Casting Down the Eighth Plague of Egypt on Google

I’m still stewing about that Breibart Tech article saying that 80% of undecided voters can be swayed by Google search manipulation.    Since I’m a lawyer, I’m naturally trying to think of some way to sue the bastards.  It’s what we do.

I’ll need to allege a tort as a cause of action, and after a quick review of the Restatement of Torts, Second, I came up empty.  There are familiar common law torts, like battery, but there can also be statutory torts, created by Acts of Congress.  I don’t there’s anything right now that quite fits the bill on this set of facts.

So we need to get a bill introduced to create this new, internet tort.  The committee assigned the bill will need to conduct hearings and call witnesses.  First up should be Dr. Robert Epstein, whose research has revealed what he calls the Search Engine Manipulation Effect, or SEME.

We’ll all be interested in Google’s testimony in opposition.  Will they try to deny that they engage in SEME?  Or will they try to justify it on First Amendment grounds?  They should be put under oath, and sworn to tell us all the truth.  These hearings alone justify the introduction of the bill.  The Congressmen serving on this committee are going to have a ball, watching these smug Silicon People squirm.

Any individual, or class of individuals, would be authorized to file suit in federal court for harm caused by SEME.  The burden of proof should be low enough to allow anyone with a good faith claim to make a prima facie case justifying discovery.  All commissions of SEME, whether negligent, reckless or intentional should be covered.  Treble damages would be authorized, to provide an incentive for plaintiffs attorneys to take cases on a contingency fee basis.

This would be a bonanza to the of trial lawyers and wannabe trial lawyers all over the country.  Google would be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the litigation.

Let these snarling, greedy locusts come after Google in  swarms, so much so that, as the Bible says, “They will cover the ground so that it cannot be seen.”

If you like this idea, call your Congressman, and see if he’s bright enough to even understand what you’re asking.  A few will, and the scent of publicity will give them all the motivation they need.

All across the country, thousands of ambitious politicians are trying to win a seat in Congress,  Do any of them have the wit to see the possibilities here?













Burden of proof low.  A prima facie case can be made merely by showing an internet search provider has used an algorithm which adversely affects plaintiff’s internet presence


Hate speech exception —   Nazis (?) can be crippled?  NOOOO!  Full free first  amendment rights




A journey through three civilizations

When I graduated from Cal in 1967 I decided I wanted to see some of the world, and in September I flew on a special student charter from Oakland to London.  I think it cost about $120.  The next day I took a ferry to France and hitchhiked down to Munich for the Oktoberfest.

I met some Englishmen there, drinking beer at the Hofbrauhaus, and they told me about a trip they were going to take to Tehran.  It was a caravan of used Mercedes’ that some Iranian smugglers were shipping there by road.  If you drove one of these cars from Munich to Tehran you could make $100, plus a bus ticket back to Istanbul or on to Kabul, Afghanistan.  They said these Iranians were just businessmen avoiding import duties.  I would be the registered owner of my Mercedes, and once in Tehran I’d transfer title to an Iranian.

It all made a certain amount of sense, and after asking about it at the American embassy I decided to go.  There seven cars in all, and we drove through southern Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria to Turkey.

Bulgaria was just as backward as Turkey, but there was a definite difference between them.  In Bulgaria, even though it was a communist dictatorship, it seemed familiar somehow, like you were still in part of Europe.  Once we got into Turkey, I felt like I was in an alien culture, something completely different.

We had to kill some time in Tehran while the title was being transferred, and we stayed in some youth hostel in the Shoosh.  This was in the southern, low rent part of the city, where you had to watch your step.

I went to the Grand Bazaar in the middle of town to see what I could see.  It was all new to me, and I liked just wandering around.  I guess I stood out, wearing a nice Pendleton wool shirt, which a couple merchants offered to buy from me.

A young Iranian guy introduced himself to me, and offered to show me around town.  He spoke good English, and worked as a translator of foreign films which were shown in Iran.  We went up to the northern, more prosperous part of the city, and he showed me the American embassy, among other things.

We went into a little beer hall of some sort, and had a couple beers.  They were playing popular Iranian music, and I was surprised how good it was. One song, in particular, I remember.  It was some sort of love song, sung my a woman with a beautiful, exotic voice.

There were a couple of young women at a table across the room, and one of them was very attractive.  We started looking at each other, and my Iranian friend said that was very unusual.  Iranian girls weren’t easy.

He explained the native religion of Iran, which was Zoroastrianism.  It was sort of an ecological religion, in which there was a natural balance between water, fire, earth and air.  It sounded like a reasonable way to look at the world.

Twelve years later the Shah was overthrown, and Iran hasn’t been the same.  Sometimes I wonder what happened to my Iranian friend, and that beautiful girl.

Iranians aren’t Arabs, and the Moslem religion was imposed on them by the sword.  Not everyone in the Middle East is either fanatical Shia or Sunni.  There is a civilized underground in Iran even today, and we should give it all the encouragement we can.

Michael Ledeen knows a lot more about Iran than I do, and in this article he gives reason for hope.  If the Iranian people ever returned to their real native culture, it would be truly revolutionary.



Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be lawyers

I learned about the 40 minute hour as soon as I began practicing law.  In 1974 Alaska was booming with the construction of the Trans-Alaska pipeline, and the law firms were hiring, but I wasn’t able to get work with anyone.

So I began my legal career as a public defender in the United States District Court for the State of Alaska.  I billed for my services at the set rate of $20 an hour.  I was new to the law, but I realized you weren’t really supposed to work that cheaply as a lawyer.  The rate was kept artificially low to minimize the cost in the Federal Court System budget.  So I began with my 40 minute hours, and was actually making $30 an hour, which I could live on.  I didn’t have an office or a secretary, so I had no overhead at all.

The thing about lawyers, is that if I had really billed at the $20 per hour  —  which was what was the legal rate  —  they would have thought there was something wrong with me.  Maybe I was someone that really couldn’t be trusted.

After a few months of this, one the Assistant United States Attorneys who prosecuted these cases asked me if I wanted to be his law partner.  I said my name would have to go first, and he agreed, and resigned the U. S. Attorney’s Office and became my law partner.  He had all kinds of connections and clients, and we did well.  I practiced that miserable profession for about five years, and got out as quick as I could.

I bought a bar and got into politics.  The bar was Swiftwater Bill’s Dance Hall and Saloon, and it was a much more honorable way to earn a living.  And you didn’t have to put up the prattling of all those lawyers.

I have resolved my problems with the Alaska Bar Association, and will escape disbarment.  I still have a little unfinished business up there, and a law license can be a handy thing to have.

When people ask me what I did for a living, I have to tell them that I was a politician or a lawyer.  People can’t stand either one of them, and I say I was a lawyer.  Lawyers are like wannabe politicians.  But people really don’t like voting for them.

Google is not above the law

If you get a chance to talk to your Congressmen as the seek your vote for his reelection, ask them if they would agree to co-sponsor the Privacy Protection Act.  This federal statute wold require that all internet search services, such a Google, prominently disclose on its home page the following information:

“If you avail yourself of the internet search service hereafter provided, we (Google, or whoever) will retain this data in the file we keep on all users of our service, and we will sell this data to others for their use.  We will also use this information to predict your future commercial transactions, in order to profit from it.  If you accept these terms and conditions, please so indicate by signing the waiver of your right to personal privacy set out below.”

This is a rough draft, and can be expanded and refined by legislative draftsmen.  It should be prominently displayed, like the warning labels on tobacco products.

If your Congressman refuses, ask him why?  If you don’t like his answer, tell him you will not vote for him, and will encourage your friends, neighbors and family to do likewise.

Since its so late in the year, we can’t expect anything from this Congress.  It’s only six months from now to the election, and their time will be fully consumed with raising money for their campaigns.  Next year, the time will be ripe for comprehensive federal legislation.

Full disclosure is all the Privacy Protection Act involves.  Most Americans are unaware of the way Google and others profit from their service.  This can be seen as an exercise in public education.

The light of day can be a valuable disinfectant.  Expose Google for what it is  —  a business based on the invasion of privacy of the American people.

Have gun, will travel

Bob Clarke was a political consultant from Chicago that Alaska Governor Jay Hammond hired in 1978 to work on his reelection campaign.   Bob came up, looked at Hammond’s approval ratings, and asked him “What have you been doing to the people of this state?”  It looked grim, but Bob got to work.  In truth, he was  a political hit man.

If you’re going to take a politician down, you have to have the goods on him.  With Hammond’s opponent, former Governor and former Interior Secretary Walter F. Hickel, that was the easy part.  He was a top filer, and in Alaska, not that long ago, if you filed a claim on top of another man’s, you were liable to get shot.

Bob became Hammond’s closest friend in politics, the editor of his autobiography, “Tales of Alaska’s Bush Rat Governor”, his director of communications and his body man.  Bob would have taken a bullet for Hammond.

I was a volunteer on that campaign, and helped Bob out on one of the hits he did on Hickel.  Nobody else had the balls to do it, and it made me one of Bob’s best friends.

In 1982, when I was elected to the State Senate, it didn’t make sense for me to move my young family to Juneau for the legislative session.  These things lasted four or five months, but I was trying to save as much money as I could.  Bob offered me a spare room in his house rent free, and that’s where I stayed almost the whole eight years I spent in the legislature.

Bob was divorced, and liked his whiskey.  I drank a lot of beer, and we eventually got pretty tight with each other.  Bob told me the secrets of his trade, and these were lessons I’ve used for my entire political career.  We began working as a real team in 1986, doing a second hit job on Hickel, and we did some really awesome hits together.

When I say you need to have the goods on your opponent, I’m talking about:

  1. Stupidity.  Sometimes your opponent is a moron.
  2. Corruption.  There are dirty politicians, believe it or not.
  3. Ignorance.  Candidates for public office are required to know at least a few things.  Some don’t.
  4. Falsehoods.  It’s true.  Politicians lie.
  5. Immorality.  Sexual deviants are more common than you think.

To perform a political hit is to use this information to take down your opponent.  This is where you have to use your imagination. Bob taught me all the various techniques.  This is the sort of tactic we’d use:

  1.  Full page newspaper ad
  2.   A broadsheet, spelling out the attack in detail, and mailed to voters.
  3. Press Conference
  4. Press Release
  5. Debate question

I may very well do a hit as long as I’m in Montana.  I’d like to pass my skills along to my sons, and they’ll both have a ringside seat.  I’ve got the goods on this guy, that’s no problem.  What do I do with it?

Maybe social media.  My son’s company spends all of its very limited advertising budget on social media, so maybe that’s the new thing.  Old foxes sometimes have to learn new tricks.

This guy may go down on his own, and I wouldn’t be needed.  But if he’s a serious threat to win, he’ll have to be taken out.

By the way, this is not dirty politics.  Bob and I always told the truth, and we obeyed every law.

Dirty politics is described in the title to this article in Breitbart Tech, “Google search manipulation can swing nearly 80 percent of Undecided Voters”.  

What Google is doing is dirty politics.  Somebody needs to do a hit on them.  I’m going to think about that.