The FISA debate should have been a showdown. Instead, it was a prime example of what politics has become: a combination of rhetoric sifted through a strainer that only lets out buzz words and talking points that support so-called "post-9/11" thinking and bipartisanship compromises that embraces bad ideas so long as some of the good ideas can be included in the compromise.
As I watched the debate bounce around between Rep. Lamar Smith's blind patriots, Rep. Silvestre Reyes' friends, and Rep. John Conyers' defenders of liberty, I was in awe at the number of reacharounds, back scratches, and stroke jobs that were being given. There was no limit to the praise and thank yous given to those who had capitulated on this bill or chose to forfeit our nation's civil liberties because of this so-called Age of Terrorism.
Even better, the compromise began to sound more and more like a marriage agreement. The two parties each cited how this was not the bill they wanted but each put a lot of work and effort into it. Each made it evident that this isn't what we would want to be debating and that there are better options but then they went back to justifying this bill and giving reacharounds, back scratches, and stroke jobs.
The camraderie was sickening and grew more offputting as Rep. Bobby Scott rose to speak, and then Rep. Jerrold Nadler rose to speak, and then Rep. Rush Holt rose to speak, and then Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, and then Rep. Barbara Lee, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Each one described how this compromise trampled the Fourth Amendment and granted immunity to telecoms.
If you didn't believe them, Rep. Mike Pence from Indiana came out and said it with pride and clarity:
...America's at war. We have to do all that we can to protect our nation from those who seek to harm this country, our communities, and our families. And after nearly a year of delays, we finally have a FISA bill that will institute a long term fix to our nation's foreign intelligence surveillance laws and provide the intelligence community with the tools it needs to protect this country. (Praises Republican leaders.) While this bill is tough on terrorism, it includes strong protections for civil liberties and Americans that have also been put in place by extensive measures of oversight and review in the Department of Justice and it protects those patriotic telecommunications companies who assisted the federal government in the wake of 9/11.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi ended the debate by giving a round of reacharounds, back scratches, and stroke jobs to all members of the House. She carefully outlined how this bill was better than what could have been put on the table but made it clear this is not what she would like to have to pass but something must be passed and they did work to compromise so let's pat ourselves on the back and be proud that we stood up for freedom and bipartisanship...
To those who were undeserving of praise, Pelosi made it clear that she did not come here today to tell anyone to vote for this but just to say why she would.
And she and others would be voting because they had put together a compromise that was hard work. No matter how bad it was, time had been spent and to not produce results would be unacceptable.
So, the House today will pass this bill for "the kids", Americans and America. Mommy Democrats and Daddy Republicans will not fight because it simply does not matter who's right---what matters is that something gets done.
The desire to get something done is why we “kids” were ignored as we voiced our displeasure with this compromise through phone calls, emails, and letters to representatives. Two hundred and ninety-three representatives ignored an array of people that cut across the political spectrum for their political gain.
After this hard work is completed, we can expect our Mommy Democrats and Daddy Republicans to embrace each other, caress and hold each other, kiss and touch each other, and descend into a political orgy that will last throughout the weekend and spill out into the political television shows of the weekend like Face the Nation, This Week, Late Edition, and FOX News Sunday.
Democrats and Republicans will hold hands and tell us how they continued to fund the war, reestablished FISA laws so intelligence gathering could have more oversight and be more effective, and how they think this show signs they will be able to come together on issues that have normally divided Democrats and Republicans.
We concerned Americans who fear for our Constitution will look on amazed at the pornographic edge American politics has taken on.
Whether we Americans have the strength to oppose this behavior between our two parties and the leaders within them who have begun to engage in these actions as a solution to partisan gridlock remains to be seen.
One thing's for sure: As we debate and discuss what to do, our civil liberties and our power to combat corporate control and corporate welfare is eroding at a vicious rate that at some point will be impossible to reverse.