Starbucks' CEO Schultz Brewing A Double-Shot Of Politics In Your Venti Half-Caf

Are you a Starbucks Rewards Member? If you are, you probably got this awesome warm-and-fuzzy feeling email today about how you could help Starbucks help needy schools by funding Bill Gates' DonorsChoose.org initiative. It all sounds great,

Are you a Starbucks Rewards Member? If you are, you probably got this awesome warm-and-fuzzy feeling email today about how you could help Starbucks help needy schools by funding Bill Gates' DonorsChoose.org initiative.

It all sounds great, doesn't it?

msnbc's Morning Joe and Starbucks encourage you to support public schools through DonorsChoose.org.

Starting October 4th, Starbucks retail stores and participating grocery stores will feature a select number of marked bags of Gold Coast Blend®- Morning Joe Edition coffee with $5 DonorsChoose.org donation stickers*. To direct funding to the public school classroom project of your choice visit DonorsChoose.org/starbucks**.

[...and the fine print...]

**Offer only available through codes found on specially-marked packages of Starbucks® Gold Coast Blend® - Morning Joe Edition coffee. We will donate $5 for every code entered through 12/31/2011, until $600,000 has been given. Enter your code at www.donorschoose.org/starbucks then choose a classroom project to receive the $5 donation. Codes expire on 12/31/2011 at 11:59 pm EST. Donations can only be directed to existing projects on DonorsChoose.org. Coffee purchases and this $5 donation are not tax-deductible. For promotional details and restrictions, visit www.donorschoose.org/starbucks.

Awww, isn't that nice? A special blend for the conservative dude on the so-called "liberal" channel, and all you have to do is buy it to send five bucks off to DonorsChoose.org, which until recently I supported for the most part. The idea behind DonorsChoose is for teachers to put up a wish list for their classrooms, and small donors to fulfill it with...small donations.

This is all great except that it now includes charter schools, which already receive plenty of money from big donors, including a lot of very, very far right wing donors. It's also symptomatic of a larger issue, which is the abject underfunding of our schools. What's next? A $5 donation for every bag of Bill O'Reilly Decaf Blend? Or maybe the Erick Erickson Afternoon Teabag?

Howard Schultz, as you may recall, is the kahuna behind the effort to de-fund certain candidates running for office by withholding contributions until they step up to his tune.. This would be just awesome for those of us who think corporate money has too much influence over politics, except that Schultz' effort, if successful, would punish Democratic candidates at the local, state and federal levels while leaving conservative candidates to happily continue collecting their big donations at the door, given that Schultz and his friends are the sort of Third Way types who put a lot of money toward Democrats, but expect those Democrats to deliver corporate help.

So maybe Schultz isn't a conservative in liberals' clothing. But the net effect of what might otherwise be a noble effort is to raise visibility to the one professed conservative on the MSNBC network with one effort, while starving Democratic candidates of donations on the other.

We can argue all day long about whether or not it's a good thing for Democrats to be starved of corporate donations. It may well be. But it certainly doesn't bode well for competing in states where lots of conservative corporate money is landing.

In honor of Schultz' deeply charitable effort to pimp Joe Scarborough's show, I'm going to make a donation to the Blue America candidates. Give up that Morning Joe blend and join me?

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