Day: March 17, 2018

State-Enforced Paganism in America


But the most powerfully dangerous ideation of the sexual revolution has arisen in the form of transgenderism, which advocates freedom to choose gender, thus distorting, blurring, or even eradicating the distinction between male and female.

How did matters regarding sexuality come to such a pass in a country that once was, and in many ways still is, a deeply Christian nation?

The fact is that Christianity in America has been under relentless attack for decades by the left, which has routinely embraced and promoted the power of the State when it involves encouraging unrestrained human will, particularly in sexual matters. Radical leftists see in practicing Christians, whose mores are antithetical to the new barbarism, as an unwelcome restraint on an ideology that promotes the doctrines that choices of sexual expression and choices of gender are absolute rights.

The antagonism of the left toward Christians has reached such red-hot heat that because of the influence of the transgender movement, the State recently intervened to take a child away from her parents. According to the Washington Times, a Hamilton County, Ohio, judge took the teen “away from her parents because they refused to allow the 17-year-old to undergo hormone treatments as part of a female-to-male transition. The parents objected to the transition procedures because of their religious beliefs and refused to call their daughter by her chosen, male name, court records show.”

How are Christians reacting? Unfortunately, not with enough outrage.

Christians generally see attacks on their brethren in terms of one-off skirmishes — a parent or two here; a calligrapher there; a baker over there. By and large, Christians merely watch as individuals whose consciences won’t permit cooperation with radical paganism are sued and forced out of business; their jobs lost, their children taken away from them, their adoption and counseling services crushed because they are deemed as not “inclusive” enough or as promoting “hate;” their kids forced out of school because they won’t kiss the pagan’s ring by saying gender is a choice. Many Christians feel safe as long as they can attend church services that are not interrupted by SWAT teams breaking in to arrest congregants.

In sum, the broader outlines of the battle against Christians and Christian mores are often not clearly seen.

But as Hilaire Belloc presciently discerned decades ago, what he called the “New Paganism” is not confined to isolated attacks against individuals who happen to be Christian.

The attacks are directed toward Christianity itself. The left’s hope is to exterminate The Way altogether in order their pagan religion prevail throughout American society.

Belloc wrote: “The New Paganism is in process of building up a society of its own, wherein will be apparent two features novel in what used to be Christendom. Those two features have already appeared and will spread each in its own sphere, the one in the sphere of law — that is, of coercive enactment — the other in the sphere of status, that is, in the organization of society…In the first sphere, that of positive law, the New Paganism has already begun to produce and cannot but produce more and more a mass of restrictive legislation.”

The New Paganism utilizes the powers of the State, particularly the law and the courts, in order to change the foundations of a Christianized West and to promote paganism, even barbarism, as the basis of Western society. Barbarism then seeks to use the State to achieve an iron and tyrannous order, beginning with crushing dissenters like Christians, who believe they are to obey God rather than the State.

The first stages of the facilitation of the New Pagan society are achieved by a welter of restrictions against Christians. To promote unrestricted human will, particularly as regards sexual behavior and the self-definition promulgated by the transgender movement, inevitably means Christians who protest must be completely restrained by multifarious regulations and restrictions. Such restrictions include a push to exclude Christians from holding public office and increasingly deprive them of freedom of speech. Joy Behar’s attack against Vice President Mike Pence, in which she dismissed him as “mentally ill” because he prayed to Jesus and so was unfit for office is but one of many attacks. The broader implication is that all devout Christians are inherently unbalanced, irrational people and therefore should be denied office.

For the New Pagans, the inner voice that tells an “otherkin” he is actually a fox is absolutely rational. His choice to be another species is to be ratified by all of society. But Christians who believe the Ten Commandments are an expression of God’s higher laws are irrational and must be expunged from any meaningful role in society.

Persecution of Christians is nothing new, of course; though it has been relatively restrained in America until recent decades.

Instances of persecution abound, both past and present. During the reign of Louis XIV of France, the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which had offered some protection of the Huguenot minority, meant Protestants were deprived of any rights whatever. The Sun King’s enforcer, Cardinal de Richelieu, succeeded in breaking any political power held by Huguenots by banning them from holding public office and by decreeing their children be taken from their homes to be instructed in the tenets of the Catholic faith, which was to be absolute.

In similar manner, America’s Christian parents, protestant and Catholic alike — most of whom do not have affordable and easily accessible alternatives — find their children forcibly instructed in the tenets of New Paganism in public schools. The doctrines of the New Paganism, including polytheistic multiculturalism, moral relativism, and political correctness exclude teaching of Christian principles.

Many of the victories against Christians have been achieved because Christians themselves have absorbed the left’s false interpretation of the First Amendment, which though guaranteeing religious freedom in its fullest sense, has been distorted by the left to mean that Christians have no place in the public square and that their rituals of faith must be confined within Church walls.

The result is that many Christians have accepted and even promoted the idea that Christians should not be involved in politics and indeed the broader culture. By and large, they have wound up accepting the persecutory policies directed against them, accepting being Christian only behind the closed doors of their churches, their homes, and their narrow church subcultures.

The lack of resistance has meant the New Paganism has succeeded in creating a network of stifling regulations affecting every area of Christian life. As Belloc put it, the regulatory onslaught means each department of life will be affected. Like Gulliver rendered unable to rise, Christians are increasingly hobbled by a legal “network that spread[s] and bind[s] those subject to it under a compulsion which cannot be escaped.”

Belloc pinpoints the problem as lying with “those moderns who will make of religion an individual thing [and no Catholic can evade the corporate quality of religion], telling us that its object being personal holiness and the salvation of the individual soul, it can have no concern with politics. On the contrary, the concern of religion with politics is inevitable.”

He adds that Christian doctrine always has broader implications for all of society. Difference in doctrine is at the root of all political and social differences; therefore, is the struggle for or against true doctrine the most vital of struggles.”

The New Paganism, which in its most current form of transgenderism is both anti-Christian and anti-science — and thus anti-Western — is deeply committed to the use of state power to quell opposition, Christian or otherwise, as has recently been shown in the case of a feminist British woman who was interrogated by police because her tweets questioning the castration of a sixteen-year-old boy were deemed prejudicial to transgenderism. All dissenters, not just Christians, should be appalled by such raw use of state power to suppress opposing views.

The New Paganism is bound to think America would be better if it were rid of Christians. Riddled with pre-science superstitions better belonging to pagan barbarism, the New Paganism is dead set against any restraints whatsoever. Christians, however, know human will is capable of great evil, particularly when it brooks no restraint. They know human will must be restrained by allegiance to a higher law than the state. They know the New Paganism is horribly regressive and inevitably oppressive, as are all ideologies that permit the absolute ascendency of human will, be it the will of an elite class or individuals. The ineluctable descent of the sexual revolution into bestiality, pedophilia and the mutilation of the human body in order to create a facsimile of the opposite sex are revelatory of a truly barbarous religion.

The Christian Church must respond vigorously or sink into paganism itself, as is already happening in some Main Line churches that are creating liturgies to bless bodily mutilation as spiritually transformative and as a way of attaining self-salvation. The Church must reject the new barbarism and its tyrannous assault on Christianity or find itself overwhelmed by the avid worshippers of the new gods. For when the God of Christianity is rejected, new and far, far worse gods arise to demand worship.

As Belloc himself concluded: “Men do not live long without gods; but when the gods of the New Paganism come they will not be merely insufficient, as were the gods of Greece, nor merely false; they will be evil. One might put it in a sentence, and say that the New Paganism, foolishly expecting satisfaction, will fall, before it knows where it is, into Satanism.”

Fay Voshell holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her its prize for excellence in systematic theology. Her thoughts have appeared in many online magazines, including American Thinker, National Review, CNN, Fox News and RealClearReligion. She may be reached at fvoshell@yahoo.com  

Recently the Huffington Post published an interview with Malcom Brenner, who had sex with a dolphin. He defended his bestiality, saying: “And I’m hoping that in a more enlightened future, zoophilia will be no more regarded as controversial or harmful than interracial sex is today.”

For those who have watched the steady descent of the sexual revolution into an abyss of deviancy, there is not much that surprises. Many predicted the results of following the “If it feels good, do it” mantra of the 60s would mean open season on all Christian sexual mores. They have watched as the so-called freedom of sexual choice has become so absolute that even pedophilia is viewed with increasing acceptance.

But the most powerfully dangerous ideation of the sexual revolution has arisen in the form of transgenderism, which advocates freedom to choose gender, thus distorting, blurring, or even eradicating the distinction between male and female.

How did matters regarding sexuality come to such a pass in a country that once was, and in many ways still is, a deeply Christian nation?

The fact is that Christianity in America has been under relentless attack for decades by the left, which has routinely embraced and promoted the power of the State when it involves encouraging unrestrained human will, particularly in sexual matters. Radical leftists see in practicing Christians, whose mores are antithetical to the new barbarism, as an unwelcome restraint on an ideology that promotes the doctrines that choices of sexual expression and choices of gender are absolute rights.

The antagonism of the left toward Christians has reached such red-hot heat that because of the influence of the transgender movement, the State recently intervened to take a child away from her parents. According to the Washington Times, a Hamilton County, Ohio, judge took the teen “away from her parents because they refused to allow the 17-year-old to undergo hormone treatments as part of a female-to-male transition. The parents objected to the transition procedures because of their religious beliefs and refused to call their daughter by her chosen, male name, court records show.”

How are Christians reacting? Unfortunately, not with enough outrage.

Christians generally see attacks on their brethren in terms of one-off skirmishes — a parent or two here; a calligrapher there; a baker over there. By and large, Christians merely watch as individuals whose consciences won’t permit cooperation with radical paganism are sued and forced out of business; their jobs lost, their children taken away from them, their adoption and counseling services crushed because they are deemed as not “inclusive” enough or as promoting “hate;” their kids forced out of school because they won’t kiss the pagan’s ring by saying gender is a choice. Many Christians feel safe as long as they can attend church services that are not interrupted by SWAT teams breaking in to arrest congregants.

In sum, the broader outlines of the battle against Christians and Christian mores are often not clearly seen.

But as Hilaire Belloc presciently discerned decades ago, what he called the “New Paganism” is not confined to isolated attacks against individuals who happen to be Christian.

The attacks are directed toward Christianity itself. The left’s hope is to exterminate The Way altogether in order their pagan religion prevail throughout American society.

Belloc wrote: “The New Paganism is in process of building up a society of its own, wherein will be apparent two features novel in what used to be Christendom. Those two features have already appeared and will spread each in its own sphere, the one in the sphere of law — that is, of coercive enactment — the other in the sphere of status, that is, in the organization of society…In the first sphere, that of positive law, the New Paganism has already begun to produce and cannot but produce more and more a mass of restrictive legislation.”

The New Paganism utilizes the powers of the State, particularly the law and the courts, in order to change the foundations of a Christianized West and to promote paganism, even barbarism, as the basis of Western society. Barbarism then seeks to use the State to achieve an iron and tyrannous order, beginning with crushing dissenters like Christians, who believe they are to obey God rather than the State.

The first stages of the facilitation of the New Pagan society are achieved by a welter of restrictions against Christians. To promote unrestricted human will, particularly as regards sexual behavior and the self-definition promulgated by the transgender movement, inevitably means Christians who protest must be completely restrained by multifarious regulations and restrictions. Such restrictions include a push to exclude Christians from holding public office and increasingly deprive them of freedom of speech. Joy Behar’s attack against Vice President Mike Pence, in which she dismissed him as “mentally ill” because he prayed to Jesus and so was unfit for office is but one of many attacks. The broader implication is that all devout Christians are inherently unbalanced, irrational people and therefore should be denied office.

For the New Pagans, the inner voice that tells an “otherkin” he is actually a fox is absolutely rational. His choice to be another species is to be ratified by all of society. But Christians who believe the Ten Commandments are an expression of God’s higher laws are irrational and must be expunged from any meaningful role in society.

Persecution of Christians is nothing new, of course; though it has been relatively restrained in America until recent decades.

Instances of persecution abound, both past and present. During the reign of Louis XIV of France, the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which had offered some protection of the Huguenot minority, meant Protestants were deprived of any rights whatever. The Sun King’s enforcer, Cardinal de Richelieu, succeeded in breaking any political power held by Huguenots by banning them from holding public office and by decreeing their children be taken from their homes to be instructed in the tenets of the Catholic faith, which was to be absolute.

In similar manner, America’s Christian parents, protestant and Catholic alike — most of whom do not have affordable and easily accessible alternatives — find their children forcibly instructed in the tenets of New Paganism in public schools. The doctrines of the New Paganism, including polytheistic multiculturalism, moral relativism, and political correctness exclude teaching of Christian principles.

Many of the victories against Christians have been achieved because Christians themselves have absorbed the left’s false interpretation of the First Amendment, which though guaranteeing religious freedom in its fullest sense, has been distorted by the left to mean that Christians have no place in the public square and that their rituals of faith must be confined within Church walls.

The result is that many Christians have accepted and even promoted the idea that Christians should not be involved in politics and indeed the broader culture. By and large, they have wound up accepting the persecutory policies directed against them, accepting being Christian only behind the closed doors of their churches, their homes, and their narrow church subcultures.

The lack of resistance has meant the New Paganism has succeeded in creating a network of stifling regulations affecting every area of Christian life. As Belloc put it, the regulatory onslaught means each department of life will be affected. Like Gulliver rendered unable to rise, Christians are increasingly hobbled by a legal “network that spread[s] and bind[s] those subject to it under a compulsion which cannot be escaped.”

Belloc pinpoints the problem as lying with “those moderns who will make of religion an individual thing [and no Catholic can evade the corporate quality of religion], telling us that its object being personal holiness and the salvation of the individual soul, it can have no concern with politics. On the contrary, the concern of religion with politics is inevitable.”

He adds that Christian doctrine always has broader implications for all of society. Difference in doctrine is at the root of all political and social differences; therefore, is the struggle for or against true doctrine the most vital of struggles.”

The New Paganism, which in its most current form of transgenderism is both anti-Christian and anti-science — and thus anti-Western — is deeply committed to the use of state power to quell opposition, Christian or otherwise, as has recently been shown in the case of a feminist British woman who was interrogated by police because her tweets questioning the castration of a sixteen-year-old boy were deemed prejudicial to transgenderism. All dissenters, not just Christians, should be appalled by such raw use of state power to suppress opposing views.

The New Paganism is bound to think America would be better if it were rid of Christians. Riddled with pre-science superstitions better belonging to pagan barbarism, the New Paganism is dead set against any restraints whatsoever. Christians, however, know human will is capable of great evil, particularly when it brooks no restraint. They know human will must be restrained by allegiance to a higher law than the state. They know the New Paganism is horribly regressive and inevitably oppressive, as are all ideologies that permit the absolute ascendency of human will, be it the will of an elite class or individuals. The ineluctable descent of the sexual revolution into bestiality, pedophilia and the mutilation of the human body in order to create a facsimile of the opposite sex are revelatory of a truly barbarous religion.

The Christian Church must respond vigorously or sink into paganism itself, as is already happening in some Main Line churches that are creating liturgies to bless bodily mutilation as spiritually transformative and as a way of attaining self-salvation. The Church must reject the new barbarism and its tyrannous assault on Christianity or find itself overwhelmed by the avid worshippers of the new gods. For when the God of Christianity is rejected, new and far, far worse gods arise to demand worship.

As Belloc himself concluded: “Men do not live long without gods; but when the gods of the New Paganism come they will not be merely insufficient, as were the gods of Greece, nor merely false; they will be evil. One might put it in a sentence, and say that the New Paganism, foolishly expecting satisfaction, will fall, before it knows where it is, into Satanism.”

Fay Voshell holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her its prize for excellence in systematic theology. Her thoughts have appeared in many online magazines, including American Thinker, National Review, CNN, Fox News and RealClearReligion. She may be reached at fvoshell@yahoo.com  



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Waco: The Untold Story



Twenty-five years after the Waco atrocity, questions still remain to be answered. 



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In Praise of the Hustler


Everyone is always looking for the big advantage.  Whether it’s a military weapon that a country can use to threaten other countries with in order to get their way or some product or technological superiority that a company can use to favorably leverage its position in the marketplace or even a superstar athlete whose presence always tips the balance in favor of his team, everyone wants that special element that delivers the edge.

Here are some good examples from different walks of life.

The B-58 Hustler

During the height of the Cold War in the late ’50s and early ’60s, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were constantly vying for bragging rights with a never-ending string of new and impressive weapons.  New aircraft, submarines, and ICBMs came on line, one after another, as the two adversaries tried to gain the upper hand and show the rest of the world which country and – by direct implication – which system (communism versus capitalism) could produce the superior technological product.

Certainly, no new aircraft of that era was more impressive than America’s Convair B-58 Hustler.  The B-58 was a sinister-looking, futuristic, four-engined delta-winged bomber capable of amazing supersonic speeds that most fighter planes of its day couldn’t match.  It was designed to be fast enough to deliver a nuclear strike on the Russian homeland and then evade their defenses with its blinding speed.  The Hustler was so fast that it set several worldwide speed records in its day, many of which stood for decades.  (Several of these were set by Major Henry J. Deutschendorf, Sr., father of the noted pop-folk singer John Denver.)

Its presence was a shock to the world.  No one had anything like it, not even remotely.  The Russians’ medium bomber counterpart was the slow, obsolete TU-16 Badger, a plane that was as antiquated as the Sopwith Camel next to the sleek Hustler.


Convair B-58 Hustler.

The Hustler was very expensive to buy and operate; it had a terrible reliability record; and it proved to be a troublesome, dangerous plane to fly, with the unacceptably high accident and attrition rate of nearly 20%.  All these factors conspired to limit the Hustler’s operational career to barely a decade, from 1960 to 1970.  (In comparison, the B-52 bomber has just entered its 62nd year of continuous front-line service with one country, a record unmatched by any combat aircraft in history.)

Still, at the time of the Hustler’s appearance, the world stopped and gasped, while the Soviets frantically tried to match it with something of their own.

The Chrysler Minivan

It’s rare that an automotive product creates a brand-new, permanent category, but that’s exactly what the 1984 Chrysler minivans did.  Recognizing an unfulfilled need in the personal automotive market segment for an efficient, easy-to-drive vehicle that could transport a large family and their belongings to school, Little League practice, or vacation, Chrysler improvised upon their “K-car” chassis and came out with the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager minivans.


Chrysler Minivan.

With trim exterior dimensions and familiar carlike driving dynamics, the new minivans struck a chord with the buying public and were an immediate smash success.  All the other carmakers scrambled to come out with their own versions, but with constant upgrades and improvements, the Chryslers remained the market leaders for several more years.

They had more than their fair share of flaws – the first ones were seriously underpowered, they suffered from the notorious early-’80s Chrysler quality issues, and they weren’t exactly good-lookers – but they satisfied the market demand far better and sooner than anything or anybody else.  If ever something defined The Advantage, it was the 1984 Chrysler minivan.

The Game-Changing Athlete – Randy Johnson (2002)

Randy Johnson in 2002 was the quintessential athletic secret weapon, the player who redefined any game he appeared in, the one whose mere presence demoralized the opposition and left them with a feeling of despair and hopelessness.  Standing an intimidating 6 feet, 10 inches tall, Johnson’s nickname was the Big Unit.  In a Hall of Fame career that saw him chalk up an amazing 303 victories, 2002 may have been his best season ever.  He won 24 games (a “20-game winner” is the benchmark for excellence, a rare feat these days) and struck out 334 batters in only 260 innings.  (More than one strikeout per inning is the mark of a true power pitcher.  This was way more than one per inning.) 


Randy Johnson.

Possessing one of the hardest fastballs in baseball history and being just wild enough that no one could be totally certain where his pitches would actually go, most of the opposition was afraid to even stand in the batter’s box and face him.  Some batters on other teams secretly hoped they would be benched the day they were scheduled to face Johnson, or they were simply happy to avoid getting hit by one of his pitches.

On the days that Johnson pitched in 2002, his Arizona Diamondbacks enjoyed an advantage over other teams rarely, if ever, matched in baseball history.

So it is in politics also.  The situation at hand – be it a catastrophic overseas event, an economic crisis, a domestic societal disturbance or something else – may seem to favor one party over the other and it looks as if the other party is going to be on the outs forever.  In that same vein, when one party or the other produces a seemingly “perfect” candidate, with just the right looks, the ideal ethnicity or gender, spouting just the right phraseology, it seems as though that party will never lose again.

However, if there is one thing that history teaches us over and over, it’s that the edge is always temporary, the advantage is fleeting.  Circumstances, whether they’re market conditions, military stances, or political alignments, are constantly shifting, and today’s paradigm-changer is often tomorrow’s relic.

Nonetheless, the Hustler of any given day is an impressive entity, regardless of what the future brings.

Everyone is always looking for the big advantage.  Whether it’s a military weapon that a country can use to threaten other countries with in order to get their way or some product or technological superiority that a company can use to favorably leverage its position in the marketplace or even a superstar athlete whose presence always tips the balance in favor of his team, everyone wants that special element that delivers the edge.

Here are some good examples from different walks of life.

The B-58 Hustler

During the height of the Cold War in the late ’50s and early ’60s, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were constantly vying for bragging rights with a never-ending string of new and impressive weapons.  New aircraft, submarines, and ICBMs came on line, one after another, as the two adversaries tried to gain the upper hand and show the rest of the world which country and – by direct implication – which system (communism versus capitalism) could produce the superior technological product.

Certainly, no new aircraft of that era was more impressive than America’s Convair B-58 Hustler.  The B-58 was a sinister-looking, futuristic, four-engined delta-winged bomber capable of amazing supersonic speeds that most fighter planes of its day couldn’t match.  It was designed to be fast enough to deliver a nuclear strike on the Russian homeland and then evade their defenses with its blinding speed.  The Hustler was so fast that it set several worldwide speed records in its day, many of which stood for decades.  (Several of these were set by Major Henry J. Deutschendorf, Sr., father of the noted pop-folk singer John Denver.)

Its presence was a shock to the world.  No one had anything like it, not even remotely.  The Russians’ medium bomber counterpart was the slow, obsolete TU-16 Badger, a plane that was as antiquated as the Sopwith Camel next to the sleek Hustler.


Convair B-58 Hustler.

The Hustler was very expensive to buy and operate; it had a terrible reliability record; and it proved to be a troublesome, dangerous plane to fly, with the unacceptably high accident and attrition rate of nearly 20%.  All these factors conspired to limit the Hustler’s operational career to barely a decade, from 1960 to 1970.  (In comparison, the B-52 bomber has just entered its 62nd year of continuous front-line service with one country, a record unmatched by any combat aircraft in history.)

Still, at the time of the Hustler’s appearance, the world stopped and gasped, while the Soviets frantically tried to match it with something of their own.

The Chrysler Minivan

It’s rare that an automotive product creates a brand-new, permanent category, but that’s exactly what the 1984 Chrysler minivans did.  Recognizing an unfulfilled need in the personal automotive market segment for an efficient, easy-to-drive vehicle that could transport a large family and their belongings to school, Little League practice, or vacation, Chrysler improvised upon their “K-car” chassis and came out with the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager minivans.


Chrysler Minivan.

With trim exterior dimensions and familiar carlike driving dynamics, the new minivans struck a chord with the buying public and were an immediate smash success.  All the other carmakers scrambled to come out with their own versions, but with constant upgrades and improvements, the Chryslers remained the market leaders for several more years.

They had more than their fair share of flaws – the first ones were seriously underpowered, they suffered from the notorious early-’80s Chrysler quality issues, and they weren’t exactly good-lookers – but they satisfied the market demand far better and sooner than anything or anybody else.  If ever something defined The Advantage, it was the 1984 Chrysler minivan.

The Game-Changing Athlete – Randy Johnson (2002)

Randy Johnson in 2002 was the quintessential athletic secret weapon, the player who redefined any game he appeared in, the one whose mere presence demoralized the opposition and left them with a feeling of despair and hopelessness.  Standing an intimidating 6 feet, 10 inches tall, Johnson’s nickname was the Big Unit.  In a Hall of Fame career that saw him chalk up an amazing 303 victories, 2002 may have been his best season ever.  He won 24 games (a “20-game winner” is the benchmark for excellence, a rare feat these days) and struck out 334 batters in only 260 innings.  (More than one strikeout per inning is the mark of a true power pitcher.  This was way more than one per inning.) 


Randy Johnson.

Possessing one of the hardest fastballs in baseball history and being just wild enough that no one could be totally certain where his pitches would actually go, most of the opposition was afraid to even stand in the batter’s box and face him.  Some batters on other teams secretly hoped they would be benched the day they were scheduled to face Johnson, or they were simply happy to avoid getting hit by one of his pitches.

On the days that Johnson pitched in 2002, his Arizona Diamondbacks enjoyed an advantage over other teams rarely, if ever, matched in baseball history.

So it is in politics also.  The situation at hand – be it a catastrophic overseas event, an economic crisis, a domestic societal disturbance or something else – may seem to favor one party over the other and it looks as if the other party is going to be on the outs forever.  In that same vein, when one party or the other produces a seemingly “perfect” candidate, with just the right looks, the ideal ethnicity or gender, spouting just the right phraseology, it seems as though that party will never lose again.

However, if there is one thing that history teaches us over and over, it’s that the edge is always temporary, the advantage is fleeting.  Circumstances, whether they’re market conditions, military stances, or political alignments, are constantly shifting, and today’s paradigm-changer is often tomorrow’s relic.

Nonetheless, the Hustler of any given day is an impressive entity, regardless of what the future brings.



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Did Free Speech Destroy American Democracy?


Would giving up our constitutional rights make our country more democratic?  Would regulating speech make government more accountable to the people?  Shockingly, some answer these questions with “yes.”

Figures ranging from Harvard academic Lawrence Lessig to former president Jimmy Carter have said America is no longer a democratic republic.  The latest entrant to this ritual is another Harvard professor, Yascha Mounk, who repeats these claims in the Atlantic.  These men push a similar formula for their grievances about our system: restrict political spending, then watch democracy flourish.  In reality, political spending is an essential expression of free speech that brings new voices into politics and makes our republic more vibrant. 

Mounk strangely attributes this “democratic deficit” to one main cause: corporations.  He recounts an alternative history whereby businesses lacked influence in politics for much of the 20th century – an assertion that may surprise those who know about the political battles over labor laws and health policy.  This all supposedly changed in the 1970s, when business increased its political footprint, leading to an influx of campaign spending.  (In fact, the 1970s is when federal regulation of campaign finance began to significantly increase.)

Besides being ahistorical, this line of thinking has dangerous implications that we’ve seen before.  Demonizing political spending justifies policies aimed at deterring the rich in theory but that actually burden ordinary citizens.  For every wealthy donor attacked on the floor of the U.S. Senate, there are many other average Americans harassed because the law requires that their political giving be put online.  For every program sending tax dollars to politicians to supposedly reduce the sway of big donors, there is an increased chance that corrupt candidates will find new ways to cheat the system.  Worse yet, efforts to deter political participation leave more power for abuse by government agencies – witness IRS abuses against Tea Party groups or pre-dawn police raids over alleged “coordination” between candidates and advocacy groups in Wisconsin.

Mounk calls for more campaign finance restrictions at several points without noting specifics.  (Indeed, apart from one widely criticized study, he does not cite empirical evidence for his claims about money in politics at all.)  But the policies he does mention suggest a draconian approach to cracking down on First Amendment rights.

He recalls favorably how states like Georgia and California literally criminalized the practice of lobbying – better known in the Constitution as “the freedom … to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  He also advocates for overturning Citizens United – a case where the government tried to ban a movie that criticized then-senator Hillary Clinton when she was running for president, simply because it was made by a corporation.  Imagine paying a fine or facing jail time for daring to interact with other voters or elected officials in the “wrong” way or at the “wrong” time.

The call for more speech laws also contradicts Mounk’s own critiques.  He warns how federal agencies like the FCC and SEC have “supplanted” the job of lawmaking.  Yet the policies he mentions would only give more power to those agencies and others, like the FEC and the IRS.  That does not make America more democratic, but more bureaucratic.

What would make America more democratic would be enabling more political speech and participation.  The recent decline in campaign finance restrictions has coincided with the breakdown of traditional party elites.  The result is a rise in independent speech and more people running for office.  It is hard to argue in the era of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders that elites have tightened their grasp on our elections.

It’s true that Americans have an enduring skepticism of large, monopolistic institutions – both private and public.  If the goal is to decentralize power, the answer is surely not to allow opaque federal agencies to ban certain types of speech or enable politically motivated harassment of private citizens.  Engaging in public debate is how free speech should work in a democracy.  In a republic, that right cannot be taken away.

Joe Albanese is a research fellow at the Institute for Free Speech in Alexandria, Virginia.  The Institute is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to defending First Amendment political speech rights.

Would giving up our constitutional rights make our country more democratic?  Would regulating speech make government more accountable to the people?  Shockingly, some answer these questions with “yes.”

Figures ranging from Harvard academic Lawrence Lessig to former president Jimmy Carter have said America is no longer a democratic republic.  The latest entrant to this ritual is another Harvard professor, Yascha Mounk, who repeats these claims in the Atlantic.  These men push a similar formula for their grievances about our system: restrict political spending, then watch democracy flourish.  In reality, political spending is an essential expression of free speech that brings new voices into politics and makes our republic more vibrant. 

Mounk strangely attributes this “democratic deficit” to one main cause: corporations.  He recounts an alternative history whereby businesses lacked influence in politics for much of the 20th century – an assertion that may surprise those who know about the political battles over labor laws and health policy.  This all supposedly changed in the 1970s, when business increased its political footprint, leading to an influx of campaign spending.  (In fact, the 1970s is when federal regulation of campaign finance began to significantly increase.)

Besides being ahistorical, this line of thinking has dangerous implications that we’ve seen before.  Demonizing political spending justifies policies aimed at deterring the rich in theory but that actually burden ordinary citizens.  For every wealthy donor attacked on the floor of the U.S. Senate, there are many other average Americans harassed because the law requires that their political giving be put online.  For every program sending tax dollars to politicians to supposedly reduce the sway of big donors, there is an increased chance that corrupt candidates will find new ways to cheat the system.  Worse yet, efforts to deter political participation leave more power for abuse by government agencies – witness IRS abuses against Tea Party groups or pre-dawn police raids over alleged “coordination” between candidates and advocacy groups in Wisconsin.

Mounk calls for more campaign finance restrictions at several points without noting specifics.  (Indeed, apart from one widely criticized study, he does not cite empirical evidence for his claims about money in politics at all.)  But the policies he does mention suggest a draconian approach to cracking down on First Amendment rights.

He recalls favorably how states like Georgia and California literally criminalized the practice of lobbying – better known in the Constitution as “the freedom … to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  He also advocates for overturning Citizens United – a case where the government tried to ban a movie that criticized then-senator Hillary Clinton when she was running for president, simply because it was made by a corporation.  Imagine paying a fine or facing jail time for daring to interact with other voters or elected officials in the “wrong” way or at the “wrong” time.

The call for more speech laws also contradicts Mounk’s own critiques.  He warns how federal agencies like the FCC and SEC have “supplanted” the job of lawmaking.  Yet the policies he mentions would only give more power to those agencies and others, like the FEC and the IRS.  That does not make America more democratic, but more bureaucratic.

What would make America more democratic would be enabling more political speech and participation.  The recent decline in campaign finance restrictions has coincided with the breakdown of traditional party elites.  The result is a rise in independent speech and more people running for office.  It is hard to argue in the era of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders that elites have tightened their grasp on our elections.

It’s true that Americans have an enduring skepticism of large, monopolistic institutions – both private and public.  If the goal is to decentralize power, the answer is surely not to allow opaque federal agencies to ban certain types of speech or enable politically motivated harassment of private citizens.  Engaging in public debate is how free speech should work in a democracy.  In a republic, that right cannot be taken away.

Joe Albanese is a research fellow at the Institute for Free Speech in Alexandria, Virginia.  The Institute is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to defending First Amendment political speech rights.



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