Along the Tracks

Wednesday, August 31, 2005
 

Red Cross chapter addresses and phone numbers


Here's what I've got so far - pardon the lack of unified formatting. I'll update with additions, including Texas and Florida Red Cross chapters, once I've tracked them down. Note: Some of these chapter offices are located in the heart of the devastated areas, and may well not be occupied at this time. If I learn anything on temporary locations/phone numbers, I'll update with that as well.

UPDATE: The American Red Cross Chapter locater link now appears to be working. I’ve added to the list below with quite a few more chapters, as well as the latest listing of shelters in the Houston area. Locations are listed alphabetically by city, under each state.

Alabama

North Baldwin Service Center
300 North Hoyle Ave.
Bay Minette, AL 36507
(251) 937-3801

Birmingham Area Chapter
950 22nd Street North, Suite 750
Birmingham, AL 35203
(205) 458-8282

Florence Red Cross Office
318 S. Court St
PO Box 218
Florence, AL 35631
256-764-2911

South Baldwin Service Center
209 West Jessamine Ave.
Foley, AL 36536
(251) 943-3844

Etowah County Chapter
405 South 1st Street
Gadsden, AL 35901
256-547-8667

Madison / Marshall County Chapter
1101 Washington Street NW
Huntsville, AL 35801
(256) 536-0084

Alabama Gulf Coast Chapter
Administration
P.O. Box 1764,
Mobile, AL 36633
853 Dauphin Street
Mobile, AL 36601
(251) 438-2571

American Red Cross of Central Alabama
5015 Woods Crossing
Montgomery, AL 36106
(334) 260-3980

Lee County Chapter
206 26th St.
Opelika, AL 36801
334-749-9981

Black Belt Service Center-Selma
812 Selma Avenue
Selma, Al. 36702
(334)874-4641

West Alabama Chapter
American Red Cross
1100 Veterans Memorial Parkway
Tuscaloosa, AL 35404
(205) 758-3608
Toll Free (800) 516-3387

Florida

North Central Florida Chapter
1724 NE 2nd Street
Gainesville, FL 32609
352-376-4267

American Red Cross of Northwest Florida
1741 N Palafox St
Pensacola, FL 32501
850-432-7601

Capital Area Chapter
187 Office Plaza Drive
Tallahassee, FL 32301
850-878-6080

Georgia

Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter
1955 Monroe Drive, NE
Atlanta, GA 30324
404-876-3302

Louisiana

Central Louisiana Chapter
1808 Jackson St.
Alexandria, LA 71301
318-442-6621

Louisiana Capital Area Chapter
10201 Mayfair Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70809
225-291-4533

Southwest Louisiana Chapter
3512 Kirkman Street
Lake Charles, LA 70607-1836
337-478-5122

Northeast Louisiana Chapter
414 Breard Street
Monroe, LA 71201
318-323-5141
888-323-5141 toll-free

Southeast Louisiana Chapter
2640 Canal St.
New Orleans, LA 70119
800-229-8191

Northwest Louisiana Chapter
4221 Linwood Ave.
Shreveport, LA 71108
318-865-9545

Acadiana Area Chapter
101 N. Pat St.
Scott, LA 70583
337-234-7371

Mississippi


The Mississippi Gulf Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross
2782 Fernwood Road
Biloxi, MS 39531
(228) 896-4511

South Central Mississippi Chapter
606 Hutchinson Avenue
Hattiesburg, MS 39401
601.582.8151

Central Mississippi Chapter
American Red Cross
875 Riverside Drive
Jackson, Mississippi 39202
(601) 353-5442

Pine Belt Chapter
401 W. Oak St.
Laurel, MS 39440
601-426-6482

Key Chapter American Red Cross
1820 23rd Ave.
Meridian, MS 39305
(601) 485-5151

Adams County Chapter
211 N. Union St.
Natchez, MS 39120
601-442-3656

American Red Cross - Oktibbeha County Chapter
501 Hwy 12 W Suite 160
Starkville, MS 39759
(662)323-4621

Northeast Mississippi Chapter
4127 Westside Drive
Tupelo, Mississippi
(662) 842 -6101


Texas

Greater Houston Chapter
2700 Southwest Freeway
Houston, TX 77001
713.313.5480

*Greater Houston Chapter shelters
*Mont Belview Sr Center (Full 112 capacity)
11607 Eagle Drive

*Baytown Community Center
(Full/250 capacity)
2407 Market St
Baytown, Tx

*Memorial Baptist Church
(Full/capacity 135)
600 W. Sterling (full capacity)
Baytown Texas 77520

*St. Peter Claver
(Full/ capacity 220)
6005 N. Wayside Drive
Houston Tx

*Moody Methodist Church
2803 53rd Street
Galveston, Texas

*Spring Tabernacle
(Full capacity 200)
3034 FM 2920
Spring, Tx 77338

*Gloria Dei Lutheran Church
(capacity 250)
18220 Upper Bay Rd-Nassau Bay
Houston, Tx

*St. Mary's Catholic Church
(capacity 200)
701 Church Street
Huntsville, Tx

*Fairmont Park Baptist Church
10401 Belfast
LaPorte, Tx

*New Life Central
2104 Underwood
LaPorte, Tx

*1st United Methodist Church
(capacity 200)
4308 W. Dallas
Conroe, Tx

*1st Baptist Church
906 Ave A
Katy, Tx

East Texas Piney Woods Red Cross
1604 Highway 31
Longview, TX 75604
903-753-2091



(1) comments
 

Hurricane Katrina/Flood Aid


Seeing the pictures and reading the tragic stories, we all feel moved to help those who have lost so much in the Gulf Coast states. Yet it can be hard knowing exactly how and where to offer that help: Money? Materials? Service?

Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit will be hosting a special blog event Thursday to guide readers to sites and information, allowing each of us to make the most of our energies, assets and skills. Please be sure to check in there to find out what you can do to ease the pain our friends and neighbors are feeling.

Instapundit also guided me to Wizbang's sobering post about what people in New Orleans, Gulfport, Biloxi and vicinity need more than hot rhetoric. Read his post and see if you might fit the bill for tracking down and relaying the information so many who have lost everything are now struggling to learn.

For my part, the mention of Red Cross aid and how victims can request assistance struck a chord. My mom, Jackie Miller, happens to work for the Henry County (Ohio) Chapter of the American Red Cross, and was able to describe the basics of applying for Red Cross disaster aid money:

1) All Red Cross shelters and chapter offices, as well as most local, state and federal Emergency Management Agency shelters and offices should have Red Cross representatives on hand to help fill out applications for monetary aid. Those just now going to shelters will most likely be registered through a Red Cross Family Services interview, at which one can apply for aid. There will probably be some waiting involved, as the numbers are so overwhelming. I am working on a comprehensive list of locations and phone numbers in and around the affected area so those who are staying in hotels, with family, etc. can find a nearby office to apply for the aid. Stay tuned ....

2) The process will go more smoothly the more information the applicant can supply - forms of identification, household and family details, specific needs, etc. Obviously, many who have lost practically everything will have no way of providing any "documentation" - the Red Cross is experienced at dealing with such problems (if not on this large a scale) and CAN and WILL still help with emergency needs. Take a personal or family inventory, figure out what you have and what you do not have but truly need in the short term - clothing, shoes, medications, eyeglasses, etc. Write these items down and when you get a chance to speak with a Red Cross representative to apply for disaster aid, present the list. This will expedite the process.

A couple of things to keep in mind: The Red Cross supplies emergency aid; longer term financial needs may require other avenues of assistance. However, if you have an urgent need for help, please do talk to the representatives. They will either help you or guide you to those who may help.

Please be patient. The volunteers (mostly) who will be working with victims have the desire to help everyone, but the shere volume will make progress slow. Also, many Red Cross volunteers from "up North" like my area who are heading "down South" will not be immediately familiar with local procedures, geography and especially dialects. Let me apologize for these shortcomings up front. Still, I know some of the people preparing to leave for three-week missions and the reason they are doing so is to assist - they will be giving their all.

America always is strongest when Americans work together. Through the tragedy and tears, I'm sure the response to Hurricane Katrina will demonstrate the national character once again.

UPDATE: This page on the Red Cross site lists potential avenues of financial assistance and also has good suggestions about prioritizing your needs.



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Thursday, August 18, 2005
 

Mediocrity rears its ugly head


As perhaps the harshest conservative critic of Ohio’s lackluster governor, Bob Taft (a crowded field, I grant you), I can look upon his plea deal today in Franklin County court as a mere addendum to a laundry list of Taft failures. My only question is what did Taft’s supporters expect?

Perhaps the most liberal candidate I ever endorsed, Tim Hagan for governor in ’02, was the beneficiary of my complete distaste for Taft as Ohio’s leader and the Ohio Republican Party’s deal with the devil to promote mediocrity in hopes of dominating state government. Well, the GOP succeeded on both a Taft second term and another sweep of state executive offices and legislative domination, despite a very skeptical public.

The results? Higher taxes masquerading as cuts, out-of-control spending, new gimmick programs to placate interest groups, plunging employment, a business exodus worthy of the biblical name, repudiation of court-ordered education funding reform, the spineless transfer of state natural gas reserves to the dominion of Canada, a methamphetamine explosion, support for steel tariffs which saved not one steel industry job but cost thousands in the automotive parts supplier sector, tipping the scales against smaller producers in favor of megafarms, a grievancy-based investment strategy and the view of state government as a private country club.

The golf outings “scandal,” if it really merits the name, is just an extension of all the above. What is scandalous is the incompetence of Taft’s administration, which apparently can’t even fill out disclosure forms correctly.

The bright lights in the state’s Republican Party are generally restrained or directly challenged for “rocking the boat.” Secretary of State Ken Blackwell has been targeted for disapproval by the “mediocrits” dominating GOP politics for at least two election cycles, all because he’s unabashedly a small-government, Christian conservative. Free thinker Lynn Olman of Maumee was sent home to Lucas County in a Don Quixote-like quest to break up the Democratic machine running Toledo. He inherited Tom and Bernadette Noe as the local party’s figurehead sponsors.

In fact the question of “pay-to-play” in the Tom Noe scandal is really just a demonstration of how out of touch the state party and its officials are with grassroots voters on whom ultimately they rely. The Noes were big-time RIWOs - Republicans in wallet only. They were failures where it mattered, on the ground in Lucas County.

Whether or not Noe’s coin investment contract with the Bureau of Workers Compensation was gained through undue influence is an open question; it appears the BWC laid out investment options on the floor of the director’s office then played spin-the-bottle to choose winners. Yet Noe was seen by party officials as a major player, and given admission to the “country club” of GOP state government. Why would anyone be surprised to find Noe out golfing with the governor?

The Ohio Republican Party is long overdue for a house cleaning. For years now, I’ve been calling for sweeping out the mediocrity and running thoughtful, serious and creative candidates who may occasionally lose rather than the 26 flavors of bland which currently get the endorsements and therefore the money. I’ve warned the present setup is terrible for Ohio – that prophecy was easy to make and has proven true. I’ve warned the GOP’s unchallenged dominance in Columbus would rot the party from within. Clearly, the decay is well advanced. And I’ve warned the Democrats would return to power if the Republicans did not change course.

That one’s still out there, but looking better for the Dems every day.


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Wednesday, August 17, 2005
 

'Able Danger' story grows up


The New York Times has a blockbuster overview of how the military data-mining program called 'Able Danger' attempted to alert the FBI to the presence of Mohammed Atta and other conspirators on U.S. soil. There are more details, yes, but the crucial piece missing from past stories - the piece that makes the story impossible to dismiss with lame "not historically significant" mumbo-jumbo - is a name.

That name is Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer.

Shaffer was a liason officer between Able Danger and Defense Department intelligence. He pressed for meetings with the FBI to identify Atta and other terrorists, including three other members of the 9/11 conspiracy. He saw it as an opportunity to stop a terrorist attack.

He was blocked by lawyers who feared negative repurcussions concerning the "civil rights" of these wonderful young jihadis who were visiting. He says he nearly resigned in frustration.

Again, more details, which are certainly helpful. The crucial factor here, however, is having an identified source, which allows one to judge much more accurately the source's quality. Shaffer is uniquely placed to provide precisely the information needed to understand both what Able Danger uncovered and what the unit attempted to do with the information. We also now have a witness against the quality of the 9/11 Commission's research on this subject, which looks shamefully shoddy or deliberately uninquisitive. The commission statement on Able Danger claimed the Pentagon's documents never mention Atta - and more importantly, that the military source (who we now know is Shaffer) did not mention Atta. Shaffer unequivocally says he did state Atta's name as well as three other future hijackers. Someone is lying.

My first observation is that all those accusations about a "politicized" 9/11 Commission have gained a great deal of strength. Regardless of whether or not Atta's name was included in either the interview of Shaffer or the Pentagon documents, the Able Danger program was clearly as "historically significant" as any of the other vague references and dropped leads the Commission so carefully reconstructed. Leaving it out was a dereliction of its solemn duty.

One can only guess the reason: Either some members (or perhaps powerful staffers) were so against the data-mining concept they suppressed any inclusion of program in the 9/11 report; or the legalistic blockade against sharing intelligence information with law enforcement was damned by the Able Danger story, something which would impugn former Clinton official and 9/11 member Jamie Gorelick (who created the "wall of separation" between intelligence and law enforcement) as well as indict the Clinton administration for failing to follow up on what clearly was the best of all the potential tip-offs prior to 9/11. For God's sake, they had Atta's name!

Finally, the "coming out" of Lt. Col. Shaffer once again demonstrates the difference of value between anonymous sources and named sources. One good named source is worth at least three or four anonymous sources. One good named source takes the burden of credibility away from the journalist and sets it within the story itself, where it belongs. One good named source can lay the foundation for a story which goes to the heart of the issue, rather than the accusations involved.

By coming forward, Lt. Col. Shaffer has done a great service to his country. By working to get his anonymous label removed, the New York Times (and Rep. Curt Weldon, who helped convince Shaffer to allow his name to be used) and reporter Philip Shenon have done a great service to the free press.

Hat tip: Instapundit.

UPDATE: The NY Post has a related column on the "wall of separation" and more evidence conveniently ignored by the 9/11 Commission. (Hat tip: The Corner.)



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Tuesday, August 16, 2005
 

Blackwell plays 'Let's Make a Deal'


Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, coming off a very successful fundraiser here in Williams County, is known as the “conservative’s conservative” in the three-way race for the Republican nomination for governor. He’s no moderate, and he’s not “establishment.” He’s worked hard burnishing his image as a stick-to-your-guns, tax-cutting, budget-trimming, do-what’s-right-not-what’s-popular kind of leader.

So why all of a sudden did Blackwell back down to the state’s GOP leadership and postpone, from this November’s election until November ’06, his ballot issue to limit taxes and spending?
A hint can be found in the statement of Robert Bennett, the Ohio Republican Party chairman, who praised Blackwell’s decision, then added the tax-and-budget limitation would provide a good issue for whichever candidate gets the GOP nomination for governor in 2006.

Excuse me?

Up until, oh, about five minutes ago, the state’s GOP leadership was dead set against Blackwell’s initiative, claiming it would tie the hands of future governors and legislators (which it would – that’s the whole point!). Why the shift in rhetoric?

I think I smell a deal.

The state’s Establishment Republicans have never warmed up to Blackwell, and were already lining up behind GOP contender and state Attorney General Jim Petro. However, with blood in the water over the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation debacle and other Taft scandal accusations, the state’s GOP may be looking to unify the party earlier than usual in an effort to hang on to power. By shifting to support of a constitutional amendment limiting taxes and spending, the GOP is trying to energize conservative voters who carried George W. Bush to victory in last year’s presidential race.

Those conservatives are also Blackwell voters.

There are no guarantees here for Blackwell. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or both of the two other GOP candidates, Betty Montgomery and Petro, drop out of the race in the next few months – with a little urging from the guys in the smoke-filled rooms.

As an observer of Ohio politics since the mid-‘80s, I’ve noticed that the Establishment in each party likes to bestow its favors on some and withhold them from others. Blackwell has been given the short stick for at least six years while the GOP Establishment’s golden boy, Bumbling Bob Taft, has run the state into the ground. The Establishment seems to be changing course.

How’s it feel, Ken?


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Sympathy for Sheehan, disgust for those using her


On a week when Ohio witnessed funeral after funeral for fallen Marines, one can only offer sincere condolences and appreciation to Cindy Sheehan, as we do to all families mourning those who have been killed in the War on Terrorism.

I have some other things to say to those who choose to capitalize on her pain.

It takes an unusually callous attitude to co-opt a grieving mother for a media circus. It takes a heartless level of cruelty to rob a mother’s pride and convince her the son she loved died a worthless death in an unjust cause. It takes a special shamelessness to toss that mother before television cameras to repeat the foolish conspiracy theories you are unwilling to admit are false.

There are legitimate reasons to be against the War on Terrorism and/or against the war in Iraq. I’ve discussed them on these pages many times in the past four years. There are also senseless, illogical accusations which either display extreme ignorance or partisanship bordering on dementia. Those deeply entwined in the latter category have, unfortunately, drafted this poor woman into their cause.

To dismiss the charges quickly: “Imperialism” includes control of a country to extract its wealth. We maintain tentative control on Iraq day by day, and can’t wait to hand it over to a capable Iraqi government. As far as wealth goes, we’ve invested more into Iraq than we could extract in 25 years if we kept all the oil profits. Even the outrageous oil prices now being experienced have little to do with the war, and much to do with foolish U.S. energy policies now decades old coupled with short-sided acceptance of brutal regimes in oil producing countries from Libya to Iran. That policy has finally changed – thanks to President Bush.

Cindy Sheehan, who actually did meet with President Bush last summer and now is pushed out into the spotlight as a sympathetic figure by those whose wild theories could find no sympathy on their own, has every right to protest the president, question his judgment and challenge him to a face-to-face confrontation.

Her son fought and died to make certain she could – and she should be proud of him for that.

We all should be.

UPDATE: Think I was hard on those egging on Sheehan? Well, here's one of them. You decide - maybe I wasn't hard enough. (Hat tip: Christopher Hitchens)



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Saturday, August 06, 2005
 

Total war


I’ve been reading the biblical book of Joshua lately. It’s hard reading in our present context, as it describes a people convinced they are singled out for God’s blessing. They also find those sitting on their promised homeland utterly without value. They have no compunction about slaughtering them in the thousands, men, women and children. The narrative’s fervor for bloodshed is almost hypnotic, as battle after battle, we learn people were “slaughtered with a very great slaughter.” Invariably, the people chosen of God find they lose favor not for brutality, but for compassion.

In Joshua, the blood which washes away all sins is not of sacrificial animals or a future messiah, but that spilled from the people inhabiting Canaan.

As I said, hard reading, and hard to interpret. If one can get past the gore, and make it on through Joshua to the next book, Judges, one can begin to make sense of the moral underlying what seems to be such an amoral account. You see, after the Israelite leader Joshua dies, the people are living in the promised land as clans and tribes mixed in with many of the original people of Canaan. If Joshua is an “experiment” in a total war which failed, Judges provides the “results”: Regular bouts of warfare between Israelite tribes and those original landholders, coupled with periods of digression from the monotheistic faith of Abraham to apostasy and idol worship.

This weekend, the 60th anniversary of the first use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima is being observed. World War II, much like the Israelite conquest of Canaan told in Joshua, was a total war. All people – military, statesmen and civilians – were involved. Action could occur anywhere. All targets were justified as legitimate. Victory and defeat could only be declared unconditionally. People can sit in rooms today and debate the necessities of this or that action by the Allies; they would have found little time to do so in 1945 when parents feared for sons returning from Europe and destined for an invasion of Japan.

Certainly many at the time felt use of the atomic bomb was beyond the pale, even for a “total” war. Similar (and well-founded) criticisms were made of bombings against Dresden, Tokyo and other civilian centers. Yet, for those making the difficult decisions, it was clear as early as 1940 or ’41 that the war against the Axis was something deeper than “politics by other means.” Lines on maps, transportation lines and access to resources were mere surface decorations: The ideology underlying Italian fascism, German Nazism and Japanese militarism was one with power as ultimate good, with the weaker properly subjugated and the individual crushed in the mill of the state. The only crimes were limits to power, and righteousness found in power’s exercise.

For liberal states of the day, a loss to this ideology was indeed equivalent to the end of existence. Total war, in their eyes, was justified, not because it was necessary to defeat the Axis in battle, but because it was necessary to defeat the ideology underlying the war inside the cultures where it grew. The people of Germany, Italy and Japan, in this view, were the soil from which this apocalyptic danger grew; the thorns of Nazism and militarism must be torn up, yes, but the soil must also be sterilized.

The enemy we face in the War on Terrorism – Islamic totalitarianism is as good a description as any – is also rooted in a culture. Perhaps it is fortunate that this war has begun before the Islamists had an opportunity to solidify their control over the wider Muslim culture. Still, in many ways, the Islamic world teeters on the edge of accepting the teachings of its extremists as not only viable, but necessary.

Total wars are generally rapid wars, because each side will stop at nothing and surrender or death are the only terms. Negotiations are superfluous.

We are not fighting a total war today. We are fighting a carefully executed “pinpoint” war (even if mistakes and setbacks raise questions about that execution). A “reverse domino” strategy is playing out, and the process takes time.

All wars are bloody, and this one is no different. But considering World War II, and the Israelite conquest of Canaan 3,000 years ago, the slaughter, though heart-wrenching, has been less than “very great.”

If, however, this strategy is not followed through to its conclusion – a free, democratic moderate Islamic world - which could well take decades, then the Islamists will bounce back from their early defeats and build stronger support systems, stronger national identities and stronger attack strategies. Should the Islamists succeed in killing thousands or tens of thousands in the West again, the choice for us all – particularly for the United States as the free world’s leader – will be between total war and surrender. At that point, victory delayed – by careful air wars, one-at-a-time invasions or criminal prosecutions – will inevitably lead to victory denied.


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Wednesday, August 03, 2005
 

Parrish resignation, armed bobbies and stem cells



From this week's column:

It was good to see an embarrassing chapter close for the Williams County Fair Board. There are still some loose ends to tie up between former board President Howard Parrish and the Ohio Department of Agriculture, but with Parrish’s departure as a fair official, the board has the opportunity to move forward and demonstrate its commitment to responsibility, fair play and, most importantly, the county’s young people.

The Professor has heard some early-arriving students: “The chirping outside my office is no longer made by birds.”

I haven’t seen this mentioned much on television or newspaper articles, but the tragic death of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian shot by undercover cops on the London subway a day after the latest round of attacks, may have roots in Britain’s relationship with firearms.

Whereas the United States defends, within certain limits, a person’s right to bear arms and to act in self-defense, Her Majesty’s government has kept a tight grip on weapons and their use. Most folks know that London’s uniformed police force, the “bobbies,” do not carry pistols. Other special units do train for weapons use, and do carry them when the situation warrants.
Yet training and experience are two very different levels of familiarity, as the shooting of Menezes illustrates.

London officers who most likely never have drawn their weapons in the public suddenly were called upon to shoot to kill anyone they suspected of attempting a terror attack.

American police officers, who almost universally carry guns, are heavily trained in rules of engagement for a variety of situations and have the weapon at their side during a wide range of potentially volatile incidents. Many officers with time on their respective forces have needed to draw their weapons in dangerous, fast-changing situations. A few have even had to fire.

This wealth of experience helps officers recognize times when guns are needed and times when they are not.

The British police simply do not have this fund of knowledge from which to draw.

This is not to say American cops don’t sometimes make mistakes – obviously, they do. This is also not necessarily a criticism of Britain’s tradition of the unarmed cop in a nation where firearms are strictly regulated and gun violence is fairly uncommon.

Rather, this is yet another example of how the world really has changed due to Islamic terrorism – and all of us, whether British, Spanish, French or American, need to change in order to defeat it.

Backhanded Compliment of the Week: “The plywood nailed to this stump sure makes a nice picnic table.”

The embryonic stem cell debate took a new twist when Republican Sen. Bill Frist (the majority leader in the Senate) announced he now supports federal funding for research.

Almost everyone recognizes the promise stem cell research holds for a wide range of debilitating conditions and diseases. The research which has already been completed indicates embryonic stem cells are more “pliable” than stem cells drawn from adults, and therefore more potentially useful in medical treatments. There is certainly much more to be learned – but it is difficult to learn without applying greater resources.

The hesitation for many – myself included – is based on how those stem cells are acquired.
At present, research takes place on the extra embryos after couples go through in vitro fertilization procedures. Typically, several of the mother’s eggs are fertilized “in the test tube,” then allowed to grow. The strongest two or three are implanted in the uterus; the rest are generally destroyed or put in “cold storage” for potential future use by the couple. In the U.S., thousands of extra embryos are discarded each year.

Embryonic stem cell research takes one of these extra embryos and allows it to grow into a clump of cells which contains the “seeds” of different systems and organs: stem cells. These stem cells are then removed, a process which kills the embryo.
Many on the pro-life side see this as comparable to abortion, in that an embryo is intentionally killed. Others are bothered more by the idea of using human life, in any form, for experimentation.

Frist and others with strong pro-life credentials have pointed out the embryos do not have any chance of growing into humans, since they are extras from the in vitro fertilization process which will be discarded at some point. If the American people and their government believe in vitro fertilization is a morally legitimate procedure to allow couples with fertility problems to have children, then the American people and their government must also accept the other half of that equation: Some embryos will not be implanted and instead will be discarded.

Rather than lose the unique value and essence in each of those embryos to be discarded, the argument goes, why not use those embryos to provide stem cells for research and, eventually, cures?

When one considers the above facts and argument - as well as recognizing a substantial percentage of eggs fertilized naturally never successfully implant in the uterus and are “discarded,” too, by nature – embryonic stem cell research, with proper restrictions, does seem like a legitimate use for those embryos in danger of being wasted.

The question of experimentation on human life is perhaps not as difficult to answer. Humans are already the subjects of medical experiments. Drug studies, novel procedures, “experimental” surgeries – these are all done as part of the quest for more effective treatments. Occasionally, the subjects of the experiments even die. While we are saddened by this, we do not ban such experiments. Rather, we set up standards to make certain the experiment is useful and promising, and the subject’s death, should that occur, will not be in vain.

With strict standards in place, embryonic stem cell research could similarly provide untold benefits for humanity while assuring human life – the embryo – is not allowed to die in vain.

Male Proverb #384: “Sweet corn is followed by tomatoes, which are followed by watermelon, which is followed by school.”



(2) comments
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
 

Perspective from the front line


For a superb overview of Iraq's gradual, painful progress, with particular emphasis on the city of Mosul, visit Michael Yon's site - NOW!

Yon is publishing a four-part series which gives some historical perspective on the effort to tranquilize and rebuild Iraq. The first, originally posted in May, was republished yesterday. The final is set for the week of Aug. 8.

If you seriously want to understand Iraq and our role there - regardless on where you stand concerning the war and its justifications - you could hardly do better than this young man's view from the ground.

Hat tip: Instapundit.


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