Bonum Certa Men Certa

On 'Citizens' Against Government Waste (CAGW), Microsoft, and Novell

“Did you know that there are more than 34,750 registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C., for just 435 representatives and 100 senators? That's 64 lobbyists for each congressperson.”

--CIO.com



We often complain about biased, bought and disruptive voices, which try to convince the public that the Novell/Microsoft deal is a good thing. Microsoft's influence on the press has led to a lot of disinformation about the deal being disseminated, but here we will show a Microsoft pressure group doing the same thing. This manipulation occurs at many levels.



This post will hopefully serve as a lesson about yet another "AstroTurf" agency (Microsoft has others), which in a sane system, should be banned and its members put in prison for obstruction of justice.

“The deal has, in many ways, kept regulators off Microsoft's back in Europe.”In 2006, Shane wrote about the impact of the Novell/Microsoft deal on the EC ruling regarding Samba and other things. Clearly enough, as proven later [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11], the deal had negative effects on ongoing regulation. The deal has, in many ways, kept regulators off Microsoft's back in Europe.

CAGW calls itself a group that acts on behalf of taxpayers, but it's a Microsoft pressure group whose intent and purpose is to have Microsoft run around without being policed. Likewise, ACT, which is another Microsoft pressure group, pretends to be acting at the behest of small businesses, but it's a lie.

Here you can find the European Commission being "slammed" for punishing Microsoft. Just as was seen last year, it's the usual suspects who are responsible for this illusion of backlash. These are always Microsoft mouthpieces

US pressure group Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has expressed "outrage over the draconian punishment" handed down by the European Commission to Microsoft for violating European antitrust laws.

[...]

CAGW is non-profit organisation with one million members and supporters across the US. It states its aims as eliminating waste, mismanagement and inefficiency in the federal government.


CAGW not only intercepts market regulation in Europe. It does the same thing in the United States. As we all know, Microsoft has already [E]mbraced Novell. Next thing it does it [E]xtending it the Microsoft way (e.g. OOXML, .NET). Later it will get around to [E]xtinguishing. Unsurprisingly, CAGW would defend this because it's in Microsoft's interests, but it turned out to have gone out of its way and published a press release publicly commending the Microsoft/Novell deal.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today pointed to the collaboration between Microsoft and Novell as another reason to shun government intervention in the technology sector. The companies struck a deal to improve interoperability between Microsoft Windows and Novell's Linux operating system.


Here is the full thing. I first saw this in 2006.

That's like Microsoft itself speaking here, but it borrows a voice that seems independent. It uses Novell as an excuse to escape government scrutiny, having the cake (ruining Novell and FOSS) and eating it too (giving flak to regulators). Mind the date of the press release. It took them only a day to respond to the Microsoft/Novell deal. Maybe it was prepared in advance, given inside knowledge.

Other reactions on November 3rd (the 'morning after') were more like this:

"Excuse me while I go throw up. I gather Microsoft no longer thinks Linux is a cancer or communism. Now it just wants a patent royalty from it. Wasn't that kinda SCO's dream at first? A kind of royalty on every box sold, every server shipped? Blech. And this 'patent promise' is only for SUSE, so that tells the discerning observer that Microsoft will likely be suing others. As for Novell, if history means anything, it will end up Microsoft roadkill. It's so funny to me that nobody ever remembers what comes *after* the Embrace." --Groklaw

"(Ballmer) has a fiduciary duty to sell Windows, Windows, Windows, and to partner with whatever companies he thinks will help him sell more...Windows and with those that help him kill...Linux. Which camp does Novell fit into? Not sure, but I don't think it's in Novell's shareholder interest to help Microsoft with either goal. This isn't about helping Linux (SUSE Linux or otherwise), but rather about killing the only real threat to Microsoft's dominance in the operating system market: Red Hat." --Matt Asay on Open Source


"Astroturf" against GNU/Linux is illustrated in this old article and reflects nicely on Microsoft's attitude, which never changed.

Mindcraft Survey Fiasco Leaves Microsoft Looking Silly



[...]

Raymond sees an upside to the Mindcraft debacle. "Microsoft's underhanded tactics seem (as with its clumsy 'astroturf' campaign against the DOJ lawsuit) likely to come back to haunt it," he writes. "And it's hard to see how Microsoft will be able to credibly quote anti-Linux benchmarks in the future." His optimism assumes, however, that everyone who saw and was impressed by the original study also had access to the open source community's extensive rebuttals. Not a hint of the controversy has shown up on Mindcraft's site, or Microsoft's for that matter. Both sides continue to preach to the converted.


Is this the company Novell trusts?

Anyway, there is a lot more to be learned about CAGW, which part of a complex network. Last week we wrote about DCI, which is in part responsible for those notorious "support letters from the dead". According to Wikipedia, CAGW was part of this fiasco as well.

Microsoft's Antitrust Case (Litigation)



The Los Angeles Times reported that at least two dead people sent a form letter by CAGW opposing the antitrust case against Microsoft to Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. According to the Times, family members crossed out the names on the form letters and signed for them. This brought about the "Microsoft Supported by Dead People" controversy[7] from Microsoft's and CAGW's opponents and the CAGW's response that they were not tied to Microsoft or to ATL[8].


We will get around to ATL in a future post. It is another "AstroTurf" shell for Microsoft Corporation. For now, here is some more background about CAGW

FYI, Citizens Against Government Waste and Citizens for a Sound Economy are groups that have been around since the 1980s and are Republican/free-market leaning. They receive money from Microsoft.


And here they are, under Microsoft pay, fighting to stop antitrust against Microsoft even in 2002:

Microsoft Competitors' Influence Rises as Does Cost to Taxpayers



[...]

In an ongoing effort to inform taxpayers of the high cost of the continued litigation against Microsoft by nine state attorneys general and the District of Columbia, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today released the seventh of its weekly updates estimating the amount of money being risked by the states at taxpayers' expense.


They also fought OpenDocument format. Never forget what happened in Massachusetts.

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) is warning of the interoperability disadvantages and long-term higher costs of open standards and open source software again, this time calling the Massachusetts directive adopting the OpenDocument format as standard for the state "bad procurement policy."

[...]

Schatz declined to comment on Microsoft support of his organization, indicating the same goes for any source of the nonprofit group's funding. Microsoft has admitted funding CAGW in the past.


There is some more political background here:

As the Enron dust slowly settles in Washington, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), a taxpayer-advocacy group, suggests other powerful corporations are trying to purchase political influence -- in this case, at the state level.

[...]

The recently signed McCain-Feingold campaign-finance legislation doesn't have jurisdiction over donations at the state level -- one of its many loopholes, say political fund-raisers. For example, the legislation wouldn't affect California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, a Democrat who has received more than $75,000 from Microsoft competitors, according to campaign-disclosure reports. The anti-Microsoft money cuts across party lines. Kansas Attorney General Carla Stovall, who is bucking for the Republican nomination for governor, has had campaign coffers filled with $20,000 from Microsoft competitors such as Oracle and Sun Microsystems. Kansas and California are two of the nine states still battling Microsoft in the courts over antitrust concerns.


They even have a "Grassroots Manager" and it's located, unsurprisingly, where all the lobbyists live.

This is one of a zillion astro turf campaigns to help out Microsoft.

[...]

Kelly Purcell, Grassroots Manager from member organization Citizens Against Government Waste, has asked that the following be forwarded to other individuals and organizations in the Impact Voters of America.

Take care!

[...]

Kelly J. Purcell

Grassroots Manager Citizens Against Government Waste 1301 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 400 Washington, DC 20036 (800) USA - DEBT


At the end of the day, it's truly a shame that Novell permitted itself to become Microsoft's ammunition against regulators. The following item from 1993, for example, shows that Novell used to advocate the very opposite side.

Microsoft Corp., the largest creator of software for personal computers, said Monday that Novell Inc. had filed a complaint with the European Commission claiming unfair trading practices.

Europe accounts for more than a third of Microsoft's $3.8 billion in annual revenues.


There is also this one from 1992:

Like two giants carefully picking theft fights, Microsoft Corp. and rival Novell Inc. are trying to negotiate a peaceful settlement to a dispute over Microsoft use of Novell technology in new Windows for Workgroups software.

Industry insiders say they do not expect Microsoft -- which wants to break into the networking market in a big way -- and Novell, which wants to protect its 75 percent grip on the market, to get into a prolonged and expensive courtroom war, at least not over this particular issue.


How quickly Novell has forgotten what Microsoft did to it.

The only clear innovation I found was the desperate need for Microsoft to catch up to Novell in the directory services race.

I spoke with Allchin directly after the marketing mumbo-jumbo was over. Allchin headed the product development team for Active Directory yet could not answer simple questions of mine about directory changes made by multiple vendor partners corrupting the central AD database. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, because my recent adventures with Microsoft automatic updates and video drivers drove home the point, once again, that even Windows XP SP2 can't manage DLL updates from multiple vendors (even Microsoft's own DLLs) on a single system.

Innovation by checkbook: Microsoft buys Whale for an "undisclosed sum." Plug Whale's SSL VPN technology into the next free update of a Microsoft server, and slap at other SSL VPN providers Cisco, Nortel, Juniper, Aventail, and F5. Cut their revenue stream out from under them, decrease their market share, then crow about innovation with a straight face. That's the Microsoft way, and Ballmer can keep that face straight.


Novell: from Microsoft prey to Microsoft ally against regulators. O' how the mighty have fallen.

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