I just read in the New York Times that Attorney General John Ashcroft was "hospitalized in an intensive care unit for a severe case of gallstone pancreatitis."
I'm not gonna take the low road and use this occasion to mock the worse Attorney General since....um, Janet Reno? In fact, as ruthless and repressive as Ashcroft can be, I do hear he has a sweet side. Recently, in light of all the trouble Iraq is having in coming up with a constitution, Ashcroft was kind enough to offer them ours. He figures, hey, we're not using it anyway (insert rimshot here).
But I digress. What I did want to point out in light of the gallstone heard 'round the world, is this: It matters little if you love the NEA or the NRA; there are physical laws that cannot be ignored. For example, gravity applies whether you vote for Kerry, Bush, or Nader. The same can be said for the side effects of nuclear energy, electro-magnetic radiation, exhaust fumes...and pharmaceuticals.
The Times confidently explained that Ashcroft was "being treated with antibiotics," but the newspaper of record would never tell us that every day, 80 percent of Americans take a potentially addictive prescription drug. From 1962 to 1988, street drug addiction in America increased by 30 percent while prescription drug addiction increased by 300 percent. In most cases, these drugs are improperly tested and based on spurious science. According to the U.S. General Accounting Office, of all the new drugs put on the market between 1976 and 1985, 52 percent had to be either pulled from the shelves or relabeled because they proved to be more hazardous than studies had indicated.
Whether you never miss Fox News or you don't even own a TV...you can't escape the realities of the pharmaceutical/industrial complex.
The Times would never find it fit to print to inform us-whether we like Ashcroft or not-that the research done to produce such drugs is based on the morally bankrupt and scientifically fraudulent institution of animal experimentation. You can love animals or hate them...wear fur or adhere to a vegan lifestyle, but it won't change the fact that every species of animal has a very singular cellular makeup and structure. Therefore, the testing of one species cannot lead to serviceable conclusions about another. It can lead to massive government subsidies, but not genuine healing.
The Times did offer some background on gallstone pancreatitis but conveniently ignored any mention of its being caused by food allergies...especially to eggs and dairy products. Since the typical American doctor sat through only four classroom hours of nutrition during medical school, who could expect Ashcroft (or the Times) to learn about the benefits of not consuming dairy products? Human beings-anarchist or capitalist-are not designed to drink any milk except human milk...and then only during infancy. We have as much a need for cow's milk (or its by-products, like yogurt, cheese, ice cream, butter, etc.) as we do giraffe milk or rat milk. Ignoring this biological reality is wrecking havoc on our bodies and our planet.
Gallstone pancreatitis can also be caused by an excessively low-fiber diet, food intolerance, or parasites. Does Ashcroft eat meat? Probably. Can a meat-based diet be excessively low-fiber and result in food intolerance or parasites? Yes. Can it also put a Democrat, Republican, or Green at risk for other diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes? Yes. What about the Mad Cow scare? Here's some biology for your ideology: Mad Cow Disease and its human variations (called transmissible spongiform encephalopathy or TSEs) are believed to be caused by prions (infectious proteins) which, unlike viruses and bacteria, remain infectious even after being baked at 680° F for on hour (enough to melt lead), bombarded with radiation, or soaked in formaldehyde, bleach, and boiling water. This means that forks, spoons, knives, surgical instruments, or any other eating, cooking, or medical utensil or instrument can never be sterilized. Who cares if you read the Wall Street Journal but your surgeon prefers Arundhati Roy? Prions don't care...and that surgical instrument remains infected for both of you.
The Times also didn't mention that gallstone pancreatitis is often associated with constipation. Americans ingest more laxatives per capita than anyone else on the globe. You know what that means? Most of the legislative, judicial, health-related, and military decisions that impact all 6 billion people on earth are being made by constipated white guys. But I'm digressing again.
How can "we" (on the Left) reach an American Idol-watching, Bill O'Reilly book-reading, SUV-driving, cell phone-using, hamburger-eating, antibiotic-downing, media-trusting American?
Q. What do we all have in common?
Peeling back the layers of deception and making the corporate/government nexus more transparent reveals a system both homicidal and suicidal. The powers-that-be may act with criminal neglect when it comes to the health of the powerless...but that neglect puts everyone's health in peril. Ideology-and even immense wealth-cannot and will not prevent the simultaneous destruction of human and planetary health.
Can a connection be made based on shared concern and physiology? As Zach de la Rocha once sang: "If we don't take action now, we'll settle for nothing later. If we settle for nothing now, we'll settle for nothing later."
Wouldn't it be something if John Ashcroft's gallbladder got the whole thing started?
Mickey Z. is the author of two upcoming books: A Gigantic Mistake: Articles and Essays for Your Intellectual Self-Defense (Prime Books) and Seven Deadly Spins: Exposing the Lies Behind War Propaganda (Common Courage Press). His most recent book is The Murdering of My Years: Artists and Activists Making Ends Meet. He has been a vegan for nearly nine years and can be reached at email@example.com.
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