While most Americans probably have no idea that there is a very important election going on in Canada today, John Oliver took to the air last night to try to bring us all up to speed.
And it was pretty hilarious.
Oliver made it clear that current Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper is unfit for another term in office because of his regressive policies regarding minority rights and marijuana use among other things.
And while he poked fun at the two other main candidates for Prime Minister, Oliver saved his most devastating scorn for the current leader of the country.
If you are in a time crunch, we recommend jumping ahead to the 13:20 mark so you can see a really funny cameo from Mike Myers. Let’s just say that he touches on a certain landmark moment.
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Nothing summarizes the Bernie Sanders platform better than this since deleted tweet that contains exactly zero adjectives. Even the word adjective is a noun.
His heart is in the right place, but the details are a mess.
Sanders has captured America’s attention with a similar elevator pitch to Donald Trump: The political and economic elites write their own rules, and have been screwing over the rest of us for years.
The reason this message has been so successful for both candidates is that it is largely true.
Nothing encapsulates the separate set of rules the rich and powerful have written for themselves better than the fact that no major executives went to jail in 2008 for nearly liquidating the entire global economy in a decades long campaign of fraud and abuse.
However, just because someone can identify a problem doesn’t mean they have the solutions to fix it, and in the past week, many liberal economists who probably agree with Sanders’ fundamental premise have said his math might as well be made of unicorns. I encourage all Bernie Sanders supporters to read this sober evaluation of his economic forecasts.
Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman’s position on his economic plan is particularly brutal because he has been making Bernie Sanders’ central argument every week in Fortune, Slate, The Harvard Business Review, Foreign Policy, The Economist, Harper’s, Washington Monthly, and the New York Times for the last two decades.
Here’s a bit from his recent New York Times piece on the matter:
“This controversy is an indication of a campaign, and perhaps a candidate, not ready for prime time. These claims for the Sanders program aren’t just implausible, they’re embarrassing to anyone remotely familiar with economic history (which says that raising long-run growth is very hard) and changing demography.”
Sanders should be commended for pointing out the obvious problem at the heart of our economy, but he has been much more dishonest than his backers would tell you.
The Republican Party has blocked nearly every proposal President Obama has put forward, deriding him as a Socialist, even though he’s been arguably the most conservative Democrat in the Oval Office in nearly a century.
There is no way in hell that Sanders is going to get an actual Socialist agenda passed through the obstructionist era Republican Congress, and yet he almost never addresses this vital factor in the equation, instead vaguely referencing the need for America to have a political revolution.
Kenneth Thorpe, a public-health expert at Emory University recently criticized Sanders’ healthcare plan to help the poor as in fact, doing the exact opposite, and instead of refuting his math, the Bernie team said his healthcare plan is tied to a $15/hour minimum wage in order to make it work.
This is another prime example of his dishonesty on his ability to accomplish his agenda. He wants to fight two gigantic political battles at the same time, yet refuses to address the political realities of that situation.
Barack Obama was elected in 2008 with as big of a mandate from the people as you could imagine (for modern times at least) and he was only able to get one ambitiously big bill (the Affordable Care Act) through a Senate controlled by his own party.
Sanders loves to talk about the will of the people, yet he fails to acknowledge that the will of the people has installed many members of Congress who don’t agree with him.
For years, Republicans have been rightfully criticized for their one size fits all economic policy of “throw more capitalism on it.” Sanders is basically making the same argument, but with “revolution.”
Bernie is depicted as a paragon of virtue and honesty, and he has been incredibly consistent with many of his views, but to paint him as some sort of continual political outsider is absurd.
Anyone who has been in Congress for 25 years is a politician through and through, and Sanders has pulled the same ploy that many have seen Republicans pull on The Daily Show for years.
One week before he voted for the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (which applied the death penalty to drug trafficking and introduced a Federal “three strikes” law with a mandatory life sentence – it didn’t pass) and the Ominibus Crime Bill of 1994, (this one did pass, and contained many of the same measures but with the addition of reducing the age for minors to be tried as adults) Bernie Sanders said:
“We can either educate or electrocute. We can create meaningful jobs, rebuilding our society, or we can build more jails.”
A career Washington politician saying one thing and then doing the opposite, isn’t that what Bernie is running against?
Bernie Sanders is an avowed Democratic Socialist, which he will say is an important distinction from the Socialism of Lenin and Marx. However, as it pertains to the economy, the only real difference between the two is specificity.
Socialism leaves room for market and non-market collectivism, but Democratic Socialism is just the combination of a Democratic political system and a Socialist economy. Both involve central planning, which is a dirty phrase in politics (because it’s a terrible idea); so candidates like Sanders sell it as if they are using government to humanize economics.
Putting aside the fact that neither government nor economics is “human” in nature, at some point, this all comes back to the same problem: the state is not just the referee of the market, but the coach and the general manager as well. That is the essence of Socialism, and the Soviet Union provided us with a perfect example of why it is incredibly difficult to work with at a large-scale.
Sanders is also dishonest about what Socialism actually means:
“You go to your public library, or you call your fire department or police department, what do you think you are calling? These are socialist institutions.”
The presence of regulation and public goods doesn’t equal Socialism. Nearly all forms of governance believe in providing basic public services for the populace. Police and fire departments exist in Syria, yet no one would say Bashar al-Assad has been anything but a Fascist dictator.
Just because a handful of powerful people are going 100 mph in a 75 doesn’t mean you drop the speed limit down to 30, you just enact methods to stop those people from going that fast, or even better, enforce the laws already on the books to stop the activity in the first place.
Almost all of our major economic markets have become horribly corrupt due in large part to their lax regulation. The cruel irony of our political corruption is that America is simultaneously overtaxed and undertaxed.
We have one of the highest effective business tax rates in the world, but that’s only true for those who cannot afford armies of lawyers and accountants to locate the seemingly infinite amount of loopholes that politicians have blasted into the US tax code.
Whenever a Berniebro lectures me about how we should simply emulate the Nordic countries, I can’t help but laugh.
Here’s why it is such a ridiculous argument:
The combined GDP of Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Denmark, and Norway is $1.7 trillion.
US GDP: $16.77 trillion.
This is like comparing the physics of driving a sports car to an oil tanker. What works at less than 3% the scale of us up near Santa’s workshop doesn’t necessarily compare to the greatest economic engine the world has ever produced. We need our own model.
The irony when Bernie Sanders says things like ”If you read what [Eugene] Debs said about the goals of socialism, it’s no different from what I’ve been saying — that all socialism is about is democracy” is that he’s also advocating for a pretty awesome form of governance that we already have in place: Liberal Democracy.
Many of the exact same programs Bernie Sanders endorses can be attained in a Liberal Democracy. Want proof? Look around. Socialist policies like Medicare and Social Security were accomplished along with the presence of a free(ish) market for healthcare.
Both ideologies agree on a strong central authority acting on behalf of the public, the key difference is that Socialism entails government ownership of at least parts of the economy; whereas Liberal Democracy is about using the Federal Government to ensure that the free market does not act against the interests of the people. In one model, the government picks winners and losers, in the other, the market does.
Socialism isn’t all bad.
For example, abolishing the right of private property on certain lands (also known as Eminent Domain) can be hugely beneficial, as the interstate highway system proves.
However, what separates America from all the other economic powers are the rewards that exceptional individuals can extract from the free market by providing something superbly beneficial to the masses: like the phone many of you are reading this on.
Socialism is opposed to providing proportional compensation to visionaries like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk.
Ultimately, Socialism is an offensive ideology to so many because it is antithetical to our most fundamental understanding of the world.
Everyone is not equal, that’s not how evolution works. Certain traits and characteristics win out to keep the species alive today and help build a better future while others simply fade into obscurity.
The free market reflects this reality, and that is why it is the greatest weapon against poverty in the history of this planet.
All of this is not to say that the inspiration for Sanders’ campaign is bunk, people should be pissed off at 2016 America.
Our Democracy has been hijacked by somewhere around 300,000 oligarchs to create oligopolies as far as the eye can see (or as the great George Carlin called it “the illusion of choice”).
Every country that embraces free market principles is better off for it; competition makes everyone better. Look at what China has done in this century as the ultimate proof. Markets should be regulated, some more than others, but the economy should not be centrally planned, which is at the heart of any Socialist ideology.
When Bernie Sanders says that he espouses a Socialist philosophy that doesn’t involve central planning, he’s really just describing the Liberal Democracy we used to have. We don’t need to completely upend the political system simply because we fell asleep at the wheel for a half century, we just need to modernize it and get back to doing the things that made our governance the crown jewel of mankind.
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Over 375 U. Of Central Florida Students Worked To Give This Beloved Bus Driver An Incredible Birthday Gift
A well-known bus driver at the University of Central Florida got a welcomed birthday treat this week that he had no idea was in the works. And the gesture is warming the hearts of many.
Maurice, a UCF bus driver celebrated his birthday on Valentine’s Day (a Sunday this year)
Joshua Gicker is a new student at UCF, having transferred to the Orlando area college last fall from Tampa. Gicker said that Maurice was one of his first friends at UCF and that he really appreciated the way he interacts with people.
“If everyone lived like Maurice, I really believe there would be no problems in this world,” Gicker told Knight News, a UCF student news organization.
Gicker said that he found out about Maurice’s upcoming birthday last week and immediately worked to get people who live at his apartment complex to help raise $450 to give to him.
According to Knight News, 376 students came together to raise the money for Maurice.
A video of Gicker handing Maurice the money and a birthday card was uploaded to YouTube, where it has begun to cycle through social media.
“This is so great, I’m going to go through every one of these,” Maurice said in the video when he saw a list of people who donated money to him. “This is so nice, you guys are so great. You guys are the greatest and I’m just so overwhelmed.”
Happy birthday Maurice!
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By James Kardys
Read the companion piece to this one: Kicking Turkey Out Of NATO Would Be A Massive Mistake
Whatever strategic value that Turkey may have to the United States and the rest of NATO can be considered as good as null and void in light of a series of events that have taken place over the last five years.
During this time period, the world has seen Turkey, under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, slowly morph from a beacon of democracy in the Middle East to a rogue state.
Ever since Syria descended into civil war in 2011, Erdogan has made it very clear that he wishes to see anti-government forces oust longtime Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
He has made Turkey into a sponsor of these rebel groups.
On multiple occasions, it has been demonstrated that these groups are willing to make deals with and, at times, openly ally with jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS, both which have vowed to destroy America and attacked American civilians on American soil.
By logic, it is then safe to state that Erdogan has contributed at least indirectly that Turkey has played a role in the rise of ISIS.
The rise of ISIS and other jihadi groups in Syria has exacerbated and increased the stakes of the conflict there, to the point where a proxy war now rages between the US, Britain, France, Turkey, and the Arab monarchies on one side; and with Russia, Iran, and Iraq on the other.
It has also contributed a major role in the refugee crisis that is currently plaguing Europe and Syria’s neighbors.
So, how has Turkey taken advantage of this crisis, which it is partially responsible for? Let’s start with the proxy war first.
Turkey has engaged in multiple hostile acts against its opponents in this proxy cold war that could have turned it into a hot war.
First, in the most well-known such incident, it shot down a Russian plane conducting missions over Syria after it reportedly crossed over Turkish territory for seventeen seconds.
Second, it has threatened to invade Syria in order to protect ethnic Turkmen and over clashes between Turkish forces and Syrian Kurdish militias.
Turkey has also allegedly sent troops into Iraq without the permission of its government as the Syrian crisis spills over into it.
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Regarding the refugee crisis, Turkey has indicated its willingness to use it as an excuse to push other agendas.
It has made much more trivial issues ranging from travel visas to domestic terrorism laws into potential spoilers in negotiations on the control of migration flows into Europe.
This, without doubt, will be seen by those who view the migration crisis as a national security risk, as blackmail that states, “Do what we say or there will be terrorist attacks.”
In addition to the Turkish role in the developments of the Syrian and migration crises, Turkey has also shown open contempt for democracy and human rights, principles which are promoted (at least in word) by NATO.
On its own soil, people are arrested on a regular basis for “insulting the president.”
Protests and dissenting newspapers are subjected to violent crackdowns.
President Erdogan has been accused of inciting violence against pro-Kurdish (a minority ethnic group that resides in the southwest of the country, as well as in parts of Syria, Iraq, and Iran) political parties.
As of 2013, Turkey has imprisoned more journalists than any other country.
And finally, Erdogan has succeeded in forcing the ouster of the Prime Minister, former political ally Ahmet Davutoglu, as part of his attempts to increase the powers of the President, whose role has traditionally been ceremonial.
Erdogan’s attempts to curb democracy are not limited to his home country.
He has played a role in the disruption of democratic order in other countries as well.
For example, he has contributed to the curbing of free speech in Germany by demanding that a satirical poem about him written by German comedian Jan Böhmermann be banned under a law that forbids the insulting of foreign heads of state, despite the fact that Erdogan was not even on German soil at the time the poem was broadcast on a local television station.
A German court has partially complied, ruling that 18 of the 24 line in the poem are unacceptable and cannot be read in public, on pain of imprisonment or a fine.
In addition, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has been caught attempting to coerce Turkish organizations in the Netherlands to report on insults against Erdogan on Dutch soil.
And then, there is Erdogan’s security detail, which seems to have the mentality that it is above the laws of other countries, as demonstrated by a series of violent incidents with civilians, journalists, other security details, and even law enforcement when visiting countries such as the United States, Belgium, and Ecuador.
Turkey, under the leadership of Recep Erdogan, has demonstrated through its recent actions the following:
- It isn’t willing to take the war on terrorism seriously.
- It is willing to get into bed with the enemies of its NATO allies.
- It is willing to cause unnecessary conflicts that could drag in NATO allies in order to achieve its individual foreign policy goals.
- It is willing to put politics over the national security of its NATO allies.
- It isn’t willing to promote democracy
- It is willing to curb democracy, both at home and abroad.
- It is willing to cause disorder on the soil of its NATO allies to prove a point.
Are these the characteristics of an ally, much less a NATO ally? These sound more like the characteristics of a rogue state. Until Turkey cleans up its act, it must be treated as such, and certain actions, including an exclusion from NATO, are welcome.
Read the companion piece to this one: Kicking Turkey Out Of NATO Would Be A Massive Mistake
Do you with agree with this view? Give us your take in the comments below.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.
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