Bring It On!

FISA: Four, Three, Two, One…Is What Counts Gone?

July 10th, 2008 | by Daniel DiRito |

When in the course of human events is truth self-evident? Or is truth a declaration independent of our capacity to recognize it? Is there a point at which the collective truth of yesterday is no longer sufficient to hold together that which seemed to be a more perfect union? Are such questions, cut from the fabric of our foundation, the tools needed to retrieve Major Tom from his solitary perch in space…or are the answers to such questions the reason he’s convinced he can never return? Are we on the precipice of reentry or have we begun the final countdown?

How is it that the intersection of the Declaration of Independence and Major Tom, a Peter Schilling song from the 80’s can capture my impressions regarding the state of affairs in American politics? Well, it’s rather simple. The former has always represented the ideals which grounded this nation and functioned to form the fundamental bonds which made us citizens in a society steeped in shared purpose. The latter describes the isolation and alienation we’ve allowed to jettison us, one from the other, into independent orbits, absent the willingness to reconnect…floating weightless, drifting, falling.

Understanding the journey may be the only means of finding our way home. Strange as it may sound, the path we’re currently traveling begins with death, a virtual reversal of the expected cycles. Such as it is, perhaps this is what makes our actions to preserve life as we once knew it so stifling and contrary to the spirit from which it took flight. Hence the unencumbered life we once lived seems to have died and fallen to ground on 9/11…and the death we now fear has become the constrictive cornerstone of the lives we now live…with our withered wings clipped and tethered to ground.

The weight of 9/11 may well be that which will forever separate us from the freedoms we once knew. Many believe that the passage of the FISA bill will undoubtedly serve that purpose…and they view it as a virtual death knell to the intentions enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and the remainder of our founding documents.

Like Major Tom, many find themselves disconnected and adrift…mindful of the inspiration that spawned a great nation…mournful that FISA, in its attempt to preserve life, may actually kill the inspiration that made this way of life worth living. Therefore, the anxiety exhibited is clearly a response to the intangible shadow FISA will cast…obscuring the vision of this and future generations…modifying the meaning and the measurement of our unbridled freedoms…substituting the avoidance of death for the long standing construct of preserving our freedoms…even when doing so may have come at the expense of lives lost.

Truth be told, only a few of us will ever find ourselves visible victims of FISA’s probes and pursuits. For some, the mere knowledge of its existence is enough to consider the prospect of bidding farewell…metaphorically…to the essence of our collective identity. For others, the cost is negligible and they view the assurances of safety and security that accompany FISA to be a reasonable means to preserve life…physically.

Both points of view contain truths that are self-evident. Both are premised upon the recognition of value. Unfortunately, at this juncture in our journey, the measurements of value have become the points of departure…and our shared truths have become seemingly insufficient to hold us together. Those in favor of FISA believe their truth is essential to the preservation of a more perfect union. Those opposed to FISA view anything that tramples foundational principles to have precluded the possibility of a perfect union.

In the end, it becomes a question of the degree to which one sees life as an ethereal endeavor (FISA opponents) or whether one sees its essence as nothing more than the acts necessary to extend its duration (FISA proponents). In this comparison, irony emerges.

The former, idealists though they may be, are apt to be those who deny the existence of an afterlife. The latter, pragmatists in many ways, are more likely to envision an afterlife as an important adjunct to their identity. The former, quick to discount the notion of the rapture or the end of days, view FISA as the initiation of the journey towards the destruction of their homeland. The latter, Biblically instructed to be ever mindful of the signs of the coming end, view FISA as the means to preserve the homeland while they wait to gain entry into the ultimate kingdom.

So who is Major Tom? It’s hard to say. Where is he going? I believe he’s going home. Where is that home? It’s rather difficult to determine. What is the nature and substance of home? Such is the quintessential dilemma we face.

Will we remain grounded in the principles of the Declaration of Independence or will we secede the controls to the likes of Orwell’s Ministry of Truth? Is the countdown on…or is what counts gone? There’s no reply.

Peter Schilling - Major Tom

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

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  1. 7 Responses to “FISA: Four, Three, Two, One…Is What Counts Gone?”

  2. By Mateo Giovanni on Jul 10, 2008 | Reply

    I’ll tell ya’ what we have are INALIENABLE RIGHTS! To some that means cower. To me it means quotes, such as, “The pen is mightier than the Nuclear ICBM; if written quicly”, and “It is better to die on one’s feet, than to cower living on your knees as a serf!”

    This is what FISA means to me.

    I live in America Central. It amazes me people from all over the World are here, and all get along. They make jokes of the crap going on in the world. Especially the Governments of the Common Wealth Countries, U.S., and Israel; who none of give a damn about there people!

    Peace and Freedom

  3. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 11, 2008 | Reply

    As a counterpoint to what I’ve read in the press and blogs about the new law, Orin Kerr (B.S.E., Princeton University; M.S., Stanford University; J.D., Harvard University), a libertarian and professor of law at George Washington University Law School gives his early take on the law and, compared to the Protect America Act of 2007 that so many civil libertarians had problems with, professor Kerr finds that the new law does a better job of protecting civil liberties.

    By the way, at first, if you click on the link, only the first part of the post appears. To view the entire post, click on the text: “To read the rest of this post, click here.

  4. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 11, 2008 | Reply

    For the sake of fairness, Marty Lederman (A.B., University of Michigan; J.D., Yale), a civil libertarian and associate professor of law at Georgetown Law has some reactions to professor Kerr’s post that can be found here. He agrees with many of professor Kerr’s observations but has some observations of his own about the new law that trouble him.

    An interesting and informative take and countertake that takes place at a high level of expertise and is respectful in tone.

  5. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 11, 2008 | Reply

    See? No need for a Fairness Doctrine! :-D

  6. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 11, 2008 | Reply

    By the way, neither Orin nor Marty show any appearance of being “Biblically instructed”, of being “ever mindful of the signs of the coming end” or of “view[ing] FISA as the means to preserve the homeland while they wait to gain entry into the ultimate kingdom”.

  7. By Chris Radulich on Jul 11, 2008 | Reply

    I can’t speak to most of the bill. Giving congress’s record it is probably another win for the terrorist ( more big brother). However the amnesty portion is just another example of republicans being two face ( and Obama on this. The republicans always say that they believe in personal responsiblity but never follow up with it unless they can take money from the poor.

    Ans Yes it could not have passed without the total cowardnice of the democrats.

  8. By cul on Jul 12, 2008 | Reply

    Will we remain grounded in the principles of the Declaration of Independence or will we secede the controls to the likes of Orwell’s Ministry of Truth? Is the countdown on…or is what counts gone?

    I trust the motion of pendulums. Its not completely dark. I’m laying bets on that “hope” thing of Obama’s to turn off the autopilot and snap us out of our doom trance.

    Thanx for the stirring words.

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