Where is HL Mencken when we need him?

A few years back, I finally ascended to a stage of enlightenment that Mencken reached at a much younger age. Politics is such a grotesque combination of stupidity and malice that the only way to stay sane is to treat it as a carnival of fools.

The recent competition between the GOP and Dems as to which party can more effectively commit suicide provides a rich source of amusement for those of us who find laughter the only appropriate response to American politics.

This NYT headline provides a nice example:

Why Republicans Could Impeach a Liberal Judge Before She’s Heard a Case

A few observations:

1. Wisconsin is the most purple state in the union, indeed it was the deciding state in both the 2016 and 2020 elections. Statewide races for governor and senator are razor close. And yet the GOP managed to recently lose a Supreme Court race by no less than 11 points, through a misguided attempt to ban abortion. Instead of accepting their defeat, they have channeled Bertolt Brecht and decided to impeach the voters.

2. The “excuse” is that the new justice should recuse herself, as she had previously expressed an opinion on the abortion issue. Of course no one believes that; the GOP isn’t trying to impeach GOP justices that ruled on issues for which they had previously expressed an opinion:

As at the U.S. Supreme Court, recusal decisions are left to the Wisconsin justices themselves. In years past, conservative justices have argued that personal views they had previously stated did not mean they were required to recuse themselves from relevant cases.

For example, Justice Brian Hagedorn once compared homosexuality to bestiality, called Planned Parenthood “a wicked organization” and wrote that “Christianity is the correct religion, and that insofar as others contradict it, they are wrong.” He has said those statements would not warrant his recusal on cases about abortion, gay rights or religion.

3. President Biden must be praying each night before he goes to bed that the GOP will succeed. It’s not that Trump cannot win without Wisconsin, but the margin of error becomes much smaller.

4. In the end, I have to assume that at least one GOP senator will break ranks, and vote against impeachment. But the Wisconsin GOP is facing another problem. The new justice threatens not just to overturn the abortion law (a law that GOP politicians don’t really care about, and just pretend to support to attract religious voters), she is also likely to overturn the gerrymandered map that gives the GOP a 2/3 senate majority, in a state where voters are split 50-50.

Either way, the Wisconsin GOP loses. Of course, we all know what Trump wants to happen. Will he come to the defense of that radical left-wing Wisconsin justice?

PS. And don’t think the Dems won’t respond in kind. Look for them to promote the extremely unpopular woke agenda during 2024. Each side is trying its best to commit suicide. Which one is better at self destruction? I don’t have an answer, but the spectacle will be great fun to watch.



13 Responses to “Where is HL Mencken when we need him?”

  1. Gravatar of Acebojangles Acebojangles
    7. September 2023 at 05:46

    What woke agenda do you expect Democrats to promote? Have they promoted a woke agenda in recent elections?

    American political journalism has a strange feature where the most radical views of any Hollywood actor or Twitter activist get attributed to the Democratic Party, while Republicans aren’t held responsible for the views their elected officials express in office.

  2. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    7. September 2023 at 09:29

    Acebojangles, I completely agree about the double standard. The woke excesses tend to be on the fringe, whereas the GOP is totally controlled by an extreme right wing nut.

    Right now, we only have one sane party. But it’s a pretty pathetic sane party. Can’t they do better than Biden?

  3. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    7. September 2023 at 10:04


    They could if Biden wasn’t such a selfish prick. He should obviously retire, he did what he needed to do, time to pass the torch. I suppose behind the scenes the Dems could force him to but it’s kind of late and will look like they are in disarray.

    Very annoyed with Biden. A new, younger face without Biden’s low approval ratings like Newsom or Whitmer would have little trouble beating Trump (assuming a decent economy in late 2024)

  4. Gravatar of viennacapitalist viennacapitalist
    7. September 2023 at 23:40

    it is not my impression that the woke exists only on the fringes. Me (and I believe most people) have the impression that those woke excesses have become pretty mainstream…

  5. Gravatar of Acebojangles Acebojangles
    8. September 2023 at 11:24


    What woke excesses do you associate with Democrats?

  6. Gravatar of Scott Sumner Scott Sumner
    8. September 2023 at 12:17

    msgkings, The same was true of Justice Ginsburg.

    viennacapitalist, Yes, to some extent. But Trump is 100 times more extreme than Biden. So at the very top there’s a huge difference.

  7. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    8. September 2023 at 13:42

    Acebojangles if you cut through the rhetoric about birthing people and invading Mexico to look at what policies they’ll actually implement they are both horrible. So who cares? Just enjoy the clown show.

  8. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    9. September 2023 at 08:37

    Sean, First time around, Trump hired mostly establishment Republicans. This time he promises to hire only fellow extremists. Who knows what will actually happen. Get out your bag of popcorn.

  9. Gravatar of Acebojangles Acebojangles
    11. September 2023 at 06:01


    I disagree. Abortion, immigration, voting rights, climate change, etc are all areas where there are meaningful differences between Trump and Biden administrations.

    More fundamentally, electing an openly corrupt criminal would further erode a lot of our cultural and political norms.

  10. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    11. September 2023 at 09:01

    “further erode a lot of our cultural and political norms.”

    What little is left of them. Presidents can pretty much do whatever they want with no fear of removal from office. The days of Richard Nixon are long gone.

  11. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    12. September 2023 at 07:59

    Maybe the impeachment McCarthy just said will be coming will give the Dems the spine to force Biden to retire but I doubt it

  12. Gravatar of ChacoKevy ChacoKevy
    12. September 2023 at 12:21

    Just want to echo/reinforce Acebojangles. No one here is answering his question of what excesses of the woke can be associated with the Democrats. To further their point, I’ll add that when Tuberville laid out his Defund the Police bait in 2021, not a single D Senator bit. This “plague o’ both your houses!” stuff is nonsense.

  13. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    13. September 2023 at 09:01

    Chacokevy, I try to avoid following this nonsense, for my mental health. But how about this:


    Again, the GOP is far worse, at least at the highest levels. But wokeness really is a problem for the Dems. It’s costing them votes.

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