Are Schultz and Corporate America Laying Groundwork for Third-Party Contender?

Starbucks CEO Conducts Citizen Conference Call With No Labels Group

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Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is not happy with the state of American politics today. In fact, he's mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore. The leader of America's favorite coffee shop took out full-page ads in newspapers inviting Americans to join him on a call:

Please join other concerned Americans and me on a national call-in conversation on Tuesday September 6th hosted by 'No Labels,' a nonpartisan organization dedicated to fostering cooperative and more effective government.

No Labels, you'll remember, is the nonpartisan grassroots group that 's been taking America by storm with a signature drive to get 1,000 people in each congressional district to sign its declaration by March 31.

Actually, you probably won't remember that . The group didn't hit its goal. When that didn't happen, the deadline was moved a few months -- to December. And the group still isn't on pace to meet that goal, according to lefty Jim Cook, who's been tracking the drive. (Then again, the same group has declared that "Real Leaders Don't Sign Pledges," so maybe people are confused.)

If I sound dismissive, that 's because I am. When "average" voters start waxing about a golden era of political civility, I just chalk it up to historical ignorance. No such time ever existed. Ever. Not in this country. Not in any country. When the political class starts throwing around words like "nonpartisan" and "common sense," I'm put in mind of the George Carlin line: "The word bipartisan means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out."

But what's the deception in this case, you ask? Depends on who you ask. Righties say it's simply an effort by real Democrats and "fake" Republicans to counter the success of the Tea Party movement -- that these folks are simply upset that they are no longer the ones causing gridlock.

Jim Cook sees a conspiracy of "fake" Democrats and real Republicans working on a platform designed by and for corporate America. After all, folks in the C-suite didn't seem bothered by partisanship until the stock market started tanking and the economy got to a point that Americans a) started buying less and b) started making nasty noises about "corporate America."

So what's really going on here? Who knows? Forgive me if I don't think it's very sincere. If any of these people cared to do something about the extremes we see from both parties, there's one simple remedy: Demand the end to gerrymandered districts. Yes. It's that simple. But none of them are doing that .

I will say my favorite theory so far comes from Ric Merrifield, who asks, "Is Howard Schultz about to run for President?" He comes down on the side of no, but does conjure up the image of Schultz as the political equivalent of John the Baptist, a corporate prophet laying the groundwork for some other third-party candidate, perhaps another businessman with political leanings, one who's repeatedly been named as a possible third-party candidate, one who's been a Democrat and a Republican.

One Michael Bloomberg.

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