Thursday, January 08, 2004


Molly Ivins, on why mad-cow disease is a profoundly political issue:

................................ anyone actually surprised to find mad cow disease among us? I was amused to hear a television pundit conclude that mad cow is "not a political issue." What he meant was "not a partisan issue," in that R's and D's can be found on both sides of the efforts to prevent this very thing from happening.

I assure you, this is profoundly political. Mad cow disease is exactly about how our political system is corrupted by special-interest money. It is also a perfect example of how greed leads directly to bone-headed stupidity.

In 2001 and 2002, Democrats introduced amendments to increase and improve meat inspection; the Republicans and Democrats from cow states opposed them. Not only could the D's not get more appropriated for food safety -- in 2002, the administration held up $239 million that already had been appropriated.

Of course we should have stopped using "downer" cows for meat. Of course we should be enforcing feed regulations. Of course we need to inspect more meat faster.

So obvious, so self-evident, but you do know why things like this keep happening. The cattle industry wanted to protect its profits, even though downers are not a significant factor to begin with. Greed leads to stupidity, and stupidity leads to deep doo-doo.

Nor is mad cow disease the only consequence of heavy meat and poultry contributions to the Republicans. (In the 2000 elections, corporate food production combines donated $59 million in both hard and soft money, 75 percent of it to Republicans.) See the chapter "Ready to Eat?" in my book Bushwhacked for the anatomy of a listeriosis outbreak that killed several people.

As Lou Dubose and I conclude, if you must eat while Republicans control both the White House and Congress, you may want to consider becoming a vegetarian....

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