You have to admire Sam Smith, his head and heart are certainly in the right place. He's one of the few optimists left in the world. He's given us a lot to think about, and although I wish I could respond in a thematic way, I can offer only further observations touching on what he's said.-- I heard an interview of Barack Obama on NPR in which he said winning with 50% of the vote plus one isn't enough, that one can't really govern with that, and he's hoping to win with a broad coalition, like 60%, to actually accomplish anything. He also said that to get that kind of broad support, one has to be willing to work with people with concerns different from one's own. He didn't say, but I couldn't help thinking, it might mean subordinating some of one's own goals to the goals of others...say, sacrificing economic growth for the sake of the environment, or vice-versa.-- I watched the movie "Unreasonable Man" recently, about Ralph Nader. It's definitely worthwhile and thought-provoking. In fact I'm still trying to digest it. The movie does a great job relating Nader's upbringing in a politically-conscious family. Every morning at breakfast Nader's father would announce a "problem of the day," and by dinner every evening Ralph and his two sisters were expected to have thought about it and at least tried to find a possible solution. The movie lists many protections of modern life we take for granted but for which we owe Nader a debt of gratitude: mandatory seat belts, airbags, nutritional information, cigarette warnings, the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, OSHA, etc.As early as the 1970's, some people urged Nader to run for President. For years he always replied by saying the country wasn't ready, that change had to start at the grass-roots, and that he wanted people to view democracy as something one participates in, not something one "consumes" like a TV dinner. But obviosuly by the late 1990's either conditions had changed or something had changed his mind. In the film he says that there were no honest candidates left and that the only way to get a major party to take your concerns seriously is to prove that you can deny them your vote.But Phil Donahue, a strong supporter of Nader's legal efforts and his 2000 presidential run, says that, despite a lifetime of progressive work, tragically Nader will be most remembered as somehow putting Bush in office. "That will be the first line of his obituary." Michael Moore, strong supporter of Nader in 2000, having seen the damage Bush wrought, by 2004 emphasized pragmatism over ideology, saying something along the lines of "a few minutes of pleasure can ruin your whole life."-- I recently read Greg Palast's book "Armed Madhouse," which I also highly recommend. (Palast is an American who reports for the BBC and who first broke the story of the Bushes, Katherine Harris, and Choice Point knocking thousands of law-abiding minority voters off the rolls in Florida in 2000 on the pretext their names sounded like the names of out-of-state felons.) Palast claims Clinton-Gore's support of NAFTA in 1993 cost the Democrats control of Congress in 1994. At the time, I had supported NAFTA, and I attributed the subsequent loss of Congress more to the failure of Clinton's health care initiative, Republican filibustering, and a sense that Congress couldn't get anything done. But Palast points out that without an economic reason to vote Democratic, labor stayed home and/or voted social issues. This jibes with something I heard an AFL-CIO rep say once on C-Span, that labor supports Dems 60% or more economically but only about 40% on social issues (guns, gay rights, abortion, etc.). And now, 15 years later, I'm not sure NAFTA was the right idea...but there's no going back.Then yesterday I heard an economic report on NPR about stagnating wages. It said that between rising health care costs and immigration holding wages down, US workers are making the same or less today as 30 years ago. The report concluded by saying, if you want to help US workers, you must contain helath care costs and control immigration. But then I think, hell, if we weren't in Iraq, we could fund health care for everyone here.At this point I haven't decided whom to support for President. I like most of the Democrats, though I have problems with each of them. And even if one agrees with a candidate's platform, there's always the question of how likely are they to get it passed (Carter and Clinton had limited success even with Democratic Congresses). But the Dems are all preferable to Bush-Cheney, or the current crop of Republicans. I may be leaning slightly toward Obama at this point. If Ron Paul were to get the Republican nomination (almost impossible), I might vote for him. I am planning to go hear him speak this weekend.