When Silicon Valley Went Off the Cliff

This essay is a continuation of one published in WUWT, 14 Reasons Why Silicon Valley Embraced Climate Alarmism, which was penned before I learned the details of the bizarre actions by the Silicon Valley insiders in response to Executive Order No. 13769 Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, signed by President Trump on January 27.  The Executive order suspended the entrance to foreign nationals (other than U.S. citizens and green card holders) from Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, and Iran for a period of 90 days.  A longer suspension was reserved for Syrian refugees, but they got another deal (although nobody owed them anything.)  This essay was written before another order was signed on March 6, and does not refer to it.


All hell breaks loose

As soon as the order was signed, all hell broke loose.  In militaristic fashion, a coalition of hard Left and Islamist groups hit the ground along with air support from the media. They ran well-organized and disruptive airport protests that were reported as spontaneous by that media (1, 2).  Sergey Brin (net worth $40B), a co-founder of Google, personally participated in one of the airport protests.  In an employee meeting at Google, Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt reportedly said that President Trump was, “Going to do these evil things as they’ve done in the immigration area and perhaps some others,”  and that, “these prejudicial actions are discriminatory and anti-globalization, and I did everything I could to cause a different outcome,” (3).  Apparently, anti-globalization is a synonym for evil in the Google world.

Google’s executive management also organized employee demonstrations against President Trump on Google campuses, one of which featured speeches by Sergey Brin and CEO Sundar Pichai.  In his speech, Sergey Brin alluded to climate change.

Microsoft issued an official statement, calling the president’s order “misguided and a fundamental step backwards.”  Executives at other companies found more ways to force anti-Trump views on their employees, in many cases at the expense of shareholders.  Some companies sent their anti-Trump missives to all of their employees through corporate emails.  Others took their rage to the so-called “social media.”  The president’s moderate Executive order protecting America against some foreign threats was called “un-American” by many of them.  For example, Brian Chesky of Airbnb emailed all Airbnb’s employees saying that Trump’s policy was “a direct obstacle to their mission.” Bad news for Airbnb.

Aaron Levie, CEO of the data storage company Box, said in an interview with NY Times that “there was a pretty resounding response from the tech industry showing how unacceptable this is,” and “Beyond family heritage and employment, Silicon Valley cares about immigration because its companies strive to operate everywhere in the world. Almost every company’s products — Google, Apple, Airbnb — has a global customer base.  These policy decisions have real implications to our partners, our customers, our competitors.” (4)

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson (one of the notorious Attorneys General at United for Clean Power), who’s regularly mixing up the roles of a Democrat operative and a state attorney general, sued in a friendly Washington federal court to block the Executive order and won a temporary injunction.  Two well-known Washington companies, Amazon and Expedia, served as “witnesses” that the Executive order would have horrific and irreversible consequences to Washington state and U.S. economics.  The president’s office appealed to the notorious 9th Circuit appellate court, which later upheld that injunction.  In a more bizarre twist, 97 corporations, including household names like Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Netflix, Uber, Lyft, and Wikimedia Foundation, filed an Amici Brief with the appellate court – supporting the rogue AG against the president.  Within a couple of days, 30 more corporations joined them.  This group will be referred to as The Dirty 129 below.

The Amici Brief

The Amici Brief  (https://archive.is/zKwzv, the substantive argument starts on p. 15), signed by 127 of The Dirty 129 mostly consists of non-sequiturs, statistical and logical fallacies, outright lies, and empty rhetoric.  For example, how does the case of Nicola Tesla contribute to the argument that the president is not allowed to suspend immigration from Yemen and Libya?  I will comment only on selected points.

“Amici curiae are 97 leading businesses from the technology sector and other parts of the economy.”

A delusion. ExxonMobil, Monsanto, Boeing, General Electric, Amgen, Gilead Sciences are technology companies. Most of The Dirty 129 are just overvalued public corporations engaging in import, retail, marketing, advertising, or other services over the Internet.  Google and a few others represent software and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, which are just a small part of the technological universe.

“Seven-nation entry bar: for a period of at least 90 days, nationals of seven nations—Syria, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan—are barred from entering the United States. Order § 3(c).“

Viewers and readers of the fake-stream media (FSM) might be surprised to learn that the alleged “Muslim ban” does not include the five most populous Muslim countries: Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Egypt.  Furthermore, the suspension of entry is for only 90 days and includes all citizens of these countries, regardless of their religion.  The Executive order also gives the Secretary of State and Homeland Security the power to make exceptions.  If The Dirty 129 were so dependent on their employees with Iranian citizenship as they claimed to be, they could have asked for exceptions.  Instead, The Dirty 129 executives chose to fight President Trump.

“This instability and uncertainty will make it far more difficult and expensive for U.S. companies to hire some of the world’s best talent—and impede them from competing in the global marketplace.”

And everybody knows that the world’s best talent resides in Somalia and Sudan.

“Businesses and employees have little incentive to go through the laborious process of sponsoring or obtaining a visa, and relocating to the United States, if an employee may be unexpectedly halted at the border.”

As if eliminating an employer’s incentive to hire cheap labor from low wages countries were so easy!

“Global business travel lets employees develop new skills, take on expanded roles, and stay abreast of new technological or business developments.”

I can only imagine what skills and “developments” these employees bring in from Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and Libya.  Google’s self-driving cars and Amazon’s intelligent drones delivering sarin from Syrian arsenals is the most innocent combination that comes to mind.

“The Order also could well lead to retaliatory actions by other countries, which would seriously hinder U.S. companies’ ability to do business or negotiate business deals abroad. Many companies do business in one or more of the countries currently covered by the Order.”

The only country covered by the Executive order is the United States of America.  If the amici do business in the countries mentioned in the Executive order, and that business requires them to lobby on behalf of the governments of those countries in the U.S., they should have registered as foreign agents under 22 U.S.C. § 611.  They should also call themselves wh-res, rather than “leading businesses from the technology sector.”

“The Order is also under-inclusive with respect to its goal; a number of countries left off the list have a greater incidence of terrorist attacks than the seven the Order includes.”

This might be the only part of the Amici Brief that makes sense.  Then, why do the amici support halting the Executive order, rather than expanding it?

The Amicus Brief suggested that immigration authorities rely on background checks to screen potential immigrants but did not explain how to do a background check in any of the seven countries mentioned.

Americans are Misled on Immigration

There is no doubt the U.S. has the right to control its borders to prevent the entrance of any non-citizens.  No doubt that the constitutional protections, including equality before the law, apply only to the U.S. territory and/or the U.S. citizens anywhere.  The Congress and executive branch might discriminate against non-resident non-citizens asking to enter the U.S. using any criteria, including but not limited to religion, nationality, ethnicity, country and zodiac sign.

Any non-resident who asks to enter the U.S. is informed that it is a privilege, not a right, to be admitted into the U.S. and that it is up to him or her to prove that he or she is admissible.  Furthermore, a potential visitor or immigrant is informed that U.S. immigration authorities reserve the right to refuse entrance at any time – even after the visa is granted.   A visa holder who lives in the U.S. and goes abroad on a short trip may also be refused re-admission, even if his or her visa is valid.

I was on the receiving side of this governmental discretion a number of times.  As an Israeli citizen, I was denied a tourist visa without explanation in the ‘90s, even though I was able to enter the EU without a visa at all.  When I was a visa holder already living and working in the U.S., I had to fly to Israel to apply for a visa extension which might have been granted or denied.  In one of such trips, the processing of my application was delayed because some papers were missing; the papers were in the U.S. and I was abroad. I couldn’t get back into the U.S. to collect the papers because the application for extension invalidated the visa.  The delay made me a joke among the employees of my startup and caused me a fair amount of damage.  As a visa holder, I tried to avoid traveling outside of the U.S. to not risk being denied re-entry.  My experience was not bad.  Many immigrants had it worse.  Everything in life has its cost.

The Constitution declared the open border policy for only ten years, through 1808.  The first immigration restrictions were enacted in 1882, and restrictions on immigration by country of origin have been in existence for almost a hundred years.  Most Americans don’t know the legal and practical aspects of legal immigration from countries other than EU and Canada, and the FSM feeds them a fabricated story of a “Muslim ban”.

Actions Have Consequences

Method to the madness

The Dirty 129 are also cheerleaders for climate alarmism and there is a method to the madness: it is called global governance.  The Dirty 129 are predisposed to accept any agenda compatible with global governance.  Almost all of The Dirty 129 consider themselves global companies.  Thus, it feels natural to them to advocate for global governance and against national sovereignty. Phony “competition for global talent” is as good an excuse for compromising national sovereignty as “global warming.”  And not to forget the “IPCC science,” in which all countries have equal weight.  The U.S. has the same weight as Somalia or Sudan.


Naturally, the internal polarization, including the actions by Democrat attorneys general, NGOs,  and The Dirty 129’s executives, encouraged foreign adversaries.  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a former President of Iran, wrote in a letter to Trump that “the contemporary U.S. belongs to all nations, including the natives of the land,” and “No one may consider themselves the owner and view others as guests or immigrants.”  If that was said by an acting Iranian official it would be a declaration of war. The Associated Press called this message “conciliatory.” The Iranian Foreign Minister was more moderate by saying that the “Travel ban an affront to the entire [Iranian] nation.”

The behavior of The Dirty 129’s executives is especially abhorring because many of them had an upbeat meeting with Donald Trump less than two months before the described events.  Trump called them “a truly amazing group of people” and told them “I am here to help.” (5)  Now they joined Leftist and Islamist groups in a combined arms assault on the elected President.

I cannot imagine conservative or libertarian executives of a large public company forcing their political views on employees in such a way, although it’s perfectly legal.  Nevertheless, some other actions of certain members of The Dirty 129  might not be legal.

  1. By law, employers applying for H-1B visas must seek qualified Americans first.  Only when there are no qualified Americans for a job can an employer apply for an H-1B visa.  But what if a corporation had said  f*ck you to all qualified Americans who voted for Trump or simply upheld American sovereignty?  This is what several of The Dirty 129 did about a month ago.  It is now  illegal for them to hire even a single new H-1B visa holder.  If they do, I don’t see why any similarly qualified American might not sue them.  Merely signing the Amici Brief does not qualify as a public offense. But the obnoxious attitude toward Americans expressed in the Amici Brief might expose The Dirty 129 to legal liability for national origin discrimination if they lay off any of their American employees, either citizens or green card holders.  Furthermore, it is probably illegal for the corporations to layoff American employees if they recently hired H-1B workers for similar jobs; a case can be made that most software positions fall into a small number of categories within which the jobs are similar.
  2. A subset of The Dirty 129 holds a legally questionable monopoly on Internet content distribution, social media, personnel hiring, and other things that affect our constitutional rights.  The subset might have achieved and maintained this monopoly through sweetheart deals with the Obama administration.  One might even suspect that they host the Obama administration in exile.  Twitter, Reddit, and the Wikimedia Foundation are already known to have abused their power to suppress conservative and libertarian political views on a broad scale.  Google and Facebook are under suspicion and do nothing to dispel it.  Facebook has even hired a bunch of Leftist “fact checkers” and Google News started including “fact check” links next to their news section.
  3. The majority of The Dirty 129 are public corporations, and their executives owe fiduciary duty to their shareholders.  Their use of these responsible positions to advance political agenda is a breach of this fiduciary responsibility.

I am not an attorney, and this is not a legal advice.  Persons affected by the actions of The Dirty 129  should talk to attorneys.  But the main problem of The Dirty 129 might be that they risked the trust and respect of the silent majority.  Were the few days of fraternization with the extreme Left worth it?


Causes: Short term

Speaking of their behavior between January 27 and February 7, most of the responsible executives have probably been duped.  The Internet and the (anti-) social media greatly enhanced the capacities of activist groups to quickly mobilize large numbers of supporters and even bystanders.  The Dirty 129’s executives must have been aware of the phenomenon of social media-fueled “flash mobs.”  But the Leftist agitators (possibly funded by Obama’s DOJ) who provoked them to do foolish things used the simplest ploy from the Leftist/environmentalist textbook – a small number of activists quickly made a lot of noise, creating the impression of a broad public sentiment.  A similar trick played on Republican lawmakers in town hall meetings failed, and the FSM resorted to griping about supposed GOP delusions.  The self-aggrandizing “technology leaders” fell into the trap like mice.

Parallels between climate alarmism and ban alarmism

There’s an interesting similarity between the events that happened in the 10 days following the Executive order and the development of climate alarmism over three decades.  In this analogy, The Dirty 129’s executives are akin to the governments of the United Nations. There were less than 160 UN members in the late 1980’s.  Much like the climate alarmists, the activists going against the imaginary “Muslim ban” can be called “ban alarmists.”  The similarity is striking.

  1. Both cases were based on completely bogus issues. Neither CO2 emissions nor Order 13769 present any conceivable danger, and both provide significant good.  Unlike real issues and conflicts, bogus issues are one-sided.  There are only two positions to be had on bogus issues: being concerned (a high degree of concern is alarm) or being unconcerned.  Unconcerned people just move on.  A scientist who can choose a topic of research would not work on a bogus issue when he can work on a real one.  An honest reporter cannot cover a bogus issue.  The most he or she could do is write an article with a title like, “Why X Should not Interest You,” and then move to other subjects.Therefore, promoters of a bogus issue meet no opposition.  If they pitch their bogus issue to a reporter and the reporter rejects it, they can move on to the next reporter until they find one who believes them.  If they have sufficient resources, they can promote his reporting and force others to follow.  That was the case with global warming in the ‘80s and ‘90s. This is not the case with today’s FSM which celebrates any bogus claim that might undermine Trump.  Whether it’s the inability of John Podesta to use his email safely, the two meetings that Jeffrey Sessions had with the Russian Ambassador last year, or the false allegation that Trump ordered the removal of an MLK bust from the Oval Office, the FSM is always ready to make a mountain out of a molehill and to even create a molehill if there isn’t one.
  2. Climate and ban alarmists alike used the ACT NOW! mantra.  Act Now, Think Later is a fool’s motto; a good advice is to think first and to act later, if at all. The Amici Brief was signed and filed by the initial 97 signers on Sunday (02/05) night, although they initially planned to file by the end of the week (6).  Obviously, somebody pushed them to act immediately before they had the opportunity to receive advice or to at least think again.
  3. Both groups of alarmists used the apparent cause (“climate change” and alleged “Muslim ban”) to promote their hidden agendas.  Their hidden agendas included power grabbing and compromising U.S. sovereignty.
  4. The alarmists also quickly declared consensus, and the leaders of the nations or corporations were either afraid or too lazy to question the alleged consensus.
  5. The lawyers who drafted the Amici Brief and The Dirty 129’s executives are very smart and logical.  Strikingly, the Amici Brief text and the public statements on the Executive order exhibit an enormous gap in logic: some immigrants have greatly contributed to this country in the past (true).  Therefore, the Executive order that suspends for 90 days the entry of foreigners from the listed countries is evil (non-sequitur, false).   Not one of the temporarily stopped entrants was known for any contribution to this country nor was even a legal immigrant!  Compare to Al Gore’s reasoning: if you acknowledge climate change, you must share all my related beliefs and politics.  In both cases, the gap is filled with untrue assumptions and emotions.
  6. The same social dynamics made the national and corporate leaders follow alarmism blindly.  Activists incited the leaders directly and by creating media frenzy.  Then, the excited leaders took clues from each other and talked themselves into extreme positions totally divorced from the reality. Some leaders put other people’s money where their mouths were.
  7. This said, some alarmism followers did have financial incentives to ignore reason, as explained below.
  8. Less importantly, alarmism followers fell into what I would call a “competent authorities” fallacy(*) here.  This fallacy should not be confused with the argument from authority fallacy.  In the case of climate change, they believed (or pretended to believe) that climate scientists can forecast climate changes decades and hundreds of years into the future.  In the case of the Executive order, they believed (or pretended to believe) that some three letter services could determine terrorism risk among the millions of potential immigrants from the seven listed countries.

Remarkably, most of the activity happened on the weekends of January 28-29 and February 4-5, when normal corporate decision making was impossible. The majority of The Dirty 129’s executives appear to have not read the Executive order they protested and have not read the Amici Brief they authorized to sign.  Most likely, they “learnt” about it from the activists or from FSM, colluding with the activists.  But I will not be surprised if they saw copies of the Executive order or other documents “slightly altered” from the originals.  Some involved executives will be surprised not to find alleged employees, who were the key to the hell-raising, on their pay rolls.  FSM will not be surprised, if persons who had identified themselves as employees of the “leading technology businesses” were paid agitators of the Leftist groups.  Journalists who simply made stuff up won’t be surprised either.

Causes: Long term

But there are deeper causes for The Dirty 129’s adherence to Obama and animus to Trump.  The populist financial rhetoric of the Obama administration and class hatred incited by its collaborators co-existed with favorable treatment of media industries.  Many of The Dirty 129 are, in fact, media companies – either creators or distributors of media “content.”  Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit are just a few examples.

Trump’s policies seem to be exactly opposite of Obama’s.  He is an advocate of productive businesses, a defender of property rights, but he requires the wealthy to contribute their fair share.  He wants the corporations to repatriate their offshore cash (Apple – $230 billion, Microsoft – $113 billion, Google – $49 billion; 7) and to pay taxes on them.  Trump might close some tax loopholes for The Dirty 129.  For example, Google’s effective income tax rate has been 19% over the last three years, including federal, state, and local taxes – instead of the expected 35-39%.  Trump wants them to create jobs in the U.S. for American workers.  Trump questioned “free trade” arrangements that have caused the offshoring of U.S. manufacturing, the increase of foreign influence on U.S. movies and other content industry, and the redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the media and to the financial and “tech” moguls.  Trump also called out Amazon’s monopoly.  Democrats did nothing like this.

Then, there’s foreign pressure.  The situation is unprecedented here.  The Dirty 129 gets most of its profits from abroad.  The EU is extremely anti-Trump.  The EU is also centralized, has multiple layers of authorities, and routinely regulates political speech.  American-based companies seem to be at the mercy of EU politicians for all of their European business, which is bigger than American one for many of them.  China already has a larger economy and is a bigger market than the U.S, and the American companies that do or want to do business in China have to do it on the latter’s terms.  And so on.  In short, our “global companies” do business all over the the world but enjoy freedom of conscience from government interference only in the U.S., excluding California.  Consequences are as they are.

The Obama (or possibly Clinton) administration created a strange phenomenon: the overt government infiltration of private companies.  An example: Google appointed a group of “Google Science Communication Fellows” in 2011 (8).  In 2013, these “fellows” published a letter in the NY Times and other Leftist mouthpieces (9, 10), excoriating Google and its top executives for working with Senator Inhofe in his home state of Iowa! Incredibly, Google succumbed and did penance, including publicly severing ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and even publicly defamed it.  Of notice, ALEC did not have a substantial role in the climate debate but was marked for destruction by the foreign enemies and the Left. The “fellows” kept thriving in Google (11). This episode suggests that the “fellows” had the same two roles  in Google as politruks (former commissars) in the Soviet Army.  Politruks’ job was mainly to indoctrinate soldiers and junior officers, but it was also to watch the ideological purity of their commanders.  It’s likely that the Obama administration left a number of such politruks in private corporations.  Are they Democrat government in exile?

Fiction horror meets reality

It’s worth remembering that many executives of The Dirty 129 consider carbon dioxide to be pollution and the rest of us to be polluters.  Google’s Eric Schmidt was a member of the United States President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) next to notorious John Holdren.

There was direct interaction between Google Super Bowl ads and Google.  Google Home is designed to work with Google Nest thermostat, which controls heating and air conditioning.  If deployed in large numbers, Google Nests will be a serious threat, even when not activated by TV ads.  Google (or a rogue Google employee) will be able to manipulate Google Nests to overload power networks or even to cause massive fires in our cities.

The games that Google, Tesla, Microsoft, and some others among The Dirty 129 play with Artificial Intelligence may be of concern.  Although unlikely, it is possible that they developed an AI system that manipulated their minds, and the support of climate alarmism is just one symptom of this.  Curiously, there was a period of time when a number of Silicon Valley insiders talked loudly about a threat in developing AI.  Then they suddenly came to the consensus that they could control the threat.  An OpenAI group, supported by some of the Dirty 129, even declared that the best way to control the threat from AI was to open source it!  This logic makes as much sense to me as saying that the best way to prevent nuclear proliferation is to open source all methods, processes, and designs for nuclear weapons.  But I can see how a dangerous AI instance would lead them to such a conclusion.  Again, this is unlikely – but climate alarmism developed entirely through a combination of unlikely developments.  Anyway, all possibilities should be considered.  And The Dirty 129 have just proven they do not deserve trust.

Of course, it would be correct to say that the IPCC climate models evolved in a Darwinian sense – by natural selection and survival of the fittest – and that the IPCC was just an environment where the models evolved.  But this is not the meaning of the previous paragraph.

Excuses and justifications

There are exculpatory circumstances to the behavior of The Dirty 129 executives.  The Left never stops making them feel guilty about their wealth and success, badgers them about hiring more “diverse” applicants, and accuses them of all wrongs that happen anywhere in the world.  The only political dialogue that these executives see on the Left coast is a dialogue between the moderate Left and the extreme Left.  And there are professional troublemakers who do many things, from slandering companies to threatening executives at their homes and even physically assaulting employees.  San Francisco has sky-high rent prices because enviros do not allow new construction.  Google engineers living in San Francisco were accused of driving up rent prices and some were physically assaulted, even though Google bused them between San Francisco and its Mountain View offices in unmarked vehicles.  Obviously, California’s government offered little help.  I might guess that Google solved its problem by paying off the Leftist outfits behind the assaults.

The federal and state governments have multiple regulatory powers they can use or abuse to punish businesses they don’t like.  Software and Internet companies are practically immune to the EPA, but the Department of Labor, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Security and Exchanges Commission, federal and state legislatures, and the plaintiff can go after them at any time.  Democrat politicians prey on large businesses and are always on the prowl for new victims.  With the positive media coverage they get, politicians’ attacks on productive businesses have popular support.  Business executives have no choice but to go along with the Democrat agendas that keep shifting further and further to the Left.  The Republican victory in the elections changes very little; the Leftist apparatus of the NGOs, AG offices, and regulatory agencies remains along with the laws that enable them to do mischief.

This said, many of The Dirty 129 went beyond any excuses.  Apple seems to be one of the worst offenders.  Its products are manufactured in China and sold in China and the rest of the world.  Apple seems to be a Chinese company with just enough presence in the U.S. to be a voice of unreason in the American politics.  Well, it also pays taxes in the U.S.

With all their shortcomings, The Dirty 129 are large employers and providers of good jobs in the U.S.  Most of them are exporters, although export is a double-edged sword.  Many of them are also big tax payers.  Some of The Dirty 129, like Intel, Google, SpaceX, Tesla and few others, are actually technology companies.  I greatly respect these companies, their founders and executives for their innovations and contribution to this country and humanity.  And it is important to avoid painting everybody with a wide brush.  Also, The Dirty 129 represent some of the few thriving sectors of the economy.  Many of these companies are still national asset and should not be damaged.  But something should be done about the rogue behavior of the executives who tied themselves to the evil agendas, foreign and domestic.

Lastly, we’re always hearing that the U.S. should fight and defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq.  What good would it do if a number of state governments, a major political party, a large part of the business elite, and the overwhelming majority of the media establishment are OK with ISIS entering the U.S.?

Thanks to H.J. for collaboration in writing this article.

(*) The competent authorities fallacy is defined here as an unfounded belief that for a certain practical subject there exists a well known group of experts in this subject.  A corollary of this belief is that hiring more and/or selecting the best experts from this group would lead to greater success in handling this subject.

This fallacy arises from he fact that many practical areas do have well known groups of experts.  Health care is the best example.  Properly trained and licensed medical doctors are experts in their respective specialties and frequently in other medical matters.  But there are plenty of practical problems in which experts do not exist or cannot be easily recognized.  An example of such problem is winning in financial markets.