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The McCain Campaign's "Technology" Message

Eric Brunner-Williams

I look at this as the ideas of Mike Powell and Meg Whitman, and a lot of unimportant wordsmithing. Before the Dublin (Erie) IETF I wrote one for one of the top three DCCC targeted races. You, or One, or I (isn't voice fun) tries for ideas that matter, and then try to connect the dots, for the semi-literate staff of a candidate who needs clue, e.g., to make effective calls to the DNC's major contributor lists for area codes 415, 408, 650 and 831. I mention Dublin because ages ago Scott Bradner's plan for Harvard, decent bandwidth everywhere and location transparency was, in just a few pages, a revolutionary policy document then, and now, and I was happy to see Scott again and let him know that two decades later I still remembered seeing policy stated with confidence and clarity.

The ideas in Mike Powell's and Meg Whitman's tech policy piece are surprising ... in their absence.

In my "Clue for Call-Times" for the DCCC targeted race for the Columbus, Ohio seat currently held by Deborah Pryce (R-Abramoff), I wrote Dublin votes Republican, and they had the sense to put dark fiber down city right-of-ways and data-driven tech is more present in Dublin now than anywhere else in the OH-15/OH-12/OH-07. In a nutshell, Dublin will be richer than its surroundings forever because of some exotic glass and a backhoe. Public intervention does work, we just need to pick what we want. Dublin wanted Dublin, the United States may want to fiber-up Appalachia, and the Navajo Nation.

Mike and Meg could have just said they like Dublin a lot, and plan to pass on Appalachia and the Navajo Nation. I wouldn't agree, but at least it would be comprehensible, and rational within its assumptions, and we could then work on the policy for rural (and urban core) narrow-band provisioning.

Western Union Telegraph Company v. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 128 U.S. 39[3] contains an idea that matters — that states may not tax interstate telegraph messages. Of course, credit for that idea goes to Chief Justice Melville Fuller, who wrote the decision in 1888, and "policy" is a cognate for "tax". This is about where the McCain Campaign's center of force (the candidate as an opinion leader, the "transactional" industry contributors, and the larger campaign policy staff) is located — affirmative public policy is deprecated, public data dumps and public data pipes will wither, and some will die, no taxes will be collected, no matter how great the profits, and some defense money will be thrown in the air as confetti.

It is an interesting piece of political writing, and it may achieve the probable political goal of making technology a non-issue in the campaign. (h/t David Isenberg)

By Eric Brunner-Williams, Mathematician
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