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Obama is faced with a political reality where anything he comes out in favor for, his opposition will oppose, because we are in a unique age where we don't really have a political opposition but actually a personal opposition. The Affordable Care Act is the most dramatic example; conservative think tank and the heart of the Republican party, The Heritage Foundation, comes up with a plan to counter the plan pushed by Hillary Clinton in the 90s, and GOP "moderate" Romney actually enacts it in Massachusetts to much fanfare about the success about conservative planning - but when it becomes Obamacare, the same people that lauded the plan before are suddenly against it. Check http://www.mediaite.com/tv/are-conservatives-really-going-after-michelle-obama-for-promoting-water/ for an even more hilarious example of this.

So an opportunity to get into another war presents itself. We have no interests in the country really, though our semi-allies in the region do. The same allies that funnel money to Al-Qaeda groups. Russia has an interest in Syria as well, which is very interested in maintaining a secular authoritarian regime that will keep their weapons out of the hands of radicals that could hop up to the caucuses and give the Chechens an idea or two. So action on behalf of the rebels, which do include Islamic radical factions, really isn't in our interests. And yet, Republicans really want it - beyond the money made from replacing the munitions we use up, there's the idea that maintaining a state of severe destabilization bleeds all sides, and more generally the idea of American Exceptionalism, that we are the boss of the world and we should smack down anyone we choose and put a base on them.

So Obama says, ok, we'll go if we see chemical weapons. We'll call that a red line. Then chemical weapons are used (if it is indeed the regime, I would bet it's a rogue general or one of Assad's brothers, because the regime has every interest in not using chemical weapons, especially after the clear warning). So we have to go, and everyone is excited because it looks like we will. Fleets start moving, gears start turning, and O'Reily, Krauthammer, and everyone in the Republican and conservative establishment is shaking with excitement, saying that Obama is actually pretty great. Chemical weapons are bad and getting them from Assad is a worthy goal for an America on the side of God and Justice.

Then Ol' Longface Sec. State Kerry makes an apparently offhanded remark in response to Margaret Brennan from CBS about whether there's a diplomatic solution to this familiar steam-roll to war. "Sure, uh, I guess he could give up all his chemical weapons." Haha, wink wink, nudge nudge, we gave Saddam the same "chance," didn't we - no worries, it won't happen. But then, how weird, almost instantly, Russia gets a plan in motion to do just that.

Republicans get caught shifting gears from "we need to go to war to get the chemical weapons" to essentially saying Obama is weak for not going to war to get the chemical weapons even though we found a diplomatic solution, a tone-deaf song that sounds to Americans like war is always the answer to the GOP. And probably most importantly (aside from the avoided civilian deaths of course), we give a huge diplomatic concession to Putin, who gets to look like a reasonable guy internationally and avoids looking weak domestically while putting a stronger hand on the Syria situation. This repairs some wrinkles in diplomacy when it comes to Russia's recent anti-gay legislation, the hot air we were obligated to give in return for their not renditioning Snowden back to us, and generally gives us a chance to make Russia a partner instead of an opponent. A welcome change.

So let's put our crypto-conspiracist hats on (any regular hat lined with tinfoil will do). Can we really believe that this whole thing was just cobbled together in a few hours based on a gaffe? The Republican narrative is that Obama is inherently terrible and so this must be the accident that it appears to be, but it seems such an easy win for the administration, I just can't believe it.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Good news for everyone with stock in Lockheed Martin; we're going Full Kosovo on Assad's ass.

Using the "Kosovo Precedent," we will use a nod from NATO and some vague international coalition in place of international law and the United Nations to launch a limited, "humanitarian" war. Like with Kosovo, Russia hates it and will veto any resolution in the UN security council to authorize such a war, even after Saudi Arabia and Qatar offered a huge oil bribe (like Russia doesn't already have oil?). But unlike in Kosovo, there is a serious risk of dangerous escalation: Syria has the capacity to retaliate on U.S. targets abroad, it has been receiving overt materiel support from Russia, and they have a defense pact with Iran.

Though a majority of U.S. citizens are opposed to war in Syria, U.S. congress-people and pundits have been beating the war drums. A "red line" was drawn, we are reminded, and chemical weapons were used on civilians, after all.

Meanwhile:

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/08/25/secret_cia_files_prove_america_helped_saddam_as_he_gassed_iran

Included in the declassified document is admission that the CIA knew Saddam would use it, that the CIA alerted Saddam that Iranian forces were amassing near a hole in Iraq's defenses, and that, when asked, Reagan said simply, "an Iranian victory is unacceptable." It's "funny" that this situation comes so close to the CIA admitting its role in Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons against Iran, as well as it finally officially admitting our role in the overthrow of Iran in the 1950's. I'm thinking the CIA might be worried about blowback.

Given that we have a history of slipping chemical weapons to dangerous people in order to covertly manage the political landscape in the Middle East, is it so crazy to think it possible that we, via proxies, gave chemical weapons to one of the factions of rebels in order to provide enough justification for war?

No evidence has yet been presented that the Assad regime - terrible as it is - was actually responsible for the attack. However, earlier this year, Turkish forces uncovered a rebel stronghold which was storing chemical weapons. And jihadist elements are believed to be operating among, or as, one or some of the Syrian rebel factions.

Who gains from war in Syria?

NATO gets to flex some muscle. Lockheed Martin gets an influx of cash, as well as everyone else that makes bullets, missiles, bayonets, and MREs, as every participating country in the conflict suddenly has increased need. The Democratic establishment gets a fresh load of campaign contributions from the military industrial complex. Generals get the extra star they always wanted. Israel gets a chance to embroil Iran in a devastating war that would likely remove the last legs of support for Hamas and Hezbollah. Al Qaeda and other such groups get battle training and a potent recruitment tool and Saudi supported jihadi organizations in general get the satisfaction of getting the US involved in another big war that saps the US economy, maintains a high demand for oil, and further safeguards the importance of Saudi Arabia's strategic relationship with the U.S..

So we will be going for a round of missile strikes, first from the safety of the sea, then maybe from the air. Boots on the ground are unlikely, unless the bombing does result in regime change, then "peace keepers" will be considered necessary to deal with the civil war that will fill the power vacuum.

Of course the dumbest predictions to make are any at all, as the future is in a state of flux right up until it happens, but I'd still bet on it.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Trying to have conversations with people in the comments section of YouTube is only half as hard as engaging in one on twitter, since there's twice the character allowance, but it's just as distractedly constricting and chronically useless. But, like so many people, it's hard to let slide every single thing you disagree with and eventually I cracked, I took the bait, and I dove into several conversations where I pulled up research studies and calmly refrained from returning ad hominem attacks with the same.

In order to have a good conversation with the "other side," you have to express that you are not trying to prove that you are right, not even just trying to teach, but that you are hoping to exchange information. Conservatives really believe that liberals are simply brainwashed bottom feeders, only just barely worth "saving" from their addiction to a cancerous ideology of complete acquiescence to the state (in a last-ditch attempt to stop them from destroying America). So it's important to approach a conversation with an open mind, to ask them to help you understand their position.

What I've been learning has yet to surprise me. So far I consistently hear arguments, sometimes with sound logic, but that are factually or contextually lacking. The people I've engaged with have been unwilling to provide research, and usually fall back on basic the basic conservative principle of personal responsibility being paramount and social responsibility being non-existent.

Conservative argument on the prison industrial complex and crime: prisons deter crime because people don't want to go to prison. Research on ways for society to prevent crime or on decreasing recidivism don't matter, they are traps to coddle criminals and expand the well fare state. Despite research showing that education is a better crime preventative than prisons, the criminals have already thrown away every opportunity handed to them by the liberal establishment and don't deserve cable TV, ice-cream sandwiches, and extra chances; the best way to decrease recidivism is to simply lock them up forever - once the state convicts you, segregation from the "good" population is the only way to ensure the safety of society. I have no sympathy for criminals, they should not have more rights than their victims. The war on drugs helps us find and put away dangerous people, even before they become dangerous. The demand for guns in Mexico and the gang violence there and throughout Latin America is not because of the prohibition on drugs but because of a cultural predisposition to violence.

Conservative argument on the economy: The housing market was regulated by Clinton to force banks to give loans to people who could not ordinarily get them as part of the larger liberal affirmative action and reparations agenda. The Bush wars and the Bush tax cuts were actually good for the economy, but the housing market collapsed because of many people irresponsibly seeking loans and mortgages they could not afford and the banks were forced to give them under threat of being accused of racism. Despite news that shows that the terms of the loans were made deliberately confusing and dangerous, that banks were foreclosing on houses they didn't even own, that it was deregulation that allowed financial institutions to bundle terrible loans with good ones in order to give them a (knowingly misleading) high rating and sold as a AAA package, and a lack of oversight or transparency that allowed these companies to take insurance policies out on loans that they knew would fail. Despite the fact that the majority of people work for small businesses and that the economy is slow because the average person's purchasing power is weak, tax cuts for the richest and biggest businesses are what we need to save the economy because, despite record profits and the already low tax rates, if we lower taxes then they'll hire more people.

Conservative argument on health care: If you work hard and make money, then you deserve to be able to buy a nice car. If you don't work hard, why do you deserve to be able to have good health care? Sure, maybe with the old way taxpayers had to pay more to keep poor people alive because they were waiting until problems became emergencies so they could be admitted to emergency rooms, but the solution isn't to create a system that incentivizes preventative care - if you work hard and make money, you deserve to live, and if you don't work hard or have money, you don't. Let the lazy bums die, since they weren't willing to work hard for our society why should society coddle them and keep them alive - except as reliable Democratic Party voters. Despite research that shows that we pay the most for health care and are not even close to the healthiest, we have the best health care system in the world. Despite the fact that insurance companies will deny coverage of certain drugs or procedures that are expensive if they can find any way to get out of it, we don't have to worry about rationing, and despite the dangerous lack of nurses and doctors, we don't have to worry about waiting times like we would in a "socialist" system. Keep your laws off my body, unless it's to enforce drug testing on wellfare recipients or prevent medically necessary abortions.

In every example I can think of, the conservative argument comes back to the responsibility of the individual and reliance on the state exclusively for protection and enforcement of morality. Social structures or socio-economic location play no factor - race or "culture" are far more likely to be considered factors leading to a person's state, so that being at the bottom of the economic pyramid is never a sign of problems with the system but instead a reflection on their poor choices. That big corporations are deified as being efficient and "less evil" than government, able and capable of effectively taking over every current role of the government, may be part of that Puritan mindset that being poor means you are not in God's favor while being rich means you are, and since big companies are rich, they must be good.

Something to think about
 
 
 
 
 
 
I've been occasionally tweaking a story for a long time. It's set in a bleak future that looks at a glance like a libertarian dream of total economic freedom, but under the layers of consumerism and beyond the throngs of those enjoying the "freedom of economic failure," the naked reality is the total realization of neo-conservative goals; total corporate hegemony, a new kind of institutionalized class system where economic mobility is restricted, and there is only equality, justice, and freedom for those who can afford it. One element is that the characters find themselves adjusted to a world completely without balance, with the only checks and balances against the over-reach of corporate power being economic forces, and the economy being entirely under the control of a handful major corporations.

It's easier and easier to imagine a world without unions. Only one union super-pac made the list of top ten biggest political contributers - and it was the only super-pac among the top ten giving to democratic and liberal candidates. No wonder the destruction of unions is the top priority of the Grand Old Machine, a Tea-Party hijacked Republican party seeking total domination at any cost.
The top Republican contributors are also naturally anti-union because of the industries they come from, which can stand to save good money if allowed to get away with revoking safety standards or labor laws. Sheldon Adleson, the Waltons, the Kochs, they all have a problem with an organization that will collectively bargain with the power of an effective strike as leverage. So it makes sense that supporting politicians that pass anti-union bills becomes a priority.
And so it is that in this modern world, with unions on the defensive and unable to outspend Republicans in our democracy where the winner is whoever spends the most, that you can have a situation like Catapiller Co., which has instituted a 6 year hiring freeze and 6 year pay raise freeze for the workers despite the fact that it got over 4 billion in profit last year, already posted 1.5 billion in profit just this quarter, and gave the CEO a 60% profit. Or like the recent coal mining disaster at a mine run by <html="http://www.democracynow.org/2011/5/23/massey_energy_guilty_west_virginia_probe">Massey Energy</a>, a company run by a major Republican contributor that has been tough on unions, that had gotten complaints from union workers about the mine being unsafe, and despite regulators being called upon to shut the mine down and the dozens of small fines the company paid because of violating safety guidelines... still, 29 died.

Unions, love them or hate them, are an important countervailing force against unbridled greed. Without unions, there is no one to stand up to the bosses and say, "no, actually, this is the wrong way to save money for the company."
 
 
 
 
 
 
Anyone that's been watching Fox or listening to AM talk radio as their primary news source for the last 4 years is gearing up for the biggest "anyone but him" campaign ever. They're going to call that Tuesday in November the one day between recovery and the apocalypse. Even a lot of otherwise apolitical people have a vague notion that everything bad is because of the President. On the other side, liberals are not very excited about voting for an establishment Democrat that has expanded the war on terror, cut social spending, maintained loopholes for the rich and subsidies for super-profitable oil companies, expanded the use of illegal drone strikes and used the feds to crack down on dispensaries that are legal at the state level - basically, liberals are lukewarm on Obama because he's feels too much like a conservative.
The result is that Romney MIGHT be able to win, which is tragic in a classic way - Obama thought he'd win by being an "Eisenhower Democrat," by being the kind of republican people would have loved in the 90s, right down to his health care reform plan, a carbon copy of the giveaway to insurance companies that was the much touted compromise republicans offered instead of Bill Clinton's plan in 1992, and the model for Romney's plan. By not sticking to the character he created during his 2008 campaign, by abandoning progressive ideals in a bid to attract conservative voters, he has only alienated himself from his base and has not won over any conservatives that consider Joe Scarborough their most liberal commentary source.
Maybe he was waiting for the right time to "evolve". Polls show most people want marijuana legalized, don't think the government should make all abortion legal, don't think birth control is illegal, don't think we should be at war all the time, don't think the government should be allowed to blow a citizen up without a warrant, don't think we should be spied on or detained indefinitely without a trial, and don't think we should be presumed guilty at random traffic stops or when we're trying to fly to visit grandma. Basically, liberals and conservatives agree that we're not a fan of a police state. The biggest disagreements between either side of the political spectrum are economic and social issues, and Obama has been right of center on all of that. With the economy and employment the biggest issue for voters now, Obama's goal for the election will be to prove that what he has done has worked and that what he wants to do is better than what Romney wants to do.
On social issues he's winning as much as a democrat can - that is, there are certain single-issue voters on the conservative side of the spectrum who won't stop breathing fire until every gay person is in a re-education camp and sperm is granted the same rights as people. Knowing Republicans would fight him on absolutely anything, even if it was a good idea, he got them to fight him over contraception (beginning the 'war on women' meme). He started his first term signing the Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay for Equal Work act, and he's approaching the end of this term having reversed Don't Ask Don't Tell and signaling that he supports recognition of same sex civil unions as deserving all the same government perks as recognized marriages. The polls favor him on these. Romney, meanwhile, is courting votes from people concerned about the creeping darkness of the "homosexual agenda" whatever that is.
On economic issues it's a murkier question. He's been doing a lot of what Republicans traditionally stand for, it isn't really working, and the economic recovery has been sluggish and top-heavy because of it. Despite being depicted as a socialist in conservative media, Obama has only hardly been Keynesian, and his biggest giveaways haven't been to people but to big money interests, especially wall street. The debates will be interesting... well, they'll be brutal. Romney will choke, I will bet on it, and he will fall on empty talking points at every turn, which will snowball his choking. KeystoneXL might come up, as it has in campaign ads for example - "why did you cave to environmentalist activists at the cost of jobs and kill the Keystone XL pipeline?!" Romney will stutteringly ask, and Obama will remind him simply that he approved half of the pipeline but the EPA, at the request of owners of small farms (what, do you hate rural communities?), had asked for a longer period of environmental impact review of another portion of the pipeline and the Republicans demanded Obama say "yes" or "no" within some arbitrary window instead, so he said no... but despite overwhelming popular support AGAINST Keystone XL, Obama is allowing for an alternative route to be considered for environmental impact review. So, like, where's the controversy here?
Still, the only way for the "anyone but Obama" people to lose is if the "anyone but Romney" people come out in force.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Gingrich has declared war on Fox News, saying that he has been forced to rely on fair coverage from CNN, but that Fox News is "on Romney's side." So of course it's over for Gingrich. Even his top funder, casino billionaire Forgot Hisname, has been interviewed saying that he would love it if Gingrich won but that it's now obviously just not going to happen. Earlier he had said that he was only pumping the Gingrich campaign full of cash because he really didn't want Santorum to win, and now that Santorum has dropped out rather than face an embarrassing loss from his home state, Gingrich's main backer has no reason to stand behind him anymore. Indeed, his campaign is pretty sad already, it's really entirely a way to get Super Pac money so he can spend it pimping out his and his wife's books. Long live Gingrich, Gingrich RIP, see ya next time.

You might be saying, "but Santorum hasn't pledged his support of Romney yet, he could give his delegates to Gingrich," and that's really exactly what Santorum wants people to say. In Santorum's concession speech he said his fight wasn't over, and he still attended a campaign event with Pastor Superchristian Alsoforgothisname. He's not going to drop on his knees for Romney right away - it would make him look bad with his own supporters, especially after having just said that Romney is the worst republican to fight Obama and bemoaning how un-conservative Romney is. But Santorum also wants Romney to work for his support, which will be vital in the general, not just to clinch the primary. Gingrich will call out for Santorum's support and Santorum will entertain the idea, but Republicans don't like a ruiner and supporting Gingrich so close to the convention when Romney is so close to the finish line, would be a disaster.

Meanwhile, Romney has chilled his extreme pandering to the right and is trying to appear more centrist in preparation for the general. You'll see him talking about "Obama's war on women," pointing out that many women have lost their jobs since Obama took office (of course ignoring the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay act and his appointment of two female Supreme Court Justices), and he will speak louder about how the problem with national health care reform is that it takes away from the individual state's rights to pass their own health care reform laws (as opposed to the problem with national health care reform being that it amounts to socialism or "reparations").
 
 
 
 
 
 
Theism is crazy. I give up, I gotta say it. I just spent 4 hours reading through a comment thread http://reason.com/archives/2012/03/10/atheism-is-a-religion#commentform

Atheists are called out for being militant and "fundamentalist" so much when all they're doing is posing an argument. Then this person tries to marginalize and distract from the arguments by calling Atheism a religion, and she whines when people are fed up and take her to task about it on twitter - then she uses that backlash as proof that it's a religion!
Someone tweeted to her "Non-belief is a belief if OFF is a TV channel" the nerve! Meanwhile people get death threats for bringing up separation of church and state and the church tries to paint banning prayer in publicly funded institutions as a push to ban religion throughout the public sphere ("just as foretold in their spooooky book" *gasp* "don't forget to tithe and vote Republican!")

Look, I am the most militant atheist I know because when people ask me about my beliefs I tell them, but I also am not evangelistic - there's a reason you never see Atheists on street corners shouting for hours from a street corner in the rain. We're not concerned about a sky god watching us and judging whether or not we deserve to go to eternal torture or eternal bliss, we don't consider the people with which we disagree to be immoral, unclean, agents of evil. We are not a part of world-wide organizations built on "flocks" of people who are told what interpretation to take on an insane book, that they have to believe in on faith. When Atheists are really rude, it's either a lack of patience with circular logic, or just the fact that some people are rude. If Theists feel belittled it's because they believe in an ancient collection of oral traditions passed down for generations and redacted to suit Roman rule and including talking snakes and turning people into pillars of salt.

I don't believe in magic, or the tooth fairy, or Sherlock Holmes. I don't believe in God or any gods. Because I'm a big sci-fi nerd I might believe that there are civilizations so advanced that they would seem like gods to us, or that the entire universe is sufficiently complex and interconnected that it could be described to be a living thing, or that we are actually all in a very advanced simulation - but I think it's most likely that we happen to be lucky to be aware that we are alive and that's just about the most we're ever likely to know on the subject for sure.

But I don't want to sound like an agnostic theist here. I really, really think that there's no evidence to suggest the existence of any supernatural or metaphysical beings beyond our imagination.

There, I said it.
 
 
 
 
 
 
War with Iran is such a terrible idea for so many reasons that it simply won't happen. It makes for inflammatory campaign rhetoric used to excite the base, but intelligence and military leaders from every side considers war to be an impossible option.

"But Iran has said that Israel should be wiped out, we can't let them have the means to do it!"

Look, as it is now, Iran knows that it would be suicide. Intelligence assessments from the US and Israel describe Iran as a rational actor, and that they aren't working on a military nuclear program. They go on to say that attacking Iran would prove without a doubt that the only way for them to be safe from further attacks would be to get nukes, so a strike like Netanyahu has been crowing about would actually be a self fulfilling prophecy. But Iran suspects Israel to be a rational actor as well and everyone not in front of main stream media and behind a podium is saying that this should all die down once the elections in these countries are over.

News on this has been popping up a lot and if anyone wants sources on this position, I can provide them. What's less obvious is why exactly this is all happening, though I can easily speculate that oil is involved, as the threat of the straight of Hormuz being closed has incited speculation, pricing a 9 month shortage of supply into the current oil price and making a lot of money for Big Finance and the military industrial complex, of which all Netanyahu, the GOP, and the executive branch are all clients. All this talk of war also has the effect of continuing the rightward shift in US politics, as conservatives take insanely dangerous positions and Democrats compromise by taking only a moderately insane position, as Obama did when speaking at AIPAC and reminding everyone that he will do absolutely anything Netanyahu wants, including military action. Forget any anti-war liberal ideals, who cares that suggesting that we would preemptively invade a sovereign nation to prevent the development of a program that it actually has the legal right to pursue only strengthens the Iranian regime which relies on the threat of violence from without in order to maintain its violent grip within.

I really don't think we'll go to war, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be mad as hell about even the idea of getting into another such quagmire. The GOP taking this idea to the general election campaign will have to tell the American people how it would be a good idea to tackle a country many times more capable and populace than Iraq, especially when we can all see how well Iraq went.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hanging out with a new friend, we were talking and he said something along the lines of "hands down, anything the government can do, corporations can do more efficiently," which of course is the code phrase that translates to "I am a Libertarian." He preferred to identify himself as an anarcho-capitalist. So, more than a few drinks in, we got into the issue.

I brought up specific situations where companies have taken over roles that our society typically left to government and described the result, that there are some areas where you can't have the only incentive be the bottom line when it comes to the public good. Privatized armies, privatized health care, privatized prisons, privatized fire protection - it all works most efficiently as profit making machines that will cut corners when it thinks it is able in order to make more money. The difference is that companies, especially the big ones, are a bunch of transnational fiefdoms that answer only to the profit margin. His response is that this is fine and only doesn't work because of government regulation - the guiding hand of the market would work more effectively than the government could, that if people didn't like the way a company worked, they would use the services of a different company. I responded that companies with enough money would do the cost benefit analysis and when it was cheaper to just own the media than fly right, they'll own the media. Told him about the Monsanto growth hormone piece being shut down because Fox didn't want to hurt an advertiser and subsequent whistle-blower lawsuit that failed because the higher court decided that it was not against the law to lie in the news, that it was protected as free speech.

The gist of the argument, essentially, is the question of who you want in charge. The government at least is accountable to people. Companies do not want accountability, they want total freedom from accountability, and it's their influence on the government that is behind movements for less accountability and more control. They pushed for retroactive immunity for wiretapping US citizens during the Bush Administration, corporate lobbyists pushed for a health care reform that keeps insurance companies around as middle-men, they pushed for the broad language in the new Defense Authorization Act that explicitly legalizes the extraordinary renditions we've already been doing, and they're pushing for SOPA and PIPA, which hands the fate of the internet to the media and Hollywood establishment.

Not that government isn't complicit, but it's corporate money that's corrupted government. This is the gist of the Occupy movement and an issue with the ground roots Tea Party movement - really, it's something everyone is concerned about. That's why Gingrich, seeing his numbers slip, and everyone els, wishing they HAD numbers, jumped on Romney for his work with Bain Capital and for being a millionaire in general. The Republican establishment, but especially the GOP funders, cried fowl and demanded the candidates turn down the populism; ostensibly because they were writing the DNC's campaign plan. The traditional Republican money-sources reminded the candidates that they did not want an examination of Big Money, the kinds of things Bain Capital did and the kinds of privilege Romney has. Capitalism in general wants to only be thought of as the thing that gets you a job.

It should be a primary issue, but it won't be, contrary to the warnings of Ailes, Beck, and Limbaugh. Romney will win the nomination, despite the best efforts of the Republican party, and Obama will walk the populist line to beat him, but Obama is just as much in the pockets of Big Business as any other candidate - just different businesses than Romney. Except Big Finance, so I'll bet Obama won't hit him so hard with the Bain Capital pension-fund & job-killing machine angle. Still, it's a conversation we need to have and the primary campaign is a good opportunity. What is the role of an economic system? What is the role of corporations? If companies get together to shut down an organization's source of donations because they don't like what they're saying, is that kind of censorship ok? What happens when companies, "too big to fail," do the things that we won't let governments do because we're rightfully afraid of them having too much power?
 
 
 
 
 
 
The much remarked upon 10,000 dollar bet that Romney offered to Perry is being talked about as yet another example of Romney not being able to avoid appearing out of touch with blue-collar, red-state, anti-elitist Americans.


Though Romney is the richest candidate, the only reason the other candidates haven't imported horses from France is because they're not big horse fans, not because they aren't also rich enough to spring for such luxuries or would shy from spending money so extravagantly.



There was of course the near-million dollar tab Gingrich ran up showering his current wife with diamonds, or the cruise to Greece he went on instead of campaigning in Iowa early on, which prompted the first generation of his campaign staff to abandon him over the belief that he was more concerned with self promotion than winning.

It doesn't matter who wins the primary, though. Despite the polls, I still can't believe it will be Newt, and in spite of the polls I feel like it must be Mitt - or maybe Ron Paul out of no where, but there's really not enough different about their positions to make a difference to the Obama campaign. All he'll have to do is honestly describe the GOP platform, that huge corporations and the super-rich deserve subsidies and favors, and poor people deserve dangerous water and lower wages.

Aside from the disenfranchisement backup plan that the GOP have been building for years, the worst thing that could happen to the Obama campaign is dissatisfaction among his base - and there is plenty of that. It could siphon votes away into the ether, or worse, embolden a protest candidate, a "spoiler" to split the vote a la Nader. Someone who speaks to progressive values, who condemns Obama for not closing illegal bases, for not standing in the way of retroactive immunity, for looking the other way when it comes to war crimes or crimes against humanity, for racheting up the use of mercenaries and illegal drone-strike assassinations, for supporting the attempted Honduran coup and regimes like Syria, and so on.

Ex-Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson, Former Democrat, Launches Third Party Presidential Bid Against Obama, GOP

Check out this video. Rocky Anderson could be that candidate. Hell, I think I'll vote for him.