Everyone please please dial it back.
Since this week began Peter Thiel, a very wealthy investor and a high-profile supporter of President Trump, has been making extraordinary charges of treason against Google. He wants the FBI and CIA to investigate Google to find out how many foreign intelligence agencies have infiltrated their Manhattan project for artificial intelligence. He wants to know if senior management considers itself thoroughly infiltrated by Chinese intelligence. He wants to know that if they are so thoroughly infiltrated by the Chinese that "they have engaged in the seemingly treasonous decision to work with the Chinese military and not with the US military."
This is heady stuff. It reminds us all of the days of McCarthyism where people had to pledge loyalty to the United States and if they were or had been a member of the Communist Party their lives were ruined. Thiel added these questions "need to be asked by the FBI, by the CIA and I'm not sure quite how to put this, I would like them to be asked in a not excessively gentle manner."
Peter Thiel is about to ruin lives. How can President Trump not take this bait and run with it? His initial tweet on this gives the appearance that he would like to do something along the lines that Thiel is suggesting. "A great and a brilliant guy who knows this subject better than anyone! The Trump administration will take a look!"
I would like to know, too, if there is any hard proof of this. Thiel founded one of the foremost cybersecurity companies, Palantir, and he is a board member of Facebook -- more on that in a moment.
Google's pretty guarded on the record: "As we have said before we do not work with the Chinese military." But the company is adamant that the allegations are false and baseless and Thiel has offered no substantiation.
Does he have names? Do we know how many members of the Chinese Communist Party are working within Alphabet? Should we have a House Un-American Activities Committee activated? Is there a new Roy Cohn, the chief counsel to Senator Joe McCarthy, in the Senate?
All these things are now possible because of how hard-charging Thiel is being. I think he should dial it back. The McCarthy days were dark days with unsubstantiated claims made left and right and substantiated claims that wrecked the lives of people who were of little import in the cold war. Should we call up Sundar Pichai, the CEO or Ruth Porat, the CFO, and get them to testify? I think without something hard from Thiel let the witch hunt begin.
Thiel dial it back.
Oh, and if you want a witch hunt how about Congress uniting with the president to question the notion of a brand new currency that would empower perhaps billions of people to get banked who are unbanked? Libra is a virtual currency pegged to a basket of currencies, the type of thing that a Goldman Sachs (GS) could set up for an extremely wealthy person for a high fee but nobody as poor as a typical Facebook member.
The company blew it, though. It didn't present it as an empowerment issue and instead it came out as if Facebook is trying to undermine all of the central banks and treasuries around the world.
There are two things wrong here. First, none of these critical constituencies bothered to investigate bitcoin, which is a more opaque cryptocurrency that has been used by so many bad elements to have cyber victims pay off extortionists or to dodge tax authorities. This currency is the opposite: it is disinfected with sunlight.
Second, if Paypal (PYPL) were to do this we would be fine. I don't even think Square (SQ) would be investigated. But this is Facebook and they cannot get the benefit of the doubt. I know David Marcus, who testified today in what can only be described as a kangaroo court. He's the former president of Paypal and now he runs the Facebook Messenger unit. The idea is that once this thing gets running perhaps Facebook might earn something on it. But that's not the short-term plan and Facebook is willing to discuss this thing for as long as it takes to get it right.
Congress dial it back.
As long as these companies are under a congressional cloud their stocks will remain under one too. I host Mad Money, not Money Madness, but I will do what I can to fight another McCarthy epidemic. As for Libra, I like it, it empowers people, so let's stop demonizing it because it is from Facebook and heaven knows I have not been all that supportive of all their efforts.
I'm not usually the one to say dial it back, but that's exactly what I am saying right now.