Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bombast and bloviating

With Ann Coulter apparently keeping a low profile (for her), let's check in on Rush Limbaugh. Sure, it's like shooting fish in a barrel, but that's why we have celebrity loudmouths. So lessee. What is Rush up to?

Oh, my.

A political ad in which a Parkinson's-afflicted Michael J. Fox talks about stem cell research was criticized Monday by conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who asserted that Fox was "either off his medication or acting" while filming the commercial.

"Michael J. Fox is allowing his illness to be exploited and in the process is shilling for a Democrat politician," Limbaugh said of the ad for Senate candidate Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

Setting aside the condescension oozing from that last remark, let's check out the rest of his claims.

Here's the ad in question. Fox similarly slammed Michael Steele of Maryland, for similarly opposing stem-cell research.

Yup, Michael sure is weaving around a lot. Does Rush know something we don't?

No. He's just ignorant.

SIDE EFFECTS: Most patients receiving levodopa-carbidopa experience side effects, but these are usually reversible. Occasional involuntary movements are the most common of the serious side effects of levodopa-carbidopa therapy. These may include chewing, gnawing, twisting, tongue or mouth movements, head bobbing, or movements of the feet, hands, or shoulder.

So apparently Fox wasn't "off his medication;" his medication was causing the problem. Having established that Rush is more than willing to pontificate about things he knows nothing about, let's move on to the more substantive issue of slamming Fox for doing the commercial.

Here's how Rush defended his statements about Fox and Amendment 2.

The ad is misleading in countless ways, primarily in the most fundamental of ways. Remember that the Amendment 2 in Missouri is simply a cloning amendment that would legalize cloning in the state of Missouri. It is called the stem cell research and cures initiative and has nothing to do with stem cell research. The Michael J. Fox ad says that Jim Talent and Michael Steele want to criminalize stem cell research. They don't. Stem cell research is legal in both states, and it is ongoing at universities in both states.

Here's the full text of the proposed Amendment, which Jim Talent opposes.

So, Rush is (big suprise) dead wrong when he says Amendment 2 has nothing to do with stem cells. It would specifically legalize stem-cell research, with certain restrictions. And it would specifically outlaw cloning. Rush needs to get new researchers.

Talent opposes Amendment 2. Because Amendment 2 would explicitly legalize and protect stem-cell research, Fox says Talent opposes stem-cell research.

One may be able to split hairs by claiming "well, Talent supports such research if no blastocysts are harmed" or the like. But such fine and impractical distinctions aside, Rush is off base. Talent, quite clearly, opposes an amendment that would legalize stem-cell research.

Meanwhile, Steele opposes stem-cell research in even stronger terms.

Rush says any claim that Talent and Steele want to criminalize such research is off base because stem-cell research is already legal. That's a bit of sophistry, however; the legal status of such research is far from clear. The whole point of Amendment 2 is to provide clarity by crafting a specific and narrow protection.

Another reason why listening to Rush kills brain cells.

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