When Is A Wall Like A
Moonshot?

         In a very clever video available on youtube and on
cnnpolitical.com, the complexities and costs of actually building that Wall
that Donald Trump insists would be erected early in a Trump first term are
outlined in detail. The video even stars the Wall itself with golden hair and a
red baseball cap.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOawRMJecuY

         The short six-minute video gives a great overview of how to
get a law through Congress as Chris Moody walks the viewer through the arcane
path any bill needs to tread from the houses of Congress, through committees,
to the floor, out to a conference committee, through a filibuster, and on to
the President’s desk. This was a path I learned extremely well on Capitol Hill.
(This is the path that Nancy Pelosi by-passed to get the ACA through Congress. See my book Red Kool-Aid Blue Kool-Aid
available on amazon.com).

         But Moody ups the ante. He lists all the agencies of the
executive branch of the government that would need to weigh in on a project as
massive and as controversial as a wall along the southern border of the United
States IF and WHEN such a bill actually got through the Congress.

How
Mr. Trump thinks he is going to get Mexico to pay for it is brushed over as the
video is only six minutes long, but suffice it to say sequestering the money currently
sent home by Mexicans in America would not be as easy as it sounds. In fact
nothing associated with the Wall from eminent domain to environmental impact
reports sounds all that easy, yet every one of the agencies listed among the
many executive branch departments under the President would have to
independently assess the consequences of building such a structure and whether
such a project would violate any regulations. (Hint: It is likely it would.)

         Suffice it to say that when Mr. Trump says it will be easy,
it is pretty obvious that he hasn’t done his homework.

         I don’t think that Dr. DePinho did his homework when it
comes to shooting the moon.

         The current President of MD Anderson has spoken in terms of
cures and his unique insight into developing those cures better than the
pharmaceutical industry can. This is somewhat humorous given his proclivity for
getting into bed with that very industry any time one of the companies waves money or
shares in his direction, but the science is still the impasse to a cure, not
the money.

         The fact is that the more the cancer research community
learns about cancer, the more complex the solution to the diseases that
comprise malignancy tends to appear. The notion of gene sequencing determining
personalized cocktails of novel targeted agents has still not seen widespread
adaptability despite almost five years of promises from Dr. DePinho. The
immunologic route appears more likely to be fruitful, but even there it is less
than half the time that a true cure is rendered by a newer agent. We still have
the microenvironment, the vascular system, the bone marrow, and the microbiome
to contend with as we search for the key(s) to unlock the door(s) to cancer
cures. And while we are at it, and spending all this money on lab research, the
opportunity cost of not using what we know would work and can currently afford like
screening and prevention goes unpaid, which is really most unfortunate.

         Dr. DePinho is by no means alone in making the promises of
cures and saying those cures are just around the corner from a few billion more
in investment. Even the current Veep of the US is speaking in delusional terms
about malignancy. Like Dr. DePinho, a death in the family of the VP from cancer
does not make you an expert in how to eradicate a disease that is primarily
that of people of the age of post-conception so not really of consequence to
Mother Nature. (Bad news: The Universe doesn’t care if people get cancer after
they have had children as their destiny has been fulfilled—or not.)

         I believe it is time to drop back and tell Mr. Trump that no
one is interested in wasting a lot of time, money or political capital on building
an ineffective means of altering immigration that has already reversed with
fewer Mexicans coming in than leaving.

         It would also be a good idea for the true cancer experts at
MD Anderson (if there are any left unfired) to inform the President that his
ideas are whacky, but excusable given his lack of expertise in matters
oncologic.

Leonard Zwelling