Okay, so the argument goes like this: The only real chance the Democrats had to defeat the credit card company coddling bill was with filibuster, and the only vote that really counted was the vote against cloture -- not the vote on the bill itself.
It's kind of neat reasoning, the kind that worked well with the Vichy French. "You can't do anything, so why try?"
And so now we're being admonished to cheer the heroes at the Maginot Line and give a pass to those who choose Vichy. And, of course, vice versa:
Lieberman of course voted for cloture, which was when opposition would have mattered.
Please excuse me while I rant a bit:
Opposition matters because it happens, not because it's opportunistic. To me, Joe Lieberman is right down there at the bottom of the barrell of politicians who call themselves Democrats right now; it's not like I'm being some ingorant pollyanna in expressing some surprise at his "no" vote. But where does this idea that opposition only matters if it can win come from?
Are we Americans so fucking obsessed with winning that we can't even consider opposing a dominant force -- no matter how immoral -- unless there's a chance that we can win????
I'm sorry, but to me opposition is not about winning a goddam fucking vote on a bill eight years in the making via heavy bribes campaign finance and lobbying by MBNA, it's about making a case, taking a stand, saying what's right and standing by your words. It's not about turning tail and scooping up some jacks because striking the pose won't pay off this time.
That's why I am pretty fairly disgusted with Senator Ried, the man who talked the talk but didn't walk the walk -- not when there were chips to collect. No, I'm sure the casinos were quite satisfied to have his vote. And who can blame him, right? After all, he needs to get paid to run, too.
Meanwhile the people, the citizens -- we peasants -- are left twisting in the wind once again, and it sure as hell isn't reassuring that the big talk you hear of fighting the good fight turns out to be so much gas.
"Oh, we couldn't win this one, so I thought I'd vote for it, score some points with my patrons."
The hard truth in life is that sometimes you have to lose the battle to win the war. A well-won loss can inspire support next time. You don't win the war by surrendering.
But even more fucked up than the strange sort of acceptance and rationalizing in the blogotropic is the blindness to the moral aspects of this bill in the mainstream media. Even on the News Hour, it's glossed. (And I'm not talking about the smarmy contortions of pseudo-logic and flawed assumptions that spew out of David Brooks' mouth, either.)
Tonight, on Washington Week, which is just about the only real news source on television, let's face it, we got the history -- MBNA and other credit card companies have lobbied hard for this bill for some eight years, and actually got it passed by the Senate four times, and once got it all the way to the President's desk, where Clinton vetoed it -- but then it was all framed in the assumption that if you're in debt, you're not a good person and you deserve to suffer. No, it wasn't explicit, it was just the assumption upon which the entire discussion took place.
How the hell did we get to this kind of strange thinking? Are we becoming more like Rome, or Pharoah's Egypt? This certainly seems strange in what everybody seems so eager to call "a Christian nation."
Meanwhile, back at the ranch it's like this:
Anyway, progressives, if one is looking for reasons why middle and lower middle class Christians voted for Bush and cronies despite how heâ€™s raping them, in the financial department at least the church is telling them business is good, the personal debtor is bad and responsible for his or her debt regardless, there being a moral linkage between the individual and their debt, which doesnâ€™t leave much room for compassion toward the debtor. Over and over one hears that, regardless oneâ€™s circumstances, one is obligated to pay oneâ€™s debt. Whatâ€™s more, tithing is your get out of debt card as god will reward his faithful so they have everything to meet their needs. One website even said that thereâ€™s no cause to complain if you lose everything you have as a debtor, in lieu of going into bankruptcy (at least before this Bill that removes any protections) because as a Christian you will be taken in by another Christian household, and youâ€™ll have a roof over your head and meals. No tears allowed.
My limited searches (a few hours) showed a few stories on the web (scattered on Christian forums mainly) that point out tithing is legalistic and not to feel bad about bankruptcy, that it doesnâ€™t make one less a Christian. But the predominate message is one steals if one goes bankrupt. Why is the church so afraid of personal bankruptcy? I wonder if it has to do with psychology of power over and power under. Does dissociating stigma from declaring bankruptcy increase the threat that individuals might rethink moral mandates to pay up regardless, and be more willing to give up tithing if unable to afford it. A number of people tithe based on gross income. A number of people are encouraged by their churches to immerse themselves in â€œprosperity thinkingâ€?, not permit discouraging thoughts or fears, and regardless of their need even increase their giving to the church, called a â€œsacrificial offeringâ€?, so that god will then have an open avenue to return financial blessings to them, the message being that if you are having a rough time itâ€™s because the lord canâ€™t help you as youâ€™re not giving enough.
Iâ€™m not going to go into tithing itself. A person can give whatever they want to the church.
But I do wonder if thereâ€™s likely an acceptance of stricter bankruptcy laws in America at large because of church instruction. Which reaches outside the church and over everyoneâ€™s heads because of this belief of there being no moral bankruptcy, whatever oneâ€™s circumstances. Financial institutions and business reap big. The little guy crumbles. Doesnâ€™t matter. One could put all the corporate facts before people who carry these beliefs and it wouldnâ€™t matter to them.
Business is good and right. But the individualâ€“if theyâ€™re in bad straits itâ€™s their fault, god has turned his back on them due to their wickedness (even though theyâ€™re still paying and thus still â€œgoodâ€? according to their bible law). The way to buck up those morals is to make bankruptcy harder and to afford no charity.
Seems there are a lot of middle and lower middle class people who have perhaps lost enough to be frightened, but havenâ€™t lost all yet. Kind of like being under the delusion you have absolute control over your life, and thus itâ€™s your good decisions and right living that have resulted in you having a roof over your head and health. If you have absolute control over your life and have done fairly well then itâ€™s easy to be in control of god and reap divinityâ€™s blessings. You are proof that it works as you are surrounded by them. If youâ€™ve less than you used to have, or have troubles, or friends and relatives have troubles, as long as your head is above water then youâ€™re still somewhat in control and thus somewhat in control of god and his blessings (retroactively).
All down the same lane as might equals right.
Now here's the real kicker: About half the bankruptcies come due to medical bills. That's right, get sick and you're in debt for life. Think of it as negative insurance. You don't have to pay up front, you just pay until you die, and then they take it out of your estate. (See, that way they don't even have to keep you healthy.) So you die, the banks take your estate. That way your children can go into hock to make ends meet and the cycle continues.
But that doesn't matter. You see, in this country, being poor and in ill health is bad. If you don't have health insurance, well shit, you must be some kind of fucking loser! We don't like losers in America! We like winners like Donald Trump! (Where would he be without bankruptcy, though?)
roseeriter says it from personal experience:
I cannot get any lower on the food chain- I live in a trailer, on disability, go without most of my meds that I need for scleroderma so I can pay my bills to keep a roof over my head. I could live better with relatives, or my daughter, but I don't want to be a burden. But I am considered a burden to my country. And so are you. You are a burden on America.
I say this as a business owner. I say this as someone who has lived by the entrepreneurial dream. I say this as someone who is not about state-run economy.
But dammit, are we good people or not? Are we Americans as decent as we like to think of ourselves, or not?
We are a country that, just in the past few years, has given huge tax breaks to the rich, cut programs to help the poor, disregarded international standards of human decency, let loose more pollutants for our grandchildren to clean up, waged the wrong war in the most incompetent way imaginable, rationalizing all the death and destruction with happy talk and outright lies, and is seemingly racing to establish an evangelical theocracy to oppress everyone else.
Where, I ask, is the good in that?