This blog features information about the political campaign nationally and in the state of Pennsylvania. it will discuss congressional races western PA, but it won't restrict comments to those jurisdictions. On many occasions, it will feature humor, but its main purpose is to "cut the legs off" political jihad. This is a site for political grown-ups of all ages.

Location: Ambridge, Pennsylvania, United States

I have a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester (English and American Literature). I taught for 10 years at various educational institutions (Univ. of Rochester, my alma mater, College of William and Mary, and University of Georgia, where I was also Asst. Ed. of the Georgia Review. Later, I worked as a speechwriter and "thinker" at various large companies, including Phillips Petroleum, Gulf Oil, Aetna, Merck (consultant), and Eli Lilly (consultant), among many others. I'm a full-time writer and political commentator/analyst. Favorite company: AudioTech Business Books. Favorite female: my wife, Patricia Ann Maloney. Favorite politcal candidate: Diana Lynn Irey (PA's 12th congressional district)

Friday, January 12, 2007

Jason Altmire: Pro-Death Politics

I sent the following to the author of an article in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette dealing with Congressperson Jason Altmire's vote for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. I'll forward a copy to Altmire's office, but I don't really expect a coherent response. Altmire will also be voting today ("for") a bill that would enable Medicare to "negotiate" prices of drugs for seniors enrolled in the Medicare Part D program -- a policy that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says will NOT lower the prices older Americans pay for drugs [see my earlier columns on the subject].

I appreciate your article on Jason Altmire's supposedly "pro-life" (his words) vote in favor of embryonic stem cell research. When he ran for Congress against an authentic pro-life candidate (Melissa Hart), I wrote on my blog that I didn't believe him, so I'm not exactly surprised.

His comments about his UPMC experience inclining him to vote for this legislation are preposterous. Altmire served there not as a researcher but rather as a lobbyist and a doler-out of funds to charities, some of whom turned out to be grateful enough to donate money to his campaign. No research conducted at UPMC or elsewhere has led to results with embryonic stem cells that's not available with other means.

Altmire characterizes his vote as "pro-life," a continuation of his "up-is-down" and "black-is-white" approach to reality. The destruction of embryos for scientific and economic gain is not in any sense "pro-life."

Of course, no pro-life organization agrees with Altmire on his position. No church, group, or individual that believes life begins at conception (as it rather obviously does and is even regarded in PA law as so doing) supports Altmire's stand.

Moreover, no decent society believes that everything it can do -- technically --- should therefore be done. In China, organs are removed from executed prisoners (with surgeons standing by) for use by individuals needing transplants. China apparently sells many of those organs for five-figure and six-figure amounts to people (including Americans) who can afford them. I'm sure the government of China would defend that approach as "pro-life," since of course prisoners being executed aren't going to have a life.

The novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky once said: "If God is dead, then everything is permitted." He didn't mean necessarily that one even has to believe in God to keep "everything" from happening. He meant that if an individual has no basic principles about life and its value, then God help us.

My wife suffers from one of the physical afflictions Altmire mentioned in support of his vote. She opposes embryonic stem cell research, mainly because she doesn't want to enhance her own life at the expense of devaluing life in general.

If we as a society start making arbitary distinctions about which life is more valuable than others, we will soon be hurtling down that proverbial slippery slope. We may just find that when everything is permitted, nothing remains of sustainable value.

I fear that the votes of Jason Altmire may continue to be largely indistinguishable from the votes of, say, Nancy Pelosi, for whom political concerns always seem to take precedence over ethical considerations. That's not exactly in keeping with the views of the people in the 4th congressional district.

steve maloney
ambridge, pa
4th Congressional District


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