Today On Holden’s Obsession With [Yesterday’s] Gaggle

This has become a daily event

Pony Gets A Face Full Of Helen, And In Response Claims That Everyone Who Attacks US Forces In Iraq Is 1) A Terrorist And 2) Not From Iraq

Q A study shows that Iraq is the second-most unstable country in the world. Do we have anything to do with that?

MR. SNOW: Do we have anything to do with that? Yes, I saw the study —

Q — the killing?

MR. SNOW: We don’t — I’m not sure I got the —

Q I’m talking about Petraeus, also, intensifying — is he trying to build a kill record before September?

MR. SNOW: No. No. In point of fact, Helen, if you take a look at the record of the last two months, the people who have been trying to put together the kill record are al Qaeda. Go to the mosques —

Q Is everybody who resists our occupation a terrorist?

MR. SNOW: Do you think somebody who goes in and blows up 50 people in a mosque is resisting occupation?

Q What have we done for five years?

MR. SNOW: What we have been trying to do is to work with folks to deal with a highly volatile situation in Iraq in the wake of a murderous regime —

Q We’ve killed thousands of people, tens of thousands —

MR. SNOW: Many have died, and hundreds of thousands died under the previous regime. This is a place that has too long been wracked by violence. And the fact that in fighting —

Q We’re not supposed to be comparing, are we?

MR. SNOW: Unfortunately, if we fought evil guys who simply would say, you caught us, we’re evil, we give up, we’ll be good — that would be great, that would be wonderful.

Q Everybody isn’t evil who fights for his land.

MR. SNOW: A lot of the people we’re talking about, Helen, aren’t fighting for their land, because it’s not their land. They don’t even come from Iraq.

Q Are we fighting Iraqis, inherently, in their own country?

MR. SNOW: Are we fighting Iraqis inherently? I think if you take a look at what General Petraeus is saying, is that increasingly Iraqis are joining with us to defend their country from the onslaught of outside fighters, whether they be from al Qaeda or Iran.

Q Good, but we have to admit we’re killing a lot of Iraqis who are against our presence.

MR. SNOW: I’m not sure. I mean, that requires the kind of canvas of those who have died that I’m not capable of doing.

Nothing New On Stem Cells

Q Tony, does the executive order allow researchers to do anything they couldn’t do under current guidelines?

MR. SNOW: Well, what it does — the stem cell guidelines expand the range of pluripotent cells.


Q How much federal funding are we talking about?

MR. SNOW: What we’re really talking about is money within the NIH right now. The NIH has the ability to distribute money based on grants that it considers worthy, and it will continue to distribute them.


Q Because there’s no additional money, isn’t the executive order a way to blunt criticism, because so many Americans favor stem cell research, after the President’s veto?

MR. SNOW: Well, what’s interesting is — again, the imprecision of this debate about stem cell research — the President supports stem cell research, let’s be clear.


Q But essentially, there’s no new money set aside, there’s no change in policy on this, and this research was already going on, correct?

MR. SNOW: Well, no, what we’re talking about is research that actually has been going on in private places elsewhere, it’s the result of papers.


Q And no policy change at all?

MR. SNOW: Well, no, the policy change — again, the policy change is that when you’re taking a look at pluripotent stem cell lines, it is no longer limited strictly to embryonic stem cell lines. So that is a change in the law. I mean, you can read — in sort of a pretty obvious way, there are a number of changes.


Q Tony, back to the executive order — I’m trying to figure out how much a departure it is. The non-embryonic research that you want to encourage was allowed before the order and will be allowed after the order.

MR. SNOW: I’m just not sure. The thing is, Mark, this is so new — it may have been allowed, it just didn’t exist.

Q It has been —

MR. SNOW: There have been some very preliminary pieces of research. So like I said, you don’t have Skin Pluripotentcy, Inc. You don’t have, you know, some little hot shop where they’re doing this stuff right now.

Q Before the order, the NIH gets a proposal for such research, as it exists today they can approve it. The President is not going to allow —

MR. SNOW: I don’t know.


Q Isn’t he ordering NIH to do what it is already able and willing to do?

MR. SNOW: I’m not sure — no. I think what he’s trying to do — keep in mind, when something new comes up — and you’ve seen this happen many times — if there is not a specific guideline, people are sometimes wary of doing anything for fear of second-guessing or exposure. So this is a matter of due diligence to say, okay, we have new technologies at our disposal and this is the way we’re going to proceed.

Whether NIH coulda/woulda/shoulda done this under the status quo — don’t know.


Q And, secondly, I understand your argument that the point of the executive order is to encourage research and promising new lines, but in terms of timing, you could have done it last week, you could have done it next week. To Kelly’s point earlier, why package it today with the veto if not to blunt criticism that the President is doing it —

MR. SNOW: I love the fact that the criticism is always seen as the valid point, as opposed to the advocacy, which I think is more powerful, which is it’s another example of the President respecting the right to life, also respecting the importance of trying to advance science on the margins, rather than simply to bicker about things that have been bickered about a long period of time.

Even The Chimp’s Own Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research Says He’s Full Of Shit

Q Tony, when you were responding to Kelly the first time you said the President is making a unique and unprecedented — taking a unique and unprecedented role. Well, the medical community — scientists from the President’s Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research says, “Again the President used the stroke of his veto pen deliberately to hamper the process of scientific and medical research, as well as endanger the future health and well-being of the American people. His executive order directing NIH to continue pursuing alternate forms of research is nothing new, since NIH has already been conducting this research for the past several years.” Your response?

MR. SNOW: My response is — you probably don’t want to hear it. Look, you know what that is? That’s press release language.

Q It might be press release —

MR. SNOW: That’s somebody basically —

Q — from the medical community.

MR. SNOW: No, it is for a PR spokesman. Here’s the deal — please disagree with any of the following propositions: But for George W. Bush, there would have been made available to researchers no embryonic stem cell lines; but for George W. Bush and his proposals passed by Congress we now have the most vigorous program in looking at stem cell research at all levels of any country in the world; but for this President, it is also now possible for states and individuals or private entities to engage in examination of embryonic stem cells.


Q Tony, with all respect of what you’re saying, throughout the medical community — not just through this gentleman — but throughout the medical community we’ve heard that the embryonic stem cells are more pliable than the other stem cells. And why not — why not push to see if there are embryos that families don’t want, that are going to be discarded anyway, why not continue to push forward for medical advancement to help people live and survive?

MR. SNOW: Two things. Number one, the President does not believe it’s appropriate to put an end to human life for research purposes. It’s a line he will not cross.

Q But what about embryos that are already getting ready to be discarded?

MR. SNOW: I understand. You know what? They’re still human life, April.

Still A Human Life, But It’s OK If The Parents Destroy Them

Q What does the President think should be done with embryos that are no longer — that the families no longer want to keep? Is he opposed to the destruction of any embryos?

MR. SNOW: He is opposed to the use of federal funds to destroy embryos.

Q But he has no opinion on whether families who say they would like to donate those stem cells to —

MR. SNOW: Well, again, my understanding is that that is certainly something that is possible already at the private level. But his position is, on federal funding, we should not have federal funding for anything that would involve the destruction of a living embryo.

Les Scrapes Bottom

Q Tony, two questions; thank you very much. The AP in Dublin has just quoted President Jimmy Carter as saying to Ireland’s 8th Annual Forum on Human Rights, “The Bush administration’s refusal to accept the 2006 election victory of Hamas was criminal.” Any my question, surely President Bush has some disagreement with this Carter crime association accusation, and Carter’s support of terrorists?

MR. SNOW: The President has made it a graceful point of his administration not to respond to critiques from ex-Presidents. And I think I will continue to try to maintain that sense of decorum.

Q No matter what the ex-President says? I mean — I have one other —

MR. SNOW: You know, Les, you’re a priest, you understand — you’re a former priest, and you understand that sometimes social graces are something worth demonstrating in public.

Q I have to admit, that is a wonderfully circuitous response, and admirable.

MR. SNOW: Thank you.

Q You’re welcome.

One thought on “Today On Holden’s Obsession With [Yesterday’s] Gaggle

  1. Q But what about embryos that are already getting ready to be discarded?
    MR. SNOW: I understand. You know what? They’re still human life, April.

    …And they’re still being discarded, Tony.

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