I’ve been under the weather these past few weeks with an illness that sidelined me from my favorite activities, including working out and writing this blog. Underscoring my poor quality of medical care because of my inability to find a quality primary care physician, I can’t share for certain the diagnosis that felled me. One doctor told me I had a bacterial infection, another diagnosed me with likely pneumonia, while another said I had both a bacterial and viral infection.
Whatever the diagnosis, my illness made my bout with Covid seem like a walk in the park.
About a week ago I went to see a physician who was recommended by cousin Rob’s ENT doc. As the physician was affiliated with Cedars-Sinai, I expected a long wait until I was seen because having patients sit for extended periods in waiting rooms is one of the hallmarks of the overrated hospital system. (I’m understandably a fan of UCLA’s health system.) To pass the time, I brought the book I’m reading, “The Psychology of Totalitarianism,” by Mattias Desmet.
Surprisingly, my wait wasn’t that long, and the doctor inspired confidence. After talking to me about my medical condition and history, he noticed my book.
“Why are you reading a book about totalitarianism?” the doctor asked. “Totalitarianism is already here. There is nothing you can do about it and it’s the next generation that’s going to suffer. Stop reading books like that. It’s no wonder you look so depressed.”
The doctor was a Persian Jew, and while I’m not certain whether he emigrated from Iran, his parents and other family members likely did. The doctor therefore understood the dangers of totalitarianism and I was taken aback by his advice. But I was impressed with his medical acumen, which was both conservative and progressive. The doctor confirmed my suspicion that the risks of the statin other doctors had prescribed didn’t outweigh the potential benefits, and he was a big believer in the mind/body connection.
I’m reading Desmet’s book to gain a better understanding of the world, which increasingly has become a frightening place. Americans were once distinguished by their “rugged individualism,” descendants of people who overthrew the British because “no taxation without representation” was unacceptable to them. America has become a country of lemmings, a people willing to get screwed by their government, their corporations, their medical system, and having their values and ideals determined by a corrupt and dishonest media.
I emigrated to the U.S. from Canada to escape this sort of docility.
The Persian doctor’s advice has been weighing on me. Perhaps he was right: Why try to make sense of the world when at the end of the day there’s nothing I can do about it. The serenity prayer recited at meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous has always struck me as very wise advice: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
It’s a formidable challenge learning to accept the world as it is because it requires an abandonment of some of my longstanding deeply held beliefs and practices.
Journalism has long been one of my passions, and I’m blessed to have worked in an era when it was a noble profession staffed overwhelmingly by humble people who dismissed themselves as “ink-stained wretches” and overseen by leaders who understood the importance of the public perceiving the media as being fair and balanced. Accusations of dishonesty and bias were once feared and taken very seriously, and editors and reporters faced serious consequences for publishing stores that proved false or riddled with errors.
My news feed these days is overwhelmingly filled with stories that are misleading or outright false, narratives promoted by the traditional media intended to further their agenda. One example is the legacy media’s coverage of San Francisco, a city that’s undeniably going to hell in a hand basket.
The legacy media is waging a campaign to deceive their readers into believing that crime and store closings in San Francisco are no worse than other major cities, and that conservatives are responsible for the “doom loop” that’s created the distorted perception.
As an example, in May the Guardian, an alt-left nonprofit, published this story about a subsidized food court called La Cocina showcasing female chefs who were immigrants or women of color. The Guardian hailed La Cocina as “rising above the doom loop” and “breaking down barriers.”
The story was false. A month earlier the San Francisco Standard, a for-profit publication, reported La Cocina was struggling.
“Many of the chefs, baristas and other service workers who earn a living at the food hall say they feel increasingly overwhelmed by the pressure of generating business in the economically depressed neighborhood and the human suffering they regularly encounter on the job,” the Standard reported.
La Cocina was shut down last week, another retail victim of drug dealing, public defecation, and crime.
The editor of the Guardian’s U.S. edition is Betsy Reed, who as a former senior editor of The Intercept was instrumental in spiking an article by the publication’s co-founder Glenn Greenwald questioning the U.S. intelligence community and the entrenched media’s dismissal of the New York Post’s Hunter laptop expose just prior to the 2020 election. Greenwald resigned, and the nonprofit Intercept began having fundraising issues. Multiple publications, including the New York Times, have independently confirmed the authenticity of the Post’s laptop story.
Reed didn’t face any consequences for spiking Greenwald’s story, which if published would have ranked among the publication’s proudest moments. Instead, she was named the Guardian’s top editor, a promotion, where she continues to oversee questionable journalism. Here’s another example of the Guardian promoting a likely false narrative under Reed’s leadership.
My loyalty and fondness for southeastern Michigan is why I closely follow developments in that state, which is understandably experiencing a population exodus because of the fiscal mismanagement of “That Woman from Michigan” and her Democratic cronies. I’ve argued for some time that GM and Ford, the state’s two biggest corporations, won’t successfully transition to electric vehicles, and their disastrous EV showing so far seems to vindicate my skepticism.
While the media hails the Biden Administration’s EV policies, their major benefit is further enriching the one percent at the expense of working-class Americans. That upsets my fairness sensibilities.
Reading about politics exposes one to 24/7 negativity and hostility.
Of course, it’s how one reacts to news that determines how a person is impacted by them, and on this front, I’m making some progress.
On Saturday, Cousin Rob sent me this disturbing New York Times story featuring a Michigan surgeon who allegedly performed unnecessary procedures that resulted in patients having their legs amputated. My initial reaction was rage, followed by an urge to bang out a commentary about Michigan’s lax hospital oversight, a subject I’m quite familiar with. I covered the decline of Beaumont Health, a once nationally respected regional hospital that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and AG Dana Nessel allowed a CEO passing through from Atlanta to drive into the ground while pocketing tens of millions for himself.
Upon further reflection, I passed on the idea. Michiganders didn’t care about the decline of Beaumont, they didn’t care about a Beaumont patient dying from anesthesia complications undergoing a routine colonoscopy despite warnings about the outsourcing firm that took over anesthesia at the hospital, and they don’t care about Whitmer spearheading $1.7 billion in subsidies for Ford’s lithium-battery plant on fertile farmland that at best will employ a mere 2,500 employees earning less than $42,000 a year.
I’ve learned to accept the claim Thomas Jefferson made centuries ago that people get the government they deserve.
Reading “The Psychology of Totalitarianism” provides me with some comfort as it makes clear I’m not alone in fearing the state of the world. Hopefully, upon finishing the book I will be wiser about how we got to this place. I don’t expect this blog will make a difference, but it’s rewarding honing my thoughts and sharing them with others.
I’ve also become enamored with new sources of information I’ve discovered about commercial aviation, which has fascinated me since I took my first flight more than a half century ago on an Allegheny Airlines turboprop from Toronto to Pittsburgh to visit my grandparents.
There are websites showing videos of planes landing and taking off at major international airports like the accompanying one featuring recent rush hour traffic at LAX. I’m mesmerized watching these videos and fascinated that on almost any given day, thousands of planes safely take off and land around the world after being flown great distances by skilled pilots trusting the judgment of air traffic controllers whom they’ve never met.
How’s that for positive thinking?