H.L. Mencken, b. 1880-Sep-12

Today’s is H.L. Mencken’s birthday, and we ought to celebrate the prescient genius who wrote this:

As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

The country could certainly use some of that frankness and courage today.

  • The job before democracy is to get rid of such canaille [William Jennings Bryan]; if it fails, they will devour it.

  • It was morality that burned the books of the ancient sages, and morality that halted the free inquiry of the Golden Age and substituted for it the credulous imbecility of the Age of Faith. It was a fixed moral code and a fixed theology which robbed the human race of a thousand years by wasting them upon alchemy, heretic-burning, witchcraft and sacerdotalism.

  • An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it is also more nourishing.

  • Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

  • All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him.

  • When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand.

  • To sum up: 1. The cosmos is a gigantic fly-wheel making 10,000 revolutions a minute. 2. Man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on it. 3. Religion is the theory that the wheel was designed and set spinning to give him the ride.

  • If, after I depart this vale, you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl.

  • The liberation of the human mind has never been furthered by dunderheads; it has been furthered by gay fellows who heaved dead cats into sanctuaries and then went roistering down the highways of the world, proving to all men that doubt, after all, was safe—that the god in the sanctuary was finite in his power and hence a fraud.

  • Once more, alas, I find myself unable to follow the best Liberal thought. What the World’s contention amounts to, at bottom, is simply the doctrine that a man engaged in combat with superstition should be very polite to superstition. This, I fear, is nonsense. The way to deal with superstition is not to be polite to it, but to tackle it with all arms, and so rout it, cripple it, and make it forever infamous and ridiculous. Is it, perchance, cherished by persons who should know better? Then their folly should be brought out into the light of day, and exhibited there in all its hideousness until they flee from it, hiding their heads in shame.

    True enough, even a superstitious man has certain inalienable rights. He has a right to harbor and indulge his imbecilities as long as he pleases, provided only he does not try to inflict them upon other men by force. He has a right to argue for them as eloquently as he can, in season and out of season. He has a right to teach them to his children. But certainly he has no right to be protected against the free criticism of those who do not hold them. . . . They are free to shoot back. But they can’t disarm their enemy.

    The meaning of religious freedom, I fear, is sometimes greatly misapprehended. It is taken to be a sort of immunity, not merely from governmental control but also from public opinion. A dunderhead gets himself a long-tailed coat, rises behind the sacred desk, and emits such bilge as would gag a Hottentot. Is it to pass unchallenged? If so, then what we have is not religious freedom at all, but the most intolerable and outrageous variety of religious despotism. Any fool, once he is admitted to holy orders, becomes infallible. Any half-wit, by the simple device of ascribing his delusions to revelation, takes on an authority that is denied to all the rest of us. . . . What should be a civilized man’s attitude toward such superstitions? It seems to me that the only attitude possible to him is one of contempt. If he admits that they have any intellectual dignity whatever, he admits that he himself has none. If he pretends to a respect for those who believe in them, he pretends falsely, and sinks almost to their level. When he is challenged he must answer honestly, regardless of tender feelings.

  • By what route do otherwise sane men come to believe such palpable nonsense? How is it possible for a human brain to be divided into two insulated halves, one functioning normally, naturally and even brilliantly, and the other capable only of such ghastly balderdash which issues from the minds of Baptist evangelists?

  • No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.

  • Shave a gorilla and it would be almost impossible, at twenty paces, to distinguish him from a heavyweight champion of the world. Skin a chimpanzee, and it would take an autopsy to prove he was not a theologian.

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Does Trump know the Pledge of Allegiance?

This clip has been making the rounds today because The Donald appears to omit the words “under God” while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance but, honestly, it isn’t clear to me that he or Melania knows the Pledge at all.

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Pious delusions

Evangelicals continue to deny that climate change is real and driven by human activity.

Many Christians, especially white Christians, have embraced denial of climate science.

[ … ]

For now, the West is burning while most white Christians turn away from the root causes of the devastation.

Many white Christians believe God won’t let climate change destroy the earth. Others see climate-related disasters as signs of the end times. White evangelicals continue to support Donald Trump overwhelmingly, even though the Trump administration has tried to roll back more than 100 environmental protection regulations.

This is why even mainstream religions should not be viewed as harmless eccentricities; they are untrue and affirmatively harmful and should be confronted. Pastor Bubba’s resolutely ignorance endangers us all.

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Feel the love-love-love

Jerry Falwell, Jr., no longer exists.

Liberty University’s top lawyer instructed staff members Thursday to refrain from communicating with ousted former president Jerry Falwell Jr., who he warned had placed “uncomfortable” calls to various employees in the days following his resignation.

In an email obtained by The News & Advance, David Corry, Liberty’s general counsel, informed employees they are barred from providing information about the school, taking orders, performing tasks or offering favors for Falwell while on university time.

And so goes — Falls? — another Godly dynasty.

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Melding the personal and professional

Donald Trump is using government lawyers to defend what is clearly a private, non-public lawsuit.

The Justice Department moved on Tuesday to replace President Trump’s private legal team with government lawyers to defend him against a defamation lawsuit by the author E. Jean Carroll, who has accused him of raping her in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s.

In a highly unusual legal move, lawyers for the Justice Department said in court papers that Mr. Trump was acting in his official capacity as president when he denied ever knowing Ms. Carroll and thus could be defended by government lawyers — in effect underwritten by taxpayer money.

This makes sense only if Trump’s interests, and the Federal government’s, are one and the same — if Trump’s denial was, in essence, an official act undertaken in his role as president.

This is nonsense. I am not especially surprised to learn that Trump likes the idea that the government is merely an extension of himself — but what on earth has happened to William Barr to make him agree?

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