Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Joys of insomnia

It's another one of those mornings where I'm awake a lot earlier than I wanted to be, and for no apparent reason, but you know how it goes -- once you're awake, you're awake, and there isn't much you can do about it.  It does not help my already cranky mood to have the first piece of news I see be that Mr. Naked Guy, the Republican empty suit, won the special election in Massachusetts. . . so there goes the Democrat's supposed advantage in the Senate.

I say supposed, of course, because there never was a real numerical advantage.  Unlike the Republicans, who long ago mastered the art of fear of loss of party money and thus always voting in lockstep, the Democrats have been plagued all along with the DINOs like Ben Nelson (D-Mutual of Omaha) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Walmart), the so-called conservatives who sold their soul to special interests.  On every vote that mattered, one or more of the owned-by-corporate interests could be counted on to vote with the Republicans.  The filibuster-proof majority was an illusion hyped by the MSM and laughed at by everyone else.

It has been a week full of depressing news.  I've been consciously avoiding thinking about Haiti.  I'm familiar with that country's sad history, I've read Paul Farmer's books, and I knew Haiti had been devastated repeatedly by hurricanes in recent years.  When a country is so poor people were routinely eating dirt before this latest natural disaster, you just know that the aftermath of almost anything is going to be catastrophically bad.  From where I sit, the only positive action I can take right now is to send money to a reputable charity (e.g., Doctors without Borders, Partners in Health).  Given that U.S. meddling in Haitian politics for the past 100+ years has contributed significantly to Haiti being unable to pull itself out of poverty, I'd like to see this country do more to help -- but I know it's not going to happen. 

It really is astounding sometimes to look at the amount of damage the U.S. has done to other countries in the pursuit of corporate interests, particularly in the area of agriculture and a nation's ability to feed itself.  NAFTA opened up Mexico to Archer-Daniels-Midland's cheap corn and so effectively undercut the Mexican farmers that they couldn't make a living -- and guess where a lot of them wound up?  Standing near a Home Depot somewhere in the U.S. In Haiti U.S. trade policies and agricultural subsidies managed to destroy rice farming, making the country dependent on imported food where they used to grow their own.  And that's just recent history.

Actually, considering that whenever we do go into a country to supposedly "help" them we seem to end up making things worse, maybe wishing for more official U.S. involvement in a Haitian recovery is not a particularly good idea.


My space, my rules: play nice and keep it on topic.