| Stem cell research's regressive enemies didn't understand him, either
Stem Cell Lies and the Liars Who Peddle Them
Pierre Tristam/Candide’s Notebooks, October 26, 2006
There’s never been better spokesmen for stem-cell research than those who oppose it. They’re living proof of debilitated thinking that stem cells could one day cure, along with other ravaging diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, reactionary conservatism. What better poster-boys for the cause than regression in the flesh? Rush Limbaugh. President Bush. Jeff Suppan. Suppan is the baseball player for the St. Louis Cardinals, the pitcher who took the mound in the World Series against Detroit Wednesday evening, and who appeared in a television commercial badgering stem-cell research. The ad was broadcast during the game for Missouri viewers as a counter-hit to Michael J. Fox’s ad supporting stem-cell research and Claire McCaskill, a Democrat running for Senate in Missouri. Michael J. has had Parkinson’s since the 1990s. He now shakes pretty much uncontrollably, as he does in the ad, and when he attempts to control himself (as he has in recent appearances on “Scrubs” and “ Boston legal”), the strain is obvious. His ad drew this comment from Rush Limbaugh on Monday: “He is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He’s moving all around and shaking and it’s purely an act. . . . This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn’t take his medication or he’s acting.” Maybe, just maybe, Rush didn’t take his meds. The utter idiocy of his comment backfired Limbaugh into an apology. Michael Fox isn’t the sort of man you can easily ridicule and win. Even as Alex Keaton, even as a raging Reagan lover, he was an American favorite. The Rush apology turned into another insult: “All right then, I stand corrected. . . . So I will bigly, hugely admit that I was wrong, and I will apologize to Michael J. Fox, if I am wrong in characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act.” But is it an insult when the man uttering the words is, to put it in strictly clinical terms, in an intellectual state of arrested development dating back to Salem, Mass., circa 1692?
In comes the campaign ad to counter the Fox effect. The ad is being peddled by Missourians Against Human Cloning—an odd sponsor, considering that the text of the ad, which betrays a touch of literary inbreeding from the Ozarks: The ad doesn’t know English from hillbilly. It tells Missourians to vote against a proposed constitutional amendment that would give stem-cell research state protection in Missouri. It’s Amendment 2. California did Missouri $3 billion better two years ago when voters approved that much in cash to pay for stem-cell research, since Bill Clinton in 1995 and Bush more fatally in 2001 banned federally funded research. Most Americans want stem-cell research. They know a cure when they smell one, and they know a clown, as they certainly did in August 2001, when they saw Bush play bozo to the religious right in his infamous stem-cell compromise from his fake ranch in Crawford, Texas.
That was before 9/11 gave Bush a reprieve from oblivion. Ironically, he delivered that stem-cell address the day after Maureen Reagan had died—Maureen Reagan (daughter of Ronald), who had, in Bush’s own words the day before, “fought tirelessly to increase funding for Alzheimer’s research and raise public awareness of the disease.” Here was Bush burying that awareness in six feet of evangelical bones by making that ever-spurious connection between embryonic stem cells and abortion. And there he was again last month vetoing a bill for the first time in his presidency (a timid attempt by Congress to go for a few dollars more in allowable stem-cell funding). It’s not just Katrina that has unraveled Bush for what he is. His medieval lunge against stem cells has done its share, too.
Back in Missouri, there’s always Suppan to bring out of the dungeon and shill for the sham. Unlike Michael Fox, Suppan appears to have no physically debilitating symptoms, and no one should wish him any. Unlike Fox, he appears to have no personal investment in the stem-cell matter. His $4 million salary helps subsidize a restaurant in Los Angeles called Soup’s Grill, where no one has figured out yet how to put up a proper Web site. Like Michael Fox, Suppan has every right to make his views known on whatever matters he chooses. But even with Parkinson’s, Michael Fox has charm, intelligence, sincerity and pretty much most of humanity on his side. Suppan is just a hired hand with balls who happens to have no problem announcing his inability to read to the world. Here’s what he says about the Missouri ballot initiative: “Amendment 2 claims it bans human cloning, but in the 2,000 words you don’t read, it makes cloning a constitutional right. Don’t be deceived.” Good advice: the deceiver is right in front of you, pitching you a curve ball with pine tar all over it.
Suppan, or rather the shadow group he’s shilling for, is reading those lines in the amendment about “somatic cell nuclear transfer” and attributing it “the scientific definition for cloning and the method used to clone Dolly the sheep.” That’s true in as much as drawing blood, an act perpetrated in a few thousand clinics and hospitals and doctors’ offices a few million times a week, could also, theoretically, be interpreted as the first step toward cloning. In other words the quacks are using a potential part of aprocess miles from its alleged end point as proof of a foregone conclusion no researcher on earth has managed yet. (Someone should hire these guys: maybe they know something about stem cell research the medicos don’t). The psychosomatic shills also claim the amendment would lead to women’s eggs being bought and sold “to put [women’s] health and fertility at risk.” My guess is Missourians Against Human Cloning is a stealth anti-abortion group, which would make it a first: an anti-abortion group actually concerned about the health of women.
Suppan should just pitch and give his crotch the somatic cell nuclear transfers they’ll need every three balls tonight. Limbaugh should just do his drugs and let doctors worry about the world’s cells. And Bush should just leave Genesis alone already. He’s remade the world in crap’s image enough as it is. The least he could do is give the rest of us a chance to put the necessary cells back together again and rebuild what he’s so ably devoted the last six years to destroying, human lives above all. Revolting as this sounds, his war on stem cells, considering to what extent it has retarded the possible benefits to tens of millions and hundreds of millions of people years from now, is a genocide by other means, his most evil yet. In god’s name, naturally.
A god like that deserves assassinating more than Osama.Where are Nietzsche and Voltaire when you need them? Écrasez l’infâme!