He-Who – The Progressive, 6/29/2006

The credits rolling after the 1990 Kevin Costner oeuvre, Dances with Wolves, featured the following character names: He who smiles a lot, He who has wind in his hair, She who stands with fist. Costner’s main squeeze, Mary McDonnell, should have been called She who has capped teeth.

All people in the news now sound like the cast from Dancing With Wolves II. In one Newsweek article about NSA wiretapping, five appositional disclaimers were cited to describe some of the characters: He who declined to be named talking about the former director, He who didn’t want to be named talking about internal matters, He who asked not to be named because of the matter’s sensitivity, He who would not be named talking about agency procedures, He who wouldn’t speak about internal matters on the record.

Perhaps the He-whos down in Whoville are Bush nicknamery in long-form, or perhaps they are observant members of an anonymous program to which George does not belong, but the final effect is that the Rove-cone of silence makes us all Guess Workers. Who are these people?

When our nation’s high school newspaper, USA Today, claimed to break the NSA story, I pored over their pie-charts as if they were some recently discovered ancient cuneiforms of a civilization I barely knew.

But first I tried to cancel Verizon, they who “never stop working for you,” and for NSA apparently. They never got back to me. They were too busy digging their data mines. That explains all the Verizon repair huts on the streets of New York. If Al Qaeda calls, NSA wants to know who they’re talking to. Please leave your number, even if you think we have it. George (He who says they are not listening, just looking for patterns) Bush is resolute. Maybe I’ll try not paying my bill, just using their service. Can you hear me now?

Then I went back to deciphering the American people. “Based on what you have heard or read about the NSA database of Americans’ phone records, do you approve or disapprove of this government program?” Only 51 percent said they disapproved! 43 percent approved and 6 percent had no opinion.

“If you knew that the federal government had your telephone records, how concerned would you be?” 44 percent would not be concerned at all. This must be the upright unconcerned citizen brigade, you know, the folks who console themselves with the trope/tripe, “If you don’t have anything to hide, you don’t have to worry.” The breakdown of my fellow concerned citizens was 20 percent “not too,” 13 percent “somewhat,” and 22 percent “very.” 1 percent had no opinion or perhaps no phone.

While 33 percent of concerneds could not work up a good head of steam about the whole thing, in my household we are reevaluating our all access pass to the grid because it goes both ways. We’ve cut up our special shopper bar code cards. No more online shopping for us. I’m looking at my iPod differently. I’m swearing off iTunes. The Tivo’s got to go. String and tin cans from our home terror kit stash of deviled hams will have to do.

And when I’m flying in a full plane, I pretend that rows 1 through 17 are that unconcerned 44 percent. I spend the whole flight guessing who they are and how do they do that?