Leonard Zwelling

Daniel Henninger wrote in The Wall Street Journal on October 14 about manufactured realities and their prevalence in today’s world of on-line memes and Twitter truths.

He starts by noting that Joe Biden is trying to convince us that his Build Back Better plan with a current price tag of near $2 trillion will actually “cost nothing.” Nancy Pelosi managed to echo this sentiment by holding up her hands like a zero.

This is all nonsense of course. If the government is going to give away child tax credits and fund pre-K education for every child in the country, someone has to pay for it. It may or may not be a good idea. My assessment is that some of the Build Back Better legislation is a good idea and some less so and all of the ideas need thorough discussion, vetting, and airing out, but Mr. Biden wants it all passed and tries to convince us it all has no cost. Baloney!

Mr. Henninger then goes on to relate how so many thinking people say “I don’t know what’s going on any more.” Put me in that camp.

For people of my generation, what’s going on has another name. That name is “reality.” Washington and Joe Biden are busy making up an alternative reality. As Lewis Black might say, “making up stuff is his job, not that of politicians.” (He might have said it a bit more crudely and it would be far funnier.)

The example Henninger lists is the border which the secretary of homeland security says is closed and anyone with two eyes and a TV set knows is wide open. It’s bad enough that the United States has no borders any more, does the government have to feed us this baloney?

Then there’s Biden’s press secretary Jan Psaki saying that our leaving Afghanistan could not be called “anything but a success.” What baloney!

Now instead of just outright lying to us like they used to, politicians like Donald Trump are trying to create an alternate reality where Mr. Trump won an election he lost by 7 million votes. Not only did Trump create this Twilight Zone reality while still in office, he persists in doing so from Florida and will undoubtedly run on that platform in 2024.

But the real source of most of the baloney out there is social media, a form of communication where anyone can say anything and someone else will believe it. The anti-vaxxers and the January 6 insurrectionists would have been nothing without social media. In fact, social media even lies about itself. Does anyone really believe that Mark Zuckerberg cares about anything other than acquiring wealth and power? Without Mark, QAnon is a blip. Instead, it’s rampant baloney.

Critical race theory, mixed up pronouns, cancel culture and many other ills of American life today emanate from sources best characterized as baloney. If the President of the United States—whether Trump or Biden—can sow the lies that both have and think they can get away with it, well that’s on us.

Wokeness is also the denial of reality. I get what it means to do, but what it has actually done is confuse everyone, intimidate anyone with an opinion that is not woke, and create the world of cancel culture that we all live in.

This baloney even pervades corporate America and academic medicine. For some reason there is a new leadership that has arisen that wants to eliminate the hierarchy of an organization chart and make everyone equal. It is epitomized in Peter Pisters’ concept of “One MD Anderson.” That is frankly baloney.

MD Anderson is its name and its faculty. While everyone who works there may be mission driven, only the faculty truly advance that mission with patient care, education, research and prevention. If Dr. Pisters thinks he can level the playing field to have just two levels—his executives and everyone else—he’s sadly mistaken. That’s just baloney.

Corporations and academic medical centers have people who generate income and those who support those who generate the income. Both matter, but they’re not the same. If you don’t think this is true, if you, God forbid, need cancer care ask an administrative assistant what to do during your visit to MD Anderson. That would certainly be baloney.

2 thoughts on “Baloney”

  1. It’s reassuring that someone like you still has the courage to call out ALL “the baloney” in America, including medicine.
    . Like you, I remain concerned about changes in healthcare that have administrators and major donors moving physicians into more of a model that lessons the importance of the doctor in a more “equalized” team.
    Thanks for another great op-Ed!

    1. Thanks Jeb. We just made room reservations at WaDuke for May 12, 2022. Genie will be present in Durham at the next meeting of the council. Looking forward to being back on campus! LZ

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