CNN's head-jolting shockfest!

A mostly political Weblog.
March 28 2005 4:04 AM

Head-Jolting Shockfest!

Plus--GM gives up?

(Continued from Page 1)

Isn't this perilously close to saying he determined that GM could not compete in the industry it's in? If the company can't engineer and assemble cars at competitive prices what product is it going to sell? And if GM can't compete with Chrysler and Ford, what chance does it have against Toyota? ... Update: Lutz defends his decision on his blog, and it actually does him some good. Maybe Hugh Hewitt is right about businesses needing blogs. ... 11:25 A.M.

Head-jolting shockfest! It's a good thing CNN's Jonathan Klein got rid of Tucker Carlson so the network could finally  approach the news with the seriousness it deserves. [via Polipundit] 10:58 A.M.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Anti-tubist prof. Mark A.R. Kleiman, bizarrely, agrees with me about the wording in that ABC Schiavo Poll.  He argues the wording reflects reality ("persistent vegetative state") but not the case "as seen in the media."  I tend to think the media has, if anything, presented a mildly anti-tube version of events--but we agree fair polling question would not adopt one side's version of reality. It would present the issue as it is being presented (e.g., one side says "no consciousness," the other side says "we don't know for sure.")  The point is, in part, to figure out which reality those polled have bought into, no? ... . ... P.S: It's clear that a solid majority is anti-tubist. Too many different polls show it. But note that the CBS poll also shows a mild but unmistakable pro-tube trend on several questions since 1990. (Example: "If a patient is in a coma, should close family member be able to have a doctor remove the feeding tube and let the person die?" 1990 answer: 81% yes. 2005 answer: 73% yes.) This is consistent with the theory that baby-boomers will become more "anti-death" (on abortion, capital punishment, and end-of-life issues) as they a) see their parents pass away and b) approach death themselves. ... A potentially major, underdiscussed counteravailing factor is the one cited by pollster Andrew Kohut  in his recent NYT op-ed:

One-third of the respondents to the ABC News poll reported that a friend or relative had died after life support was stopped. And more than half of these respondents were involved in the decision.

One way of putting it is that the end of life is so messy, and riddled with potentially guilt-inducing glitches, that nobody wants to be judgmental about it (as the pro-tube position requires). Another way of putting it is that the culture of end-of-life euthanasia--as practiced by humane, cost-conscious doctors and hospitals-- is so entrenched that too many people are implicated in it for it to change. If you say pulling a tube is wrong you seem to be accusing them of being complicit in murdering grandma! This is a possibility they don't want to consider, a moral burden they do not feel they deserve to bear. ... But if this factor were dominant wouldn't the trend in that CBS poll be going the other way? ... 6:07 P.M.

Tapped's Matthew Yglesias is all over that Social Security trustees' report looking for signs of 1) spinning and fiddling, 2) excessive pessimism, and 3) unexplained changes in assumptions. He's found them all, I think. Start here and scroll up. ... 12:45 A.M.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Shame of ABC: I hadn't realized that the surprising ABC poll about the Schiavo case--showing overwhelming anti-tube sentiment--was so badly worded and biased. (For one thing, it deceptively tells pollees that Terri Schiavo is on "life support."  * For another, it leads with the flat assertion that "Doctors say she has no consciousness and her condition is irreversible."**)   Michelle Malkin and "Captain Ed" Morrissey  are onto the ABC poll. ... MalkinMorrissey and Powerline also raise doubts about that clumsy Republican talking points memo that ABC's Linda Douglass first trumpeted.  I'm not so sure that you'd expect a letterhead on such a hastily-drawn memo, or even the correct bill title. It's not like it's a blog or something formal! It's less clear that the memo was written by anyone in the GOP leadership as opposed to a pro-life lobbying group, as Malkin points out. Yet unless you listened very carefully to Douglass' slyly worded report you got the distinct impression that it was a Republican leadership document. (ABC's own web site headlined the story "GOP Talking Points on Terri Schiavo ") [Update:Powerline confirms  epistemological fishiness of the memo as a "GOP" doc.] ... Anyway, why should it be news--obscuring the actual merits of the case--that politics is involved in federal legislation? The civil rights movement was a political constituency too. ...  ABC's performance during this whole story --starting with its sneering Friday coverage--has been pretty much a disgrace. ... 

*Update--Many readers have pointed out that a feeding tube is defined as "life support" by at least one medical authority. But using the word at the start of a poll of laypersons conjures up far more elaborate support systems--e.g. heart and lung machines. If not "false"--as this post originally characterized it--the phrase is highly misleading. (I disagree with MP on this. The question is not whether the phrase is technically defensible, but whether it's reasonably calculated to produce an accurate poll of what people think. It's no defense to say, as ABC's Gary Langer does, that the language was taken from the very court decision that is the point of controversy. A court, even in its outline of "facts," is going to use language that buttresses its conclusion.)

**--Dr. Krauthammer, who winds up calling Congress' action a "travesty," nevertheless disagrees with the ABC poll's flat assertion on the issue of consciousness:

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