Joan tells me I could be a Catholic. She might be right.
Driving back to Omaha yesterday to resume my trial after successful visits with my doctors in Lincoln,* I forced myself to listen to Rush Limbaugh. I feel deep guilt and horrendous shame for all the sins that I have committed. Listening to the moronic Rush is a small part of my penance.
Anyway, I got to thinking about propagandists and ideologues. There is a commonality, I think, between expert propagandists and ardent ideologues. The best way to see what I mean is through real life examples.
In the 20th century, the most brilliant of all propagandists and ideologues was Joseph Goebbels. Goebbels was a brainiac (and maniac) who obtained a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Heidelberg.
“After the Nazi Seizure of Power in 1933, Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry quickly gained and exerted controlling supervision over the news media, arts, and information in Germany. He was particularly adept at using the relatively new media of radio and film for propaganda purposes. Topics for party propaganda included antisemitism, attacks of the Christian churches, and (after the start of the Second World War) attempting to shape [public} morale.” en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Goebbels. He was so committed to Hitler and National Socialism that, after poisoning his six children in Hitler’s bunker, he shot his wife in the head and then shot himself in Hitler’s above ground garden.
Then there is Paul Krugman. He is another brilliant fellow and winner of the Nobel Prize in economics. Krugman writes for the New York Times. He worships John Maynard Keynes, and writes devastating columns eviscerating any who dare disagree with his ideology of printing money to do good. He uses his NYT column like a rapier
“Krugman was one of the most prominent advocates of the 2008–2009 Keynesian resurgence, so much so that economics commentator Noah Smith referred to it as the ‘Krugman insurgency.’ In June 2012, Krugman and Richard Layard launched A manifesto for economic sense, where they call for greater use of fiscal stimulus policy to reduce unemployment and foster growth. The manifesto received over four thousand signatures within two days of its launch, including from prominent economists,and has attracted both positive and critical responses.” en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Krugman
In this same vein, is Antonin Scalia, a Justice of the Supreme Court. There is no better writer than Scalia when it comes to argumentation. He is quick-witted. His IQ is obviously off the charts. He believes passionately in a legal ideology that features, among other things, a textualist approach to statutory interpretation. He seeks to propagate his views whenever he can.
Specifically, Scalia slavishly adheres to his “ordinary meaning” creed to the exclusion of any other reasonable method of construction and interpretation and without regard to whether the impact of the “ordinary meaning” canon produces harmful results. His bombastic dissent in King v. Burwell, so obviously intended to appeal to an audience much broader than lawyers and judges, is a perfect example of an expert propagandist and ideologue of the first rank. (“The Court holds that when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says ‘Exchange established by the State’ it means ‘Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government.’ That is of course quite absurd, and the Court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so. . . . Today’s interpretation is not merely unnatural; it is unheard of. Who would ever have dreamt that ‘Exchange established by the State” means “Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government’?”)
The dissent is all the more remarkable when contrasted with Chief Justice Robert’s majority opinion. That opinion is moderate in tone, practical in approach and lawyer-like in reasoning. It does not seek to appeal to the fringe.
What do these musings mean? Two things, I think.
First, I could never be a Catholic, despite the love my life’s suggestion to the contrary. While I have the requisite heaping dollop of guilt and shame, I am too much the skeptic to accept the dogma.** That is also why the likes of Paul Joseph Goebbels, Paul Robin Krugman, and Antonin Gregory Scalia–expert propagandists and ardent ideologues each of them–frighten me. Because of the power of their propaganda, people have a tendency to believe their extremely passionate ideological claptrap.
* My creatinine levels have returned to normal thus indicating that I will not have continuing renal problems and, further, my shingles are past the eruption stage and without secondary infection.
** On the other hand, I loved the movie Dogma, especially the scene where Alanis Morissette appears as God.