Saying What and Saying How Are Not the Same: The Big Con

Saying What and Saying How
Are Not the Same: The Big Con


Leonard Zwelling

         I am personally thrilled that the President of the United
States realizes that ISIS and its inspired followers in this country are a threat
to the safety of the American people. It’s about time.

         I am also personally glad that Dr. DePinho has firmly
grasped that cancer is a major health threat to American well-being and its
elimination would make everyone feel better.

         Now the both of them only need one more step. How?

         I do not see a meaningful plan on the part of the President
or the Congress to improve the safety of Americans from attacks like the one in
San Bernardino. I understand that the security apparatus is working around the
clock but this problem emanates from Syria and Iraq and I still have not heard
how that threat is to be dealt with by the US. It is quite clear that drones
and manned aircraft will not be sufficient. Rather a full court press of
international options must be entertained from a NATO-like structure among the
Arab states that ISIS also threatens, to punitive raids on these same states if
evidence of their support for ISIS is demonstrated as surely must be the case.
We cannot pretend that Sunni Arab states that harbor terrorists or funnel
resources to ISIS can also be our friends and trading partners. If the Saudis
are backing ISIS with one hand while claiming not to be with the other, the US
needs to make proof of this public and act accordingly. If the civil war in
Syria is a major engine of ISIS recruitment, end the war by removing Assad and
daring the Russians or Iranians to stop us. As sure as Hitler’s march through
Europe was a harbinger of things to come, so is the mess of the Middle East. If
Russia will not act together with the other members of the Security Council to
end the rule of Assad, so be it. We should.

         Similarly, what the heck is DePinho’s plan to eradicate
cancer, the stated mission of MD Anderson? I don’t see it. I see the spending
and the firing and the preening and pimping, but I just don’t see a plan. Why don’t
all the people giving DePinho money for his Moon Shots insist on a business
plan akin to the one they would require for any other investment they make? They
might be less quick with the checkbook and a bit more skeptical as well.

         Both of these “wars,” on ISIS and on cancer are going to be
waged over years. If that is the case they will be costly in blood and
treasure. This is understood. But without leadership with plans of how the wars
are to be waged and without the chest thumping, we may find ourselves no
further along now than we were when Mr. Obama or Dr. DePinho took office. At
this rate, I would count on that.

         The lead op-ed in Sunday’s (December 6) NY Times was called Born to be Conned by Maria Konnikova:

         In this perceptive piece, the author writes about the
origins of the term “confidence artist” (1849) and how these storytellers reel the
undiscerning into their web of lies aimed at separating them from their money.
The same is true of political leaders who tell stories to rouse their followers
whether or not the stories are true or even pass the smell test. I include
Donald Trump and Ben Carson in this group of dream weavers, but also Mr. Obama
and Dr. DePinho.

         Mr. Obama assures us he will defeat ISIS but has no real
plan for doing so. It’s a story that America will win no matter what. We make
the story come true with thoughtful action and active thought, not with
pronouncements of exceptionalism as our people continue to be mowed down.

Making Cancer History is a great story. The commercials are slick, the talking
heads engender sympathy, and the donors cannot line up fast enough to part with
their money. But that doesn’t make it so.

will we make cancer history Dr. DePinho? How? And while you are at it, tell us
why we should believe you?

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