Thursday, April 9, 2020


     These days it seems as if everyone’s got one.

     We know so little. No one is particularly knowledgeable outside whatever he’s made his specialty. (And quite a lot of “specialists” aren’t as special as they claim to be. Yes, I have a couple of names in mind. I’m sure you do, too.) Yet the number of persons prancing about, posturing as Anything Authorities, is larger than ever. I don’t think it’s due to the growth of our population. Not entirely, anyway.

     The consequences of this self-anointing by persons known for (at most) one accomplishment or field of expertise are entirely bad. Those who reject the BS involved become ever more disinclined to place credence in anyone’s knowledge of anything. That devalues authentic expertise. Those who swallow the swill soon find themselves trapped in a maze of dubious representations and pseudo-intellectual conjecture. Such habitats spawned all the great demagogues of history.

     It’s no coincidence that a great many Anything Authorities head for careers in politics. That’s where the truly disastrous nostrums known to history have all taken root and produced their evil blossoms. But perhaps I should refrain from saying anything quite so “obvious” at such an early hour. Anyway, this is all merely prefatory to what’s really got under my saddle.

     There was a recorded-comedy group, way back when, that called itself the Firesign Theater. You might remember them if you’re near to my age. They were something of a sensation in their day, in part because, like the Babylon Bee, they poked fun at everyone, omnidirectionally. In one of their early recordings, Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers, they presented aspirant to office George Tirebiter saying in one of his radio pitches that:

“You Can Trust Me,
Because I Never Lie,
And I’m Always Right.”

     Right down to brass tacks, eh what? No real-life politician would say that where others could hear it. (Well, maybe Barack Obama. But I digress.) Yet it’s the subtext of many a campaigner’s pitch that he should be elevated to high office because he knows how to fix whatever ails us.

     It’s almost never true. Even President Trump, who’s doing a better job as President than any of his predecessors since Grover Cleveland, has gone wrong on some issues. He’ll continue to be wrong about them because he lacks enough objective knowledge about them to overcome his personal biases. Moreover, his inner circle of advisors is either equally under-knowledgeable, or suffers the same biases, or both.

     The tragic fact of individual limitation is why we develop specialties in the first place. The “Renaissance Man” was a dream, an illusion that only manifested itself hazily in a handful of persons who were unusually knowledgeable in two or three fields – certainly not the whole of human knowledge. In all candor, most of us aren’t even particularly good at our chosen specialties. Good enough to earn our livings, perhaps, but not much beyond that.

     But they who seek power over others – or excessive influence over others, which can have equally deleterious effects – will continue to posture as Anything Authorities. If they have pet nostrums to peddle, they’ll work them into every speech they give, whether planned or impromptu.

     By now you must be wondering what’s lit my boiler this early on a Holy Thursday. Quite simply, it’s this:

     Pope Francis has said the coronavirus pandemic is one of "nature's responses" to humans ignoring the current ecological crisis.

     In an email interview published Wednesday in The Tablet and Commonwealth magazines, the pontiff said the outbreak offered an opportunity to slow down the rate of production and consumption and to learn to understand and contemplate the natural world.

     "We did not respond to the partial catastrophes. Who now speaks of the fires in Australia, or remembers that 18 months ago a boat could cross the North Pole because the glaciers had all melted? Who speaks now of the floods?" the Pope said.

     "I don't know if these are the revenge of nature, but they are certainly nature's responses," he added.

     Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio a.k.a. Pope Francis – why did he have to take that name? — is less of a Holy Father than a Socialist Nuisance. With the conspicuous exceptions of abortion and homosexual marriage, he’s glommed onto every trendy left-wing “issue” that’s raised its head over the past half-century. The above is a poorly concealed pitch for his notions about “global warming / climate change.” This is surely the greatest pseudo-scientific fraud ever perpetrated upon Mankind…yet Bergoglio, who’s an antipope in many Catholics’ assessment, is relentless about it. He postures as if global meteorology were something about which he’s an expert. We should be grateful that he hasn’t made an ex cathedra pronouncement about it. No, he doesn’t have the authority to do so, but his lack of humility renders it a perpetual possibility.

     A properly humble Supreme Pontiff would never have allowed himself to orate about politics, economics, immigration, the global climate…indeed, about anything other than his specific area of authority: the theological doctrine of the Catholic Church. But this Pope refuses to restrain himself.

     An assertion of authority where it does not exist is wholly destructive. It contributes to what Samuel Johnson called “the general degradation of human testimony,” and to the decline of the condition upon which all possibilities for human cooperation depend: trust.

     It is shocking, devastating that a pope should exemplify the willingness to claim unwarranted authority. Who in this world has more influence over the convictions and decisions of men? Who is more looked to as a peacemaker, one who can spread oil over troubled waters by reminding us of the eternal verities, the simple requirements for a decent society on Earth? The Redeemer Himself prescribed them:

     But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
     Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.
     And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
     On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

     [Matthew 22:34-40]

     The two Great Commandments, and the Ten which they imply, are all we need to live with one another in a tolerable degree of peace and harmony. Were they given the pre-eminence which is their due, they would eliminate nearly all strife. Granted, men would still snore. Women would still chatter on about their girlfriends’ boyfriends during the Big Game, without waiting for a commercial break. Neighbors would still borrow tools and forget to return them. But we would manage to get along without resorting to pistols at dawn.

     Yet the peddlers of nostrums – panaceas that cure nothing and often have only fraud and lies for their bases – will not relent. To them belongs the odium for the greater part of the hostility and misery that afflict us. Today they have a Pope to lead the way.




The thing where I believe Trump has an advantage is that he learns - and shifts course. Imperfectly, as all humans are, but unlike a politician (or, channeling Sowell's "Anointed") he's willing to acknowledge that he erred. Which, as you pointed out some posts ago, bespeaks a fundamental humility.

Linda Fox said...

Sometimes, when I get tired and sick, the only thing that keeps me going is the desire to outlive that Commie figurehead.

Wayne said...

I'm not Roman Catholic, but this Pope has me wondering where bears go #2.