Online polls: The great American opinion bowl

Ned Cantwell

To stay alive in this business, cable news has taught us, you need to be trendy.
CNN, for instance, intersperses in its coverage of hard news stories with online polls so viewers can express their opinions. A story about how Americans feel about their lifestyles, then, might include the following question:
What do you think is the greatest threat to the American way of life as we know it: a) foreign terrorists? b) ever-increasing health care costs? c) Michael Jackson?
As we discuss topics of general interest, I will be asking you to e-mail your views.
Gov. Bill Richardson called a special legislative session to consider various topics. He came out in support of a $135.5 million increase in state and local taxes and fees, a measure introduced by Senate Democrats, but the session ended before so-called tax reform passed.
(How do you feel about taxes? a) Bill Richardson is a liberal puke, b) go ahead and tax me, I ain’t got no money to pay you no how, c) I found the entire concept of the special legislative session overwhelmingly taxing.)
New Mexico adopted new sex-offender provisions, adding muscle to laws said to be among the most lenient in the nation.
(What do you think we should do with sex offenders? a) throw away the keys, b) perverts are people, too, c) cut off ……………Sorry, I can’t print that.)
The National Rifle Association published a 19-page blacklist of enemies to its cause. The list includes such companies as Stonyfield Yogurt and Sara Lee cheesecake. Some Hollywood celebrities, such as Dustin Hoffman, were insulted they did not make the list. So was national columnist Ellen Goodman. So was I.
(How do you feel about this? a) Dustin Hoffman is a liberal puke. b) Ellen Goodman is a liberal puke, c) So are you!)
New Mexico lawmakers passed a $1.6 billion road plan, and you get to pay for it. The governor says every county in the state will benefit.
(Should we spend so much of our tax revenue on roads? a) fix the roads around my part of the state, let the others fend for themselves, b) New Mexicans can’t afford gasoline, why fix roads? c) I’d rather have deep potholes than empty pockets.)
There is a cultural war going on in this country, personified by the likes of Brittany Spears and Madonna who kissed one another on stage. Some people think no big deal, others see it as a further signal that our morals are spiraling downward.
(How do you feel about the Brittany kiss? a) Yuck! b) Sicko! c) I taped it.)
Columns like this one, I think, are constructive in that they help fuel the public debate by allowing people to speak out.
(How do you feel about the column you have just read? a) What? b) I wouldn’t know because I quit reading four paragraphs ago, c) I thought you said you were retired so, please, retire!)

Ned Cantwell is a) retired newspaperman living in Ruidoso, b) welcomes response at c) ncantwell@charter.net.