Reader Mail

Consumer Reports

Reactions to professors, a Kerry horror flick, deathly hospitals, deadly lawyers, SUV rollovers, Keyes’s detractors and to Americans who prefer America to overenlightened Europe -- plus much more.

8.12.04

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PROFESSORIAL AUTHORITY
Re: John R. Dunlap's Sunny Portraits:

Good to see John Dunlap back.

More, please.
-- Jameson Campaigne
Ottawa, Illinois

SCREAM PRESENCE
Re: James Bowman's The Manchurian Candidate Reconsidered:

Mr. Bowman is on the right track -- I saw the movie last night, and quickly came to the same conclusion -- that it was Kerry.
-- Peter Ford

MATTERS OF LIFE AND DEATH
Re: Eric Peters' SUV Rollovers and Ralph R. Reiland's Deadly Hospitals:

When Consumer Reports did its rollover hatchet job on the Isuzu Trooper some years ago, Isuzu took the step of documenting the junk science that C-R had engaged in while furthering its coincidental environmental extremist agenda (my words, not Isuzu's). None of the vehicles that C-R tested were instrumented. Therefore, there was no way to validate what speed the vehicle was driving at, what rate of turn the vehicle was forced into, whether or not identical amounts of front wheel angular deflection were demanded by the test driver and at what angular rate of change, etc.

Additionally it was also shown that owners of high performance sports cars were far more likely to roll their vehicles than owners of SUVs, despite obvious differences in centers of gravity and other "controlling" parameters. The demographics of the owners were irrelevant to C-R.

Ditto for the fact that almost all deaths from SUV rollover were caused by drivers who chose to not use their seatbelts, who thus were ejected from the vehicle during rollover, and were then crushed by the vehicle itself. Sounds like a Darwin Award finalist to me.

The Left wants us all singing Rush Limbaugh's "In a Yugo" and thus the "science" to "prove" their point.

No thank you.
-- Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

You must have missed getting my letters since you have not one, but two fat, juicy articles for me.

First, Eric Peters has an excellent article about SUVs. Why can't someone with such common sense anchor the network news? My only addition would be to point out that most of the dead victims of SUV rollovers were not wearing their seatbelts.

Second, and not so impressive, is Professor Reiland's article on hospital deaths. I think that the point of his argument is that lawsuits are a big impetus for improvement in the hospital system. If that were so, then the number of hospital deaths due to negligence and mistakes should be approximately 74. True, very few patients sue, but the threat is always there and is never far from the minds of the doctors, nurses, therapists, lab personnel, and administrators. I would estimate that at least 20% of the effort to provide care for patients goes towards creating an environment that would decrease a patient's propensity to sue: nice facilities, lots of smiles, addressing mistakes promptly, soothing hurt feelings. In other words, PR. I am sure the threat of being sued motivates some doctors to practice better medicine (not just add to the cost of healthcare), but it also removes the ability to look honestly at ways to improve processes and, if one were to accept Healthgrades' report, has been a spectacular failure.

I would also contend that lumping regular complications in with hospital errors is a mistake. I notice that Professor Reiland used the phrase "low risk patients." He didn't use the phrase "no risk patients." That's because there is no such thing. If you are ill, being mildly ill is no guarantee that you won't die from that illness. That's just biology. That's also what the practice of medicine is striving to make sure doesn't happen. It is not an exact science but many highly intelligent people of good will are working hard towards that goal. Lawsuit reform won't hinder their progress.
-- Andrew J. Macfadyen, M.D.
San Antonio, Texas

The Association of Trial Lawyers must be very proud of Mr. Reiland this morning. He makes a good spokesman. In any matters such as this, we must follow the money trail. Who funds Healthgrades? Regardless, there isn't much perspective on the death numbers presented. How many people were treated? What percentage of those treated died from such incompetence? Granted, anyone dying under such circumstances is a tragedy, but when an incredible number of patients are treated annually as they are in this country perspective needs to be injected here. Reiland compares the number of hospital deaths to WWII combat deaths -- why doesn't he compare it to the number of auto deaths every year?

I have a great idea for all those in the medical and pharmaceutical industries -- take a page out of the labor unions' playbook and go on strike until legislation is passed to put a threshold on all civil litigation against their industries, and people like Mr. Reiland can sit and hope they don't get sick while they wait.
-- Anthony Mastroserio

If memory serves correctly, the AMA and some doctors groups are and or have been big supporters of GUN CONTROL, going so far as to refer to gun violence as a "disease".

No doubt, the death of innocents through criminal acts is a terrible thing to see, and accidental shootings are bad also. However given what appears to be the number of deaths that arise from the above mentioned "medical misadventure," it is time for the medical establishment to clean up its own house, before sticking its nose into the houses of others.
-- Alan Schultz
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

KEYES TO THE MOVEMENT
Re: Hunter Baker's An Off-Keyes McCainiac and "AJR"'s letter (under "Wishing Well") in Reader Mail's Cody Country:

"No, but." "Yes, but." Funny, there are a large number of folks in the GOP whose responses to Leftist hectoring always starts out with one of these little conjunctive clauses. Of course the phrase is always uttered as a palliative, the explanation following is laden with conditions and excuses. The end result is that some Republicans, too many for my taste, have a horrible habit of removing the foundations of their arguments before the debate is concluded. Equivocation becomes a way of life when one implicitly accepts the opposition's language and culture as being fundamentally true.

It is impossible to win from an equivocating base. Alan Keyes's force of intellect, speaking style, and fundamental belief in his core values tends to scare off those for whom life on the periphery of the "in crowd" is all important. That is truly unfortunate because it is men like Alan Keyes who are the backbone of modern Conservatism.

The criticism of Ambassador Keyes touches on a truth. The act of "carpetbagging" an election smacks of corrupt machine politics. However, that point evaporates once one considers the reality that the Illinois GOP, a bastion of Liberal Republicanism (pro-abortion, pro-gun control, tax-happy, etc.), has seen it necessary to place a Conservative in the driver's seat for this Senatorial election.

That there were no Conservatives -- strike that -- Republicans of any stripe within the state, with enough spine to face the Democrats in the general election, is of no concern to those folks in the "Me too" crowd. It is far easier for them to gripe from the cheap seats. Working to get someone elected in a tough contest means exposing oneself to the need to stand for something. Besides, who really cares if Illinois is represented by a virtual Marxist? They have elected fringe lunatics before, right?

I offer this to the "Me Toos," hangers-on, Not-Democrats, and others that so of the plague the GOP at critical junctures. Alan Keyes will probably not win in Illinois, but your weak vacillating approach to the problems of getting elected, and governing, is endangering both the Republican Party, and the nation. Your self-important attitudes regarding Conservatives are beginning to wear their patience thin. The GOP cannot win without those for whom Alan Keyes is a treasured presence.

Mike Murphy needs to ask himself whether or not he wants to be a part of a governing coalition on the Right. If his answer is that the Conservatives are just too strident, flaky, or embarrassing, then he really needs to go do something else with his life. His disdain is self-defeating, and the GOP does not need, and cannot afford animus from within.

Alan Keyes might just win in Illinois; though the chances are slim. What he will do, is raise the level of the debate to one of a true contrast between Conservatism and Marxism; whatever the outcome it will not be a wasted enterprise.
-- John Schneider
Bristow, Virginia

Mr. Baker is -- Right On -- about Alan Keyes. Mr. Keyes probably won't win in Illinois, but think of the TV and press exposure he will give the Republicans that no other person they could have induced to run could dream of doing. He will have a forum to attack that no one else would have. These debates will draw national attention to the state, and Mr. Keyes can point out many of the faults of the Democrats' programs in a way that no one else could. Mr. Obama showed that he is a great speaker, and an intelligent man. Mr. Keyes is as well. The Republicans did a master stroke here. They were going to loose anyway, but now they get great exposure from their candidate. Remember Lincoln lost the election to Douglas, but their debates had a strong effect on Lincoln getting exposure, and enabling him to be nominated for president. Who do the Republicans have for 2008? If Kerry should win, in 2008 he would be very vulnerable to someone who is a dynamic speaker, with contrasting views and is (Black)!
-- Frank Dollinger
Channahon, Illinois

The pundits who oppose Ambassador Keyes' entrance into Illinois politics are girlie-boys.

I accept Keyes' argument that, unlike Hillary, he is not doing this for pure political ambition. Among the issues Keyes will provide moral clarity on are the responsibilities a Catholic politician has to both his Church and his State. His oratorical skill may even help defeat other candidates besides his opponent in Illinois.

And as for the supposed unseemliness of Keyes' entrance, isn't Chicago the place where the dead vote a straight Democratic ticket? -- Mrs. John B. Jackson III (Janet)
Grosse Pointe, Michigan

To ARJ: Perhaps you should listen to what Ambassador Keyes has to say! To damn a man because of his voice says something about the source of the damnation! Half of the pundits and talking heads voices make my teeth itch!!!
-- C.D. Lueders
Boca Raton, Florida

P.S. Does your anonymity in respect to omitting your name also reflect on the source and/or quality of your comment?

SWISS MIFFED
Re: Chris Marks' letter ("The Old World's Choice") in Reader Mail's Boat People:

Chris Marks' reply to Bandow's article is yet another brilliant example of sloppy thinking. Care for any details? Let's go:

1. Many Americans are enraged because we do not support them in Iraq. Well, we are on the side of the USA on many fronts that make sense -- fighting terrorism or stabilizing weak countries where your nation does not even care to look. There are at least 50 major trouble spots and many smaller ones worldwide, and we don't see YOU giving help in all of them. (Two tiny examples among many others: Switzerland recently has built and donated a modern infrastructure to the Foreign Office of Serbia -- a run-down country that needs support desperately in order to make its way to a modern democracy. Our country helps build a modern power grid and power stations in a former Soviet province that is fighting for inner stability. Etc. Our people do many dangerous, dirty jobs too without any fuss. However, the U.S. media don't cover such efforts. They're home-centered, biased, boringly repetitive. Fact is, of course, we won't join the USA every time it cries wolf.

2. Americans like to think that they have saved Europe on several occasions in the last century. How about thinking that the Brits, the Continental resistance fighters (including your enemies the Serbs, by the way), and the Soviet Red Army drastically helped reduce the danger of Nazi troops ever landing in the USA? And how about thinking that the fourth or fifth assassination attempt on Hitler (which would have happened with high probability, as many high officers of the Wehrmacht were not at ease with affairs in Germany) would have been successful? You want to make the world believe that American soldiers died for Europe only. Well, many Europeans and millions of Russians died for America, too.

3. You want to see yourself as the great peacemakers. Have a look at your own history and make the long list of bloody conflicts in which you were aggressors or even exterminators. (Go to Laos and have a look at how many peasants are still dead scared every day to accidentally trigger American explosives in their rice paddies!) And your own civil war definitely wasn't European made, was it?

4. You want the world to believe that Europeans are envious of your nation. Well, anyone who watches U.S. news coverage is scandalized by the way your networks have systematically been downtalking European achievements for years -- ridiculing the Euro, or pretending that our industrial progress was only possible through state subsidies (while you have always been quick at fueling your own economy with military budgets or export-subsidy tricks yourself).

5. We all know that Europe is facing serious demographic problems. However, you should not forget that social attitudes like having more children per family can change, too. Baby boom years can come again. What's more: growing older today also means being active and productive much longer.

6. You should stop threatening us Europeans with your military power whenever we don't do as you wish. Quite to the contrary, you should make an effort to understand that most problems of this world can't be solved by military interventions, and that you are by no means the culturally most gifted people to tackle them. You have an incredibly wasteful economy, and you are unable to offer the most basic services -- health, education, security, clean water and air -- to a great number of your citizens. A wide field in which you can team up with Europe, and you are absolutely unable to cope with them alone.

The other day, some smart guy offered a letter to the Spectator in which he expressed his pride that he only has two weeks of vacation per year, and works a 10-hour day. He sneered at those French people who enjoy their summer on the beach. Well, the average American could drive a smaller car instead of an SUV (one more holiday week); he could put some money in better heating systems and decently insulated walls to burn less oil (another week); he could be flexible and find a home closer to his workplace instead of driving to work for an hour every day (another week); he could renounce spending countless hours in drab shopping malls and have more chats with his neighbors (one more week); he could do more outdoor sports and spend less dollars on gym halls and doctor's pills (one more week). He could teach his kids moral values and spend less tax money on public security (one more week). Which would leave the average American with just about eight weeks of vacation per year.

"The pursuit of happiness": read it again and start thinking. It's one of the greatest ideas in your Constitution. And more powerful, more convincing than any bomb. That's the American genius we support wholeheartedly.
-- Kurt Schori
Biel-Bienne
Switzerland

NO STOPPING HIM
Re: Ken Shreve's letter ("Menace to Society") in Reader Mail's Cody Country:

"Yes, Mr. McGinnis, you are in fact a mean and dangerous man. Your kind of simple, effective logic would result in total chaos within our modern society." As opposed to what we have now? And thanks for the compliment.

Of course, I have a solution to the bureaucratic unemployment issue as well. Those that would be displaced by implementing my suggestions would be given two options. (A) Reassignment to BCIS for border patrol along the Rio Grande. Or (B) reporting for duty as either Army or Marine Reserve duty for immediate activation along the Iraq-Iran border for our eventual assault on that country. But I don't think we would have to invade Iran. The Mullahs would capitulate once they realized that we had 4 Corps of GS9's and down ready to paper their entire country with regulations -- WMB indeed! (Weapons of Mass Bureaucracy)

Oh God! There I go again! Ken, can you recommend a good shrink so I can be reeducated? Thanks.
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

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