H.L. Mencken Looked Forward to This Year’s Election

Mencken wrote on July 26, 1920:

“The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.

The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. 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.”

5 replies on “H.L. Mencken Looked Forward to This Year’s Election”

  1. Elbows Wychulis says Robert Kennedy will
    not run for office in 2016

    fom: Shane O’Sullivan
    Sent: Friday, January 29, 2016 4:40 PM

    Subject: Parole Sirhan on February 10

    Dear friends,
    Twelve days from today, Sirhan Sirhan will again be considered for parole in San Diego. He was originally scheduled for release in 1984 but after intense political pressure, his parole date was rescinded and he has since been denied thirteen times.
    In March, Sirhan will turn 72 years old, having spent two-thirds of his life in prison for a crime he cannot remember committing. For three years prior to his last parole hearing in 2011, Dr. Daniel Brown of Harvard Medical School spent over sixty hours with Sirhan trying to recover his memory of the shooting. Dr. Brown concluded Sirhan’s amnesia for events before and during the shooting was real but his findings were ignored by the parole board, who saw the gaps in Sirhan’s memory as a cynical ruse to minimise his responsibility for his crime.

    Sirhan has been an exemplary inmate, with no prison violations since 1972 and an excellent work record. If paroled, he would be deported to Jordan to live out his final years, a danger to nobody. But as The Marshall Project recently discovered in a year-long examination of America’s parole boards, parole decisions are often driven not by public safety but by politics. Since 1982, California has treated Sirhan like a political prisoner who will never be released, not a human being who has served his time and has the right to a fair hearing and the rule of law. In the courts, his habeas corpus petition was denied last year, despite new audio evidence indicating thirteen shots were fired in the Ambassador Hotel pantry that evening.
    On Wednesday, with the support of the Mary Ferrell Foundatin we published transcripts of Sirhan’s parole hearings dating back to 1985, so the public can read for themselves what passes for “due process” in this case in California. Today, I am publishing a new Kindle edition, In Jail with Sirhan Sirhan, an edited collection of jail logs recording Sirhan’s first year in custody (see sample below) which will be free to download for five days from tomorrow to provoke discussion of Sirhan’s case.
    These new collections are part of a short campaign to raise awareness of Sirhan’s case ahead of his parole hearing on February 10. After 48 years in prison, he has served his time and should be released. Please spread the word about the project to fellow researchers and your media contacts:

    Parole hearing transcripts: http://www.maryferrell.org/pages/Featured_Sirhan_Parole_Hearing_Transcripts.html

    All the best,
    Shane O’Sullivan

    E2 Films, London, United Kingdom

  2. Down here in the whisper stream the discussion focuses on
    how will FBI agents rig the 2016 Election.

    In 1997 we brought Cincinnati Bell Telephone Supervisor
    Leonard Gates to speak at Bates College.

    Gates and his co-worker Bob Draise were committing
    voter fraud for FBI agents in and the local cops Cincinnati.

    Google their names with the word fbi and voter fraud

    In other news

    see link for full story on how FBI agents rig elections

    Can you name the FBI agent who heads up the Corporate Security department at Diebold ?


    Will the 2016 Primaries Be Electronically Rigged?
    Thursday, 28 January 2016

    (Photo: Voting Machine via Shutterstock)(Photo: Voting Machine via Shutterstock)

    Truthout will never hide stories like this behind a paywall or subscription fee. Help us continue publishing free and uncensored news by making a donation today!

    “You’ve heard the old adage ‘follow the money.’ I follow the vote, and wherever the vote becomes an electron and touches a computer, that’s an opportunity for a malicious actor potentially to … make bad things happen.” — Steve Stigall, CIA cyber-security expert, in remarks to the US Election Assistance Commission

    Primary election rigging in the coming weeks and months is all but assured if American voters and candidates don’t take steps to prevent it now. Evidence that US voting systems are wide open to fraud and manipulation should be taken seriously in light of the unprecedented high-stakes elections we’re facing.

    Not in recent history have American voters been presented with such radically polarized candidates, forcing a crucial choice for the direction of our future, and possibly upending long-established centers of power.
    Local fixers, insider operatives, rogue hackers and even foreign countries could all rig US elections electronically.

    It’s no secret that US primaries have been tightly controlled by the two ruling parties, usually to the benefit of their favored candidates. If this internal manipulation (some might call it rigging) is not publicly condoned, neither is it loudly condemned.

    This year, however, the primary season is shaping up to be a battle royal between the political establishment and outsider insurgencies who are challenging the party elites and defying their usual filters, money and manipulations. And it seems all bets are off.

    As a brazen Donald Trump kicks down the door of the GOP, tens of millions in super PAC dark cash has (so far) failed to buy the candidacy for a lackluster Jeb Bush. Accusations abound that Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has stacked the deck for Hillary Clinton. Yet nothing – not even corporate media’s censorship or outright hostility toward Bernie Sanders – has blunted his skyrocketing grassroots campaign.

    You might ask: What is left, then, for the party powerful to ensure outcomes in 2016? Would any of them be so desperate as to actually rig the final vote count? Could they?

    Indeed, they could.

    But to be fair, so could a lot of other people. Local fixers, insider operatives, rogue hackers and even foreign countries could all rig US elections – in whole or part, in 50 states and most of the United States’ 3,143 counties – electronically, and without detection.
    Time and again, the beneficiaries of suspicious primary elections are establishment-favored candidates.

    The potential for this vote-rigging cyberwar is the result of an ongoing crisis in US democracy – a silent coup of sorts. Over many decades, US elections have been quietly outsourced to a small group of private voting machine companies, some with extreme partisan ties and criminal records. They have now almost entirely replaced our publicly counted paper ballots with their secretly programmed, easily hacked electronic voting technology.

    For example, the Diebold AccuVote-TS Touchscreen voting machine was recently analyzed by Princeton computer security professors. They found that malicious software running on a single voting machine can be installed in as little as one minute, spreading invisibly from machine to machine through a virus, while stealing votes with little risk of detection.

    While recent laws have limited essential hand-counting audits – in some cases making them actually illegal – in 18 states voting machines are used that produce no paper ballot at all, making verification of the results impossible.

    Threats to the 2016 Elections

    In 2016, Americans will once again cast their votes into this lawless electronic void, and no, we can’t solve the problem before these game-changing primary elections. But shining a light on our voting systems does make a difference – as does getting out to vote: Voter apathy and ignorance create the ideal conditions

    1. MSfree,

      Very interesting post.
      Makes me wonder how legitimate the “hanging chad” scandal was in Florida in 2000. Was it a Bush-spiracy? Governor Jeb, Dubya, and the old man pulling the strings?
      Is this round 2 ?

  3. From: http://prorev.com/wwmessa.htm

    Here, on the other hand, is an example from the 1920 presidential coverage of Mencken. It clearly violates just about canon of contemporary objective journalism yet, with the benefit of hindsight, hardly suggests that Mencken misled his readers about the choice before them:

    No one but an idiot could argue seriously that either candidate is a first-rate man, or even a creditable specimen of second-rate man. Any State in the Union, at least above the Potomac, could produce a thousand men quite as good, and many States could produce a thousand a great deal better. Harding, intellectually, seems to be merely a benign blank — a decent, harmless, laborious hollow-headed mediocrity. . . . Cox is quicker of wit, but a good deal less honest. He belongs to the cunning type; there is a touch of the shyster in him. His chicaneries in the matter of prohibition, both during the convention and since, show the kink in his mind. He is willing to do anything to cadge votes, and he includes in that anything the ready sacrifices of his good faith, of the national welfare, and of the hopes and confidence of those who honestly support him. Neither candidate reveals the slightest dignity of conviction. Neither cares a hoot for any discernible principle. Neither, in any intelligible sense, is a man of honor.

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