Thoughts on Politics: Old and New

If I had to identify what I considered to be my best personality trait, I would answer with one word: cynicism.

Below is a collection of quotes from the two men that I admire for both their cynicism and their insight. Unfortunately, most readers will be unfamiliar with both authors. It is the purpose of this post to bring to the reader’s attention these two giants of both cynicism and American literature.

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Ambrose Bierce (1842-1913?) is, in my personal opinion, one of the most underappreciated figures of American literature. Bierce is widely held to be the father of the modern short story as well as being the first author to make use of the concept of a “psychological thriller” over 100 years before Stephen King et al. For those that would like more information concerning Bierce, here is the obligatory link to the Ambrose Bierce page at Wikipedia.

CONGRESS, (Noun), A body of men who meet to repeal laws.

CONSERVATIVE, (Noun), A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.

POLITICS, (Noun), A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.

REPRESENTATIVE, (Noun), In national politics, a member of the Lower House in this world, and without discernible hope of promotion in the next.

SENATE, (Noun), A body of elderly gentlemen charged with high duties and misdemeanors.

VOTE, (Noun), The instrument and symbol of a freeman’s power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.

Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

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H.L. (Henry Louis) Mencken (1880-1956) is another literary figure that has drifted into relative obscurity. In this writer’s opinion, Mencken should be considered as one of the true giants of American literature because it was Mencken that more or less created the cynical editorial style that influenced a full century of commentators. Even today, his 1925 reports on the Scopes trial (“The Great Monkey Trial”) are considered to be among the classics of journalism. Once again, here is the link to the H.L. Mencken page at Wikipedia.

As an aside, in the movie Inherit the Wind (which borrowed heavily from the Scopes trial) Gene Kelly plays the character E.K. Hornbeck, which was modeled on Mencken.

Whenever “A” attempts by law to impose his moral standards upon “B,” “A” is most likely a scoundrel.

A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.

A national political campaign is better than the best circus ever heard of, with a mass baptism and a couple of hangings thrown in.

Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.

If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner.

Giving every man a vote has no more made men wise and free than Christianity has made them good.

It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.

The cynics are right nine times out of ten.

H.L. Mencken
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OK, I’m not in the same class as the 2 gentlemen mentioned above but it’s my blog and I can write whatever I want. The following are a few definitions that I came up with over the years that I hope you will enjoy. Look on the bright side; you don’t get another link to Wikipedia but one to my personal web site.

ACTIVIST, (Noun), One seeking to advance either a personal or group agenda by being as obnoxious as is humanly possible.

ENDANGERED SPECIES, (Noun), A species that, having outlived its biological utility, is attempting to self-destruct.

FORMER, (Adjective), An adjective used to denote one who, having lost an election, is actively conspiring to regain public office.

INAPPROPRIATE DECISION, (Noun), A mistake brought about by one’s own stupidity.

INFRASTRUCTURE BUILDING, (Noun), PORK BARREL SPENDING that occurs in your Congressional district.

INJUSTICE, (Noun), That which has occurred when your candidate is defeated or your client is convicted.

POLITICS, (Noun), The methods and practices used to gain, and hold, access to the public treasury.

PORK BARREL SPENDING, (Noun), INFRASTRUCTURE BUILDING that occurs in someone else’s Congressional district.

RECOUNT, (Noun), A more sophisticated technique than voter fraud for stealing an election. (Verb), to reexamine and retally the votes cast until you are certain that your candidate has won the election.

REFORM, (Verb), To change an existing law in order to maximize your position and/or minimize the position of your opponent.

UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT, (Noun), An illegal alien.

UNSUBSTANTIATED STATEMENT, (Noun), A lie.

Wayne McDonald, Chat Rooms in Wonderland

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