Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Peter Thiel Gave Money to Attorney General Going After Google (bloomberg.com)
118 points by SirLJ 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 102 comments



Yes those who have money buy political favors in US.

https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2017/07/amid-antitrust-talk...

Google has 25 lobbying firms on retainer and spends at least $15M / year on lobbying. That is more than Verizon, Monsanto and Goldman for example, just to pick a few traditional big and scary companies off the top of my head.

Also speaking of Google, it has a pretty wide revolving door: "22 former White House officials moved into jobs at Google, while 31 Google executives took government jobs". It's not necessarily more un-evil or better than Monsanto for example, but many people still think of it as the cute little startup with fun colorful letters in the logo.


Amazing comment, you somehow manage to give Thiel excuses ("it's the way it is") and shift the topic to Google's lobbying at the same time.


> Amazing comment

Thanks!

> you somehow manage to give Thiel excuses

And what is he guilty of again?

> and shift the topic to Google's lobbying

The article is about Google and lobbying, so pointing out what Google is doing is interesting.

Besides your complement and meta-comment what do you think about the article?


No one is saying Peter Thiel is guilty of anything, but the article is about the fact that he gave money to officials probing Google's activities, which seems, if not illegal (not familiar enough with American law to judge on that), at least highly immoral. My comment was simply underlining the fact that this is never mentioned once in your comment, which ends up sounding a lot like basic whatboutism and, as such, like some form of blame-shifting.

I understand that Google's behavior is no better, they are investing a lot of money to steer legislation towards their financial sweet spot, but then any discussion about anything is moot, because someone else is doing it. When Bloomberg writes an article about Google's shady business, then by all means, let's discuss that at length.

As for the article, I found it was a tad light, I would've liked more details about the reason why Peter Thiel would care so much about Google and hurting Google specifically that he would do that. Some analysis about the sordid influence of money on politics as a whole would have been nice as well, it does seem from my remote French perspective that the relationship between money and elected office in the US has taken a turn for the worst in the past 5 to 10 years.


> No one is saying Peter Thiel is guilty of anything, but the article is about the fact that he gave money to officials probing Google's activities, which seems, if not illegal (not familiar enough with American law to judge on that), at least highly immoral.

I was trying to point out that even though it is immoral, that's how things are done in US. The article went out of its way to paint this as some kind of freaky evil thing, even threw "Trump" in there for a good measure a few times. But sadly, that's how business is done. This kind of lobbying has a pretty good ROI as others pointed below.

It would be better and it could be worse. It could all be completely hidden. Here at least we are talking about it, they have to disclose it and so on. It could a secret bank transfer to a cousin who lives in a tax haven, which is how "business" is often done in other countries.

> which ends up sounding a lot like basic whatboutism and, as such, like some form of blame-shifting.

What he was doing is not that unusual. In other words I didn't see much blame to start with. There is blame to be shared across the whole system of influencing and buying power, and is not really isolated to Thiel. Single Google was mentioned, I used them as an example.

> When Bloomberg writes an article about Google's shady business, then by all means, let's discuss that at length.

Like you said, the article is a bit light on details and I think Google lobbying and influencing exceeding those of what we traditionally think as "evil" companies is an interesting side conversation.

> about the reason why Peter Thiel would care so much about Google and hurting Google specifically

Well now we are talking. Not just Google but Amazon as well. Officially he talks about being a libertarian and he thinks those two companies are huge monopolies, they control what is bought, sold and read, searched and seen. But he is also an investor in Facebook and was founder of PayPal which is now part of eBay. Those two companies compete with Google and Amazon so it seems he also has purely financial reasons to support some companies and lobby against others.

Also I am personally worried about Google as well and I think many still believe it is this cutesy startup-y little underdog so pointing out that it lobbies and controls the government to a greater degree than even traditionally "evil" companies.

> relationship between money and elected office in the US has taken a turn for the worst in the past 5 to 10 years.

Agree. A clear manifestation of that is people voting in candidates like Trump and Sanders - a TV personality or an unknown old white socialist guy from Vermont. Even though traditional candidates have had billions more in funding and the backing of large media conglomerates, Wall Street and so on.


I'd like to say that I really appreciate the civil discourse and detailed answer, even though my initial response was unnecessarily provocative and snarky. Thanks a lot.


The way I've always heard is that Google was coming up while the DOJ was tearing into Microsoft for anti trust and so was very culturally aware of the impact that government can have on the success of a company.


They took a decade to really get going with it.

See the chart midway through here:

https://www.theverge.com/2012/4/23/2968686/google-joins-lobb...

Before 2009 they weren't spending all that much. The company was flush with cash at least since the 2004 IPO.


Monsanto is evil for tricking farmers or for unfair business practices, not for lobbying. This is a false equivalency. Google advocates for things that are generally in the public interest and does not abuse those position as many companies of their size do.


> Google advocates for things that are generally in the public interest and does not abuse those position as many companies of their size do.

Yes, they do that now.

What about in the future? There's no guarantee that they won't start lobbying for things which entrench their monopoly and help their business while harming consumers.

Just look at Google Fiber. At one point in time it seemed they might actually disrupt incumbent providers like Comcast, but they figured it wasn't in their interests and mothballed it.


Source on wasn't in their interests? I've only read that they couldn't continue it due to a: aggressive regulations by incumbers preventing entry of new ISPs (such as Fiber), b: most companies (like Comcast) miraculously offered fiber once Google Fiber was in the game, and c: they're focusing on wireless/balloon solutions.

These are just what I read but I would love to hear if this was just PR and there was a sinister reason like you imply.


> I've only read that they couldn't continue it due to a: aggressive regulations by incumbers preventing entry of new ISPs (such as Fiber)

The truth is the exact opposite. Google got very favorable treatment from fiber cities: https://techliberation.com/2012/08/07/what-google-fiber-says.... See also: http://crosscut.com/2014/12/google-fiber-never-come-seattle-....

The difference between Mountain View and Kansas City isn’t that that Comcast has somehow managed to out-lobby Google in Google’s own back yard. That’s absurd.


11 Sep 2017 · Google today appealed the record €2.4 billion ($2.7 billion USD) antitrust fine levied against it by the EU


I am always surprised how little money is really spent on lobbying. It really has an insane ROI.


If lobbying had insane ROI, wouldn't companies spend more money on it?


Not everything scales.


There isn't more than $15 million worth of things a company like Google could be lobbying over?


They may be already getting what's politically feasible.


That's one inference, but is it plausible? It's not exactly like courts and prosecutors are cracking down on lobbying right now. Also, the National Association of Realtors is spending about double what Google and AT&T are spending now. There is headroom to spend more without ending up at the top of the list. Also, have you ever even seen these lobbying figures cited in any news media? What mechanism is creating this backpressure?


Politicians can't favor one group too blatantly without backlash,. There also need to be PR campaigns that sway public opinion. I bet a lot of money goes there.


> Politicians can't favor one group too blatantly without backlash.

Let's say politicians can exercise a level of favoritism, F, without incurring public backlash, and the value of that favoritism to the party it is exercised for the benefit of is $V. It costs $P to get the politician to exercise that level of favoritism. The hypothesis is that P >> V. But why should that be the case? Shouldn't companies be bidding up P until it approaches V?

Now, you could also hypothesize that the public doesn't just care about L, it cares about P in and of itself. But I don't think the public really knows about P, and in fact would be surprised to find that companies worth hundreds of billions of dollars like Google and AT&T spend "only" $10-15 million/year in lobbying. (That is, after all, exactly the sentiment OP expressed upthread.)


While this headline is factual, this is like saying "Man With Pre-Existing Health Conditions Donated to the Obama Campaign, and Now We Have Obamacare". People shop for candidates that will serve their interests and then try to help get them elected. That is how our system of government works, and there is nothing wrong with that.

The article strives to imply that Thiel paid this guy off to bring the action, but provides no factual basis for such a conclusion. He apparently sought out a candidate that shared his point of view on Google, and donated to him. It's as simple as that. This article really is nothing more than drivel intended to further impune the reputation of a man hated by liberals for his support of Donald Trump. It's no coincidence that it appears in Bloomberg, which happens to be owned by one of the most liberal people on planet earth. I can't stand political propaganda masquerading as legitimate news - on the left or right - but that seems to be all we are exposed to these days.


Agreed:

Dustin Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna gave $20 million to boost Clinton and other Democratic campaigns.

Reid Hoffman gave 40,000 to Democrats in 2016.

Sheryl Sandberg of contributed over $200,000 to Democratic electoral campaigns in 2016.

Marc Benioff has previously put more than $100,000 toward Democratic election funds.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has spent more than $10,000 to support the Democratic ticket in 2016.

Elon Musk has also contributed to Democratic campaign funds — which was vital as much of his business depends on government contracting, subsidy and tax credits.

John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers had donated more than $600,000 to Clinton-related super PACs, and Brook Byers of the same firm has donated more than $100,000 to Democrat campaign funds.

So WHY IS THIS A STORY? Because apparently Peter Thiel prefers to support causes he prefers which aren’t necessarily the causes that Bloomberg et al support. Peter was acting perfectly legally. We can debate the merits of the system, but Thiel didn’t do anything particularly noteworthy here.


When you are responsible for a majority of the donation of an entity, you pretty much own that entity, i.e. that entity will do whatever you please.

None of the donators you mentioned own the entities they donated to. Thiel owns that attorney.


> Thiel owns that attorney.

Maybe, but that sounds like a pretty big logical leap.



> That is how our system of government works, and there is nothing wrong with that.

The system you described naturally consolidates power, and most of society finds it acceptable only if it coexists with a mechanism to redistribute some of that power to the underprivileged class. So there are some things wrong with it.

> a man hated by liberals for his support of Donald Trump

Liberals hate him for his conservative views, not just for his support of Trump. As a PoC, it's hard not to feel disgust toward a powerful elite who says shit like: "...when you start looking for racism everywhere, and you start finding racism everywhere, it's only a very small step to finding racists everywhere. Now, there's nothing wrong if there are really racists out there, but I'm going to suggest to you that there really aren't." Textbook conservative gaslighting to downplay the prevalence of an issue that they find to be inconvenient.


> most of society finds it acceptable only if it coexists with a mechanism to redistribute some of that power to the underprivileged class

That mechanism exists. It's called voting. The problem mostly lies with how difficult it is to get underprivileged people to turn out and vote. Of course there are also voter suppression efforts, but those mostly amount to a 'nudge' to make it a little more difficult so less people turn out. It's a much smaller overall effect than general voter apathy. That's part of why Democrats were able to have so much success this year -- anti-Trump sentiment seems to have gotten their voters to turn out in an off year when they didn't used to.


> Textbook conservative gaslighting to downplay the prevalence of an issue that they find to be inconvenient.

I think depending on your experiences, it may come off as gaslighting, but as a conservative (who loathes Trump and a lot of what Thiel champions), I can tell you that even the word racist is a heavy handed social weapon that has sometimes been used wrongly, or, and this is what triggers conservative anger, is when it's applied only to white people. So it comes off as intellectually dishonest in these types of discussions.

You may be thinking "oh Lord, cry me a river", but if everyone would cop to and own up for their own failings and work on that, things might ease a bit with regard to the tension of these discussions.

Also, you can't have diversity of experience when it's convenient, and uniformity of experience at the same time. What I mean is, if all or most PoC have experienced racism, why is it not ok to then label all PoC with the negative labels and experiences?

I've known many privileged PoC who demonstrate, if not full blown racism, then above average hostility and prejudice to not only other races, but even subgroups in their own ethnicity.

And I have known many white people who come from an underprivileged background who suffer from many of the same structural inequalities in the system because of their background and who they associate with.

I would agree with him that there really aren't many racists in the world in general, if we are defining racist as a person who consciously believes one race is superior to another.

But if we define it as people who have subconscious prejudices that influence their thinking of other cultures, ethnicities, races, etc., Then I would say that they are everywhere, including you and I.

But going with the latter definition is tricky, because humans are complex in that prejudices are overridden as often as they influence a decision. For instance, my former doctor was a somewhat older Asian lady, and she has a gigantic prejudice towards Russians and would say things like "Never adopt from Russia, the babies parents have so many drinking problems. The baby will have too many problems". However, having had her for many years, I can say that if a Russian, baby or not were to go to her for help, she would provide the same level of care she would give anyone else. Her prejudices may influence her initial thinking, but these sorts of things, if people are honest with themselves, are quickly overridden.

Again, I'm not saying there aren't racists and that there aren't institutional issues that stem from it, I'm saying that it's frustrating that it's often ignored when PoC exhibit the same behavior, and that it happens when the environment is setup to favor PoC and the white person is the one at the disadvantage.

So all that to say, I don't think it's inconvenient for conservatives or whites to have the discussion, it's just very often overly emotional on both sides and incredibly frustrating at times.


I would have been more willing to agree on a common ground before the Trump era. But now it seems as if all of the racists are seeping out of the woodwork, and I'm hearing all of the old racist arguments reinvigorated and amplified, arguments I thought had been defeated. America, for example, is the greatest empire ever to have existed, and the culture that gave rise to that is predominantly white, is it not? Is not true that African Americans are more violent and more stupid, statistically and factually speaking, than other races in America? Isn't it a fact that Jews control Hollywood? Is it not a true fact that LGBT people are more prone to mental disorders? Is it not true that ethnically homogeneous states are more stable? Why can't we talk about facts? And what is wrong, factually speaking, with any of these lines of reasoning?

If you say that there really aren't racists, then I guess I should take your word for it, despite what I experience with my own eyes and ears every day, what I'll experience tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that, until I'm fucking dead.

> Again, I'm not saying there aren't racists and that there aren't institutional issues that stem from it, I'm saying that it's frustrating that it's often ignored when PoC exhibit the same behavior, and that it happens when the environment is setup to favor PoC and the white person is the one at the disadvantage.

So why not just say this instead of saying that there really aren't racists? How is saying that there really aren't racists not a form of gaslighting?


On your first point, I think those same vehemently racist beliefs have been there this whole time, only because as a white guy, those racist or just plainly prejudiced other white guys would feel more comfortable expressing those opinions around me until I would bring around a black ex-girlfriend or a Latino best friend, and the conversation on that topic would get contorted into a weird dance around the topic filled with qualified euphemisms. And this was even during the Clinton era.

But I could watch this happen at the black barbershop next door to my parents business when we would get haircuts, or the Mexican restaurant on the other side when everyone switches to purely Spanish when they would see us or the barbers walk in, but you could hear the "mayate" and "guero" get dropped into the conversation. Mind you it was the patrons of those businesses is where you would hear it from, and the proprietors of the businesses all genuinely respected and enjoyed each other.

I think what's happening now is you're seeing racists feeling empowered by an atrocious human being who used racism and economic misery to weasel himself into power, which a lot of that rage was in reaction to Obama being in office for 8 years. Obama used the same frothy rage of unhappiness and economic misery to get into the White House, much in reaction to 8 years of Bush. But I heard plenty of racist remarks in the background when Obama was elected, it just had no power, and was in fact fomented in part by the feeling of having no power.

The other aspect that I believe we're seeing is amplification. The Internet and social media have so much more power than they did in 2008, both in it's influence, and our perception of that influence. But in reality, it's the same human dirt that has been there forever, with water added, and flung father than ever before.

However, the quote you posted in your original comment is subtly different than what you've said in your response to mine. The way you understood the quote, I'm assuming, is that he was saying there aren't any racists. The way I read your original quotation was that he was saying that there aren't racists everywhere. We can split hairs on that one, and English definitely doesn't provide any help, but I certainly don't want to dig in even a millimeter defending Trump's or Thiel's intent.

I'll get into that in the next block, but I've seen activists on both sides create mountains out of molehills with regard to parsing the intent of a poorly phrased statement.

> So why not just say this instead of saying that there really aren't racists? How is saying that there really aren't racists not a form of gaslighting?

I guess I would say it would depend on the intended audience. If they were trying to convince PoC that there are no white racists at all, then I would definitely consider it gaslighting. But if they're saying no one of any ethnicity is a racist, I would tend to treat that as a political (and more "positive") spin of what Trump said about Charlottesville.

If their audience are whites, then I would say it's appealing to their base, who, while all prejudiced, the majority of which are not racist, but who are often spoken about as if they were, or should be ashamed for being a part of racism.

And there is the possibility it's both, which is the dark side of effective use of political speak. You can encourage "us" and try to discourage "them", while holding onto deniability about intent.

But personally, without having read or heard Thiel's exact statements in the interview you quoted, I don't want to guess at the intent of those specific comments.

And I think that Trump (and culturally, his entire regime) is a natural genius about using language to incite both sides to action or reaction, and yet he can play all sides to his advantage.

There are reams of ways to use language to not only avoid responsibility, but associate ideological contrary statements so that your average political base may feel compelled to endorse it even if they add qualifications and disclaimers around it (which are all ignored by the opposing side).

Kinda like my entire set of comments, I guess, though I am completely opposed to them, I think nuance on both sides is needed, moreso during these times :)


>Again, I'm not saying there aren't racists and that there aren't institutional issues that stem from it, I'm saying that it's frustrating that it's often ignored when PoC exhibit the same behavior, and that it happens when the environment is setup to favor PoC and the white person is the one at the disadvantage.

When do white people experience systematic racism anywhere near the systematic racism that PoC endure? What environment are you referring to?


> When do white people experience systematic racism anywhere near the systematic racism that PoC endure? What environment are you referring to?

Okay, I can give a specific personal anecdote, but I have seen many other examples from friends who were even less fortunate than I was.

When I was in 8th grade, in the school I went to, the students were made up of 400 African Americans, 300 Latinos, 70 Caucasians, and 13 Asians. The teachers were mostly PoC, and the few that weren't, were incredibly activist minded in their feelings on race.

As a fat white kid, I was jumped or physically bullied more than once, 3 of those times in class, had a knife pulled on me, called a blue eyed devil and honky, and even had an African American English teacher make a joke about my weight to the entire class while I wasn't in class.

In the cases of getting jumped in class, there was no repercussions for those involved, both times with some implied statement that the reasons I was jumped were because I probably had it coming or that they would talk to the other students because they knew they had a hard home life (which applied to almost everyone at that school).

I don't mean to paint myself as an innocent victim (I hadn't yet learned how to keep my mouth shut and head down all the time, and would proffer an opinion even when not explicitly asked for) or that I even had it the worst.

But some of the kids of color, not even including the Asian kids, were from families who were in a higher socioeconomic stratum than many of the white kids. But income wasn't really ever a thing in that environment, at least not really amongst the kids themselves. Everything tended to be racially self-segregated for the most part.

I have seen similar situations in not just other schools, but even as I've gotten older in whatever bubble you happen to be in, such as an office, business, or any other group setting where there is a power differential between whoever is the majority and who is the minority.

We often speak of racism as if it were only an issue on a macro scale, and I don't even think what I experienced actually is racism, technically, but I think things like that are far more often what happen day to day in a million different ways, and what society describes as racism when the victim is a person of color, and the perpetrator not.

What I do think those all are though for sure is institutional effects of prejudice.

And when you say "anywhere near", it's a pointless metric. No one person experiences all of racism at once, they all individually experience it at varying degrees. I think trying to average it all out and comparing by quantity as a measure of validity is wrong because they all suck when they happen and they all harm the person on the receiving end.


>a heavy handed social weapon that has sometimes been used wrongly

You mean like those pro-Northam ads in VA with the Gillespie voter in a pickup truck running over minority children?


Why can't they both be bad? People who are racist are assholes. People who wield victimhood as a weapon are assholes. Neither of those groups are most people in their respective demographic.

Is this really such a difficult position to hold?


It doesn't really matter if it's a minority of people when I have to listen to a group of my own coworkers going on about how much they loved that ad.

Just to clarify, I totally agree with what you're saying, I'm just saying I can't not be pissed about this sort of thing just because racism exists. That's the standard response I seem to encounter both online and IRL. It's basically "well, racists exist, therefore all of this bad behavior is to be excused".


This goes into what I commented on another response, which is that it happens to us all whenever we're in a group setting where we specifically are the minority.

When I'm the one aligned with the power position, and I see someone in the minority position be bullied or intimidated, I believe it's my obligation to defend them and call out the ones doing the act. Luckily, I've been blessed to be the recipient of others do the same for me when I've been in the socially weaker position.

But yeah, most people don't, out of agreement, ignorance or general weasely desire to fit in, and it's hard not to be angry or resentful I'm those situations.

Just remember they're all thinking primarily of themselves, but we all don't have to :)


> That is how our system of government works, and there is nothing wrong with that.

For most of the world population, wealthy people buying off politicians to serve their interests is seen as unethical, and it is flat illegal in many countries.


There is no country in the developed world where politicians aren't constantly bribed, pandered to, influenced via wealth & power from the private sector, and so on.

There are no exceptions. Routine scandals - only the things that get caught - over the last three or four decades, from Canada to France to Western Europe to Australia to South Korea to China to Japan prove this point dramatically.


The distinction is whether the bribery is legal or not. The US, unlike the countries you listed, has created legal means to bribe government officials.


"Routine scandals" Well that's the thing isn't? Some billionaire influencing politicians is just business as usual in the US, while in some other developing countries it (rightfully so IMO) triggers scandals.


>While this headline is factual, this is like saying "Man With Pre-Existing Health Conditions Donated to the Obama Campaign, and Now We Have Obamacare".

And what you are saying is like saying "a pebble fell into the ocean and a boulder fell into the ocean and it's the same because they both produced waves".

Donations from the 1% are many orders of magnitude bigger than donations from ordinary folks mainly because ordinary folks live paycheck to paycheck and do not have the time or resources to donate.

The leverage a big corporations have over politicians is enormous. IMHO they should have zero leverage (no vote, no influence).


I suppose I should have put the amount in my headline. Let's say someone with the same amount to donate - $300K in this case - donated to Obama, because he wanted to support a candidate that would introduce legislation that would allow him to get health insurance despite several pre-existing conditions. Would you view that as wrong? You may, but it's certainly not illegal, and it's no different than what happened here.

Again, people shop for and donate to candidates that will serve their interests. If you want that to be illegal, write your representatives.


>You may, but it's certainly not illegal, and it's no different than what happened here.

No one is arguing that it is illegal (not even the article). It is a bad system.


>No one is arguing that it is illegal (not even the article)

Yes and no. The article is trying to imply that he paid off a politician to carry out his vendetta against Google, which is illegal. They don't come out and say it directly, because they know he'd sue them into oblivion. But that is what they are implying. They're saying "there's smoke here...must be a fire somewhere!"


Right. If Google had donated to his campaign, and he subsequently didn't investigate plausible antitrust allegations against Google, that'd be suspicious. This is just a guy listening to a supporter.


Theil is becoming the liberal media's George Soros - the enigmatic billionaire pulling the strings of his evil conservative conspiracy.


Well, Soros does, in actual reality, fund and support the promotion of democracy and this has made him enemies amongst those who don't like that kind of thing.

Theil and some of his buddies are on record as thinking that democracy is holding their libertarian dreams back, that it's incompatible with capitalism. And that generates pushback from those that prefer democracy.

So, they do seem very neat opposites, but no need to assume it's all based on fairytales.


This is a highly politicized and subjective use of the word "democracy." It would be more forthright to just say, "I like Soros's politics."


Are you suggesting Soros doesn't promote democracy, or that Theil hasn't bemoaned democracy and suggested its incompatible with capitalism. Or both?

I mean, just to avoid doubt, I do like democracy so to the degree that someone enables democracy then I do like their politics.


I think it would be possible for two people to reasonably disagree over whether any given move "enables democracy" though. I don't have a good internalized list of the positions that Soros' critics take issue with, but looking at [0], I could see my way to arguing that lots of the issues either do or do not enable democracy, based on different initial assumptions.

[0] http://www.conservapedia.com/George_Soros#Socialist_Agenda_F...


Well, yes I can see how "the demolition of technological/industrial civilization" might be considered anti-democratic but in fact, once Soros has destroyed industrial civilization, the remaining 12 humans alive will vote on everything so really it's a win for democracy.

Or maybe we can find slightly less cranky sites to reference in our political discussions.


I was trying to track down an easy shot at a critical framing of his viewpoints. It's surprisingly hard to find people on the internet who criticize George Soros in a coherent and reasoned way.


If you follow the source links from that page you do find a coherent and reasoned criticism of Soros.

The authors don't want felons to vote, don't want poor people to vote, don't want African-Americans to vote etc. Soros funds efforts to make this happen. The Republican party on the other hand has aimed towards the opposite goal for decades and is on the record that they're doing it intentionally because the less people vote the more likely they are to win.

So it's perfectly logical and rational, it's just anti-democratic.

I mean are we all supposed to just pretend this stuff doesn't happen? There's been supreme court arguments about it, it's all on record.


If you think a Republican politician and billionaire financier is one of the most liberal people on earth you have a truly profound misunderstanding of what that word means.


He was a Republican 17 years ago when it was politically convenient, then he renounced his party membership. He was a big Hillary supporter in the last election. He's also too liberal even for mainstream Democrats today, which is why he was considering a presidential run as an independent (and ultimately didn't, because he would have simply split the Democratic vote and taken exactly 0 votes from Trump). You should examine some of his positions on things, I think you'd find that you have a "profound misunderstanding" of his political views if you believe he's a Republican.


I disagree with your notion that some hypothetical person with health issues donating $100,000 to the Obama campaign is anywhere in the same moral and ethical situation being discussed here.

In fact it sounds like quite an empty equivalency.


Do you have an argument other than that it feels wrong to you? Some people feel deeply about net neutrality and the state of society.


Consider two scenarios:

You contribute $X to a political figure because you want to draw there attention to an issue because...

A) you think society stands to benefit from making certain changes the political figure can enact

B) you think you personally stand to not only get back your $X but personally fatten your wallet significantly in other ways as a result of changes the political figure can enact

Is the distinction between cases where A applies and B doesn't apply vs. cases where B does apply (and A may or may not actually apply) with respect to ethics actually hard to grasp?

In A, the $X is a personal sacrifice made for what you think is the greater good. In B, the $X is an investment for which you think you could have a high personal ROI for regardless of whether it actually makes things in general better or worse. Only B stands to create corruptive influences.


Both A and B would clearly apply to sick person donating for Obama to implement Obamacare.

I'm pretty sure Thiel donated because A applies to him. The question is wether B applies to him though.


One difference is the chronology of the donations with respect to the candidate's actions. Candidate Obama didn't campaign on covering pre-existing conditions so a donation to his candidacy had no bearing on someone who has pre-existing conditions and wishes to make donations based on that.

Thanks for offering a straw man that it's just about how I feel though.

And Peter Thiel promotes Donald Trump whose FFC appointee Pai is doing his best to destroy net neutrality, and Pai has direct control over whether that occurs whereas this action by the Missouri AG is not in favor of net-neutrality per se.

You've got some nerve presenting weak and inaccurate straw man arguments and whining about "my feelings."


There's plenty of behavior from Google that smacks of anti-trust. From not showing competitors products in search results (protonmail was the most prominent recent case) to locking out customers heavily reliant on Google, they've gotten rather "evil"

Having said that, I have zero confidence in politicians to make this right. If Google is evil, politicians are the spawns of Satan. Republicans probably have a bone to pick with Google given how left leaning googlers are. So this immediately transforms a anti trust issue into Democrats vs Republicans


Republicans support big business, though, right?

(Having large successful businesses in blue states provides a well if funds they can transfer to the red states... As we see them doing with the current tax proposals.)


A comment in another thread made an interesting point about this press release done by the Missouri AG. Generally AGs don't need to send out press releases to announce the beginning of an investigation if they already have evidence that will stick.

Google will probably end up hiring an expensive local law firm in Missouri and spend money on marketing to Missourians to improve its image. Without the AG's threat of a lawsuit, Google expenditures would probably largely avoid Missouri.

If this is true, the AG is playing at something that kinda smells like a legal form of racketeering, unless there is actually strong grounds to bring a anti-trust case.


Politicians support the businesses in their districts/states. Republicans are ideologically pro-corporate, viewing that stance as the best way to generate growth and jobs, but not many politicians are above getting a dig in at the other tribe.

The Republican base hates Silicon Valley with a passion. There's good political hay to be made by pretty much any Republican politician going after them. Imagine how popular going after gun manufacturers would be for the Democratic base, then imagine gun manufacturers were both insanely wealthy and powerful, and near universally loudly opposed to Democrats culturally. You don't really have to imagine the power of that; there's a reason Weinstein thought he could deflect the accusations against him by going after the NRA. Similar situation, but SV is far richer & more powerful than the NRA is.

Also, getting rid of SALT deductions isn't about "transferring funds to red states", it's about disincentivizing high state and local taxes.


The fact that your Republicans have bone to pick might turn out to be good for the whole world if they can stop Google.


Okay. That's not illegal and there's no evidence of bribery. My congressman also fought for net neutrality and I also gave him money. In fact, I gave him money because I wanted him to fight for net neutrality for me.


You gave your congressman as significant an amount of money as theil did?!


Isn't $300k like $500 to Peter Thiel?


Would that make it equivalent in the eyes of the recipient?


Regardless of how much it is to Thiel, the amount of the gift relative to the rest of the person's political fundraising matters.

For such a significant amount questions about quid pro quo arise, and even if the quid pro quo is determined to be ethical/legal, there is still the question of whether an non-constituent should be able to influence a race to such a degree.

Pretending like a gift of a few hundred thousand dollars is anything like the maximum $2,700 donation that can be made to a congressperson for the purposes influencing them is silly.


Clearly Thiel is not important enough and has to use the old school way of lobbying - by sending massive amounts of cash through shady lobbying groups.

If he was more important, he could simply call the president like Zuck: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/13/mark-z...


A rant tangential to original submission but, articles like you linked always push me to the edge. A supposedly tech journalist throwing around redundant requests.

> a) Facebook Pro doesn’t track me;

> b) Facebook Pro stores zero data about me; and

> c) Facebook Pro uses encryption in every possible way.

b makes a redundant, and c is already there. Also the personalization is the product itself, so storing "zero data" also breaks the product.

Want to see an unpersonalized timeline looks like? Go check twitter. From the beginning, the timeline view (or whatever it is called) was unusable and most of all: irrelevant.

People want to be on the Facebook because everybody is there, but for some reason people also want to get rid of core feature how it keeps all its users on board and active. Just don't use it if you are that bothered. (I don't)


Are we supposed to assume that by Thiel giving $300k to Hawley's political campaign in 2015, Thiel is behind Hawley's antitrust investigation into Google? Enough with the "click bate" titles and attenuated conclusions. Another article from a major news outlet that contains zero facts supporting its implied premise.


That would be a sound assumption.

Why else should a Silicon Valley billionaire give 300k to someone running for attorney general in a Missouri? Is he just interested in justice being pursued in a small Midwestern state he doesn't live in, that he is neither from, nor studied in, nor has his major business interests in?

$300,000 is a sizable donation for someone running for attorney general in a low key state.


EU Courts already found Google guilty of antitrust activities. So the sound assumption here is US Courts will rule similarly. So why would a State AG pass on such an opportunity to fill the state coffers and defend their citizens? Check out followthemoney.org to learn why California isn’t filing the suit.


American antitrust legislation is completely different from European competition law. It's by no means given that the result will be the same in the US or that the fines would be similar.

Also, I doubt that most Missourian voters care nearly as much about fighting Google as they care about jailing local criminals.


Tell that to Microsoft.


> $300,000 is a sizable donation

According to Forbes' estimates, Thiel is worth about $2.8 billion. Donating $300,000 for him is proportional to giving maybe $30 for a normal upper-middle class person.


The important question is what $300,000 is to the attorney general. For 99 percent of us it's more than we could hope to save up in many years.


> For 99 percent of us it's more than we could hope to save up in many years.

This is true. It's also true that it's an utterly trivial amount of money to somebody like Peter Thiel.


trueness != relevance


Sure, sure. If Bill Gates gave $1 mil ist's nothing to him but what is it to ME? The average person would probably be tempted to murder someone in exchange for that


Sure. It highlights the corrupting influence wealthy people have over politics.

I'm just saying, Thiel giving a small (for him) donation to some random AG doesn't necessarily mean he's particularly interested in that race.

I would guess he has given equal or larger donations to many other politicians and political action committees.


>> I'm just saying, Thiel giving a small (for him) donation to some random AG doesn't necessarily mean he's particularly interested in that race.

I agree, especially since he gave the same amount to every State AG in the country. He did, right?


Do you have a list of Thiel's political donations? I'm genuinely curious.


I am willing to bet that he didn't give to all AGs in USA at least the same amount...


>I'm just saying, Thiel giving a small (for him) donation to some random AG doesn't necessarily mean he's particularly interested in that race.

he gave all what he could - sounds different from "gave a small (for him) donation" :)


Did you miss him taking down Gawker by proxy? He has form in this space.


Did you purposefully misspell "clickbait"?

Also, even if there is no connection, it doesn't seem "clickbait"y. The article is probably drawing a tenuous connection, but it seems straightforward in it's attempt.


> unveiled a probe into Alphabet Inc.’s Google for favoring its own products in search results

Is there something inherently wrong with that? I understand it's annoying, but Google is a business after all, not a charity.

Not showing competing results could be considered evil, but merely favoring their own products seems fair to me.

Then again every product I've been building never took off, so what do I know?


This headline has not been phrased with honesty nor dignity.

Donated to a Campaign vs Gave Money to a person.

Donated to a campaign in Jan. Google suite filed mid November.


Nice to see billionaires doing good with their money.


Bro managed to remove Gawker from the internet. It's already a better place.

Strange how people are demanding Twitter, Facebook, YouTube et al "clean up their content" but when someone does it with a lawsuit, all a sudden these toxin spewing organizations are supposed to be the "underdogs"?

What's that? Oh, the world's smallest tear.


Soros is way scarier the way he is buying up district attorneys.

http://freebeacon.com/politics/george-soros-continues-quietl...


It’s only fair. Google goes after conservatives, conservatives go after Google. Don’t want your fortunes to depend on politics? Easy solution: stay out of politics. Be neutral and above the fray, declare political discourse (all of it, not just conservative points of view) socially unacceptable at work.


Is there any real evidence of Google going after conservatives?

Is it not just a result of the fact that younger and better educated people are less likely to be conservative that gives this impression?


Google is very “Chinese Revolution” on the inside. You can totally have negative career and social consequences for being public at work about your conservative viewpoints and voting preferences. At the same time you can have positive consequences for signaling virtue to liberals. You could say “that’s not Google” doing this, but the thing is, Google totally supports, condones, and encourages this behavior.

But those are internal affairs, so you might argue this is irrelevant. But recently this attitude slipped outside with YouTube demonetization of conservative commentators, forced de-trending of popular conservative videos and forced trending of liberal ones?

If you want to play this ball, expect defense to get involved.


I understand the general concept of what Google might do if it was actually doing this, I was looking for some kind of evidence that it was actually happening in reality.

I watch a vlog about EVs on Youtube, and the host of that complains about being demonitized by some new algorithm. I'm fairly sure he's not a fascist that's been put on some list by the Googlestapo, so it seems likely that other people may just be jumping to conclusions.


You “understand” everything, it seems. You just choose not to see it.


Amazing lack of evidence being provided.


America! Give $1000 to a Congressman and you buy what money in the real world cannot.

In other countries corruption is more honest: want the license to build a building? It will cost you an apartment or $XX,XXX. Personally, I prefer the later...




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: