Friday, January 27, 2006

Approve or Disapprove?

img1018I just read through the latest NY Times poll (.pdf here), and it occurred to me that rather than asking Americans whether they'd support wiretapping and surveillance programs in the abstract, the Times and other media outlets might serve the debate more clearly by asking Americans to consider other measures that might be proposed by the Bush administration to defend their lives and liberties. Since neither the Times nor any other media outlet seems interested in framing this crisis in terms of the Constitution, existing statutes, or even broader legal and philosophical questions about the nature of power and the conditions of executive authority, I'm assuming that pretty much everything is on the table.

And since 68% of Americans approve of government surveillance -- regardless of statutory or inherent limitations on executive power -- when conducted against Americans whom "the government is suspicious of," and 67% simultaneously believe that the government is rarely or never capable of acting in a trustworthy manner, I can only assume as well that we have fully entered a cloud-cuckoo land in which much of the public seems (a) willing to let the administration do whatever it wants in the name of fighting terrorism while (b) assuming that the various levels of government will fuck it all up in the end.

Here, in brief, are my suggested revisions to the Times poll for next week:
Question 67. As you may know, the president has enlisted a fleet of terrorist-fighting unicorns to assist in the war on terrorism. Do you approve or disapprove of Operation Horned Justice?

Question 68. Genetic scientists have proposed that a line of cloned unicorns might be developed in order to more quickly build up the reserve forces of unicorns the president claims are needed to fight terrorism. Would you support or not support the use of cloned unicorns in Iraq and elsewhere?

Question 69. In the original version of the King James Bible in 1611, the book of Job refers briefly to the existence of unicorns. And yet clearly, unicorns did not exist again until the president's decision to use them in the war on terror. Do you regard the sudden resurgence of unicorn populations to be evidence of evolution, creationism, "intelligent design," or none of the above?

Question 70. Some critics of Operation Horned Justice have suggested that the president is "playing God" by using a previously-extinct species to pursue the war against terrorism. Supporters of the president, however, insist that by virtue of the inherent powers of the presidency (under Article II of the US Constitution), the president is "already God" and therefore does not need to seek Congressional authorization to merely "play God." Do you believe that President Bush is merely "playing God," or do you believe that he actually "is God?"

Question 71. Some military experts have suggested that a fleet of terrorist-fighting unicorns would be less effective in combatting terrorism than a fleet of My Little Ponies. How much would you be willing to support the use of My Little Ponies instead of cloned unicorns -- a lot, a little, not much, or not at all?

Question 72. If it were determined that terrorists were using boats or submarines to carry out attacks against Americans, would you support or not support the development of terrorist-fighting narwhals to thwart these attacks?