June 5th, 2008

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A Few Election tidbits . . . .

1) No honor among thieves: In a shift from previous cycles, corporations in the telecom and tech sectors are giving more to Dems than to Rs this season (from Communications Daily, so no link). According to the Center for Responsive politics, many companies and trade associaitons are now favoring Dems 60%-40%, nearly the mirror image of 2004 and 2006 (some companies and trade associaitons, such as NAB, started giving to Dems in late 2006 when it became clear where the electorate was going).

I will observe this is consistent with the "money chases winners" rather than "money makes winners" theory. It is also interesting on the "are campaign contributions really speech" question. That is to say, it is evidence that what we have is an effort to purchase access rather than an expression of political belief. (Indeed, what amuses me is that, from a corporate law perspective, the only justification for corporate giving is to purchase access.) But that debate is broader than I have time for now.

2) There is iron under that "hope" thin after all: Two articles in yesterday's Washpo give me comfort that Obama as the necessary steel for the job of President. One is a lengthy discussion of the campaign strategy, which focused on what everyone will tell you is the critical aspect of winning conflict: stay focused on the goal, and always seek to pit your strength against the opponents weakness. The campaign focused exclusively on winning delegates. This influenced everything from the big state/small state decision (they calculated they would win more delegates by winning big in small caucus states than by trying to win large D states like CA and MA, since proportional representation would give them a substantial number of delegates even with losses of 10-15 points), to what congressional districts within states they targeted. Because they determined that ditricts with odd numbers of delegates awarded the odd delegate to the winner, but that those with even numbers of delegates split evenly if the margin of victory was fairly narrow, they made substantial efforts in districts with odd delegates. This strategy allowed them to take more delegates in NV, despite the fact that Clinton won more districts and the popular vote, because the counties she won had even delegates and were won by narrow margins whereas the counties Obama won had odd numbers of delegates. The Obama campaign also displayed incredible organization and responsiveness, as contrasted with Clinton's campaign.

Meanwhile, Ruth Marcus wants Obama to be gracious in victory, but laments that his delegation at the rules committee meeting held the line and refused to compromise on a few MI delegates that Clinton was trying to claim. Marcus invokes Ulyses Grant, who allowed Lee to surrender with dignity and sent food to his soldiers after the surrender at Appomatax. She hopes Obama repeats the graciousness of Tuesday night as Clinton winds down rather then the apparent meaness over the weekend when a few delegates didn't really matter.

Actually, I find Obama's conduct just right. Until he actually won the nomination, he fought Clinton with the same ruthless determination that Grant showed at Cold Harbor. It may seem, particularly in retrospect, that the MI delegates Clinton was fighting for at the end didn't matter. But Obama took no chances and was unwilling to concede any advantage merely to be gracious. Only after victory was certain did he essentially allow Clinton to surrender on her own terms, as Grant allowed Lee.

When we talk about the new politics, this is a hopeful sign. It does not mean being stupid or soft on those trying to thwart your agenda. It does, however, mean not being needlessly petty or treating opponents as of no moment. Unlike Bush, who assumed he could ignore Dems because he won the election, Obama appears to recognize that just getting the nomination is not enough. He needs to treat Clinton with respect. But that includes, as Grant did with Lee, knowing when to be generous and when to be ruthless.
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The IP Mafia Regroup

It used to be that the IP Mafia had pretty much free run of intergovernmental treaty organizations like the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Not anymore. Now those pesky consumer groups and open source whankers and other socialist scum keep showing up and ruining the party.

So the IP Mafia very cleverly ivnented their OWN international treaty org, got their buddies at State and the PTO to play along, as well as their friends from other countries, and started their own intergovernmental treaty without all that annoying input from anybody else.