Freight rail destruction of wildlife and ill-advised political metaphors

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said with regard to health care reform that he’s “the cow on the tracks. You’re gonna have to stop that train to get this cow off the track to move forward.”

Um, yeah. That sometimes happens if you see the cow on the tracks with enough time to stop the train. Otherwise, these types of collisions are always rather one-sided, and not generally in favor of the cow.

See that V-shaped object on the front of this engine? This photo is a rather pronounced version of the object–called, in fact, a cow-catcher–which go on the front of engines specifically to deflect objects to one side or another of the track.

Freight rail destruction of wildlife is a serious issue, just like highway destruction of wildlife. This summary and bibliography give a nice introduction to the problem.