Posts tagged ‘PAC’

When Microsoft Was Forced to Join the Corporate State

Via Radley Balko.  He is quoting Tim Carney in turn

People think money drives politics. It doesn’t. Money is merely the vehicle. Power drives Washington. As Carney points out, Hatch has spent a good deal of his time on the Judiciary Committee targeting Microsoft. So he wasn’t mad that the company wasn’t giving him money—they weren’t giving to his opponents, either. Hatch was angry that the company wasn’t acknowledging that it needs Washington, that it needs people like him. He finds that offensive. So people like Hatch make companies like Google need people like Hatch.


 . . . it grated on Hatch and other senators that Gates didn’t want to want to play the Washington game. Former Microsoft employee Michael Kinsley, a liberal, wrote of Gates: “He didn’t want anything special from the government, except the freedom to build and sell software. If the government would leave him alone, he would leave the government alone.”

This was a mistake. One lobbyist fumed about Gates to author Gary Rivlin: “You look at a guy like Gates, who’s been arrogant and cheap and incredibly naive about politics. He genuinely believed that because he was creating jobs or whatever, that’d be enough.”

Gates was “cheap” because Microsoft spent only $2 million on lobbying in 1997, and its PAC contributed less than $50,000 during the 1996 election cycle.

“You can’t say, ‘We’re better than that,’ ” a Microsoft lobbyist told me on Friday. “At some point, you get too big, and you can’t just ignore Washington.”

You know what happens next . . .

After the Hatch hearings, Microsoft complied. Its PAC increased spending fivefold in each of the next two elections. In the 2010 elections, Microsoft’s PAC contributed $2.3 million to House and Senate candidates. The PAC has contributed the maximum $10,000 to each of Hatch’s last two campaigns.

Back before the antitrust case, Microsoft’s tiny lobbying contingent sat in the company’s local sales office in Chevy Chase. Since the Hatch hearings, Gates’ company has poured more than $100 million into K Street’s economy, hiring up members of congress and Capitol Hill staff, many of whom then became top fundraisers — such as Republican Jack Abramoff and Democrat Steve Elmendorf.

And of course now that Microsoft has a strong Washington presence, it uses its influence to lobby the government to harass its competitors. Like Google, which must then open its own Washington lobbying outfit in response. And the cycle starts all over again. (If you’re really on your game, you then hire the government regulators you’ve lobbied to investigate your rival to come work for you.)

Money is not the problem in politics, and is not the root of the corporate state.  Power is.  Money in politics will never go away as long as the government has the power to micromanage winners and losers.  Take the power away, and the money would disappear.

Over the Top

I got this in an email from something called the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC.  They seem to be worried about the passage of the Dream Act, which I have not paid much attention to.

If we lose in the Senate tomorrow, most future battles will be fought as we retreat step by step, while millions of illegal aliens become legal workers, students, and voters who are used to replace Americans and put in positions of authority over us.

May God Save The United States.

Rally your kith and kin and join us shortly after dawn on the East Coast for our next battle tomorrow.


May God favor our efforts.

Holy Cr*p, you would think Hitler's panzers were rolling into Washington.  Seriously, this is all because millions of immigrants might become legal workers and voters like, uh, nearly every one of our ancestors who came from somewhere else?  Their apocalyptic vision is legal workers and students?

This email just gives the lie to the PAC's name -- obviously they are not for legal immigration or they would be thrilled that formerly illegal immigrants suddenly become legal.

On many occasions I have had people tell me that I was stupid -- explaining to me that this issue is not about immigration per se but the rule of law, and that their objection was to the illegal behavior not being punished, not immigration itself.  Fine, here is the fix -- make them all legal.  The formerly illegal immigrants will be, as you say, legal students, workers, and voters. Problem solved, right?

I get told all the time by immigration opponents that they are open to legal immigration, but we have to deal with illegal immigration first.  Really?  When thousands of Arizonans were breaking the law and getting photo-radar tickets, did we say that we would only do something about photo-radar when the problem of illegal speeding went away?  No, we got rid of the hated cameras, and most folks holding photo-radar tickets got amnesty (in the form of the state choosing not to pursue the high percentage of people who threw away their tickets rather than paying them).

Postscript: I am not religious, but I wonder if folks who are find the use of God in this context offensive.  Doesn't this imply God hates the Mexicans?  Does God love your family, who happened to enter this country when immigration laws were loose, but hate Xavier who wants to come here just like your family but does so in a time when immigration laws are restrictive?

It reminds me of winning football players who say, to begin interviews, "I want to thank God..." as if their victory were the result of particular favor payed to them by God.  I have always wanted to see a losing player follow such an interview with, "well, you heard it:  God was against us.  What chance did we have?  I think we kept it pretty close given that an omnipotent deity was working for the other team."

A (Partial) Defense of Larry Krueger

Larry Krueger, a radio personality for the San Francisco (baseball) Giants, recently ignited a firestorm by saying that he was frustrated by the Giants'

brain-dead Caribbean hitters hacking at slop nightly.

In response, Giants manager Felipe Alou has demanded Krueger's firing, asserting that this statement represents the worst sort of racism, and that he refused to accept Krueger's apology because "There's no way to
apologize for such a sin."

OK, at the risk that Krueger turns out to be a serial idiot with a long history of racism, I will deal with this statement solely on its face.  And in context, the reaction to his statement strikes me as extremely exaggerated.

Some background:  Typically, hitters can be thought of in two classes:

  1. Picky hitters, that sort through pitches like my wife shopping for vegetables, carefully picking out only the best to swing at, and gladly accepting walks when they come.  These hitters are often considered more "thoughtful" hitters
  2. Aggressive hitters, who swing more indiscriminately at pitches, and who often consider a walk to be a failed at-bat.  These hitters often described as "intuitive" or "natural" hitters, rather than thoughtful.

Some managers prefer the first type, some the second (for example, Miguel Tejada's being indiscriminate at the plate drove A's GM Billy Beane crazy, while other managers are happy to let him hack away for their team, given his huge numbers).  Which brings us back to the Caribbean.  What's interesting to me is that the Caribbean is not actually a race, but a location.  And in that location, it is very clear that hitters are schooled to be type #2 aggressive hitters.  Players in the Dominican Republic, Filipe Alou's home country by the way, have a saying:  "You don't walk off the island".  In other words, to get the attention of the US scouts and come to the majors from the Caribbean, a hitter is trained to be an aggressive type 2 player. They are taught that going down hacking is better than a walk.

In a sense, the Caribbean is a big (and very very successful) baseball school for training players to play in the US.  And it turns out that this "school" tends to teach players be more indiscriminate hackers at the plate.  Ask any manager in the majors if Caribbean hitters on average are less picky, more aggressive hitters at the plate and they will say "of course".

So, to some extent, Krueger is getting flamed for saying what everyone already knows.  Saying that Caribbean hitters can be indiscriminate hackers is like saying that PAC 10 quarterbacks tend to be more NFL-ready and polished than Big 12 quarterbacks -- its just a fact that is not always true, but is true on average given how they were trained.  Krueger's real mistake was probably using the term "brain dead", which can be a dangerous term when it has racial overtones, but in context probably refers to hitting style rather than absolute IQ.  I think Alou is reaching to say that Krueger was referring to Caribbean hitters poor English skills, but I will admit that he has more history with Krueger and may have reason to make this interpretation from past events.