people respect each other, the offended person would talk to the other person privately, explaining why the comment or item is inappropriate or offensive. But ours is a society where simple issues that could be solved by a heartfelt conversation are increasingly settled in court. Offensensitivity is driving respect and tolerance out of the corporate workplace, and it keeps people from discovering some of the most interesting aspects of their co-workers’ personalities.

Personally, I share the opinion of Rhode Island delegate Stephen Hopkins in the movie 1776: “in all my years I ain’t never seen, heard, nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous it couldn’t be talked about.” I would prefer the open and free expression of people’s opinions and beliefs. But not everyone feels this way. If you think one political party is better than another, or if your religious beliefs are important to you, then you had best spend time expressing these concepts outside of work. This is why I vent my feelings here, rather than climbing on a soapbox on the corporate campus. If you cannot keep away from volatile subjects at work, be ready for the potential heated comments or lawsuits that will come from hypersensitive people.

The other day I came across a list of reasons why President Bush should not be re-elected. Here’s the list:

  1. Bush is destroying workers’ rights and outsourcing jobs instead of protecting the right to organize and creating new jobs rebuilding schools, bridges, roads and hospitals.
  2. Bush is privatizing Medicare, Social Security and public education with phony reforms instead of enacting health care for all, protecting retirement funds and full funding for public education through college.
  3. Bush is bankrupting the Federal Government with giant tax cuts for the very rich and super-funds to the military instead of securing the budget for human needs by taxing the rich and spending on human needs.
  4. Bush is rolling back civil rights gains instead of enforcing and expanding affirmative action to end racism in all areas of life.
  5. Bush is curtailing women’s rights and choice by undermining Roe v. Wade instead of upholding the right to choice and ending the gender wage gap.
  6. Bush is abusing immigrant workers in low-wage jobs instead of providing a clear path to citizenship and equal rights.
  7. Bush is exploiting and ruining the environment by protecting corporate polluters instead of conserving our natural resources for the public good.
  8. Bush’s war in Iraq is a disaster for our security and economy. He is pushing for more preemptive wars and for first strike nuclear military policy instead of negotiations and cooperation utilizing the UN.
  9. Bush is denying civil liberties and free speech in the name of fighting terrorism instead of repealing the USA Patriot Act and helping cities, towns and states fund firefighters and police.
  10. Bush discriminates against Gays and Lesbians with a Constitutional Amendment instead of expanding civil rights and liberties for all.

If you have been following the latest election cycle as I have, you’d recognize these are reasons being used by Democrat Senator John Kerry’s campaign against President Bush (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10), but there is one catch — this list didn’t come from the Democratic National Committee site. It came from the Communist Party USA site. There is virtually no difference between the Democratic objections to President Bush and his administration, and the Communist ones. Why? The answer is simple enough — the modern Democratic party is Marxist by its very nature.

The American Left didn’t start out Marxist, but it has increasingly become so in the past decades. I pointed out before that the ten planks of the Communist Manifesto have been fully accepted by the Left (and, sadly, by the Right in too many instances). But the Marxist rot has spread the farthest and been accepted the most by the Democrats and the Left.

Numerous pundits have noted a double standard between how members of the Left and Right are treated. Republican Senator Trent Lott made an off-the-cuff remark about fellow-Republican Senator Strom Thurmond’s presidential run of four decades earlier, and the subsequent backlash and cries of “Racist!” from the Left forced him to step down from his position of power in the Senate. Yet Democrat Senator Robert Byrd was an active member of the Ku Klux Klan in his past, and he recently used the word “nigger” multiple times on national TV. There were no similar calls of outrage and horror from the Left, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) dismissed this obvious demonstration of racism. Former President Clinton has been accused of multiple rapes and has confessed to multiple adulterous affairs, yet the National Organization of Women (NOW) has not only excused these actions, they actually stood by Clinton during the exposure of his affair with Monica Lewinsky and subsequent impeachment. The Left proudly claims to champion the rights of racial minorities and women, but willingly accepts bigotry and misogyny when it comes from within their own ranks. Lawrence Auster explains why this double standard exists: the American Left has become Marxist.

The basic reason for the “liberal” double standard has already been alluded to. It is that today’s “liberals” are really leftists who have rejected the older liberal belief in a shared equality of citizens before the law and have embraced the socialist vision of “equality as a fact and equality as a result,” as Lyndon Johnson famously put it. Since people are unequal in their ability to accumulate property, as Hayek argued in the Mirage of Social Justice, equality of results can only be pursued by treating people unequally. This is the origin of the double standard.

Still don’t believe me? I have already demonstrated the link between the Communist Party USA and the Democratic party in their shared anti-Bush message, and I previously wrote how the DNC fully embraces the ten planks of the Communist Manifesto, but you can also see it in some of the Democrat campaign slogans. Senator John Edwards’ “Two Americas” speech has been used repeatedly on the campaign trail:

Today under George W. Bush, there are two Americas, not one. One America does the work, while another America reaps the reward. One America pays the taxes, while another America gets the tax breaks.

Tell me whether there is any material difference between Senator Edwards’ stump speech and this quote by Joe Cannon, from the 1948 Socialist Workers’ Party convention speech:

There are two Americas — and millions of the people already distinguish between them. One is the America of the imperialists — of the little clique of capitalists, landlords and militarists, who are threatening and terrifying the world. This is the America the people of the world hate and fear. There is the other America — the America of the workers and farmers and the ‘little people.’

Another slogan for the Kerry/Edwards ticket, “Let America Be America Again,” was taken from the first line of a poem by Langston Hughes — a known Communist activist. This particular poem shows the poet’s admiration of Joseph Stalin, the most murderous of all the Soviet leaders. Senator Kerry wrote the preface to a recent re-release of Hughes’ poetry, so he seems to have no difficulty with the very pro-Communist flavor of Hughes’ work.

Speaking of Senator Kerry, the Left is rallying around him because he is their appointed leader. When the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group started to voice its concerns and opposition to Senator Kerry’s Navy record and service in Vietnam, the Left responded not by refuting these claims, but by launching attacks on the Swift Vets themselves. Apparently it is OK for the self-proclaimed “party of the little guy” to attack the little guys of the Swift Vets group when they dared to challenge the Left’s anointed leader. Any lie, dishonesty, sneaky behavior, or illegal act is defensible and right if it is done to uphold Marxist ideals.

This is why Leftists don’t care about their own hypocrisy. This is why it is useless to expose the Left’s double standard. Since treating people differently to achieve equality of result fits with Marxist ideals, the hypocrisy of their actions simply doesn’t matter. It is part of what they must do to achieve their desired ends. I believe in calling a spade a spade, so from now on, I will stop calling radical Democrats “the Left” or “the liberal Left” and call them by their true name: the Marxist Left.

As I type this, the Marxist Left is being exposed again. On October 14th, just a few weeks before the national election in November, the Democrat election playbook was leaked to the press. Chapter 2 of the playbook directs Democrats to “launch a pre-emptive strike” if no sign of voter intimidation appears. In other words, if nothing goes wrong, the Marxist Left is to go ballistic and claim voter intimidation anyway. You can see this in the shrill verbiage from the Marxist Left on the subject of the 2000 vote in Florida. They claim that a million blacks were disenfranchised, but nobody can point to a single black person who was prevented from voting. But since it assists their goal of regaining power, it’s acceptable for the Democrats to lie. In a further attempt to muddy the waters, the “Colorado Election Day Manual” says to round up the useful idiots and parade them before the media: in other words, describe “party/minority/civil rights leadership as denouncing tactics that discourage people from voting”. The truth doesn’t matter to these people; all that matters is getting and keeping power. That is the essence of Marxism.

Karl Marx is a dead, white European male. You’d think this would be sufficient to make liberals dislike him, but the opposite is true. Did Marx know in 1848 when he wrote the Communist Manifesto, or in 1867 when he wrote Das Kapital, that these writings would have a profound effect on the world for the next 150 years? Could he have foreseen that Marxism would be the root cause of over 100 million deaths in the 20th Century? My wife wonders if the knowledge of these deaths would have mattered to him. I find it ironic that a man who could not manage his own finances and who blew through two inheritances could be given any credence in matters financial, but many people still believe in the fundamental principles of Marxism.

Marx wrote that it is historically inevitable for societies to pass through several stages: feudalism, capitalism, socialism, and finally the workers’ paradise. A feudalist society is one where might makes right and the few “haves” dominate over the “have-nots” like barons over their serfs. In a capitalist society, the individual is important, and contract law makes business possible. The socialist society is concerned with the group over the individual, and the role of government expands to control more and more of the lives and business of the people. The workers’ paradise is the final step in Marx’s vision of society. At this stage the rulers step aside as the workers take control over their lives and their work. A heart-warming, rosy glow surrounds everything as the workers march arm-in-arm off into the sunrise of a new and glorious day.

There is just one problem with Marx’s inevitable march from feudalism to capitalism to socialism and the final joy of the workers’ paradise — it’s a crock of @#$%!

Marxism is a failure because it does not take into account the fundamental reasons how and why people work. If you watch slaves or serfs, you will notice that they work only as fast as the whip of their master compels them, and not one bit faster or further. A slave or serf requires a large amount of control in the form of overseers and bosses. On the other hand, a person who is free and able to benefit from his work will work harder and look for ways to improve his job. A peasant in ancient China had no way of changing his position in life, so inventing a better plow or ox harness would not improve his lot in any way. But in a free society, a baker who creates a new type of bread or a printer who invents a faster way of setting type can expect to do more business and increase profits; a slave or serf does not.

You could say that capitalism is similar to the scientific method. When scientists announce they have proven something new, they will publish their experiment for others to duplicate. If others can reproduce the same results, the new method or theory is accepted. But if someone makes a claim, as in the case of cold fusion, and no one else can duplicate the results, then the theory can be said to be disproved, or at least in a state of not yet being proven. In the years since Marx wrote his ideas, the “inevitable” workers’ paradise has never been successfully achieved. While many countries have moved along the path to socialism, not one has made the final switch to the workers’ paradise. A common response to this complaint is that Marxism has never really been implemented yet. Well, various nations on this planet have only been trying it for the last 150 years, so how much more time and testing is necessary? The scientific community did not take 150 years to disprove Ponds and Fleischman’s claims of cold fusion, so why should it take more than a century to disprove the claims of Marxism? But Marxists will not allow their belief in the system to be destroyed — they cling to it as faithfully as a religion.

Marxism is a philosophy that is applied by its adherents to economics, production, workers and their relationships, government, and much more. In my wife’s English class last term, the professor instructed the students in the Marxist interpretation of literature. As I see it, if the only tool you have is a hammer, before long all your jobs start looking like nails.

But regardless of what Marx said, not everything hinges on money; it hinges on power. Money is merely a unit of power — the power to procure the goods and services that you want and need. My wife has written a wonderful analysis and interpretation of Marx and his ideas that, IMO, is well worth reading.

Marxism is a failure because it fails to depict reality. Marx said that socialism would make way for the workers’ paradise, but in reality dictators never give up their power voluntarily. Can you think of any dictators who have willingly walked away from power? My wife believes that Marx was no dummy. He didn’t talk about how the workers’ paradise would come about. The very concept of the workers’ paradise was sufficient to agitate the common workers into obeying Marx’s pronouncements and achieving his goals. He dangled this carrot so like-minded people could manipulate them as useful idiots. My wife’s idea is that Marx didn’t specify how the workers’ paradise would be created precisely because Marx didn’t intend for it to happen. Instead, Marx wrote up a road map for ruthless people like himself to exploit the working masses in order to gain power. This is why socialism was taken to the communist extreme so easily in many nations. None of these nations have had anywhere near the financial success of smaller capitalist countries. This is a simple indication of the difference between a free and an enslaved population.

Capitalism is very much like Sir Isaac Newton’s law of gravity. Under most normal circumstances, Newton’s law works very well indeed; it only breaks down when things reach extremes: in the realms of the super-small such as atoms and subatomic particles, the very large such as suns or bigger celestial bodies, or the very fast such as speeds approaching light speed. Likewise, capitalism tends to fail at extremes: when there is no authority to guarantee contract compliance, or when there are excessive government regulations and controls. But other than these extreme circumstances, both capitalism and Newton’s law of gravity work very well. Socialism, however, barely functions at its best. The Soviet Union was constantly plagued by food and goods shortages. Cuba is surrounded by ocean, yet it has a chronic shortage of fish. North Koreans are starving. Even Sweden, arguably the most successful socialist country, is showing signs of internal rot. P.J. O’Rourke outlines the situation in Sweden and other countries in his fine book, Eat the Rich.

The bottom line on Marxism is simple: it doesn’t work, it has never worked in the past 150 years, and it is about time for its adherents to acknowledge that Marxism will not work in the future, either. But this isn’t going to happen. Whenever you hear someone say, “Marxism/Socialism has never really been properly tried yet,” you know you are in the presence of someone for whom Marxism is a religion, not open to criticism or logical debate. Thomas Sowell summed this attitude up at the end of Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality?: “Someone once said that an idea which fails repeatedly may possibly be wrong…. There are still many true believers to whom all evidence is irrelevant.”