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The older I grow the less I esteem mere ideas. In politics, particularly, they are transient and unimportant ... There are only men who have character and men who lack it. -- H.l. Mencken
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All it can see in an original idea is potential change, and hence an invasion of its prerogatives. The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. -- H.l. Mencken
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If I had my way, any man guilty of golf would be barred from any public office in the United States and the families of the breed would be shipped off to the white slave corrals of Argentina. -- H.l. Mencken
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The late William Jennings Bryan, L.L.D., always had one great advantage in controversy; he was never burdened with an understanding of his opponent's case. -- H.l. Mencken
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On the one side was bigotry, ignorance, hatred, superstition, every sort of blackness that the human mind is capable of. On the other side was sense. -- H.l. Mencken
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It is more blessed to give than receive; for example, wedding presents. -- H.l. Mencken
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Whenever I write anything that sets up controversy its meaning is distorted almost instantly. Even the editorial writers of newspapers seem to be unable to understand the plainest sentence. -- H.l. Mencken
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There is nothing worse than an idle hour, with no occupation offering. People who have many such hours are simply animals waiting docilely for death. We all come to that state soon or late. It is the curse of senility. -- H.l. Mencken
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What is the function that a clergyman performs in the world? Answer: He gets his living by assuring idiots that he can save them from an imaginary hell. -- H.l. Mencken
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Experience is a poor guide to man, and is seldom followed. What really teaches a man is not experience, but observation. -- H.l. Mencken
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Looking for an honest politician is like looking for an ethical burglar. -- H.l. Mencken
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A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar. -- H.l. Mencken
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The most satisfying and ecstatic faith is almost purely agnostic. It trusts absolutely without professing to know at all. -- H.l. Mencken
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In human history a moral victory is always a disaster, for it debauches and degrades both the victor and the vanquished. The triumph of sin in 1865 would have stimulated and helped to civilize both sides. -- H.l. Mencken
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The truth that survives is simply the lie that is pleasantest to believe. -- H.l. Mencken
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The average man does not want to be free. he simply wants to be safe. -- H.l. Mencken
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The chief knowledge that a man gets from reading books is the knowledge that very few of them are worth reading. -- H.l. Mencken
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The argument that capital punishment degrades the state is moonshine, for if that were true then it would degrade the state to send men to war ... The state, in truth, is degraded in its very nature: a few butcheries cannot do it any further damage. -- H.l. Mencken
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In any combat between a rogue and a fool the sympathy of mankind is always with the rogue. -- H.l. Mencken
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I think the Negro people should feel secure enough by now to face a reasonable ridicule without terror. I am unalterably opposed to all efforts to put down free speech, whatever the excuse. -- H.l. Mencken
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There is a saying in Baltimore that crabs may be prepared in fifty ways and that all of them are good. -- H.l. Mencken
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The typical lawmaker of today is a man wholly devoid of principle - a mere counter in a grotesque and knavish game. If the right pressure could be applied to him, he would be cheerfully in favor of polygamy, astrology or cannibalism. -- H.l. Mencken
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The American people, I am convinced, really detest free speech. At the slightest alarm they are ready and eager to put it down. -- H.l. Mencken
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No one ever heard of the truth being enforced by law. When the secular is called in to sustain an idea, whether new or old, it is always a bad idea, and not infrequently it is downright idiotic. -- H.l. Mencken
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God is the immemorial refuge of the incompetent, the helpless, and the miserable. They find not only sanctuary in his arms, but also a kind of superiority, soothing to their macerated egos; he will set them above their betters. -- H.l. Mencken
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The only way to success in American public life lies in flattering and kowtowing to the mob -- H.l. Mencken
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The so-called religious organizations which now lead the war against the teaching of evolution are nothing more, at bottom, than conspiracies of the inferior man against his betters. -- H.l. Mencken
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It is the dull man who is always sure, and the sure man who is always dull. -- H.l. Mencken
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Jealousy is a keen observer, but looks for all the wrong signs. -- H.l. Mencken
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There is only one honest impulse at the bottom of Puritanism, and that is the impulse to punish the man with a superior capacity for happiness. -- H.l. Mencken
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Those who can't teach - administrate. Those who can't administrate - go into politics. -- H.l. Mencken
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The fact is that the average man's love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth. -- H.l. Mencken
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When I mount the scaffold at last these will be my farewell words to the sheriff: Say what you will against me when I am gone, but don't forget to add, in common justice, that I was never converted to anything. -- H.l. Mencken
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A skeptic as to all ideas, including especially my own, I have never suffered a pang when the ideas of some other imbecile prevailed. -- H.l. Mencken
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A man full of faith is simply one who has lost the capacity for clear and realistic thought. -- H.l. Mencken
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The scent of frying astronomers long ago ceased to ascend to Yahweh. -- H.l. Mencken
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The pedant and the priest have always been the most expert of logicians
and the most diligent disseminators of nonsense and worse. -- H.l. Mencken
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How do they taste? They taste like more. -- H.l. Mencken
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It is the fundamental theory of all the more recent American law ... that the average citizen is half-witted, and hence not to be trusted to either his own devices or his own thoughts. -- H.l. Mencken
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There are some politicians who, if their constituents were cannibals, would promise them missionaries in every pot. -- H.l. Mencken
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A society made up of individuals who were all capable of original thought would probably be unendurable. -- H.l. Mencken
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A bad man is the sort who weeps every time he speaks of a good woman. -- H.l. Mencken
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The ideal way to get rid of any infectious disease would be to shoot instantly every person who comes down with it. -- H.l. Mencken
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Whenever you hear a man speak of his love for his country, it is a sign that he expects to be paid for it. -- H.l. Mencken
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War may make a fool of man, but it by no means degrades him; on the contrary, it tends to exalt him, and its net effects are much like those of motherhood on women. -- H.l. Mencken
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Laws are no longer made by a rational process of public discussion; they are made by a process of blackmail and intimidation, and they are executed in the same manner -- H.l. Mencken
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No matter how long he lives, no man ever becomes as wise as the average woman of forty-eight. -- H.l. Mencken
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The music critic, Huneber, could never quite make up his mind about a new symphony until he had seen the composer's mistress. -- H.l. Mencken
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Capital punishment has probably been responsible for a good deal of human progress. The overwhelming majority of those executed were of the sort whose departures for bliss eternal improved the average intelligence and decency of the race. -- H.l. Mencken
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The idea that the sole aim of punishment is to prevent crime is obviously grounded upon the theory that crime can be prevented, which is almost as dubious as the notion that poverty can be prevented. -- H.l. Mencken
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It is impossible to imagine the universe run by a wise, just and omnipotent God, but it is quite easy to imagine it run by a board of gods. If such a board actually exists it operates precisely like the board of a corporation that is losing money. -- H.l. Mencken
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The military caste did not originate as a party of patriots, but as a party of bandits -- H.l. Mencken
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To die for an idea; it is unquestionably noble. But how much nobler it would be if men died for ideas that were true! -- H.l. Mencken
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The physical business of writing is unpleasant to me, but the psychic satisfaction of discharging bad ideas in worse English makes me forget it. -- H.l. Mencken
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I am suspicious of all the things that the average people believes. -- H.l. Mencken
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The typical American of today has lost all the love of liberty, that his forefathers had, and all their disgust of emotion, and pride in self- reliance. He is led no longer by Davy Crocketts; he is led by cheer leaders, press agents, word mongers, uplifters. -- H.l. Mencken
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If a sense of duty tortures a man, it also enables him to achieve prodigies. -- H.l. Mencken
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Morality is doing what is right, no matter what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told, no matter what is right. -- H.l. Mencken
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One of the laudable by-products of the Freudian quackery is the discovery that lying, in most cases, is involuntary and inevitable
that the liar can no more avoid it than he can avoid blinking his eyes when a light flashes or jumping when a bomb goes off behind him. -- H.l. Mencken
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What makes philosophy so tedious is not the profundity of philosophers, but their lack of art; they are like physicians who soughtto cure a slight hyperacidity by prescribing a carload of burned oyster-shells. -- H.l. Mencken
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The dying man doesn't struggle much and he isn't much afraid. As his alkalies give out he succumbs to a blest stupidity. His mindfogs. His will power vanishes. He submits decently. He scarcely gives a damn. -- H.l. Mencken
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Nothing can come out of an artist that is not in the man. -- H.l. Mencken
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A man loses his sense of direction after four drinks; a woman loses hers after four kisses. -- H.l. Mencken
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No man of honor ever quite lives up to his code, any more than a moral man manages to avoid sin. -- H.l. Mencken
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One horse-laugh is worth ten-thousand syllogisms. -- H.l. Mencken
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The trouble with Communism is the Communists, just as the trouble with Christianity is the Christians. -- H.l. Mencken
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The lunatic fringe wags the underdog. -- H.l. Mencken
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No man is worthy of unlimited reliance-his treason, at best, only waits for sufficient temptation. -- H.l. Mencken
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Men have a much better time of it than women. For one thing, they marry later; for another thing, they die earlier. -- H.l. Mencken
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The critic, to interpret his artist, even to understand his artist, must be able to get into the mind of his artist; he must feel and comprehend the vast pressure of the creative passion. -- H.l. Mencken
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The editors are committed to nothing save this: to keep common sense as fast as they can, to belabor sham as agreeably as possible, to give civilized entertainment. -- H.l. Mencken
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Some immemorial imbecilities have been added deliberately, on the ground that it is just as interesting to note how foolish men have been as to note how wise they have been. -- H.l. Mencken
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Hope: A pathological belief in the occurrence of the impossible. -- H.l. Mencken
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The ideal Government of all reflective men, from Aristotle onward, is one which lets the individual alone - one which barely escapes being no government at all. -- H.l. Mencken
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The university president who cashiered every professor unwilling to support Woodrow Wilson for the first vacancy in the
Trinity ... -- H.l. Mencken
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Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard. -- H.l. Mencken
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Not by accident, you may be sure, do the Christian Scriptures make the father of knowledge a serpent - slimy, sneaking and abominable. -- H.l. Mencken
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One of the most mawkish of human delusions is the notion that friendship should be eternal, or, at all events, life-long, and that any act which puts a term to it is somehow discreditable. -- H.l. Mencken
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The true function of art is to criticize, embellish and edit nature ... the artist is a sort of impassioned proof-reader, blue penciling the bad spelling of God. -- H.l. Mencken
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I believe that it should be perfectly lawful to print even things that outrage the pruderies and prejudices of the general, so long as any honest minority, however small, wants to read them. The remedy of the majority is not prohibition, but avoidance. -- H.l. Mencken
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All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. -- H.l. Mencken
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If the work of the average man required half the mental agility and readiness of resource of the work of the average prostitute, the average man would be constantly on the verge of starvation. -- H.l. Mencken
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The storm center of lawlessness in every American State is the State Capitol. It is there that the worst crimes are committed; it is there that lawbreaking attains to the estate and dignity of a learned profession; it is there that contempt for the laws is engendered, fostered, and spread broadcast. -- H.l. Mencken
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Hamlet has been played by 5,000 actors, no wonder he is crazy. -- H.l. Mencken
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New York: A third-rate Babylon. -- H.l. Mencken
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When we appropriate money from the public funds to pay for vaccinating a horde of negroes, we do not do it because we have any sympathy for them or because we crave their blessings, but simply because we don't want them to be falling ill of smallpox -- H.l. Mencken
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Debussy
A pretty girl with one blue eye and one brown one. -- H.l. Mencken
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For the habitual truth-teller and truth-seeker, indeed, the whole world has very little liking. He is always unpopular. -- H.l. Mencken
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Morality is the theory that every human act must be either right or wrong, and that 99 % of them are wrong. -- H.l. Mencken
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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. -- H.l. Mencken
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The difference between the smartest dog and the stupidest man - say a Tennessee Holy Roller - is really very small. -- H.l. Mencken
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Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration - courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love of the truth. -- H.l. Mencken
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It is hard for the ape to believe he descended from man. -- H.l. Mencken
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A Puritan is not against bullfighting because of the pain it gives the bull, but because of the pleasure it gives the spectators. -- H.l. Mencken
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The best teacher is not the one who knows most but the one who is most capable of reducing knowledge to that simple compound of the obvious and wonderful. -- H.l. Mencken
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A dull, dark, depressing day in Winter: the whole world looks like a Methodist church at Wednesday night prayer meeting. -- H.l. Mencken
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When somebody says it's not about the money, it's about the money. -- H.l. Mencken
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After all, why be good? How many will actually believe it of us? -- H.l. Mencken
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The real man lies in the depths of subconscious. -- H.l. Mencken
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You can't do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth. -- H.l. Mencken
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In all ages there arise protests from tender men against the bitterness of criticism, especially social criticism. They are the same men who, when they come down with malaria, patronize a doctor who prescribes, not quinine, but marshmallows. -- H.l. Mencken
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All the great villainies of history, from the murder of Abel onward, have been perpetrated by sober men, chiefly by Teetotalers. -- H.l. Mencken
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The thing constantly overlooked by those hopefuls who talk about abolishing war is that it is by no means an evidence of decay but rather a proof of health and vigor. -- H.l. Mencken
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In Mencken's view, "religion belongs to a very early stage of human development, and ... its rapid decay in the world since the Reformation is evidence of genuine progress" ("The Ascent of Man"). -- H.l. Mencken
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The saddest life is that of a political aspirant under democracy. His failure is ignominious and his success is disgraceful. -- H.l. Mencken
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Man weeps to think that he will die so soon; woman, that she was born so long ago. -- H.l. Mencken
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It is surely no mere coincidence that the land of the emancipated and enthroned woman is also the land of canned soup, of canned pork and beans, of whole meals in cans, and of everything else ready made. -- H.l. Mencken
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It seems to me that a great university ought to have room in it for men subscribing to every sort of idea that is currently prevalent -- H.l. Mencken
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The course of the United States in World War II, I said, was dishonest, dishonorable, and ignominious, and the Sunpapers, by supporting Roosevelt's foreign policy, shared in this disgrace. -- H.l. Mencken
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The martini: the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet. -- H.l. Mencken
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A Galileo could no more be elected president of the United States than he could be elected Pope of Rome. Both high posts are reserved for men favored by God with an extraordinary genius for swathing the bitter facts of life in bandages of self-illusion. -- H.l. Mencken
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Of all the human qualities, the one I admire the most is competence. A tailor who is really able to cut and fit a coat seems to me an admirable man, and by the same token a university professor who knows little or nothing of the thing he presumes to teach seems to me to be a fraud and a rascal. -- H.l. Mencken
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We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart. -- H.l. Mencken
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One may no more live in the world without picking up the moral prejudices of the world than one will be able to go to hell without perspiring. -- H.l. Mencken
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It is almost as safe to assume that an artist of any dignity is against his country, i.e., against the environment in which God hath placed him, as it is to assume that his country is against the artist. -- H.l. Mencken
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The genuine music lover may accept the carnal husk of opera to get at the kernel of actual music within, but that is no sign that he approves the carnal husk or enjoys gnawing through it. -- H.l. Mencken
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The only kind of freedom that the mob can imagine is freedom to annoy and oppress its betters, and that is precisely the kind that we mainly have. -- H.l. Mencken
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Children born to-day may see the beginnings of a genuine state church in the Republic, with a hierarchy of live wires and a purely American theology. I regret that I am too old to wait for it, for if it comes it will be a lulu. -- H.l. Mencken
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Women have a hard enough time in this world: telling them the truth would be too cruel. -- H.l. Mencken
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The acting that one sees upon the stage does not show how human beings comport themselves in crises, but how actors think they ought to. It is thus, like poetry and religion, a device for gladdening the heart with what is palpably not true. -- H.l. Mencken
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Love is the mistaken belief that one woman differs from another. -- H.l. Mencken
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There is, in fact, nothing about religious opinions that entitles them to any more respect than other opinions get. On the contrary, they tend to be noticeably silly. -- H.l. Mencken
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Poetry has done enough when it charms, but prose must also convince. -- H.l. Mencken
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I know of no existing nation that deserves to live, and I know of very few individuals. -- H.l. Mencken
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New York is the place where all the aspirations of the western world meet to form one vast master aspiration, as powerful as the suction of a steam dredge. It is the icing on the pie called Christian civilization. -- H.l. Mencken
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Everyman is thoroughly happy twice in his life, just after he has met his first love, and just after he has left his last one. -- H.l. Mencken
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To be in love is merely to be in a state of perceptual anesthesia - to mistake an ordinary young man for a Greek god or an ordinary young woman for a goddess. -- H.l. Mencken
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The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. -- H.l. Mencken
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It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place. -- H.l. Mencken
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I never listen to debates. They are dreadful things indeed. The plain truth is that I am not a fair man, and don't want to hear both sides. On all known subjects, ranging from aviation to xylophone-playing, I have fixed and invariable ideas. They have not changed since I was four or five. -- H.l. Mencken
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Any man who, having a child or children he can't support, proceeds to have another should be sterilized at once. -- H.l. Mencken
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A man's women folk, whatever their outward show of respect for his merit and authority, always regard him secretly as an ass, and with something akin to pity. -- H.l. Mencken
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Have you ever watched a crab on the shore crawling backward in search of the Atlantic Ocean, and missing? That's the way the mind of man operates. -- H.l. Mencken
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He sailed through American history like a steel ship loaded with monoliths of granite. -- H.l. Mencken
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There are two kinds of Europeans: The smart ones, and those who stayed behind. -- H.l. Mencken
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Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable. But there it sits nevertheless, calmly licking its chops -- H.l. Mencken
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The first kiss is stolen by the man; the last is begged by the woman. -- H.l. Mencken
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A national political campaign is better than the best circus ever heard of, with a mass baptism and a couple of hangings thrown in. -- H.l. Mencken
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In the duel of sex, woman fights from a dreadnought and man from an open raft. -- H.l. Mencken
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The only guarantee of the Bill of Rights which continues to have any force and effect is the one prohibiting quartering troops on citizens in time of peace. All the rest have been disposed of by judicial interpretation and legislative whittling. -- H.l. Mencken
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There are two impossibilities in life: "just one drink" and "an honest politician." -- H.l. Mencken
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The scientist who yields anything to theology, however slight, is yielding to ignorance and false pretenses, and as certainly as if he granted that a horse-hair put into a bottle of water will turn into a snake. -- H.l. Mencken
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The American moron's mind simply does not run in that direction; he wants to keep his Ford, even at the cost of losing the Bill of Rights -- H.l. Mencken
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Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under. -- H.l. Mencken
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Youth, though it may lack knowledge, is certainly not devoid of intelligence; it sees through shams with sharp and terrible eyes. -- H.l. Mencken
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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. -- H.l. Mencken
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Kipling, the grandson of a Methodist preacher, reveals the tin-pot evangelist with increasing clarity as youth and its ribaldries pass away and he falls back upon his fundamentals. -- H.l. Mencken
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Wife: one who is sorry she did it, but would undoubtedly do it again. -- H.l. Mencken
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The worshiper is the father of the gods. -- H.l. Mencken
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Nothing is so abject and pathetic as a politician who has lost his job, save only a retired stud-horse. -- H.l. Mencken
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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. -- H.l. Mencken
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All I ask is equal freedom. When it is denied, as it always is, I take it anyhow. -- H.l. Mencken
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Religion is a conceited effort to deny the most obvious realities. -- H.l. Mencken
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Our whole practical government is grounded in mob psychology and the Boobus Americanus will follow any command that promises to make him safer. -- H.l. Mencken
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Here is something that the psychologists have so far neglected: the love of ugliness for its own sake, the lust to make the world intolerable. Its habitat is the United States. Out of the melting pot emerges a race which hates beauty as it hates truth. -- H.l. Mencken
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Why do men delight in work? Fundamentally, I suppose, because there is a sense of relief and pleasure in getting something done - a kind of satisfaction not unlike that which a hen enjoys on laying an egg. -- H.l. Mencken
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I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind. -- H.l. Mencken
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The allurement that women hold out to men is precisely the allurement that Cape Hatteras holds out to sailors: they are enormously dangerous and hence enormously fascinating. -- H.l. Mencken
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That it should still be necessary, at this late stage in the senility of the human race to argue that women have a fine and fluent intelligence is surely an eloquent proof of the defective observation, incurable prejudice, and general imbecility of their lords and masters. -- H.l. Mencken
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It is the theory of all modern civilized governments that they protect and foster the liberty of the citizen; it is the practice of all of them to limit its exercise, and sometimes very narrowly. -- H.l. Mencken
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Chopin
Two embalmers at work upon a minor poetthe scent of tuberosesAutumn rain. -- H.l. Mencken
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All [zoos] actually offer to the public in return for the taxes spent upon them is a form of idle and witless amusement, compared to which a visit to a penitentiary, or even to a State legislature in session, is informing, stimulating and ennobling. -- H.l. Mencken
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Love is photogenic. It needs darkness room to develop -- H.l. Mencken
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Genius: the ability to prolong one's childhood. -- H.l. Mencken
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Women in general seem to me to be appreciably more intelligent than men. A great many of them suffer in silence from the imbecilities of their husbands. -- H.l. Mencken
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Of all forms of visible otherworldliness, it seems to me, the Gothic is at once the most logical and the most beautiful. It reaches up magnificently-and a good half of it is palpably useless. -- H.l. Mencken
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All great religions, in order to escape absurdity, have to admit a dilution of agnosticism. It is only the savage, whether of the African bush or the American gospel tent, who pretends to know the will and intent of God exactly and completely. -- H.l. Mencken
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For men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt. The more stupid the man, the larger his stock of adamantine assurances, the heavier his load of faith. -- H.l. Mencken
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If I ever mary, it will be on a suddn impulse - as aman shoots himself -- H.l. Mencken
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Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods. -- H.l. Mencken
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Nietzsche, to the end of his days, remained a Russian pastor's son, and hence two-thirds of a Puritan; he erected his war upon holiness, toward the end, into a sort of holy war. -- H.l. Mencken
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Metaphysics is almost always an attempt to prove the incredible by an appeal to the unintelligible. -- H.l. Mencken
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People do not expect to find chastity in a whorehouse. Why, then, do they expect to find honesty and humanity in government, a congeries of institutions whose modus operandi consists of lying, cheating, stealing, and if need be, murdering those who resist? -- H.l. Mencken
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Deep within the heart of every evangelist lies the wreck of a car salesman. -- H.l. Mencken
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During many a single week, I daresay, more money is spent in New York upon useless and evil things than would suffice to run the kingdom of Denmark for a year. -- H.l. Mencken
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The best years are the forties; after fifty a man begins to deteriorate, but in the forties he is at the maximum of his villainy. -- H.l. Mencken
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As if paralyzed by the national fear of ideas, the democratic distrust of whatever strikes beneath the prevailing platitudes, it evades all resolute and honest dealing with what, after all, must be every healthy literature's elementary materials. -- H.l. Mencken
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When a woman says she won't, it's a good sign that she will. And when she says she will, it is an even better sign. -- H.l. Mencken
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In every woman's life there is one real and consuming love. But very few women guess which one it is. -- H.l. Mencken
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Time is a great legalizer, even in the field of morals -- H.l. Mencken
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High-toned humanitarians constantly overestimate the sufferings of those they sympathize with. -- H.l. Mencken
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Government is actually the worst failure of civilized man. There has never been a really good one, and even those that are most tolerable are arbitrary, cruel, grasping and unintelligent. -- H.l. Mencken
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The Jews fastened their religion upon the Western world, not because it was more reasonable than the religions of their contemporaries - as a matter of fact, it was vastly less reasonable than many of them - but because it was far more poetical. -- H.l. Mencken
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Government today is growing too strong to be safe. There are no longer any citizens in the world there are only subjects. They work day in and day out for their masters they are bound to die for their masters at call. Out of this working and dying they tend to get less and less. -- H.l. Mencken
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When I hear a man applauded by the mob I always feel a pang of pity for him. All he has to do to be hissed is to live long enough. -- H.l. Mencken
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Time stays, we go. -- H.l. Mencken
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He believed that there was need in the world for a class freed from the handicap of law and morality, a class acutely adaptable and immoral; a class bent on achieving, not the equality of all men, but the production, at the top, of the superman. -- H.l. Mencken
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Publish and be damned. -- H.l. Mencken
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There are no mute, inglorious Miltons, save in the hallucinations of poets. The one sound test of a Milton is that he functions as a Milton. -- H.l. Mencken
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The chief value of money lies in the fact that one lives in a world in which it is overestimated. -- H.l. Mencken
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It is only doubt that creates. -- H.l. Mencken
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A Progressive is one who is in favor of more taxes instead of less, more bureaus and jobholders, more paternalism and meddling, more regulation of private affairs and less liberty. In general, he would be inclined to regard the repeal of any tax as outrageous. -- H.l. Mencken
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A professional politician is a professionally dishonorable man. In order to get anywhere near high office he has to make so many compromises and submit to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker. -- H.l. Mencken
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How little it takes to make life unbearable: a pebble in the shoe, a cockroach in the spaghetti, a woman's laugh. -- H.l. Mencken
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The aim of New Deals is to exterminate the class of creditors and thrust all men into that of debtors. It is like trying to breedcattle with all cows and no bulls. -- H.l. Mencken
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If there were only three women left in the world, two of them would immediately convene a court-martial to try the other one. -- H.l. Mencken
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In the United States, doing good has come to be, like patriotism, a favorite device of persons with something to sell. -- H.l. Mencken
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Whatever the label on the parties, or the war cries issuing from the demagogues who lead them, the practical choice is between the plutocracy on the one side and a rabble of preposterous impossibilists on the other. -- H.l. Mencken
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All successful newpapers are ceaselessly querulous and bellicose. They never defend anyone or anything if they can help it; if the job is forced upon them, they tackle it by denouncing someone or something else. -- H.l. Mencken
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I am against slavery simply because I dislike slaves. -- H.l. Mencken
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A man always remembers his first love with special tenderness, but after that he begins to bunch them. -- H.l. Mencken
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The only time you have a free press is when you own one. -- H.l. Mencken
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What we need in this country is a general improvement in eating. We have the best raw materials in the world, both quantitatively and qualitatively, but most of them are ruined in the process of preparing them for the table. -- H.l. Mencken
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Strike an average between what a woman thinks of her husband a month before she marries him and what she thinks of him a year afterward, and you will have the truth about him. -- H.l. Mencken
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There are some people who read too much: the bibliobibuli. I know some who are constantly drunk on books, as other men are drunk on whiskey or religion. They wander through this most diverting and stimulating of worlds in a haze, seeing nothing and hearing nothing. -- H.l. Mencken
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A living language is like a man suffering incessantly from small hemorrhages, and what it needs above all else is constant transactions of new blood from other tongues. The day the gates go up, that day it begins to die. -- H.l. Mencken
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Self-respect
the secure feeling that no one, as yet, is suspicious. -- H.l. Mencken
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The effort to reconcile science and religion is almost always made, not by theologians, but by scientists unable to shake off altogether the piety absorbed with their mother's milk. -- H.l. Mencken
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Unionism, seldom if ever, uses such powers as it has to ensure better work; almost always it devotes a large part of that power to safeguard bad work. -- H.l. Mencken
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We are, in fact, a nation of evangelists; every third American devotes himself to improving and lifting up his fellow-citizens, usually by force; the messianic delusion is our national disease. -- H.l. Mencken
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Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right. -- H.l. Mencken
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The two main ideas that run through all of my writing, whether it be literary criticism or political polemic are these: I am strong in favor of liberty and I hate fraud. -- H.l. Mencken
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Well, I tell you, if I have been wrong in my agnosticism, when I die I'll walk up to God in a manly way and say, Sir, I made an honest mistake. -- H.l. Mencken
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The double standard of morality will survive in this world so long as the woman whose husband has been lured away is favoured with the sympathetic tears of other women, and a man whose wife has made off is laughed at by other men. -- H.l. Mencken
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No professional politician is ever actually in favor of public economy. It is his implacable enemy, and he knows it. All professional politicians are dedicated wholeheartedly to waste and corruption. They are the enemies of every decent man. -- H.l. Mencken
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When I reach the shades at last it will no doubt astonish Satan to discover, on thumbing my dossier, that I was a member of the Y.M.C.A. -- H.l. Mencken
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I never agree with Communists or any other kind of kept men. -- H.l. Mencken
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Philadelphia is the most pecksniffian of American cities, and thus probably leads the world. -- H.l. Mencken
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Lawyer: one who protects us against robbery by taking away the temptation. -- H.l. Mencken
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There are men so philosophical that they can see humor in their own toothaches. But there has never lived a man so philosophical that he could see the toothache in his own humor. -- H.l. Mencken
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The net effect of Clarence Darrow's great speech yesterday seemed to be precisely the same as if he had bawled it up a rainspout in the interior of Afghanistan. -- H.l. Mencken
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Those tragic comedians, the Chamber of Commerce red hunters, the Women's Christian Temperance Union smellers, the censors of books, the Klan regulators, the Methodist prowlers, the Baptist guardians of sacred vessels-we have the national mentality of a police lieutenant. -- H.l. Mencken
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Science, at bottom, is really anti-intellectual. It always distrusts pure reason, and demands the production of objective fact. -- H.l. Mencken
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The older I grow, the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom. -- H.l. Mencken
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As I grow older I am unpleasantly impressed by the fact that giving each human being but one life is a bad scheme. -- H.l. Mencken
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The essence of science is that it is always willing to abandon a given idea for a better one; the essence of theology is that it holds its truths to be eternal and immutable. -- H.l. Mencken
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Wealth - any income that is at least $100 more a year than the income of one's wife's sister's husband. -- H.l. Mencken
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The other day a dog peed on me. A bad sign. -- H.l. Mencken
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College football would be much more interesting if the faculty played instead of the students, and even more interesting if the trustees played. There would be a great increase in broken arms, legs, and necks, and simultaneously an appreciable diminution in the loss of humanity. -- H.l. Mencken
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College football is a game which would be much more interesting if the faculty played instead of the students, and even more interesting if the trustees played. There would be a great increase in broken arms, legs, and necks, and simultaneously an appreciable diminution in the loss to humanity. -- H.l. Mencken
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In Baltimore, soft crabs are always fried (or broiled) in the altogether, with maybe a small jock-strap of bacon added. -- H.l. Mencken
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The theatre, when all is said and done, is not life in miniature, but life enormously magnified, life hideously exaggerated. -- H.l. Mencken
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Lying is not only excusable; it is not only innocent; it is, above all, necessary and unavoidable. Without the ameliorations that it offers, life would become a mere syllogism and hence too metallic to be borne. -- H.l. Mencken
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Immortality is the condition of a dead man who doesn't believe he is dead. -- H.l. Mencken
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Governments, whatever their pretensions otherwise, try to preserve themselves by holding the individual down ... Government itself, indeed, may be reasonably defined as a conspiracy against him. Its one permanent aim, whatever its form, is to hobble him sufficiently to maintain itself. -- H.l. Mencken
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No woman is really humble; she is merely politic. No woman, with a free choice before her, chooses self-immolation; the most she genuinely desires in that direction is a spectacular martyrdom. No woman delights in poverty. No woman yields when she can prevail. No woman is honestly meek. -- H.l. Mencken
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Watching two women kiss is like watching two prizefighters shake hands. -- H.l. Mencken
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The great artists of the world are never Puritans, and seldom even ordinarily respectable. -- H.l. Mencken
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Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. -- H.l. Mencken
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Temptation is an irresistible force at work on a movable body. -- H.l. Mencken
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The Book of Revelation has all the authority, in these theological uplands, of military orders in time of war. The people turn to it for light upon all their problems, spiritual and secular. -- H.l. Mencken
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The essence of self-fulfillment and autonomous culture is an unshakable egotism. -- H.l. Mencken
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Once apparently the chief concern and masterpiece of the gods, the human race now begins to bear the aspect of an accidental by-product of their vast, inscrutable and probably nonsensical operations. -- H.l. Mencken
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We suffer most when the White House busts with ideas. -- H.l. Mencken
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When I die, I shall be content to vanish into nothingness ... No show, however good, could conceivably be good forever I do not believe in immortality, and have no desire for it. -- H.l. Mencken
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I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech - alike for the humblest man and the mightiest, and in the utmost freedom of conduct that is consistent with living in organized
society. -- H.l. Mencken
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The believing mind is externally impervious to evidence. The most that can be accomplished with it is to induce it to substitute one delusion for another. It rejects all overt evidence as wicked ... -- H.l. Mencken
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A judge is a law student who marks his own examination papers. -- H.l. Mencken
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The worst government is often the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression. -- H.l. Mencken
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Popularity
The capacity for listening sympathetically when men boast of their wives and women complain of their husbands. -- H.l. Mencken
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The movies today are too rich to have any room for genuine artists. They produce a few passable craftsmen, but no artists. Can you imagine a Beethoven making $100, 000 a year? -- H.l. Mencken
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One of the things that makes a Negro unpleasant to white folk is the fact that he suffers from their injustice. He is thus a standing rebuke to them. -- H.l. Mencken
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If women believed in their husbands they would be a good deal happier and also a good deal more foolish. -- H.l. Mencken
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Democracy is grounded upon so childish a complex of fallacies that they must be protected by a rigid system of taboos, else even halfwits would argue it to pieces. Its first concern must be to penalize the free play of ideas. -- H.l. Mencken
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A newspaper is a device for making the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy crazier. -- H.l. Mencken
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Never underestimate the booberie of the booboisie. -- H.l. Mencken
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Love begins like a triolet and ends like a college yell. -- H.l. Mencken
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An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it makes a better soup. -- H.l. Mencken
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A nun, at best, is only half a woman, just as a priest is only half a man. -- H.l. Mencken
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He who eats alone chokes alone. -- H.l. Mencken
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The natural tendency of every government is to grow steadily worse-that is, to grow more satisfactory to those who constitute it and less satisfactory to those who support it. -- H.l. Mencken
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Believing passionately in the palpably not true ... is the chief occupation of mankind. -- H.l. Mencken
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The common man knows exactly what he wants ... and deserves to get it good and hard. -- H.l. Mencken
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All government is, in its essence, organized exploitation, and in virtually all of its existing forms it is the implacable enemy of every industrious and well-disposed man. -- H.l. Mencken
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I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time. -- H.l. Mencken
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The one permanent emotion of the inferior man is fear - fear of the unknown, the complex, the inexplicable. What he wants above everything else is safety. -- H.l. Mencken
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The verdict of a jury is the a priori opinion of that juror who smokes the worst cigars. -- H.l. Mencken
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Truth would quickly cease to be stranger than fiction, once we got as used to it. -- H.l. Mencken
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Evangelical Christianity, as everyone knows, is founded upon hate, as the Christianity of Christ was founded upon love. -- H.l. Mencken
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There's no underestimating the intelligence of the American public. -- H.l. Mencken
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Correct spelling, indeed, is one of the arts that are far more esteemed by schoolma'ams than by practical men, neck-deep in the heat and agony of the world. -- H.l. Mencken
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The art of writing, like the art of love, runs all the way from a kind of routine hard to distinguish from piling bricks to a kind of frenzy closely related to delirium tremens. -- H.l. Mencken
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Men are the only animals that devote themselves, day in and day out, to making one another unhappy. It is an art like any other. Its virtuosi are called altruists. -- H.l. Mencken
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No normal man ever fell in love after thirty when the kidneys begin to disintegrate. -- H.l. Mencken
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I write in order to attain that feeling of tension relieved and function achieved, which a cow enjoys on giving milk. -- H.l. Mencken
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Nevertheless, it is even harder for the average ape to believe that he has descended from man. -- H.l. Mencken
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Conscience is a mother-in-law whose visit never ends. -- H.l. Mencken
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A fool who, after plain warning, persists in dosing himself with dangerous drugs should be free to do so, for his death is a benefit to the race in general. -- H.l. Mencken
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Sunday school: A prison in which children do penance for the evil conscience of their parents. -- H.l. Mencken
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Democracy is the worship of jackals by jackasses. -- H.l. Mencken
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No one in this world, so far as I know - and I have searched 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. -- H.l. Mencken
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The chief contribution of Protestantism to human thought is its massive proof that God is a bore. -- H.l. Mencken
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Anyhow, the hole in the donut is at least digestible. -- H.l. Mencken
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Perhaps the most revolting character that the United States ever produced was the Christian Businessman. -- H.l. Mencken
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There is, it appears, a conspiracy of scientists afoot. Their purpose is to break down religion, propagate immorality, and so reduce mankind to the level of brutes. They are the sworn and sinister agents of Beelzebub, who yearns to conquer the world, and has his eye especially upon Tennessee.] -- H.l. Mencken
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But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant. -- H.l. Mencken
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The average man's love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary. It takes a special sort of man to understand and enjoy liberty and he is usually an outlaw in democratic societies. -- H.l. Mencken
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The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots. -- H.l. Mencken
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Democracy is only a dream: it should be put in the same category as Arcadia, Santa Claus, and Heaven. -- H.l. Mencken
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The psychologists and the metaphysicians wrangle endlessly over the nature of the thinking process in man, but no matter how violently they differ otherwise they all agree that it has little to do with logic and is not much conditioned by overt facts. -- H.l. Mencken
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Remorse-Regret that one waited so long to do it. -- H.l. Mencken
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I detest converts almost as much as I do missionaries. -- H.l. Mencken
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What fetched me instantly (and thousands of other newcomers with me) was the subtle but unmistakable sense of escape from the United States. -- H.l. Mencken
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[Art is] an attempt to escape from life. -- H.l. Mencken
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The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. -- H.l. Mencken
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Jealousy is the theory that some other fellow has just as little taste. -- H.l. Mencken
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Democracy the domination of unreflective and timorous men, moved in vast herds by mob conditions. -- H.l. Mencken
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A Puritan is someone who is desperately afraid that, somewhere, someone might be having a good time. -- H.l. Mencken
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If we assume that man actually does resemble God, then we are forced into the impossible theory that God is a coward, an idiot and a bounder. -- H.l. Mencken
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They have taken the care and upbringing of children out of the hands of parents, where it belongs, and thrown it upon a gang of irresponsible and unintelligent quacks. -- H.l. Mencken
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Congress consists of one-third, more or less, scoundrels; two-thirds, more or less, idiots; and three-thirds, more or less, poltroons. -- H.l. Mencken
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We are here and it is now. Further than that, all human knowledge is moonshine. -- H.l. Mencken
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All talk of winning the people by appealing to their intelligence, of conquering them by impeccable syllogism, is so much moonshine. -- H.l. Mencken
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Absence is the dark-room in which lovers develop negatives. -- H.l. Mencken
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The only cure for contempt is counter-contempt. -- H.l. Mencken
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The more a man dreams, the less he believes. -- H.l. Mencken
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If ever a man is to achieve anything like dignity, it can happen only if superior men are given absolute freedom to think what they want to think and say what they want to say. -- H.l. Mencken
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No healthy man, in his secret heart, is content with his destiny. He is tortured by dreams and images as a child is tortured by the thought of a state of existence in which it would live in a candy store and have two stomachs. -- H.l. Mencken
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I do not believe in democracy, but I am perfectly willing to admit that it provides the only really amusing form of government ever endured by mankind. -- H.l. Mencken
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Living with a dog is easy- like living with an idealist. -- H.l. Mencken
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America's biggest failure is its inability to take comedy seriously. -- H.l. Mencken
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There is in writing the constant joy of sudden discovery, of happy accident. -- H.l. Mencken
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[A formula for answering controversial letters
without even reading the letters:] Dear Sir (or Madame): You may be right. -- H.l. Mencken
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There is reinforcement in such familiar back-formations as Chinee from Chinese, Portugee from Portuguese. -- H.l. Mencken
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Man's objection to love is that it dies hard; woman's, that when it is dead, it stays dead. -- H.l. Mencken
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The notion that anything is gained by fixing a language in a groove is cherished only by pedants. -- H.l. Mencken
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Who will argue that 98.6 Farenheit is the right temperature for man? As for me, I decline to do it. It may be that we are all actually freezing hence the pervading stupidity of mankind. At 110 or 115 degrees even archbishops might be intelligent. -- H.l. Mencken
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Most people want security in this world, not liberty. -- H.l. Mencken
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The most curious social convention of the great age in which we live is the one to the effect that religious opinions should be respected. -- H.l. Mencken
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The fact that I have no remedy for all the sorrows of the world is no reason for my accepting yours. It simply supports the strong probability that yours is a fake. -- H.l. Mencken
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The first Rotarian was the first man to call John the Baptist Jack. -- H.l. Mencken
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Women hate revolutions and revolutionists. They like men who are docile, and well-regarded at the bank, and never late at meals. -- H.l. Mencken
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Injustice is relativelyl easy to bear; what stings is justice. -- H.l. Mencken
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Whenever A annoys or injures B on the pretense of saving or improving X, A is a scoundrel. -- H.l. Mencken
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Each party steals so many articles of faith from the other, and the candidates spend so much time making each other's speeches, that by the time election day is past there is nothing much to do save turn the sitting rascals out and let a new gang in. -- H.l. Mencken
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A prohibitionist is the sort of man one couldn't care to drink with, even if he drank. -- H.l. Mencken
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God must love the rich or he wouldn't divide so much among so few of them. -- H.l. Mencken
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The most popular man under a democracy is not the most democratic man, but the most despotic man. The common folk delight in the exactions of such a man. They like him to boss them. Their natural gait is the goose step. -- H.l. Mencken
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Nine times out of ten, in the arts as in life, there is actually no truth to be discovered; there is only error to be exposed. -- H.l. Mencken
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The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. -- H.l. Mencken
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The only way for a reporter to look at a politician is down. -- H.l. Mencken
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Historian: an unsuccessful novelist. -- H.l. Mencken
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What Mencken most strongly objected to in religion was not the expression of nonsensical views - these could easily be combated by rebuttal from the other side - but the inveterate tendency of religion to seek the enforcement of its views by the power of the government. -- H.l. Mencken
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There are no dull subjects. There are only dull writers. -- H.l. Mencken
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I have little belief in human progress. The human race is incurably idiotic. It will never be happy. -- H.l. Mencken
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In war the heroes always outnumber the soldiers ten to one. -- H.l. Mencken
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Never drink before sunset; Never drink more than 3 days in a row. -- H.l. Mencken
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The most valuable of all human possessions, next to a superior and disdainful air, is the reputation of being well-to-do. -- H.l. Mencken
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Say what you will about the Ten Commandments, you must always come back to the pleasant fact that there are only ten of them. -- H.l. Mencken
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The sort of man who likes to spend his time watching a cage of monkeys chase one another, or a lion gnaw its tail, or a lizard catch flies, is precisely the sort of man whose mental weakness should be combated at the public expense, not fostered. -- H.l. Mencken
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The idea that leisure is of value in itself is only conditionally true. The average man simply spends his leisure as a dog spends it. His recreations are all puerile, and the time supposed to benefit him really only stupefies him. -- H.l. Mencken
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Is it hot in the rolling mill? Are the hours long? Is $15 a day not enough? Then escape is easy. Simply throw up your job, spit on your hands, and write another "Rosenkavailer." -- H.l. Mencken
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Henry James would have been vastly improved as a novelist by a few whiffs of the Chicago stockyard. -- H.l. Mencken
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[Government] is apprehended, not as a committee of citizens chosen to carry on the communal business of the whole population, but as a separate and autonomous corporation, mainly devoted to exploiting the population for the benefit of its own members. -- H.l. Mencken
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What is too often forgotten is that nature obviously intends the botched to die, and that every interference with that benign process is full of dangers. -- H.l. Mencken
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There is no record in history of a happy philosopher. -- H.l. Mencken
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Man is a natural polygamist: he always has one woman leading him by the nose, and another hanging on to his coattails. -- H.l. Mencken
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We must be willing to pay a price for freedom. -- H.l. Mencken
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One smart reader is worth a thousand boneheads. -- H.l. Mencken
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No form of liberty is worth a darn [sic] which doesn't give us the right to do wrong now and then. -- H.l. Mencken
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As long as you represent me as praising alcohol I shall not complain. It is, I believe, the greatest of human inventions, and by far - much greater than Hell, the radio or the bichloride tablet. -- H.l. Mencken
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The function of a newspaper in a democracy is to stand as a sort of chronic opposition to the reigning quacks. The minute it begins to out-whoop them it forfeits its character and becomes ridiculous. -- H.l. Mencken
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The instant I reach Heaven, I'm going to speak to God very sharply. -- H.l. Mencken
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Whenever a husband and a wife begin to discuss their marriage they are giving evidence at a coroner's inquest. -- H.l. Mencken
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What is the professor's function? To pass on to numskulls a body of so-called knowledge that is fragmentary, unimportant, and largely untrue. -- H.l. Mencken
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The truth, indeed, is something that mankind, for some mysterious reason, instinctively dislikes. Every man who tries to tell it is unpopular, and even when, by the sheer strength of his case, he prevails, he is put down as a scoundrel. -- H.l. Mencken
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The most disgusting cad in the world is the man who on the grounds of decorum and morality avoids the game of love. He is one who puts his own ease and security above the most laudable of philanthropies. -- H.l. Mencken
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The notion that artists flourish upon adversity and misunderstanding, that they are able to function to the utmost in an atmosphere of indifference or hostility - this notion is nine-tenths nonsense. -- H.l. Mencken
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Taxation, for example, is eternally lively; it concerns nine-tenths of us more directly than either smallpox or golf, and has just as much drama in it; moreover, it has been mellowed and made gay by as many gaudy, preposterous theories -- H.l. Mencken
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He sees daily evidence that many things held to be true by nine-tenths of all men are, in reality, false, and he is thereby apt to acquire a doubt of everything, including his own beliefs. -- H.l. Mencken
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If I ever marry, it will be on a sudden impulse - as a man shoots himself. -- H.l. Mencken
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Conscience is the accumulated sediment of ancestral faint- heartedness -- H.l. Mencken
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In the long run all battles are lost, and so are all wars. -- H.l. Mencken
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I believe in only one thing: liberty; but I do not believe in liberty enough to want to force it upon anyone. -- H.l. Mencken
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If the American people really tire of democracy and want to make a trial of Fascism, I shall be the last person to object. But if that is their mood, then they had better proceed toward their aim by changing the Constitution and not by forgetting it. -- H.l. Mencken
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I confess I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing. -- H.l. Mencken
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God is a Republican, and Santa Claus is a Democrat. -- H.l. Mencken
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Unquestionably, there is progress. The average American now pays out twice as much in taxes as he formerly got in wages. -- H.l. Mencken
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An enchanted life has many moments when the heart is overwhelmed with beauty and the imagination is electrified by some haunting quality in the world or by a spirit or voice speaking from deep within a thing, a place, or a person." ~ Henry Louis Mencken -- H.l. Mencken
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War will never cease until babies begin to come into the world with larger cerebrums and smaller adrenal glands. -- H.l. Mencken
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Of government, at least in democratic states, it may be said briefly that it is an agency engaged wholesale, and as a matter of solemn duty, in the performance of acts which all self-respecting individuals refrain from as a matter of common decency. -- H.l. Mencken
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It doesn't take a majority to make a rebellion; it takes only a few determined leaders and a sound cause. -- H.l. Mencken
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A church is a place in which gentlemen who have never been to heaven brag about it to persons who will never get there. -- H.l. Mencken
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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. -- H.l. Mencken
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What ails the truth is that it is mainly uncomfortable, and often dull. The human mind seeks something more amusing, and more caressing. -- H.l. Mencken
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Bridges would not be safer if only people who knew the proper definition of a real number were allowed to design them. -- H.l. Mencken
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The intellectual heritage of the race belongs to the minority. -- H.l. Mencken
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Religion deserves no more respect than a pile of garbage. -- H.l. Mencken
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Platitude: an idea (a) that is admitted to be true by everyone, and (b) that is not true. -- H.l. Mencken
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The common argument that crime is caused by poverty is a kind of slander on the poor. -- H.l. Mencken
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The more noisy Negro leaders, by depicting all whites as natural and implacable enemies to their race, have done it a great disservice. Large numbers of whites who were formerly very
friendly to it, and willing to go to great lengths to help it, are now resentful and suspicious. -- H.l. Mencken
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Capitalism under democracy has a further advantage: its enemies, even when it is attacked, are scattered and weak, and it is usually easily able to array one half of them against the other half, and thus dispose of both. -- H.l. Mencken
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Hanging one scoundrel, it appears, does not deter the next. Well, what of it? The first one is at least disposed of. -- H.l. Mencken
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Morality is doing what is right regardless of what you are told. Obedience is doing what is told regardless of what is right. -- H.l. Mencken
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Why writers write I do not know. As well ask why a hen lays an egg or why a cow stands patiently while an underprivileged farmer burglarizes her. -- H.l. Mencken
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The cosmos is a gigantic flywheel making 10,000 revolutions per minute. Man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on it. -- H.l. Mencken
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You never push a noun against a verb without trying to blow up something. -- H.l. Mencken
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I give you Chicago. It is not London and Harvard. It is not Paris and buttermilk. It is American in every chitling and sparerib. It is alive from snout to tail. -- H.l. Mencken
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The intelligent, like the unintelligent, are responsive to propaganda. -- H.l. Mencken
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[Science] must be amoral by its very nature: The minute it begins separating facts into the two categories of good ones and bad ones it ceases to be science and becomes a mere nuisance, like theology. -- H.l. Mencken
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The Christian always swears a bloody oath that he will never do it again. The civilized man simply resolves to be a bit more careful next time. -- H.l. Mencken
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Theology is the effort to explain the unknowable in terms of the not worth knowing. -- H.l. Mencken
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Don't overestimate the decency of the human race. -- H.l. Mencken
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Man makes love by braggadocio, and woman makes love by listening. -- H.l. Mencken
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I can't imagine a genuinely intelligent boy getting much out of college, even out of a good college, save it be a cynical habit of mind. -- H.l. Mencken
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When a husband's story is believed, he begins to suspect his wife. -- H.l. Mencken
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The feelings that Beethoven put into his music were the feelings of a god. There was something olympian in his snarls and rages, and there was a touch of hellfire in his mirth. -- H.l. Mencken
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The kind of man who demands that government enforce his ideas is always the kind whose ideas are idiotic. -- H.l. Mencken
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There are no institutions in America: there are only fashions. -- H.l. Mencken
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Man, without a saving touch of woman in him, is too doltish, too naive and romantic, too easily deluded and lulled to sleep by his imagination to be anything above a cavalryman, a theologian or a corporation director. -- H.l. Mencken
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The New Deal began, like the Salvation Army, by promising to save humanity. It ended, again like the Salvation Army, by running flop-houses and disturbing the peace. -- H.l. Mencken
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The fact that a human brain of high amperage, otherwise highly efficient, may have a hole in it is surely not a secret. -- H.l. Mencken
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The priest, realistically considered, is the most immoral of men, for he is always willing to sacrifice every other sort of good to the one good of his arcanum - the vague body of mysteries that he calls the truth. -- H.l. Mencken
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No reporter of my generation, whatever his genius, ever really rated spats and a walking stick until he had covered both a lynching and a revolution. -- H.l. Mencken
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Man is a beautiful machine that works very badly. -- H.l. Mencken
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I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie. I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant. -- H.l. Mencken
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What I admire most in any man is a serene spirit, a steady freedom from moral indignation, and all-embracing tolerance
in brief,what is commonly called sportsmanship. -- H.l. Mencken
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Whenever "A" attempts by law to impose his moral standards upon "B," "A" is most likely a scoundrel. -- H.l. Mencken
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The central difficulty lies in the fact that all of the sciences have made such great progress during the last century that they have got quite beyond the reach of man -- H.l. Mencken
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Balloonists have an unsurpassed view of the scenery, but there is always the possibility that it may collide with them. -- H.l. Mencken
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Public opinion, in its raw state, gushes out in the immemorial form of the mob's fear. It is piped into central factories, and there it is flavored and colored, and put into cans. -- H.l. Mencken
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To denounce moralizing out of hand is to pronounce a moral judgment. -- H.l. Mencken
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On the one hand, we may tell the truth, regardless of consequences, and on the other hand we may mellow it and sophisticate it to make it humane and tolerable. -- H.l. Mencken
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To argue that the gaps in knowledge which confront the seeker must be filled, not by patient inquiry, but by intuition or revelation, is simply to give ignorance a gratuitous and preposterous dignity. -- H.l. Mencken
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Complete masculinity and stupidity are often indistinguishable. -- H.l. Mencken
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Economic independence is the foundation of the only sort of freedom worth a damn -- H.l. Mencken
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One cannot enter a State legislature or a prison for felons without becoming, in some measure, a dubious character. -- H.l. Mencken
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The war on privilege will never end. Its next great campaign will be against the privileges of the underprivileged. -- H.l. Mencken
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No article of faith is proof against the disintegrating effects of increasing information; one might almost describe the acquirement of knowledge as a process of disillusion. -- H.l. Mencken
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Pastor: One employed by the wicked to prove to them by his example that virtue doesn't pay. -- H.l. Mencken
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If what I may believe - about gall-stones, the Constitution, castor oil, or God - is conditioned by law, then I am not a free man. -- H.l. Mencken
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Philosophy first constructs a scheme of happiness and then tries to fit the world to it. -- H.l. Mencken
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Pedagogues: More than any other class of blind leaders of the blind they are responsible for the degrading standardization which now afflicts the American people. -- H.l. Mencken
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Bachelors know more about women than married men; if they didn't they'd be married too. -- H.l. Mencken
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An altruist is one who would be sincerely sorry to see his neighbor's children devoured by wolves. -- H.l. Mencken
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Next to the semi-colon, quotation marks seem to be the chief butts of reformatory ardor. -- H.l. Mencken
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Morality is nothing but a struggle for safety -- H.l. Mencken
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There's really no point to voting. If it made any difference, it would probably be illegal. -- H.l. Mencken
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The most common of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind. -- H.l. Mencken
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The only obligation I recognize in this world is my duty to my immediate family -- H.l. Mencken
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Poverty is a soft pedal upon the branches of human activity, not excepting the spiritual. -- H.l. Mencken
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If there had been any formidable body of cannibals in the country he [Harry Truman] would have promised to provide them with free missionaries, fattened at the taxpayers' expense. -- H.l. Mencken
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Dachshund: A half-a-dog high and a dog-and-a-half long. -- H.l. Mencken
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Before one may scare the plain people one must first have a firm understanding of the bugaboos that most facilely alarm them. One must study the schemes that have served to do it in the past, and one must study very carefully the technic of the chief current professionals. -- H.l. Mencken
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I'm thoroughly convinced that editors don't help authors. -- H.l. Mencken
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Religion, after all, is nothing but an hypothesis framed to account for what is evidentially unaccounted for. -- H.l. Mencken
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Good government is that which delivers the citizen from being done out of his life and property too arbitrarily and violently-one that relieves him sufficiently from the barbaric business of guarding them to enable him to engage in gentler, more dignified, and more agreeable undertakings ... -- H.l. Mencken
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Voting is simply a way of determining which side is the stronger without putting it to the test of fighting. -- H.l. Mencken
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Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong. -- H.l. Mencken
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After all is said and done, a hell lot of a lot more is said than done. -- H.l. Mencken
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The average man gets his living by such depressing devices that boredom becomes a sort of natural state to him. -- H.l. Mencken
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The townspeople are morons, yokels, peasants and genus homo boobiensis ... surrounded by gaping primates from the upland vallies. -- H.l. Mencken
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It is a peculiarity of the American mind that it regards any excursion into the truth as an adventure into cynicism. -- H.l. Mencken
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What restrains us from killing is partly fear of punishment, partly moral scruple, and partly what may be described as a sense of humor -- H.l. Mencken
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The basic fact about human existence is not that it is a tragedy, but that it is a bore. It is not so much a war as an endless standing in line. The objection to it is not that it is predominantly painful, but that it is lacking in sense. -- H.l. Mencken
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No sane man objects to palpable lies about him; what he objects to is damaging facts. -- H.l. Mencken
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The only way that a government can provide for jobs for all citizens is by deciding what every man should do. -- H.l. Mencken
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I know some who are constantly drunk on books as other men are drunk on whiskey. -- H.l. Mencken
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No married man is genuinely happy if he has to drink worse whisky than he used to drink when he was single. -- H.l. Mencken
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One seldom discovers a true believer that is worth knowing -- H.l. Mencken
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I have long been convinced that the idea of liberty is abhorrent to most human beings. What they want is security, not freedom. Thus it seldom causes any public indignation when an enterprising tyrant claps down on one of his enemies. To most men it seems a natural proceeding. -- H.l. Mencken
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Of learned men, the clergy show the lowest development of professional ethics. Any pastor is free to cadge customers from the divines of rival sects, and to denounce the divines themselves as theological quacks. -- H.l. Mencken
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One yearns unspeakably for a composer who gives out his pair of honest themes, and then develops them unashamed, and then hangs a brisk coda to them, and then shuts up. -- H.l. Mencken
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A gentlemen is one who never strikes a woman without provocation. -- H.l. Mencken
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Jury - A group of 12 people, who, having lied to the judge about their health, hearing, and business engagements, have failed to fool him. -- H.l. Mencken
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I've made it a rule never to drink by daylight and never to refuse a drink after dark. -- H.l. Mencken
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When I hear artists or authors making fun of businessmen, I think of a regiment in which the band makes fun of the cooks. -- H.l. Mencken
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It is not the drinker, but the man who has just stopped drinking, who thinks the world is going to the dogs. -- H.l. Mencken
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Never let your inferiors do you a favor - it will be extremely costly. -- H.l. Mencken
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Let's not burn the universities yet. After all, the damage they do might be worse. -- H.l. Mencken
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If I had my way no man guilty of golf would be eligible to any office of trust or profit under the United States, and all female athletes would be shipped to the white-slave corrals of the Argentine. -- H.l. Mencken
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Every great wave of popular passion that rolls up on the prairies is dashed to spray when it strikes the hard rocks of Manhattan. -- H.l. Mencken
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At eight or nine, I suppose intelligence is no more than a small spot of light on the floor of a large and murky room. -- H.l. Mencken
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Government, like any other organism, refuses to acquiesce in its own extinction. This refusal, of course, involves the resistance to any effort to diminish its powers and prerogatives. -- H.l. Mencken
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The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic. -- H.l. Mencken
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The objection to Puritans is not that they try to make us think as they do, but that they try to make us do as they think. -- H.l. Mencken
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The wholly manly man lacks the wit necessary to give objective form to his soaring and secret dreams, and the wholly womanly woman is apt to be too cynical a creature to dream at all. -- H.l. Mencken
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But I wonder where we will land if trial judges begin deciding that the fact that a man has committed an atrocious crime is proof sufficient that he is not responsible for his acts. -- H.l. Mencken
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It takes no more actual sagacity to carry on the everyday hawking and haggling of the world, or to ladle out its normal doses of bad medicine and worse law, than it takes to operate a taxicab or fry a pan of fish. -- H.l. Mencken
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Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy. -- H.l. Mencken
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Alimony - the ransom that the happy pay to the devil. -- H.l. Mencken
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The curse of man, and the cause of nearly all his woe, is his stupendous capacity for believing the incredible. -- H.l. Mencken
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Religion is "so absurd that it comes close to imbecility." -- H.l. Mencken
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I am a strict monogamist: it is twenty years since I last went to bed with two women at once, and then I was in my cups and not myself. -- H.l. Mencken
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Socialism: nothing more than the theory that the slave is always more virtuous than his master. -- H.l. Mencken
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Legend: A lie that has attained the dignity of age. -- H.l. Mencken
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A home is not a mere transient shelter: its essence lies in the personalities of the people who live in it. -- H.l. Mencken
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It is impossible to believe that the same God who permitted His own son to die a bachelor regards celibacy as an actual sin. -- H.l. Mencken
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No married woman ever trusts her husband absolutely, nor does she ever act as if she did trust him. Her utmost confidence is as wary as an American pickpocket's confidence that the policeman on the beat will stay bought. -- H.l. Mencken
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So few men are really worth knowing, that it seems a shameful waste to let an anthropoid prejudice stand in the way of free association with one who is. -- H.l. Mencken
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The Public ... demands certainties ... But there are not certainties -- H.l. Mencken
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Christian endeavor is notoriously hard on female pulchritude. -- H.l. Mencken
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As the arteries grow hard, the heart grows soft. -- H.l. Mencken
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Misogynist: A man who hates women as much as women hate one another. -- H.l. Mencken
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[Government's] great contribution to human wisdom ... is the discovery that the taxpayer has more than one pocket. -- H.l. Mencken
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For it is the natural tendency of the ignorant to believe what is not true. In order to overcome that tendency it is not sufficient to exhibit the true; it is also necessary to expose and denounce the false. -- H.l. Mencken
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What ass first let loose the doctrine that the suffrage is a high boon and voting a noble privilege? -- H.l. Mencken
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A sense of humor always withers in the presence of the messianic delusion, like justice and truth in front of patriotic passion. -- H.l. Mencken
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The American people, taking one with another, constitute the most timorous, snivelling, poltroonish, ignominious mob of serfs and goosesteppers ever gathered under one flag in Christendom since the end of the Middle Ages. -- H.l. Mencken
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Socialism, Puritanism, Philistinism, Christianity - he saw them all as allotropic forms of democracy, as variations upon the endless struggle of quantity against quality, of the weak and timorous against the strong and enterprising, of the botched against the fit. -- H.l. Mencken
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The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it. -- H.l. Mencken
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The American people, North and South, went into the [Civil] war as citizens of their respective states, they came out as subjects ... what they thus lost they have never got back. -- H.l. Mencken
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[T]here is only one sound argument for democracy, and that is the argument that it is a crime for any man to hold himself out as better than other men, and, above all, a most heinous offense for him to prove it. -- H.l. Mencken
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The true aim of medicine is not to make men virtuous; it is to safeguard and rescue them from the consequences of their vices. The physician does not preach repentance; he offers absolution. -- H.l. Mencken
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A tin horn politician with the manner of a rural corn doctor and the mien of a ham actor -- H.l. Mencken
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The opera ... is to music what a bawdy house is to a cathedral. -- H.l. Mencken
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The chief business of the nation, as a nation, is the setting up of heroes, mainly bogus. -- H.l. Mencken
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A professor must have a theory as a dog must have fleas. -- H.l. Mencken
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This combat between proletariat and plutocracy is, after all, itself a civil war. Two inferiorities struggle for the privilege of polluting the world. -- H.l. Mencken
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Culture itself is neither education nor law-making: it is an atmosphere and a heritage. -- H.l. Mencken
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A man who is an agnostic by inheritance, so that he doesn't remember any time that he wasn't, has almost no hatred for the religious. -- H.l. Mencken
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I never smoked a cigarette until I was nine. -- H.l. Mencken
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Writing books is certainly a most unpleasant occupation. It is lonesome, unsanitary, and maddening. Many authors go crazy. -- H.l. Mencken
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There is always a sheet of paper. There is always a pen. There is always a way out. -- H.l. Mencken
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What chiefly distinguishes the daily press is its incurable fear of ideas, its constant effort to evade the discussion of fundamentals by translating all issues into a few elemental fears, its incessant reduction of all reflection to mere emotion. -- H.l. Mencken
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Confidence: The feeling that makes one believe a man, even when one knows that one would lie in his place -- H.l. Mencken
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A man may be a fool and not know it, but not if he is married. -- H.l. Mencken
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The formula of the argument is simple and familiar: to dispose of a problem all that is necessary is to deny that it exists. -- H.l. Mencken
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Morality and honor are not to be confused. The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught. -- H.l. Mencken
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The essential dilemma of education is to be found in the fact that the sort of man (or woman) who knows a given subject sufficiently well to teach it is usually unwilling to do so. -- H.l. Mencken
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The artist is not a reporter, but a Great Teacher. It is not his business to depict the world as it is, but as it ought to be. -- H.l. Mencken
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The great secret of happiness in love is to be glad that the other fellow married her. -- H.l. Mencken
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We must be prepared to pay a price for freedom, for no price that is ever asked for it is half the cost of doing without it. -- H.l. Mencken
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American journalism (like the journalism of any other country) is predominantly paltry and worthless. Its pretensions are enormous, but its achievements are insignificant. -- H.l. Mencken
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A man is called a good fellow for doing things which, if done by a woman, would land her in a lunatic asylum. -- H.l. Mencken
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Yet the same thing happens to the notions of morality. They are devised, at the start, as measures of expediency, and then given divine sanction in order to lend them authority. -- H.l. Mencken
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All of the American's foreign wars have been fought with foes either too weak to resist them or too heavily engaged elsewhere to make more than a half-hearted attempt. The combats with Mexico and Spain were not wars; they were simply lynchings. -- H.l. Mencken
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Truth - Something somehow discreditable to someone. -- H.l. Mencken
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Immorality: the morality of those who are having a better time. -- H.l. Mencken
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The public, with its mob yearning to be instructed, edified and pulled by the nose, demands certainties; it must be told definitely and a bit raucously that this is true and that is false. But there are no certainties. -- H.l. Mencken
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Women have simple tastes. They get pleasure out of the conversation of children in arms and men in love. -- H.l. Mencken
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I'm ombibulous. I drink every known alcoholic drink and enjoy them all. -- H.l. Mencken
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A metaphysician is one who, when you remark that twice two makes four, demands to know what you mean by twice, what by two, what by makes, and what by four. For asking such questions metaphysicians are supported in oriental luxury in the universities, and respected as educated and intelligent men. -- H.l. Mencken
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Happiness, like health, is probably also only a passing accident. For a moment or two the organism is irritated so little that it is not conscious of it; for the duration of that moment it is happy. Thus a hog is always happier than a man, and a bacillus is happier than a hog -- H.l. Mencken
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Suicide is a belated acquiescence in the opinion of one's wife's relatives. -- H.l. Mencken
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A man who knows a subject thoroughly, a man so soaked in it that he eats it, sleeps it and dreams it- this man can always teach it with success, no matter how little he knows of technical pedagogy. -- H.l. Mencken
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A great nation is any mob of people which produces at least one honest man a century. -- H.l. Mencken
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The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable ... -- H.l. Mencken
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Democracy must be a sound scheme at bottom, else it would not survive such cruel strains. -- H.l. Mencken
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It is Hell, of course, that makes priests powerful, not Heaven, for after thousands of years of so-called civilization fear remains the one common denominator of mankind -- H.l. Mencken
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In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican. -- H.l. Mencken
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Nine out of ten Americans are actually monarchists at bottom. The fact is proved by their high suseptibility to political claims by president's sons and other relatives, usually nonentities. -- H.l. Mencken
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The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all. -- H.l. Mencken
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Imagine the Creator as a low comedian, and at once the world becomes explicable. -- H.l. Mencken
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It takes a long while for a naturally trustful person to reconcile himself to the idea that after all God will not help him -- H.l. Mencken
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Human progress is furthered, not by conformity, but by aberration. -- H.l. Mencken
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I have seen something of the horrors of war, and much too much of the worse horrors of peace. -- H.l. Mencken
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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. -- H.l. Mencken
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Journalism is to politician as dog is to lamp-post. -- H.l. Mencken
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A large part of altruism, even when it is perfectly honest, is grounded upon the fact that it is uncomfortable to have unhappy people about one. -- H.l. Mencken
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Any man who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them misunderstood. -- H.l. Mencken
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Liberty and democracy are eternal enemies, and every one knows it who has ever given any sober reflection to the matter. -- H.l. Mencken
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The liberation of the human mind has never been furthered by dunderheads -- H.l. Mencken
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Every reader of the Dreiser novels must cherish astounding specimens
of awkward, platitudinous marginalia, of whole scenes spoiled by bad writing, of phrases as brackish as so many lumps of sodium hyposulphite. -- H.l. Mencken
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On one issue, at least, men and women agree: they both distrust women. -- H.l. Mencken
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It is, indeed, one of the capital tragedies of youth-and youth is the time of real tragedy-that the young are thrown mainly with adults they do not quite respect. -- H.l. Mencken
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Never underestimate the bad taste of the American public -- H.l. Mencken
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A man always blames the woman who fools him. In the same way he blames the door he walks into in the dark. -- H.l. Mencken
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If the average man is made in God's image, then such a man as Beethoven or Aristotle is plainly superior to God ... -- H.l. Mencken
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A man's satisfaction with his salary depends on whether he makes more than his wife's sister's husband. -- H.l. Mencken
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For me to go into politics would be like sending a virgin into a house of ill-repute. -- H.l. Mencken
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It is impossible to think of a man of any actual force and originality, universally recognized as having those qualities, who spent his whole life appraising and describing the work of other men. -- H.l. Mencken
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The central belief of every moron is that he is the victim of a mysterious conspiracy against his common rights and true deserts. -- H.l. Mencken
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I roll out of my couch every morning with the more agreeable expectations. -- H.l. Mencken
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The believing mind reaches its perihelion in the so-called Liberals. They believe in each and every quack who sets up his booth inthe fairgrounds, including the Communists. The Communists have some talents too, but they always fall short of believing in the Liberals. -- H.l. Mencken
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A woman wishes to mother a man simply because she sees into his helplessness, his need of an amiable environment, his touching self-delusion. -- H.l. Mencken
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No one hates his job so heartily as a farmer. -- H.l. Mencken
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Socialist: A man suffering from an overwhelming conviction to believe what is not true. -- H.l. Mencken
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People constantly speak of 'the government' doing this or that, as they might speak of God doing it. But the government is really nothing but a group of men, and usually they are very inferior men. They may have some better man working for them, but they themselves are seldom worthy of any respect. -- H.l. Mencken
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The true bureaucrat is a man of really remarkable talents. He writes a kind of English that is unknown elsewhere in the world, and an almost infinite capacity for forming complicated and unworkable rules. -- H.l. Mencken
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As animals go, even in so limited a space as our world, man is botched and ridiculous. Few other brutes are so stupid, so docile or so cowardly. -- H.l. Mencken
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Fame: an embalmer trembling with stage fright. -- H.l. Mencken