Monthly Archives: April 2014

Matt Walsh: Here’s the post where I’m accused of defending Donald Sterling

This is impressive. It made me laugh, think, and question! This has to do with Donald Sterling, owner of NBA team Los Angeles Clippers.

It’s really a fascinating thing, when you think about it.

Even a culture like ours — a culture dedicated to hedonism and relativism — has to put on a show every once in a while and pretend it has some semblance of a moral standard. It shows you that those philosophers and theologians were actually onto something when they wrote about Natural Law.

Deep down, in the pit of our being, there exists a need to be good and virtuous; but if being good and virtuous is too hard, then at least we need to find a halfway convincing substitute. Only demons and psychotics would stand and openly proclaim their own evil — the rest of us can act the part, but we still feel the urge to get up and play Morality Charades on occasion.

That’s what comes to mind when I see the reaction to the story about Donald Sterling. If you don’t watch the news (and these days I highly recommend that you don’t), I’ll fill you in on THE SCANDAL OF THE CENTURY:

Sterling is an old, crazy, rich, (alleged) racist who happens to own the LA Clippers. Being old, crazy, and rich, and living in California, he also has a pretty progressive love life. He left his wife a while back and started shacking up with his young west coast mistress. Now, his wife has quite unfairly accused the mistress of gold-digging, all because she just so happened to fall madly in love with a rich married man who showered her with Bentleys, diamonds, and cash.

(It happens to the best of us. Stop judging.)

The wife filed a lawsuit against the mistress, and the mistress allegedly swore to ‘get even.’ Getting even, in this case, evidently involved coaxing her lover into making some very inane and very racist comments, while secretly recording the exchange. To give you an idea of just how inane and racist: Sterling allegedly tells his *minority* mistress that he doesn’t mind if she has sex with minorities, but he doesn’t want her to be seen in public with them.

Well, this audio tape SOMEHOW made its way to that bastion of journalistic integrity known as TMZ — although the girlfriend totally had nothing to do with that, she says.

In a normal and sane society, this sordid soap opera would never be discussed outside of gossip magazines and entertainment shows, because there’s nothing very newsworthy about it. A wealthy, morally bankrupt adulterer in Los Angeles professed some unsavory views, behind closed doors, to his manipulative morally bankrupt girlfriend.

Alright.

And?

Donald Sterling can say and think whatever he wants to say and think. Given his situation, I’m not particularly surprised that he says and thinks offensive things. In fact, his overall lifestyle is far more repugnant than his ludicrous statements about black people.

(*Note* this post originally identified his wife as his “ex-wife.” They are not divorced, I was mistaken. This man is publicly breaking his marriage vows, but still we find his discriminatory racial views to be the most offensive thing about him.)

We permit and even celebrate most forms of evil and debauchery in our society, so our Moral Outrage energy is stored, ready to be unleashed anytime an old white guy utters something untoward about minorities. Having removed sins like baby-killing, pornography, sex-trafficking, and infidelity from the ‘Things to Get Upset About’ column, this seems to be among the only universally-recognized evils remaining.

I guess that explains why the media has pushed this to the front of their headlines, and the President of the United States of America took time out of his trip to Asia to bloviate about it.

And, since I love nothing more than to spoil an overdone, media-hyped Outrage Party, I have a few comments of my own to make:

1) President Obama jumped onto this story immediately after the gossip merchants at TMZ broke the ‘news.’ You’d think, as the President of the United States on an important trip overseas, his remarks would be along these lines: “Yeah, that guy said some messed up stuff. Good thing he’s not an elected official, no crime was committed, nobody was hurt, and none of this has any relevance to the lives of any American who isn’t dating Donald Sterling. Next question.”

That’s how a president who respects his office might respond. But a president who never misses an opportunity to reinforce his progressive racial narrative would instead give a lengthy and thorough statement, which includes this little gem: “The United States continues to wrestle with a legacy of race and slavery and segregation that’s still there — the vestiges of discrimination.”

Yes, he really did paint the LA Clipper owner’s ridiculous, private comments to his girlfriend as some kind of symptom of a larger national issue. Donald Sterling’s stupid opinions about minorities couldn’t just be Donald Sterling’s stupid opinions about minorities – it has to be an indication that the legacy of slavery still thrives nationwide. It exists in Donald Sterling’s heart, so therefore it exists in America as a whole; lingering in the air we breathe, infecting our souls, and turning us into Republicans.

Besides, when it comes to commenting on domestic scandals, President Obama will never live down his cowardly refusal to speak out against Kermit Gosnell. Here was a man who, for thirty years, murdered black infants in his Philadelphia abortion clinic, while his activities were allowed to continue because of the complacency and tacit approval of local, state, and federal agencies. Here was a man who segregated his waiting room by race, and gave better, safer treatment to white patients. Here was a man involved in a murderous scandal that implicated — and still implicates — every level of political authority, and resulted in hundreds of born infants being decapitated, stabbed, and drowned in toilets.

What did Obama say about it?

“I can’t comment.” Abortions should be “safe, legal and rare,” he said, but he “can’t comment.”

“I can’t comment.”

The ONE time his comments would be needed, warranted, and appropriate, and he declined

Forget everything else the man has done. Forget everything else he’s said. All you need to know about Barack Obama the man, and Barack Obama the President, can be summed up by the fact that he immediately and forcefully commented when a black Harvard professor was arrested by a white cop; he immediately and forcefully commented when a black teenager was killed by a Hispanic neighborhood watchman; and he immediately and forcefully commented when a white NBA owner allegedly made some insulting comments about black people — but when an abortionist was allowed to murder black infants for thirty years in the middle of an American city, he said nothing.

In all three of the cases where he did comment, the facts weren’t yet fully known, and the incident had no relevance outside of the area where it occurred. In Gosnell’s case, the facts were established, and the incident encompassed a wide range of local, state, and federal authorities. Yet on the first three he pounced, while on the last case he ran for the hills.

That’s all you need to know about Barack Obama.

2. The LA City Council is drafting a resolution calling for the NBA to sanction Sterling, and labeling his comments as, somehow, a violation of ‘human rights.’ Because we all have a human right to… not be insulted by people in the privacy of their homes…?

Really?

The NBA can do whatever it wants here. I don’t care. However, no government authority has any business getting involved in any capacity whatsoever, unless there are laws in Los Angeles against telling your girlfriend not to go to basketball games with Magic Johnson. I don’t think any such law exists, but I know that a California law against secretly recording private conversations does exist. Therefore, interestingly, if the government steps in at all, the law requires them to step in on behalf of Donald Sterling.

But they probably won’t, because we’ve given up on the law, and we’ve given up on free speech. We’ve given up on it so completely that I will be accused of racism simply for making that statement (see: the comments under this post).

3. Al Sharpton is threatening a boycott. I’m still waiting for Al Sharpton to boycott himselffor his anti-Jewish comments, anti-gay comments, and anti-Mormon comments. Not to mention the time when he helped stir up racial hysteria over a rape hoax, or the other time he helped stir up racial hysteria over a rape hoax, or the time when he incited black mobs to attack Jews in Crown Heights, or the time when he got involved in drug deals before turning snitch for the FBI. I’m waiting for Sharpton to boycott himself for the crime of being Sharpton — i.e. just an overall lying, shameless, despicable, crook.

4. Various rappers have come out of the wordwork to express their dismay over Sterling’s remarks. It’s impossible to ignore the irony when we get this kind of faux-indignation from the precise people responsible for hurting more black kids in more ways than a thousand Donald Sterlings ever could. Racist NBA owners might result in hurt feelings, but the self-destructive culture peddled by these record industry predators results in funerals and prison time for black inner city children. I’m happy to know that Snoop Dogg — writer of such poetic lyrics as “b*tches ain’t sh*t but hoes and tricks” — thinks that Sterling should be ashamed of his repulsive rhetoric. Now that we know how sensitive Snoop Dogg is, let’s just hope he never listens to a Snoop Dogg song.

Lil Wayne also came forward to register his disapproval. This is the same guy who recently wrote lyrics where he called Emmett Till — the 14 year old black kid murdered for flirting with a white woman in the 50′s — a ‘p*ssy.’

But Mr. Wayne is, you know, super sensitive to the historical plight of black Americans.

5. If anything should come of this ordeal, it ought to finally be the complete dismantling of the NAACP. The organization was scheduled to give Sterling a SECOND ‘lifetimeachievement award’ in a few weeks. They’ve since rescinded, but their backtrack doesn’t get them off the hook. If Sterling really has a lifetime of achieving things in the name of civil rights and racial tolerance, wouldn’t they perhaps be a little hesitant to throw the guy under the bus? They sure seem to have cut Sharpton a ton of slack. But if he was only going to be given the honor because he’s a wealthy guy and the NAACP is nothing but a political arm of the Democrat Party, then the move makes sense. So which is it, NAACP? Are you betraying this man who, as you formerly claimed, has dedicated an entire lifetime (TWO lifetimes, in fact) to achieving racial unity, or are you a bunch of Democrat shills doling out political favors?

Hmmm, this is quite the perplexing riddle, isn’t it?

6. Sterling is a jerk. There’s no doubt about that. But I am extremely uncomfortable with seeing a guy get penalized for private, illegally recorded comments he made. Even if I find the comments to be abhorrent, I just don’t like how it feels when we take somebody down based on something they said in their living rooms, off the record.

I’m consistent about this, too. When liberal Alec Baldwin was recorded berating his daughter a few years ago, I said we should be angry at what he’s said publicly, but what he said privately to his family is none of our business. When Mel Gibson was crucified for screaming at his girlfriend a while back, I said the same thing. Now, I repeat those sentiments.

There is not a person on this planet who hasn’t made ‘offensive statements’ to their loved ones, privately, in their own homes. I’ve never said the things Sterling said, because I’m not a senile, adulterous, racist, but I’m sure I’ve made comments to my wife or my close friends that I wouldn’t make in a business meeting, or on TV, or on Facebook.

It’s a troubling precedent when we start penalizing people for essentially being entrapped, illegally, by an intimate confidant. The NBA might have the authority to ban Sterling for life and force the sale of his team, but the move is nonetheless problematic.

Go ahead, get emotional and tell me I’m making excuses for Sterling. I’m not. I only hope that nobody has to make excuses for you one day if your private conversations are illegally dumped into the public square.

This is a steep and slippery slope.

www.themattwalshblog.com/2014/04/28/heres-the-post-where-im-accused-of-defending-donald-sterling/

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Rob Bell

Rob Bell is many things. He is an author, public speaker, and by some he is known as a “pastor” or “theologian.” In my generation he is very popular as even the American media hailed him as one of “evangelical” leaders of our time. He is passionate and ask tough questions! But a lot of these questions don’t come with any answers. His theology is like trying to nail jello to the wall. Until now, I really didn’t understand what Rob Bell specifically believed, but I knew he had very questionable beliefs that flew in the face of orthodox Christianity.

Rob Bell in a recent interview with Oprah explicitly shows us why he is a false teacher and that he is doing more damage then good. Rob Bell is not an “evangelical” leader of our day because he stands in opposition of Biblical evangelical beliefs. Bell beliefs seem to line up with Universalism and maybe some other popular religious beliefs. Rob Bell is dangerous and I would classify him as a false teacher and even more explicitly a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He is no “pastor” or “theologian.”

Some quotes from his interview with Oprah:

Oprah: What is the soul?
Bell: It’s the thing that keeps telling you there’s more.

Oprah: Your definition of God?
Bell: Like a song you hear in another room, and you think, “wow, that sounds beautiful but I can only hear a little bit.”

Oprah: What does prayer mean to you?
Bell: Prayer to me is usually one word, which is, “Yes. I’m open. What’s next?” That’s what it is.

Oprah: What’s the lesson that’s taken you longest to learn?
Bell: There’s nothing to prove … All that’s left to do is enjoy.

Oprah: What do you know for sure?
Bell: That you can say “yes” to this moment, and you can experience a joy that can’t be put into words.

Oprah: The world needs…
Bell: … All of us to wake up.

Oprah: I believe…
Bell: … That we’re all going to be fine.

The interview between Oprah and Rob Bell:

http://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/robs_reductio

http://www.vimeo.com

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Barna Group: The State of the Bible – 6 Trends for 2014

The Bible has been making its way onto box office screens and home TV screens over the past year: from Noah to Son of God, people have been watching the Bible. But are they still reading the Bible? And do they still believe in the Bible?

Each year, Barna Group partners with the American Bible Society on State of the Bible, a comprehensive study of Americans’ attitudes and behaviors toward the Bible. Asking a national representative sample of adults the same questions year after year allows us to track the country’s shifting perceptions of Scriptures.

This year’s research reveals six trends in Bible engagement: from the Bible’s continued role as a cultural icon, to increased digital Bible reading, to a rise in skepticism toward Scripture, particularly among Millennials.

1. Bible skepticism is now “tied” with Bible engagement.
This year’s research reveals that skepticism toward the Bible continues to rise. For the first time since tracking began, Bible skepticism is tied with Bible engagement. The number of those who are skeptical or agnostic toward the Bible—who believe that the Bible is “just another book of teachings written by men that contains stories and advice”—has nearly doubled from 10% to 19% in just three years. This is now equal to the number of people who are Bible engaged—who read the Bible at least four times a week and believe it is the actual or inspired Word of God.

Digging into the population segmentation of Bible skeptics, we find that two-thirds are 48 or younger (28% Millennials, 36% Gen-Xers), and they are twice as likely to be male (68%) than female (32%). They are more likely to identify as Catholic than any other single denomination or affiliation (30%) and are the most-likely segment not to have attended church (87%) or prayed (63%) during the previous week. They are also most likely not to have made a commitment to Jesus that is important in their life today (76%).

Not only are Millennials more likely to be skeptical toward Scripture, they are also less likely to read the Bible (39% say they never read the Bible, compared to 26% of all adults), less likely to own a Bible (80% compared to 88%) and less likely to believe the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life (35% compared to 50%). Given the increase in Millennials who don’t believe the Bible is sacred and the decrease in Bible awareness among Millennials, Bible skepticism will likely continue to rise in the next five years.

Bible Lovers and Bible Skeptics

2. Despite the declines, most Americans continue to be “pro-Bible.”
While the percentage of Americans who believe the Bible is sacred has fallen in recent years, from 86% in 2011 to 79% in 2014, it’s still a sizable majority of all adults. In general, Americans continue to view the Bible very positively. More than half of Americans (56%) are “pro-Bible”—meaning they believe the Bible is the actual or inspired word of God with no errors. Most adults say the Bible encourages forgiveness (91%), generosity (88%) and patience (89%) while discouraging war (62%), slavery (60%) and prostitution (82%). Nearly nine in 10 households own at least one Bible (88%) and the average number of Bibles per household is 4.7.

Being pro-Bible doesn’t necessarily mean Americans use the Bible regularly, however. Only 37% of Americans report reading the Bible once a week or more. Among those who have read Scripture in the previous week, not quite six in 10 (57%) say they gave a lot of thought to how it might apply to their life. While the Bible’s place in America as a cultural icon endures, it’s not always perceived as a transformational text. Even as Bible ownership remains strong, readership and engagement are weak.

Bible is sacred, Bible ownership, Pro-Bible

3. Distraction and busyness continue to squeeze out the Bible.
So what keeps people from reading the Bible they own? Like all other forms of analog media, the Bible is pushed to the side in part because people are just too busy. Among those who say their Bible reading decreased in the last year, the number-one reason was busyness: 40% report being too busy with life’s responsibilities (job, family, etc.), an increase of seven points from just one year ago.

Other factors Americans cite as reasons for less time reading Scripture include a significant change in their life (17%), becoming atheist or agnostic (15%), going through a difficult experience that caused them to doubt God (13%) and seeing that reading the Bible made very little difference in someone else’s life (8%).

These relatively smaller percentages reveal that Americans don’t often turn away from the Bible over ideological or emotional conflicts. Indeed, on the whole Americans say they want to read the Bible—62% wish they read Scripture more—they just don’t know how to make time.

4. The age of screens has come to stay in the Bible market. 
One antidote to the distraction of the screen age is to put the Bible onscreen. And this past year certainly saw the Bible come to more screens than ever—from smartphone apps to primetime TV—and Americans responded. Of adults who increased their Bible readership last year, one-quarter (26%) say it was due to having downloaded the Bible onto their smartphone or tablet. More than one in 10 (12%) credit their increased Bible reading to podcasts or streaming church services. And an additional one in 10 (11%) say watching The Bible miniseries on TV inspired them to read Scripture more.

In just a handful of years, use of tablets and smartphones for Bible searches has skyrocketed, from 18% in 2011 to 35% in 2014. That said, a strong majority still prefer to read the Bible in print (84%); the same holds true even among Millennials (81%), who are most likely to use the Internet to read Bible content (62% compared to 44% of all adults).

Never have enough time, Tablets & smartphones, But people still prefer to read…

5. Increasingly, people come to the Bible for answers or comfort.
While the majority of people still come to the Scriptures to connect with God, their number is shrinking, from 64% in 2011 to 56% in 2014. Today, people are increasingly likely to come to the Bible for more pragmatic needs: nearly one-third (up from 26% in 2011) say they read the Bible for comfort or to help them address life’s questions. This increase is consistent with last year’s study, which showed that Millennials in particular want to know how the Bible connects to everyday matters like parenting, finances, the workplace, and so on. They are the generation most likely to read the Bible for direction or answers to a problem (25%, compared to 19% of Gen-X, 16% Boomers and 11% Elders).

Most people still come…

6. People are less likely to link moral decline with a lack of Bible reading.
Eight in 10 adults believe the values and morals of America are declining—but perceptions about the reasons for the decline have shifted over time. Compared to 2013, people are more likely to blame declining morals on movies, music, and TV rather than on a lack of Bible reading. Additionally, while half of all adults would say the Bible has too little influence on society, only 30% of Millennials believe this.

Bible skeptics are less likely than other segments to say the values and morals of America are declining. It’s not clear whether this belief informs their skepticism or their skepticism informs this belief—or a complex dynamic of both. Millennials, as well, are less likely than the national average to say morals are on the decline (74%). Among young adults who agree there is a moral decline, just 17% blame a lack of Bible reading, compared to 26% of all adults.

81% map, 50% stat

https://www.barna.org/barna-update/culture/664-the-state-of-the-bible-6-trends-for-2014#.U1r01PldXzJ

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Wolves At The Gate: Dust to Dust

Wolves At The Gate will be dropping a new album, “V x V”, on June 10th, 2014. They released this song today, “Dust to Dust”, as sampler of their new album coming out! It’s a heavy and the lyrics are rock solid!

 www.wolvesatthegate.com

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Vocal Few: Canada Living Room Tour – Summer 2014

One of my favorite bands (Classic Crime) lead singer’s side project (with his wife), “Vocal Few”  are looking for family rooms or basements to perform live intimate concerts to about 40 to 50 fans. But they are only wanting Canadian homes eh! Check out the details here: Canada Living Room Tour – Summer 2014.

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Tim Challies: A Cost Of All This Preaching

I am one of those New Calvinists, I guess, which means I am part of a crowd that values preaching, and expository preaching in particular. Of course I was an Old Calvinist before I was a New one and was raised in a tradition that valued preaching just as highly. For my whole life I’ve been around preachers and preaching.

I spent a good bit of time last week pondering the nature of God’s Word and thinking specifically about Paul’s mandate to Timothy: “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” That’s a passage about preaching, but it’s also a passage about just plain reading the Bible out loud. It intrigued me.

I travel a fair bit these days and often enjoy worshiping in other churches, and here is something I’ve noticed: We tend to be far more committed to the second part of that command than to the first. We love our preaching, but what about the public reading of Scripture? Most churches I visit will read the Bible immediately prior to the sermon, and some will read a text in sections during the sermon, but few just dedicate themselves to reading the Bible aloud. Conferences, too, are known for their preaching, but not necessarily for their emphasis on reading the Bible. Last week I found myself wondering why this is. I wonder if our emphasis on preaching has inadvertently nudged it out.

Paul’s command to Timothy that he devote himself to the public reading of Scripture can be better understood by looking to 2 Timothy 3 where Paul speaks about the nature of God’s Word. When we understand what God’s Word is and does, we better understand why we ought to read it. Paul tells Timothy that the Scriptures are “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Paul isn’t talking about the Scriptures as they are preached here—not yet—but the Scriptures as they are, as they are read, as they are understood, as they are absorbed by the Christian.

Paul uses two groups of two words to explain how the Bible functions and what it accomplishes. The Bible is profitable for teaching and reproof. These are words related to doctrine, to the positive teaching of truth and to the correcting of falsehood. The Bible teaches us truth and it convicts us of error. The Bible is also profitable for correction and for training in righteousness. These are words related to living, to the correction of unrighteous ways of living and instruction in godliness. The Bible teaches us how to live and convicts us of sinful habits and patterns.

And because it does all of these things it completes us, it grows us in Christian maturity and prepares us to do those good things—those good works—that God means for us to do. It prepares us to do good things that are done not to make us look great, but to make ourselves diminish so that God can increase all the more.

Once more, the Bible does not need to be preached in order to do this. It just needs to be read. God’s Word alone has the power to do this because those words have been breathed out by God; in that way it has a supernatural power no other words can have. Preaching has a role, to be sure, but preaching only does what it does because the Bible is what it is. God allows us to preach and even tells us to preach, but he does not need preaching in order to change us and mature us. The Bible alone can do this. The Bible is its own preacher, its own counselor, its own teacher, its own evangelist. If we have de-emphasized the public reading of the Bible because of our love for preaching, the solution is not to diminish preaching, but to re-emphasize the reading.

So here’s the question: Do you commit yourself to the public reading of Scripture? Do you read it in your church, even if you cannot explain it at the time? Do you read it in your home, with your family, even if you do not have a lot of opportunity to explain and apply it? If the Bible is so powerful, and if the Bible accomplishes so much, it would be ridiculous not to read it, not to read it faithfully and consistently and expectantly.

And here’s another question: What do you expect when someone reads the Bible to you? Do you expect that it will teach and train you? Do you expect that it will admonish and correct you? Do you expect that as the Bible is read, God himself will speak to you and convict you of sin and unrighteousness and teach you about himself and how to live in a way that honors him? You should expect nothing less.

Tim Challies is a Canadian pastor and author serving at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario.

Check out his website for thought provoking articles: www.challies.com

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Tom McKay: Princeton Concludes What Kind of Government America Really Has, and It’s Not a Democracy

The news: A new scientific study from Princeton researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page has finally put some science behind the recently popular argument that the United States isn’t a democracy any more. And they’ve found that in fact, America is basically an oligarchy.

An oligarchy is a system where power is effectively wielded by a small number of individuals defined by their status called oligarchs. Members of the oligarchy are the rich, the well connected and the politically powerful, as well as particularly well placed individuals in institutions like banking and finance or the military.

For their study, Gilens and Page compiled data from roughly 1,800 different policy initiatives in the years between 1981 and 2002. They then compared those policy changes with the expressed opinion of the United State public. Comparing the preferences of the average American at the 50th percentile of income to what those Americans at the 90th percentile preferred, as well as the opinions of major lobbying or business groups, the researchers found out that the government followed the directives set forth by the latter two much more often.

It’s beyond alarming. As Gilens and Page write, “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” In other words, their statistics say your opinion literally does not matter.

That might explain why mandatory background checks on gun sales supported by 83% to 91%of Americans aren’t in place, or why Congress has taken no action on greenhouse gas emissions even when such legislation is supported by the vast majority of citizens.

This problem has been steadily escalating for four decades. While there are some limitations to their data set, economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez constructed income statistics based on IRS data that go back to 1913. They found that the gap between the ultra-wealthy and the rest of us is much bigger than you would think, as mapped by these graphs from the Center On Budget and Policy Priorities:

Piketty and Saez also calculated that as of September 2013 the top 1% of earners had captured 95% of all income gains since the Great Recession ended. The other 99% saw a net 12% drop to their income. So not only is oligarchy making the rich richer, it’s driving policy that’s made everyone else poorer.

What kind of oligarchy? As Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan explains, Gilens and Page’s findings provide support for two theories of governance: economic elite domination and biased pluralism. The first is pretty straightforward and states that the ultra-wealthy wield all the power in a given system, though some argue that this system still allows elites in corporations and the government to become powerful as well. Here, power does not necessarily derive from wealth, but those in power almost invariably come from the upper class. Biased pluralism on the other hand argues that the entire system is a mess and interest groups ruled by elites are fighting for dominance of the political process. Also, because of their vast wealth of resources, interest groups of large business tend to dominate a lot of the discourse.

In either case, the result is the same: Big corporations, the ultra-wealthy and special interests with a lot of money and power essentially make all of the decisions. Citizens wield little to no political power. America, the findings indicate, tends towards either of these much more than anything close to what we call “democracy” — systems such as majoritarian electoral democracy or majoritarian pluralism, under which the policy choices pursued by the government would reflect the opinions of the governed.

Nothing new: And no, this isn’t a problem that’s the result of any recent Supreme Court cases — at least certainly not the likes FEC v. Citizens United or FEC v. McCutcheon. The data is pretty clear that America has been sliding steadily into oligarchy for decades, mirrored in both the substantive effect on policy and in the distribution of wealth throughout the U.S. But cases like those might indicate the process is accelerating.

“Perhaps economic elites and interest group leaders enjoy greater policy expertise than the average citizen does,” Gilens and Page write. “Perhaps they know better which policies will benefit everyone, and perhaps they seek the common good, rather than selfish ends, when deciding which policies to support.

“But we tend to doubt it.”

http://www.policymic.com/articles/87719/princeton-concludes-what-kind-of-government-america-really-has-and-it-s-not-a-democracy?utm_source=policymicFB&utm_medium=main&utm_campaign=social

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Leaflets ordering Jews to register in east Ukraine city or be deported creating fear. Threat evocative of 1930s. Pro-Russian separatists say order isn’t real. But someone is trying to scare Ukrainian Jews. The question is: Who?

A good article by Joel Rosenberg about the pamphlets. The question that needs to be answered is who? Who is behind this pamphlet?

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

ukraine-map UPDATED: ( Washington, D.C.) — There is a deeply disturbing article in the USA Today that I encourage you to read and share with others. It reports that leaflets are being spread throughout the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk saying that government officials controlled by pro-Russian forces are ordering Jews to register with local authorities and pay a fee, or they could be deported and their assets could be confiscated.

Secretary of State John Kerry today called such actions “intolerable” and “grotesque.” But pro-Russian separatists flatly deny the allegations that they have been distributing leaflets requiring Jews to register. 

The leaflets exist. They’ve been spread all over the city of Donetsk. They’re even printed on official government stationary and they bear the signature of the mayor. But the mayor says he didn’t write it. So who did? Are they a hoax, or official policy?

One thing is clear: someone is targeting the Jewish people of Ukraine, trying to…

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Registration of Jews in Ukraine

There was a pamphlet that was given out in the Jewish community of Donetsk, Ukraine, for Jews to register themselves. The pamphlets were real but it had no authority. It was a sick joke and an attempt to provoke. We do need to be in prayer for what is going on there and this does not downplay the seriousness of what is going on. There is persecution of Jews in Ukraine as anti-semantic groups are on both sides of the Ukraine and Russia struggle.

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117415/relax-ukraine-not-ordering-its-jews-register

http://www.dailydot.com/politics/ukraine-jewish-registry-fake/

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/04/flyers-demanding-jews-register-in-ukraine-fake.html

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2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Schedule ~1st Round

SERIES A – A1 vs. W2
TIME (ET)    vs.   NETWORKS
Friday, April 18 7:30 p.m. Detroit at Boston NBCSN, TSN
Sunday, April 20 3 p.m. Detroit at Boston NBC, TSN
Tuesday, April 22 7:30 p.m. Boston at Detroit NBCSN, TSN
Thursday, April 24 8 p.m. Boston at Detroit NBCSN, TSN
*Saturday, April 26 3 p.m. Detroit at Boston NBC, TSN
*Monday, April 28 TBD Boston at Detroit TSN
*Wednesday, April 30 TBD Detroit at Boston TSN
SERIES B – A2 vs. A3
TIME (ET)    vs.  
NETWORKS
Wednesday, April 16 7 p.m. Montreal at Tampa Bay CBC, RDS, CNBC
Friday, April 18 7 p.m. Montreal at Tampa Bay CBC, RDS, CNBC
Sunday, April 20 7 p.m. Tampa Bay at Montreal CBC, RDS, NBCSN
Tuesday, April 22 7 p.m. Tampa Bay at Montreal CBC, RDS, NHLN U.S.
*Thursday, April 24 7 p.m. Montreal at Tampa Bay CBC, RDS, CNBC
*Sunday, April 27 TBD Tampa Bay at Montreal CBC, RDS, NBCSN
Tuesday, April 29 TBD Montreal at Tampa Bay CBC, RDS
SERIES C – M1 vs. W1
TIME (ET)   vs.  
NETWORKS
Wednesday, April 16 7:30 p.m. Columbus at Pittsburgh NBCSN, CBC
Saturday, April 19 7 p.m. Columbus at Pittsburgh NBCSN, CBC
Monday, April 21 7 p.m. Pittsburgh at Columbus NBCSN, CBC
Wednesday, April 23 7 p.m. Pittsburgh at Columbus NBCSN, CBC
*Saturday, April 26 TBD Columbus at Pittsburgh CBC
*Monday, April 28 TBD Pittsburgh at Columbus CBC
*Wednesday, April 30 TBD Columbus at Pittsburgh CBC
SERIES D – M2 vs. M3
TIME (ET)    vs.  
NETWORKS
Thursday, April 17 7 p.m. Philadelphia at NY Rangers CNBC, TSN
Sunday, April 20 Noon Philadelphia at NY Rangers NBC, TSN
Tuesday, April 22 8 p.m. NY Rangers at Philadelphia CNBC, TSN
Friday, April 25 7 p.m. NY Rangers at Philadelphia CNBC, TSN
*Sunday, April 27 Noon Philadelphia at NY Rangers NBC, TSN
*Tuesday, April 29 TBD NY Rangers at Philadelphia TSN
*Wednesday, April 30 TBD Philadelphia at NY Rangers TSN
WESTERN CONFERENCE FIRST-ROUND MATCHUPS
SERIES E – C1 vs. W1
TIME (ET)   vs.    NETWORKS
Thursday, April 17 9:30 p.m. Minnesota at Colorado CNBC, TSN
Saturday, April 19 9:30 p.m. Minnesota at Colorado NBCSN, TSN
Monday, April 21 7 p.m. Colorado at Minnesota NHLN U.S., TSN
Thursday, April 24 9:30 p.m. Colorado at Minnesota CNBC, TSN2
*Saturday, April 26 TBD Minnesota at Colorado TSN
*Monday, April 28 TBD Colorado at Minnesota TSN
*Wednesday, April 30 TBD Minnesota at Colorado TSN
SERIES F – C2 vs. C3
TIME (ET)    vs.    NETWORKS
Thursday, April 17 8 p.m. Chicago at St. Louis NBCSN, CBC
Saturday, April 19 3 p.m. Chicago at St. Louis NBC, CBC
Monday, April 21 8:30 p.m. St. Louis at Chicago CNBC, CBC
Wednesday, April 23 9:30 p.m. St. Louis at Chicago NBCSN, CBC
*Friday, April 25 8 p.m. Chicago at St. Louis NBCSN, CBC
*Sunday, April 27 3 p.m. St. Louis at Chicago NBC, CBC
*Tuesday, April 29 TBD Chicago at St. Louis CBC
SERIES G – P1 vs. W2
TIME (ET)    vs.  
NETWORKS
Wednesday, April 16 10 p.m. Dallas at Anaheim NBCSN, TSN
Friday, April 18 10 p.m. Dallas at Anaheim NBCSN, TSN
Monday, April 21 9:30 p.m. Anaheim at Dallas NBCSN, TSN
Wednesday, April 23 8 p.m. Anaheim at Dallas CNBC, TSN
*Friday, April 25  10:30 p.m. Dallas at Anaheim NBCSN, TSN
*Sunday, April 27 TBD Anaheim at Dallas TSN
*Tuesday, April 29 TBD Dallas at Anaheim TSN
SERIES H – P2 vs. P3
TIME (ET)   vs.    NETWORKS
Thursday, April 17 10:30 p.m. Los Angeles at San Jose NBCSN, CBC
Sunday, April 20 10 p.m. Los Angeles at San Jose NBCSN, CBC
Tuesday, April 22 10 p.m. San Jose at Los Angeles NBCSN, CBC
Thursday, April 24 10:30 p.m. San Jose at Los Angeles NBCSN, CBC
*Saturday, April 26 TBD Los Angeles at San Jose NBCSN, CBC
*Monday, April 28 TBD San Jose at Los Angeles CBC
*Wednesday, April 30 TBD Los Angeles at San Jose CBC

* – if necessary
(JIP) – joined in progress

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=714402

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