October 7, 1998
PRINCETON, NJ–According to the latest Gallup Poll, conducted Monday and Tuesday of this week, nearly three out of four Americans can no longer believe this shit.
In addition to the 73 percent of poll respondents who described this shit as “beyond belief,” 9 percent said they could “hardly” believe this shit, with another 5 percent “just barely” believing it. An additional 13 percent said they “couldn’t give a flying fuck about the whole goddamn thing.”
The poll also found that the National Shit-Credulity Index (NSCI) has hit an all-time low, with only 2 percent of Americans describing themselves as “fully confident of [their] capacity to believe this shit.”
“The American people have had to deal with this kind of shit for years,” Gallup Organization president Lee Sanderson said, “but now, for the first time, it appears that the vast majority of them just can’t fucking believe it anymore.”
“In all honesty, who can blame them?” Sanderson added. “Regardless of one’s political affiliation, socioeconomic status, religion or just about any other viewpoint, you’ve got to admit, the shit that’s been going on lately is way out of hand.”
In the wake of the poll, many activists are calling upon America’s leaders to get their shit in gear.
“The American people have had it up to here with this shitheap,” said James Schuerholz, president of the D.C.-based Heritage Foundation. “There is a public mandate for our leaders to cut this shit out, and it’s high time they finally did.”
Despite Americans’ incredulity over this shit, historians note that this sort of shit has been going on for years and is unlikely to end anytime soon.
“Contrary to popular belief, this type of shit is hardly anything new,” Harvard University American history professor Lawrence Coombs said. “The same shit was going down 50, 100 and 150 years ago. The only difference was, back then, you never read about that shit in the newspapers.”
Calling the American people’s enormous shit-belief capacity “one of the cornerstones of our democracy,” U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) stressed that it is the patriotic duty of all citizens to grant our leaders the benefit of the doubt with regard to their shit.
“If the American people are no longer willing to believe this shit, who will?” Kerry said. “Somebody’s got to take this shit at face value. Otherwise, why are we even doing all this shit in the first place? I am truly saddened by the lack of faith that the citizens of this country are willing to put in my shit, as well as that of my esteemed colleagues. We must repair our society’s fraying trust in the shit of our elected officials, or you would not believe the kind of hardcore, heavy-duty shit that will come down.”
“America,” conservative author and social critic Patricia Stouffer said, “is seriously losing its shit. But we’ve got to somehow hold our shit in place until all this passes. We’ve got to learn to believe in shit again. After this latest shitstorm, it may take years to accomplish, but we must somehow find the strength to put our trust back into the nation’s shit.”
Despite such impassioned calls for faith in the U.S. political system and all the shit that comes with it, if the Gallup Poll is any indication, the majority of Americans are no longer willing to put up with the shit.
“Fuck that shit,” said Evansville, IN, day-care provider Helen Reiderer. “I’m tired of hearing about it. Do they actually expect us to still believe that load of shit?”
“If you ask me, the shit is about to hit the fan,” said Reiderer’s husband Frank. “As far as I’m concerned, all that shit is just too much to be believed.”
Another disgruntled citizen, Wenatchee, WA, tractor salesman Tom Huard, summed up the sentiments of most Americans when, holding up the front page of the local newspaper to friend Benjamin Pritchard, he said, “Jesus, Ben, can you believe this?”
“Shit, no,” Pritchard replied.
For the president, and the majority leaders and candidates and rank-and-file Congressmen and Senators of either party—there is only blame for this shameful, and bi-partisan, betrayal
May 24, 2007
By Keith Olbermann
This is, in fact, a comment about… betrayal.
Few men or women elected in our history—whether executive or legislative, state or national—have been sent into office with a mandate more obvious, nor instructions more clear:
Get us out of Iraq.
Yet after six months of preparation and execution—half a year gathering the strands of public support; translating into action, the collective will of the nearly 70 percent of Americans who reject this War of Lies, the Democrats have managed only this:
- The Democratic leadership has surrendered to a president—if not the worst president, then easily the most selfish, in our history—who happily blackmails his own people, and uses his own military personnel as hostages to his asinine demand, that the Democrats “give the troops their money”;
- The Democratic leadership has agreed to finance the deaths of Americans in a war that has only reduced the security of Americans;
- The Democratic leadership has given Mr. Bush all that he wanted, with the only caveat being, not merely meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government, but optional meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government.
- The Democratic leadership has, in sum, claimed a compromise with the Administration, in which the only things truly compromised, are the trust of the voters, the ethics of the Democrats, and the lives of our brave, and doomed, friends, and family, in Iraq.
You, the men and women elected with the simplest of directions—Stop The War—have traded your strength, your bargaining position, and the uniform support of those who elected you… for a handful of magic beans.
You may trot out every political cliché from the soft-soap, inside-the-beltway dictionary of boilerplate sound bites, about how this is the “beginning of the end” of Mr. Bush’s “carte blanche” in Iraq, about how this is a “first step.”
Well, Senator Reid, the only end at its beginning… is our collective hope that you and your colleagues would do what is right, what is essential, what you were each elected and re-elected to do.
Because this “first step”… is a step right off a cliff.
And this President!
How shameful it would be to watch an adult… hold his breath, and threaten to continue to do so, until he turned blue.
But how horrifying it is… to watch a President hold his breath and threaten to continue to do so, until innocent and patriotic Americans in harm’s way, are bled white.
You lead this country, sir?
You claim to defend it?
And yet when faced with the prospect of someone calling you on your stubbornness—your stubbornness which has cost 3,431 Americans their lives and thousands more their limbs—you, Mr. Bush, imply that if the Democrats don’t give you the money and give it to you entirely on your terms, the troops in Iraq will be stranded, or forced to serve longer, or have to throw bullets at the enemy with their bare hands.
How transcendentally, how historically, pathetic.
Any other president from any other moment in the panorama of our history would have, at the outset of this tawdry game of political chicken, declared that no matter what the other political side did, he would insure personally—first, last and always—that the troops would not suffer.
A President, Mr. Bush, uses the carte blanche he has already, not to manipulate an overlap of arriving and departing Brigades into a ‘second surge,’ but to say in unequivocal terms that if it takes every last dime of the monies already allocated, if it takes reneging on government contracts with Halliburton, he will make sure the troops are safe—even if the only safety to be found, is in getting them the hell out of there.
Well, any true President would have done that, Sir.
You instead, used our troops as political pawns, then blamed the Democrats when you did so.
Not that these Democrats, who had this country’s support and sympathy up until 48 hours ago, have not since earned all the blame they can carry home.
“We seem to be very near the bleak choice between war and shame,” Winston Churchill wrote to Lord Moyne in the days after the British signed the Munich accords with Germany in 1938. “My feeling is that we shall choose shame, and then have war thrown in, a little later…”
That’s what this is for the Democrats, isn’t it?
Their “Neville Chamberlain moment” before the Second World War.
All that’s missing is the landing at the airport, with the blinkered leader waving a piece of paper which he naively thought would guarantee “peace in our time,” but which his opponent would ignore with deceit.
The Democrats have merely streamlined the process. Their piece of paper already says Mr. Bush can ignore it, with impugnity.
And where are the Democratic presidential hopefuls this evening? See they not, that to which the Senate and House leadership has blinded itself?
Judging these candidates based on how they voted on the original Iraq authorization, or waiting for apologies for those votes, is ancient history now.
The Democratic nomination is likely to be decided… tomorrow.
The talk of practical politics, the buying into of the President’s dishonest construction “fund-the-troops-or-they-will-be-in-jeopardy,” the promise of tougher action in September, is falling not on deaf ears, but rather falling on Americans who already told you what to do, and now perceive your ears as closed to practical politics.
Those who seek the Democratic nomination need to—for their own political futures and, with a thousand times more solemnity and importance, for the individual futures of our troops—denounce this betrayal, vote against it, and, if need be, unseat Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi if they continue down this path of guilty, fatal acquiescence to the tragically misguided will of a monomaniacal president.
For, ultimately, at this hour, the entire government has failed us.
- Mr. Reid, Mr. Hoyer, and the other Democrats… have failed us. They negotiated away that which they did not own, but had only been entrusted by us to protect: our collective will as the citizens of this country, that this brazen War of Lies be ended as rapidly and safely as possible.
- Mr. Bush and his government… have failed us. They have behaved venomously and without dignity—of course. That is all at which Mr. Bush is gifted. We are the ones providing any element of surprise or shock here.
With the exception of Senator Dodd and Senator Edwards, the Democratic presidential candidates have (so far at least) failed us.
They must now speak, and make plain how they view what has been given away to Mr. Bush, and what is yet to be given away tomorrow, and in the thousand tomorrows to come.
Because for the next fourteen months, the Democratic nominating process—indeed the whole of our political discourse until further notice—has, with the stroke of a cursed pen, become about one thing, and one thing alone.
The electorate figured this out, six months ago.
The President and the Republicans have not—doubtless will not.
The Democrats will figure it out, during the Memorial Day recess, when they go home and many of those who elected them will politely suggest they stay there—and permanently.
Because, on the subject of Iraq…
The people have been ahead of the media….
Ahead of the government…
Ahead of the politicians…
For the last year, or two years, or maybe three.
Our politics… is now about the answer to one briefly-worded question.
Mr. Bush has failed.
Mr. Warner has failed.
Mr. Reid has failed.
Who among us will stop this war—this War of Lies? To he or she, fall the figurative keys to the nation.
To all the others—presidents and majority leaders and candidates and rank-and-file Congressmen and Senators of either party—there is only blame… for this shameful, and bi-partisan, betrayal.
May 22, 2007
By Clive Thompson
Hasan Elahi whips out his Samsung Pocket PC phone and shows me how he’s keeping himself out of Guantanamo. He swivels the camera lens around and snaps a picture of the Manhattan Starbucks where we’re drinking coffee. Then he squints and pecks at the phone’s touchscreen. “OK! It’s uploading now,” says the cheery, 35-year-old artist and Rutgers professor, whose bleached-blond hair complements his fluorescent-green pants. “It’ll go public in a few seconds.” Sure enough, a moment later the shot appears on the front page of his Web site, TrackingTransience.net.
There are already tons of pictures there. Elahi will post about a hundred today — the rooms he sat in, the food he ate, the coffees he ordered. Poke around his site and you’ll find more than 20,000 images stretching back three years. Elahi has documented nearly every waking hour of his life during that time. He posts copies of every debit card transaction, so you can see what he bought, where, and when. A GPS device in his pocket reports his real-time physical location on a map.
Elahi’s site is the perfect alibi. Or an audacious art project. Or both. The Bangladeshi-born American says the US government mistakenly listed him on its terrorist watch list — and once you’re on, it’s hard to get off. To convince the Feds of his innocence, Elahi has made his life an open book. Whenever they want, officials can go to his site and see where he is and what he’s doing. Indeed, his server logs show hits from the Pentagon, the Secretary of Defense, and the Executive Office of the President, among others.
The globe-hopping prof says his overexposed life began in 2002, when he stepped off a flight from the Netherlands and was detained at the Detroit airport. He says FBI agents later told him they’d been tipped off that he was hoarding explosives in a Florida storage unit; subsequent lie detector tests convinced them he wasn’t their man. But with his frequent travel — Elahi logs more than 70,000 air miles a year exhibiting his art work and attending conferences — he figured it was only a matter of time before he got hauled in again. He might even be shipped off to Gitmo before anyone realized their mistake. The FBI agents had given him their phone number, so he decided to call before each trip; that way, they could alert the field offices. He hasn’t been detained since.
So it dawned on him: If being candid about his flights could clear his name, why not be open about everything? “I’ve discovered that the best way to protect your privacy is to give it away,” he says, grinning as he sips his venti Black Eye. Elahi relishes upending the received wisdom about surveillance. The government monitors your movements, but it gets things wrong. You can monitor yourself much more accurately. Plus, no ambitious agent is going to score a big intelligence triumph by snooping into your movements when there’s a Web page broadcasting the Big Mac you ate four minutes ago in Boise, Idaho. “It’s economics,” he says. “I flood the market.”
Elahi says his students get it immediately. They’ve grown up spilling their guts online — posting Flickr photo sets and confessing secrets on MySpace. He figures the day is coming when so many people shove so much personal data online that it will put Big Brother out of business.
For now, though, Big Brother is still on the case. At least according to Elahi’s server logs. “It’s really weird watching the government watch me,” he says. But it sure beats Guantanamo.