It's even easier for pros, specially those with assistants.
But wait, let's see how it's done.
First, of course, the blatant lies: a false claim of success for Beloved Leader. (Like virtually all of Our Leaders' putative success, it's a lie.)
Stem Cell VindicationLink.
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, November 30, 2007; A23
"If human embryonic stem cell research does not make you at least a little bit uncomfortable, you have not thought about it enough."
-- James A. Thomson
A decade ago, Thomson was the first to isolate human embryonic stem cells. Last week, he (and Japan's Shinya Yamanaka) announced one of the great scientific breakthroughs since the discovery of DNA: an embryo-free way to produce genetically matched stem cells.
Even a scientist who cares not a whit about the morality of embryo destruction will adopt this technique because it is so simple and powerful. The embryonic stem cell debate is over.
Which allows a bit of reflection on the storm that has raged ever since the August 2001 announcement of President Bush's stem cell policy. The verdict is clear: Rarely has a president -- so vilified for a moral stance -- been so thoroughly vindicated.
Why? Precisely because he took a moral stance. Precisely because, to borrow Thomson's phrase, Bush was made "a little bit uncomfortable" by the implications of embryonic experimentation. Precisely because he therefore decided that some moral line had to be drawn.
In doing so, he invited unrelenting demagoguery by an unholy trinity of Democratic politicians, research scientists and patient advocates who insisted that anyone who would put any restriction on the destruction of human embryos could be acting only for reasons of cynical politics rooted in dogmatic religiosity -- a "moral ayatollah," as Sen. Tom Harkin so scornfully put it.
Bush got it right. Not because he necessarily drew the line in the right place. I have long argued that a better line might have been drawn -- between using doomed and discarded fertility-clinic embryos created originally for reproduction (permitted) and using embryos created solely to be disassembled for their parts, as in research cloning (prohibited). But what Bush got right was to insist, in the face of enormous popular and scientific opposition, on drawing a line at all, on requiring that scientific imperative be balanced by moral considerations.
History will look at Bush's 2001 speech and be surprised how balanced and measured it was, how much respect it gave to the other side. Read it. Here was a presidential policy pronouncement that so finely and fairly drew out the case for both sides that until the final few minutes of his speech, you had no idea where the policy would end up.
Bush finally ended up doing nothing to hamper private research into embryonic stem cells and pledging federal monies to support the study of existing stem cell lines -- but refusing federal monies for research on stem cell lines produced by newly destroyed embryos.
The president's policy recognized that this might cause problems. The existing lines might dry up, prove inadequate or become corrupted. Bush therefore appointed a President's Council on Bioethics to oversee ongoing stem cell research and evaluate how his restrictions were affecting research and what means might be found to circumvent ethical obstacles.
More vilification. The mainstream media and the scientific establishment saw this as a smoke screen to cover his fundamentalist, obscurantist, anti-scientific -- the list of adjectives was endless -- tracks. "Some observers," wrote The Post's Rick Weiss, "say the president's council is politically stacked."
I sat on the council for five years. It was one of the most ideologically balanced bioethics commissions in the history of this country. It consisted of scientists, ethicists, theologians, philosophers, physicians -- and others (James Q. Wilson, Francis Fukuyama and me among them) of a secular bent not committed to one school or the other.
That balance of composition was reflected in the balance in the reports issued by the council -- documents of sophistication and nuance that reflected the divisions both within the council and within the nation in a way that respectfully presented the views of all sides. One recommendation was to support research that might produce stem cells through "de-differentiation" of adult cells, thus bypassing the creation of human embryos.
That Holy Grail has now been achieved. Largely because of the genius of Thomson and Yamanaka. And also because of the astonishing good fortune that nature requires only four injected genes to turn an ordinary adult skin cell into a magical stem cell that can become bone or brain or heart or liver.
But for one more reason as well. Because the moral disquiet that James Thomson always felt -- and that George Bush forced the country to confront -- helped lead him and others to find some ethically neutral way to produce stem cells. Providence then saw to it that the technique be so elegant and beautiful that scientific reasons alone will now incline even the most willful researchers to leave the human embryo alone.
And here's the truth from that same James Thomson -- who, of course, has a somewhat better perspective and maybe even more knowledge:
Standing in the Way of Stem Cell ResearchLink.
By Alan I. Leshner and James A. Thomson
Monday, December 3, 2007; Page A17
A new way to trick skin cells into acting like embryos changes both everything and nothing at all. Being able to reprogram skin cells into multipurpose stem cells without harming embryos launches an exciting new line of research. It's important to remember, though, that we're at square one, uncertain at this early stage whether souped-up skin cells hold the same promise as their embryonic cousins do.
Far from vindicating the current U.S. policy of withholding federal funds from many of those working to develop potentially lifesaving embryonic stem cells, recent papers in the journals Science and Cell described a breakthrough achieved despite political restrictions. In fact, work by both the U.S. and Japanese teams that reprogrammed skin cells depended entirely on previous embryonic stem cell research.
At a time when nearly 60 percent of Americans support human embryonic stem cell research, U.S. stem cell policy runs counter to both scientific and public opinion. President Bush's repeated veto of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which has twice passed the House and Senate with votes from Republicans and Democrats alike, further ignores the will of the American people.
Efforts to harness the versatility of embryonic stem cells, and alleviate suffering among people with an array of debilitating disorders, began less than 10 years ago. Since then, scientists have continued to pursue embryonic stem cells because of their ability to transform into blood, bone, skin or any other type of cell. The eventual goal is to replace diseased or dysfunctional cells to help people with spinal cord injuries, neurodegenerative disorders, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other conditions.
Since 1998, many strategies for addressing sanctity-of-life concerns have been pursued. While commendable, these efforts remain preliminary, and none so far has suggested a magic bullet. In the same way, the recent tandem advances in the United States and by Shinya Yamanaka's team in Japan are far from being a Holy Grail, as Charles Krauthammer inaccurately described them. Though potential landmarks, these studies are only a first step on the long road toward eventual therapies.
Krauthammer's central argument -- that the president's misgivings about embryonic stem cell research inspired innovative alternatives -- is fundamentally flawed, too. Yamanaka was of course working in Japan, and scientists around the world are pursuing the full spectrum of options, in many cases faster than researchers in the United States.
Reprogrammed skin cells, incorporating four specific genes known to play a role in making cells versatile, or pluripotent, did seem to behave like embryonic stem cells in mice. But mouse studies frequently fail to pan out in humans, so we don't yet know whether this approach is viable for treating human diseases. We simply cannot invest all our hopes in a single approach. Federal funding is essential for both adult and embryonic stem cell research, even as promising alternatives are beginning to emerge.
Unfortunately, under the policy President Bush outlined on Aug. 9, 2001, at most 21 stem cell lines derived from embryos before that date are eligible for federal funding. American innovation in the field thus faces inherent limitations. Even more significant, the stigma resulting from the policy surely has discouraged some talented young Americans from pursuing stem cell research.
Discomfort with the notion of extracting stem cells from embryos is understandable. But many of the life-changing medical advances of recent history, including heart transplantation, have provoked discomfort. Struggling with bioethical questions remains a critical step in any scientific advancement.
A solution that might be more comfortable for many people already exists but cannot be pursued unless the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act becomes law. Some percentage of the hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos from fertility clinics will eventually be destroyed. American couples meanwhile are not being given the choice to donate their frozen embryos to federal research to help others through stem cell advances.
It remains to be seen whether reprogrammed skin cells will differ in significant ways from embryonic stem cells. We remain hopeful, but it's too early to say we're certain.
We hope Congress will override the president's veto of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. Further delays in pursuing the clearly viable option of embryonic stem cells will result in an irretrievable loss of time, especially if the new approach fails to prove itself.
Alan I. Leshner is chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and executive publisher of the journal Science. James A. Thomson is a professor of anatomy at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. He was the first scientist to create human embryonic stem cells and is the senior author on the recent Science paper describing a method for reprogramming skin cells.