When it comes to the Bush administration, it's not so much that rules are made to be broken, it's that rules are made so laws can be broken. The administration issues rules on “interrogations” of “detainees” that violate international law and various treaty obligations. And rules on wiretapping that violate laws which have been in place since the days when George W. Bush was a blackout drinker. Hours could be wasted counting the ways the Bush administration has abused the rules making process, and a lot of money has recently been wasted defending an Bushian attempt to gut the Clean Air Act via a new rule, a bit of legal slight-of-hand the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia just struck down. But when it comes to just plain pit-of-your-stomach-disturbing, nothing quite equals the Department of Agriculture's recent FSIS NOTICE 15-06.
As it was explained in The Swamp, the Chicago Tribune's newsblog:
Called “FSIS NOTICE 15-06: Use of Non-Amenable Animal Tissue in Inspected Products,” the notice essentially says that animals that you wouldn't normally associate with hamburgers can be “included in amenable meat or poultry products produced in official establishments.”
And non-amenable animal tissue is?
Non-amenable animal tissue, as defined in the notice, is any tissue from animals not subject to inspection under the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act. It includes edible tissue from exotic animals, rabbits, migratory birds and other animals not under the scope of USDA inspection, like alligator and kangaroo.
See where this is going?
In other words, anything from deer to dog meat can be ground into hamburger, as long as it meets state regulations, which inspectors say tend to be looser than the federal government's.
Dog meat, yes, dog meat. Couldn't happen, you tell yourself. Well, the Trib asked Steven Cohen, a spokesman for the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, if it could.
“I don't believe that it is illegal, but there is no place that is producing dog meat,” Cohen said, adding that the regulation fits a “very limited circumstance. “I don't think there's anyone who is doing this on a commercial basis.”
So, all that's standing between you and a little touch of Fido in your burger is that abattoir accountants have yet to figure out how profits can be beefed up through the creative use of cocker spaniels. As far as the Bush administration is concerned, bon appetít!
To be fair to the Bush administration, it's not like they don't have any standards. The use of roadkill is still unacceptable in ground meat. Though when you read things like this– or other revelations of Bush administration actions, like the New York Times report today of a secret American torture center in Iraq– you have to wonder if maybe, just maybe, the occasional roadkill has its reasons for heading out into traffic. The fine L.A. poet Wanda Coleman considers that possibility in a poem in her 1990 collection, African Sleeping Sickness: Poems and Stories. And since that poem is probably the only non-nauseating way to end this post, here it is:
on the harbor freeway
heavy traffic 6 p.m. home to the pad
the kids in the back and me watching, careful
the front and back
sweating behind r&b at the steering wheel
saw it standing there
about a mile up
cars/sudden slowing to keep
from hitting the dog
that threatened to
go out on the freeway
i slowed up with the flow
as i passed, it moved
i honked my horn
it went back, then
i watched to see what would happen
in the rear view mirror
it just walked out there
in front of a black buick
its body fell into a tumble
its flesh tore red and open
then another car hit it
and another and another
thought about it on
the way home
wondering if that dog knew something i didn't