Month: March 2022

Doubting Thomases

  It should come as no surprise that The New York Times calls for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign while The Wall Street Journal makes little of the texts from Justice Thomas’ wife Ginni to Mark Meadows, then President Trump’s chief of staff, about how Mr. Meadows must make sure that Mr. Trump does not concede defeat after the November 2020 elections. This becomes a bit important because Justice Thomas was the only dissenting vote on the Supreme Court when it determined that the Trump White House could not block the release of records concerning January 6. The issue addressed by both editorials is whether or not Justice Thomas is in an irreconcilable conflict of interest because of his wife’s highly partisan political activities. Should Justice Thomas recuse himself from all matters concerning January 6 and the Trump White House? Should he, in fact, resign because of the undue influence of his very partisan wife?

      This is a tough one and one that I had to struggle with myself once.

One Russia

If I understand President Putin’s argument for all this invading he is doing it is to reconstitute the true Russia. We in the west call that the Soviet Union plus the Warsaw Pact countries, but Putin may have different notions of what “Russia” ought to look like. The problem is that those other countries like Ukraine, no longer want to be part of Russia, if they ever did. They see themselves as independent, sovereign entities with no wish at all to be realigned with Putin’s Russia. In other words, Putin looks at all of this land mass, that in the current Russia and that in what used to be the Soviet Union, as one Russia. He views this one Russia as the bulwark against western aggression, but these independent countries want to be part of NATO and the European Union, and more importantly the populations of the countries want that, too. They want freedom, autonomy and self-determination. Putin wants them to heel to his desires and cow to his weapons. The Ukrainians have basically said no to that and look like they will fight to the death to prevent there from becoming one greater Russia again.

Sheep

In this op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on February 23 by Harvard senior Julie Hartman, she complains that most of her classmates have followed the Covid restrictions imposed by Harvard like obedient sheep whether or not those rules made sense. She bemoans the behavior of her classmates and attributes it to their life long striving to get ahead by being good boys and girls, padding their resumes, and striving for the next credential to make the next step up the ladder. In high school, it was to get to Harvard. At Harvard it was to get into the best graduate school or best Wall Street firm.

Most of us in academic medicine live lives like that—going from gold star to gold star, from grades to SATs, to the best universities and the best academic job where we compete for grants, papers, lab space and glory. I should know. That was me.

This Is Not How You Play Poker

Imagine if you will a not unlikely scenario. Due to multiple American mistakes, Iran has built or acquired a nuclear weapon and is threatening to use it against Israel unless all sanctions against Iran are lifted and the United States pays Iran billions. The Israelis take this ransom scenario seriously and are ready to bomb all Iranian military targets pre-emptively. Would the Israelis say this is their plan? Of course not. Might they do it? They might. Then again they might not. That’s deterrence. The likely Israeli ambiguity plus the fact that Israel has its own nuclear weapons, but never has acknowledged the fact, might make Iran hesitate before launching a nuclear attack on Jerusalem.

The Start

It is sometimes hard to know when something really starts. That’s not true of a horse race or even a mile run by humans. When they’re off, they’re off. But, as Bret Stephens outlines in the attached op-ed from The New York Times on March 16, the same cannot be said for world wars. He uses the Second World War to make his case.

REPOSTING

In this very disturbing short op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on March 11, Matthew Hennessey reports on a recent survey done by Quinnipiac University in which 52% of Democrats and 25% of Republicans said that they would leave the United States if an invasion occurred here as is occurring in Ukraine now. That’s right over half of Democrats and a quarter of Republicans would not fight for their country. This is repulsive.

Law And Order And Ethics

The attached article from The New York Times website of February 28 describes a truly horrifying course of events. Apparently, at least three fertility doctors in the Rochester, New York area used their own sperm to impregnate their patients, when different anonymous donors were supposed to have been used. As shocking as this is, it was the basis of a widely-viewed Law and Order episode called “Seed” from 1995. This current fertility fraud was discovered by one of the off-spring through DNA testing when he found his biological father was not who he thought he was and in fact he had over 10 half siblings all of whose mothers had the same fertility doctor.

If you want to know why the public does not trust doctors and why I was always so skeptical as a vice president overseeing clinical research of what I was being told, this is it.

To Take Arms Against A Sea Of Troubles

In this very disturbing short op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on March 11, Matthew Hennessey reports on a recent survey done by Quinnipiac University in which 52% of Democrats and 25% of Republicans said that they would leave the United States if an invasion occurred here as is occurring in Ukraine now. That’s right over half of Democrats and a quarter of Republicans would not fight for their country. This is repulsive.

To be sure, I have often thought that should a pogrom or a Kristallnacht or some other internal domestic anti-Semitic threat arise in America as was of the sort posited by Philip Roth in The Plot Against America, I would flee to Israel. But I would never consider leaving my homeland if Putin’s storm troopers tried to do to Houston what he is trying to do to Kyiv. I was as shocked as Mr. Hennessey—and then I wasn’t.

They Are Us

I have been thinking about why I am so upset by the images coming from Ukraine as opposed to similar images that have come from Africa, Afghanistan and the Middle East. This is not the first modern war of aggression where a native population has been uprooted and terrorized. We just saw it in Afghanistan less than a year ago. We have seen mothers and children running for their lives before and fathers trying to resist. Heck, we saw it when we were the aggressors in Vietnam. Why then does this one hit so close to home?

When To Run; When To Fight

In 1978, a four-part television miniseries called “Holocaust” was broadcast on American TV. It was very controversial as it depicted the beginning rumblings and the ultimate results of the Nazi’s Final Solution through the eyes of a German Jewish family that was victimized and a Christian one whose members supported the Nazis. I have only the vaguest of recollections of the show other than it was both star-studded (early Meryl Streep) and powerful. But I remember one thing more. For some reason I was watching an episode with my visiting parents in our home in Potomac, Maryland. In that episode the son in the Jewish family runs from the Nazis to join the resistance. The rest of the family perishes. My mother turned to me and said, “Remember that. When you can. Run!”