Thursday, November 20, 2014

Silicon Valley exec threatens the journalists who cover him. Where does the financing behind him come from? Round up the usual suspects.

Are the fat cats financing Silicon
Valley predators?
Who would finance corporate desperadoes who flout the law in a variety of localities – and then threaten to dig up dirt on journalists who report on their shenanigans?

Who would in effect say, by handing largesse to the same desperados, “Go ahead. Thumb your nose at the law. Stick a finger in the eye of the public. Just make sure you return the vig on the money we put up for you.”

No, I’m not talking about the Mafia. The Tony Soprano types are small potatoes in comparison to these guys. I’m talking about some of the financial folks whose names pop up whenever the outrageously rich demand personal tax breaks for investing other peoples’ money if they’re hedge funders, or try to beat publishing houses and authors into submission if they’re silicon savages.

Here’s a list of the money sources reportedly behind the threat-makers. It's taken from a Silicon Valley online journal called Pando Daily, a watcher and critic of today’s new breed of highwaymen. 

Menlo Ventures
Google Ventures
Kleiner Perkins
Summit Partners
TPG Growth
Jeff Bezos
Troy Carter
Goldman Sachs
Scott Banister
Alfred Lin
Lowercase Capital
First Round
Naval Ravikant
Jason Calacanis
Shervin Pishevar

But let’s take a step back and explain this. 

Recently, the editor of Pando, and other journalists, began reporting on how Uber, a Silicon Valley disruptor company financed by people on the list you've just read, is muscling its way into various municipal markets with the equivalent of unlicensed  taxis. There’s big money in those smartphone-linked cabs, folks. And Uber didn’t like the negative publicity that some of its shadier activities were generating.

So at the Waverly Inn in New York City, at a dinner at which the the guests included the actor Ed Norton, the publisher Ariana Huffington, and the journalist Michael Wolff, Uber’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, Emil Michael, performed the communications equivalent of what a gangster signals by drawing his index finger across his throat.

Specifically, according to the online journal Buzzfeed, he “suggested that the company should consider hiring a team of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on its critics in the media — and specifically to spread details of the personal life of a female journalist who has criticized the company.”

I see two possibilities here. One is that Michael expected the word to get out and scare the living crap out of journalists, especially the intrepid reporter Sarah Lacy, editor of the website Pando Daily. This would have had the effect of – shall we say “discouraging?” –  further criticism of Uber. Michael later defended himself by saying he thought he was speaking “off the record.” To which my cranky reaction is, so what?

If a hit man, off the record, says he plans to terrorize the local police chief and and is looking to find machete with which  to commit the crime, his remarks have no right to privacy. I would submit that Michael’s threat to in effect terrorize reporters and critics into silence through implicit blackmail are equally unprotected.

This is all the more newsworthy not only because of the big financiers behind Uber, but because, according to Buzzfeed, Michael sits on a board that advises the Department of Defense. I leave it to you to imagine where his kind of mentality could lead a key department of our government. And why does the government, or the board, tolerate his proximity to the Pentagon?

Moreover, The CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, has refused to fire Michael. That’s no big surprise.  Kalanick himself is no sweetheart either. The Financial Times reported in May:
…in January, Uber apologised after its New York team was busted for repeatedly calling and cancelling rides from a rival car service. Kalanick would not discuss the incident on the record but Uber admitted at the time that this method for getting drivers’ details, hoping to poach them, was “likely too aggressive a sales tactic.”
Right. Or as Tony Soprano might have said, "I told you guys just to bust the guy's kneecaps. What's with all this getting  aggressive and strangling him with a piano wire?"

It all makes you wonder if our former democracy, which has already devolved into a corruptocracy, is now sinking even further, into a state of anarchy where only big money sources like those on the list, and big bad guys, can win. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A letter to the editor from an outraged rat

Today's guest contributor
Hey Crank!

I live in New York City, on the east side of Manhattan. My home is a hole under a bush in St. Vartan’s Park over on 36th Street between First and Second Avenues. I make my living mostly scrounging rotting sandwich crusts from garbage cans in and around the park. Sometimes I get lucky and find a few rice grains or some birdseed that somebody scattered for the pigeons.

It’s a tough life. Some days I go hungry. And it’s worth your life to ignore the predators out here, including an occasional New York red tailed hawk, feral cats, and those bastards from the city’s department of health who put out poisoned rat bait for us. Did I mention speeding cars when I try to get across the street?

Anyway, the other day I found a copy of The New York Times and I decided to rip off a few strips of paper to line my nest for winter. And guess what? 

I found a feature story by a reporter named Corey Kilgannon about a rat whose name is Toby. That’s right, the Times these days is writing feature stories about rats. You want to make your name in journalism? Forget people. Go for the rodents.

Now Toby isn’t your average rat.  She’s not struggling to get by, like me. She’s so well off she even has a personal trainer named Lydia DesRoche, who also admits, according to The Times, that “she has become sort of a social secretary, chaperoning Toby as she interacts with the smitten cast and crew backstage at the Ethel Barrymore Theater.”

Right, Toby is a well-fed, well-paid,  probably well-bathed, carefully cosseted Broadway theater rat, part of the rodent world’s One Percent. I’ll stake two mud soaked bagel crusts that her monthly upkeep costs more than the average out-of-a-job factory worker’s unemployment benefits. 

Toby’s in a Broadway play called, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” on Broadway. She lives better than the other 99 percent of us who are hiding out in holes in the ground and in sewers.

While the rest of us struggling rats get by on scraps and rotting food, Toby gets hand fed. She gets sleepover dates arranged for her, as if she was an incipient debutante at Spence, or Brearley, or one of those other academies for the one percent that charge $35,000-plus a year for tuition.

I’m not making this rat up. Don’t take my word for it. This is what the Times said:
 “While Ms. DesRoche takes Toby home on the weekends to her apartment on the Upper West Side, the rat goes home on weeknights with members of the cast and crew. There is no shortage of takers; members with children usually get first choice.” 
I’ll bet she gets free medical care, too.

Hey, this rat is better off than a lot of people I’ve run across, so to speak. With rents in this town easily getting to $2,800 a month for a studio apartment, Toby has her own spacious dressing room. Well, okay, she shares it with a dog who’s also in the show, but even so. I mean, check out this passage from the Times:
“Inside, yes, there are lightbulbs around the mirrors and fresh roses on the makeup counter (Toby likes to nibble on roses). Also, on the counter is a long tube, for scampering through, and a glass of water, which she climbs up into, and nearly hops into, as she drinks.”
Right. Ninety-nine percent of rats have no time for anything except scrounging for food and reproducing. I’ve got relatives so impoverished, they sleep in the subway, along with the homeless people. And this snotty, overprivileged rat has a light-up makeup mirror and her own toys. Toys! Not to mention the roses.

I mean, this is an outrage. I scooted past a flower shop over on Third Avenue the other night, and roses were going for eighty dollars a dozen. And this spoiled rat eats them? That’s in-your-face conspicuous consumption, if you ask me.

Hey, this is another example of how only the One Percent get the best of everything, from real estate, to rose salads, to  their own personal trainers and social secretaries, while the rest of us New York rats live in squalor and danger.

We’re sick and tired of being vilified pariahs. Toby undoubtedly comes from a family of very rich rats, because when the rest of us tried to raise money by putting together an act that consisted of some gymnastics and a bit of rodent-dancing, Fox News came down on us like a ton of bricks – like we’re liberals, or Democrats, or demonstrators, or gun-grabbers, or terrorists, or something. I mean, just look at this disgusting anti-rat political screed from Fox. Go ahead, I'll wait while you play it:

“We slant, you try and decide.” I mean, that was what I call a completely biased piece of reporting. Not one pro-rat spokesperson was interviewed.  All you see is a bunch of Fox pimps and their patsies making out like we’re disgusting. We weren’t being disgusting. We were trying to break into show business.

Anyway, Crank, please do me a favor and post this letter to your blog. It’s time people knew the rats have their one percent, too, and that characters like Toby are just as irritating to us as the Koch Brothers are to you.

Whether we're talking about rats or people, the one percent gets the best of everything. For the rest of us, life’s nothing but a rat race.

Roscoe Norvegicus

P.S. The Times article also quoted Lydia DesRoche, the rat’s personal trainer, as saying, ““I’m just a rat servant now — I’m the rat butler.” Right. And hell will freeze over before the rich rats give it up. Taxing away a tiny little bit of extra income from the one percent might deprive them of their ridiculous luxuries, like butlers, and that’s why they pay off legislators to write laws in favor of the rich. Meanwhile, the greedy S.O.Bs. don’t care if the rest of us starve, or drown in a backed up sewer.  

P.P.S. While the rich drink Perrier, us poor rats have to slurp our water from puddles in the gutter. Wake me up when the revolution starts.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The American corruptocracy, the ISPs, and the coming destruction of net neutrality

"I'll give it to you any way you like, honey,
as long as you pay for it. I'm a lawmaker."
Prostitution is now legal. 

Oh shut up and stop telling me I’m wrong. Prostitution is not only legal, it’s a leading pastime in Washington. It just depends on what you’re selling.

Are you selling a Congressman? A Senator? A commission chairman? How do you want him or her? Nekkid? On his knees with his mouth open? Hanging from the ceiling by chains? Ready to talk dirty about coal, or oil, or taxes, or guns? Or to submissively whine and snivel about the hardships of the rich and how life isn't fair to them? No problem.

Harlotry, the FCC
and net neutrality

The latest manifestation of red blooded American harlotry is the coming destruction of net neutrality by the Chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler. And it has to do with a matter that generally provokes barely stifled yawns. Net neutrality. No no, don’t run away. Come back here and pay attention, damnit! 

Net neutrality simply means that nobody using the Internet can have a leg up on anybody else – or any corporation else – that also uses the Internet. With net neutrality, you can’t be thrown off the Internet because your Internet service provider doesn’t like your politics. The content you read or watch can't be blocked. The company that feeds you movies can't be charged a king's ransom – aransom that eventually gets passed along to the consumer.

For example, if you transmit movies the way Netflix does, net neutrality means you can’t gain a monopoly by paying to make sure your movies get seamless transmission, while your competitor gets his transmissions so badly slowed down that the film keeps being interrupted – forcing the audience to stare at a little turning wheel until they give up and stop watching.

And so, if we manage to preserve net neutrality, Netflix, or Google, can’t gain a virtual monopoly, or near-monopoly, on movies and then charge whatever sum pops into their greedy heads.

And Comcast and Verizon can’t decide to throw any blogger off the Internet who doesn’t walk around in a bra and spiked heels, praising how well Comcast and Verizon are hung.

Utility shmootility! 
The ISPs want to control you.

The easiest way to preserve net neutrality is to treat every Internet Service Provider as a utility. Listen, your electric company can’t decide to cut your service because you’re using their juice to watch MSNBC or Fox. The movies you subscribe to shouldn’t be made unwatchable by Internet slowdowns because the movie provider’s president didn’t pay the Internet Service Providers their vig.

Or to quote President Obama, “Simply put: No service should be stuck in a ‘slow lane' because it does not pay a fee.That kind of gatekeeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet’s growth.”

But there are some people out there who don’t like net neutrality. And yes, you can round up all the usual suspects: AT&T, and Verizon, and Comcast, and Time Warner Cable. They want to control the toll bridge to and from your mind, your eyeballs, your ears and your wallet. 

And their pet hooker at this moment is Chairman Wheeler. How he got his job in the first places is very nearly a puzzlement, since his last job was as a lobbyist for the very industry he’s supposed to be regulating now. Do you detect a whiff of conflict of interest there?


I am ashamed to say that Wheeler is an Obama appointee. But at least President Obama seems to be having second thoughts.

Razzle-dazzle ‘em 
with soporific language

Wheeler’s thought? Delay and obfuscate and take a “hybrid approach.” Obfuscate how? Prop your eyelids open with toothpicks, boys and girls, because Wheeler wants to make sure you're asleep while this matter is considered. He recently explained...
“Whether in the context of a hybrid or reclassification approach, Title II brings with it policy issues that run the gamut from privacy to universal service to the ability of federal agencies to protect consumers, as well as legal issues ranging from the ability of Title II to cover mobile services to the concept of applying forbearance on services under Title II.”
Thank you for that edifying and reassuring thought, Chairman Wheeler. 

You can try parsing Wheeler’s prose line by line if you want. But the executive summary is simply this: the public and democracy are screwed.

And if you think most of your senators and Congresswhores are going to step in and legislate net neutrality if Wheeler succeeds in killing or crippling it, have another think. This is a corruptocracy we live in, child. The people with money buy the laws and regulations they want. Congress, like Wheeler, simply works for the whorehouse.

Somehow what comes to mind is a filthy song we used to sing at the student pub at the University of Leeds student union, way back in my exchange student days in England. This blog doesn't limit obscenity very much. But I’ve got to have at least a little bit of propriety. So I’ve taken the liberty of plucking a few verses from the old pub song more-or-less out of context here – and presenting them to you, with the most vulgar of the four-letter words replaced. 

All the same, pay attention. This is where the United States is going. Or are we already there?

It’s the same the whole world over
It’s the poor wot gets the blame
While the rich has all the pleasures
Isn’t it a crying shame?

See him in the House of Commons
Making laws for all mankind
While the victim of his dirty rotten pleasures
Has to live off her behind.

If you’re rich, randy, and rotten
You can buy whomever you wish
While the poor put out for pennies
Let ‘em starve, ‘cause life’s a bitch.

It’s the same the whole world over
It’s the poor wot gets the blame
While the rich has all the pleasures
Isn’t it a crying shame?

Monday, November 03, 2014

Hot air, nutcase thinking and hatred – some of the latest from the far edge of the far right wing. Yes, these guys, among others:

Tea Party Logo

Above: the logotypes from three of the nuttiest organizations-with-a-following in America. I didn't find them. They found me, as have several other batcrap crazy political organizations. They all think I'm one of them. They have thought so ever since I got curious a few years back, about an online ad from a guy who wanted to give me a free gun for taking his "self defense" course. I clicked for more information. And then the gears and wheels started turning.

The free gun guy evidently sold my name to some right wing organizations, who evidently sold my name to even further-right organizations, who then sold my name to...well, you get the idea. And what e-mail I get from them!

The mail sounds as if it comes from  mental wards for fantasy thinkers who truly believe I want to destroy my own Social Security income, live without health insurance, impeach President Obama, store a cache of weapons in a secret underground burrow, arrest Senator Harry Reid for treason, and...well the list goes on. And on. And on some more. And also...

Did I mention they also want to sell you and me: super vitamins...lessons in survival for when The End comes...surefire investment advice to protect you and me against things s like "the coming global economic holocaust," and...well if it'll put my money or your money in their pockets, they're selling it.

As in the pitch reported here to save me from the dreaded ravages of Ebola, which is either breathing up my pants leg or getting carried across the Mexican border by Mexican Al Queda or ISIS agents -–agents hellbent on smuggling an epidemic into this country in their lungs and their noses. After which they'll...I dunno, breathe on us maybe.

Put on your aluminum hats, boys and girls!
The Space Visitors will be here in a flash!

Now, before you read any further, run, do not walk to the kitchen, get out your roll of aluminum foil, and make yourself a foil hat, because that's the only way to ward off all the danger that has been reported to me in e-mails. Here are some excerpt

The New York Crank's nominee for the
"Not-Quite-Sharpest Knife In The Drawer" Award:
Fellow Patriot,
Do you know the most dangerous tool you can own?
The answer might just surprise you...A knife is the most important tool anyone can have.
Most of us use one everyday.
It's at our side and we use it without even thinking of it (oftentimes for things a knife should never be used for.)
But it can also be the most dangerous...
Protect yourself with this FREE deviceYou see, you are 10 times more likely to cut yourself with a dull knife than you are with a sharp one.
So I'd like to give you a simple device that ensures you never have a dull blade again... Absolutely Free.
O the horror! Gay Apple exec reveals he's gay!
There must be a plot in here somewhere.
In Shocking “Coming Out” Letter, Apple CEO Makes It Clear He Will Use His Position of Power to Push for Gay Rights
"I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me."
After reading Cook’s public announcement that he prefers to have sex with men, one is forced to wonder: WOhat does a person’s sexual orientation have to do with growing Apple’s profits, selling iPhones, or running a business in general?
What do you think about Cook going public about his homosexuality and his admission that Apple will “do its part” to advance gay rights? Leave a comment below.
And here are a pair of the 
choicest comments about Cook
You pretty much nailed it to the wall, hit the pill (baseball) out of the park!!!! They know (?) what they are doing is WRONG, goes against just about EVERY religion known to man!! I've seen it said that even Islamist are against homosexuality! 
What these gay's want is for the rest of humanity to say "It's perfectly alright/ normal" that you are gay! They want EVERYONE else to justify their sexual orientation so "they" can feel good about themselves! Lest they forget that come Judgement Day they will have to answer to the Creator/ God!! He doesn't have to be PC! HE gets the final word! They say they want acceptance but in reality they want "us" to justify their perversion!

The alleged price of his beer leaves
Obama foes foaming at the mouth
Obama Drinks Most Expensive Beer in History
Shucks, I'm not only a dangerously subversive
liberal. I'm (even worse!) also a snob.
Liberals are funny creatures.
They walk around with an attitude that they’re better than everyone else. Nothing a liberal does, says, reads, or thinks can ever be criticized without a barrage of ad hominem attacks being hurled at you.
If you want a good laugh, or if you want to dig up some serious dirt on liberals...
It's a $200 value – your free!
(See, they make money by 
being too good to be true.)
The first 500 people that go to 
the website below will receive 
a FREE copy of:
"The Complete Survival System"
(That's a $200 value - yours FREE 
if you hurry!)
The "system" has been specifically 
designed for both MEN and WOMEN to 
cover the unique needs of each.

Y'see, what it is, I'm guessing, is that men stand up to urinate while women have to sit, so when it comes to survival...uh...umm....

Build a secret AR14 in your basement today
and surprise those lefty neighbors tomorrow

Dear Patriot,If you would like to know how a group of underground, true American Patriots are building their own AR-15’s at home completely “off the books”.Meaning ...
• no serial number
• No registration...
• And 100% legally
... with just a handful of tools and simple, inexpensive parts in their garage, then simply watch this urgent video now....
Vote, or these loonies will
 end up controlling America

That's it for today, folks. Tomorrow's election day. And, gulp! The Tea Party crazies seem to be gaining on the rest of us. Proof that you can't be too dumb. Or too dumberer.