With the United States military preparing for the possibility of a missile strike on Syria, the government there has agreed to let UN inspectors examine the site of last week’s chemical weapons attack, which left hundreds of people dead. While President Bashar al-Assad’s people claim that the weapons were used by rebel forces against their soldiers, the Obama administration now says there is “very little doubt” that the regime was responsible for the attack. A senior U.S. official told the Washington Post, “At this juncture, the belated decision by the regime to grant access to the U.N. team is too late to be credible, including because the evidence available has been significantly corrupted.” It seems that Obama may be getting ready to admit that the “red line” has been crossed.
[B]ad systems corrupt good individuals [by] enlisting our self-interest to convince us to betray our values. And make no mistake: America’s campaign finance system is a disaster. Most candidates can’t self-finance their campaigns, so they spend a disproportionate amount of time asking the rich to donate to their campaigns. Those donations are limited to $2,800 per individual, but the Supreme Court believes political spending is a protected form of free speech, so the rich can spend as much as they want on their own campaigns, or on Super PACs to push their political agendas.
Populists like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and, in his complicated and contradictory ways, even Donald Trump, have risen in part because Americans loathe seeing their political system bought by the rich. Bloomberg isn’t so much a defense against those critiques as he is a confirmation of them. The populists say that politics is rigged, elections are bought by those with enough money to spend, modern liberalism is mere lipstick on perpetual corporatism. Bloomberg is here to test whether they’re right. He may pitch himself to centrists as an answer to the populists, but in leveraging his fortune to fight them, he offers the country the (hopefully) false choice between populism and oligarchy.