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Peter Thiel Is a Big Ted Cruz Backer

Peter Thiel

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained here. (The flash drive includes the anti-fascist books avail­able on this site.)

COMMENT: In FTR #’s 758, 759, we looked at the profound connections between the GOP fiscal terrorists of the “Paulistinian Libertarian Organization” and the milieu of Eddie Snowden. It should come as no surprise that Peter Thiel is a major backer of Ted Cruz.

Cruz, of course, is the GOP Senator from Texas who was at the forefront of the “shutdown milieu.”

Thiel is inextricably linked with Palantir, Ron Paul, the seasteading movement and Facebook.

In our discussions of Thiel, NEVER forget that he explicitly rejects democracy, in no small measure because he doesn’t think women should be allowed to vote.

“Reminder: Peter Thiel Is Ted Cruz’s Gay Billionaire Ally” by Sam Biddle; Valley Wag; 9/2/2013.

EXCERPT: Where does a man like Ted Cruz get the confidence to IRL troll the United States Senate for 21 hours? Knowing that PayPal billionaire and Silicon Valley kingpin Peter Thiel has his back surely helps.. . .

 

Discussion

21 comments for “Peter Thiel Is a Big Ted Cruz Backer”

  1. Check out Texas’ fun new voter id law that totally isn’t trying to suppress women voters at all:

    MSNBC
    Why women in Texas may be blocked from voting
    10/23/13 11:15 PM

    By Sarah Muller

    Texas’ strict new voter ID law is being put to its first widespread test. Signs of trouble emerged as early voting for the Nov. 5 elections began Monday.

    Under the controversial new legislation, which supporters claim prevents fraud, all voters must supply an approved form of photo identification that exactly matches the name on their voter registration cards.

    The U.S. Department of Justice slapped Texas with a lawsuit over this issue in August, arguing the law disenfranchises minority voters. But it could hit women particularly hard, especially those who use their maiden names or hyphenated names.

    Sonia Gill, counsel for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, warned many voters might be in for an unpleasant surprise on Election Day. “Women in particular are going to have a difficult time because they are more likely to have changed their names and, as a result, the name on their photo ID may not match up to the name listed on their voter registration.”

    Approved forms of valid photo IDs include a Texas driver’s license, a Texas personal ID card, a Texas concealed handgun license, a U.S. military ID card, a U.S. citizenship certificate, or a U.S. passport. The state also started issuing new “Texas Election Identification Certificates” geared toward the estimated 1.4 million eligible voters who are currently missing photo IDs.

    But according to the Dallas Morning News, as of last week, only 41 residents received one of these new certificates. Statewide.

    Adding to the list of hurdles, if variations in names exist, Texans need to show original documents or certified copies of their name change, via a marriage license, divorce decree or court ordered change. No photocopies are allowed. The state had been charging at least $20 to get a new version of these documents. But Texas Secretary of State John Steen’s office announced these “Election Identification Certificates are available free of charge to qualified voters who do not already have an approved form of photo ID.”

    A 2006 survey by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law disclosed that 34% of women voters do not have an acceptable ID that reflects their current legal name.

    “I couldn’t tell you where my original marriage license was if my right to a representative democracy depended on it,” said Jessica McIntosh, communications director for Emily’s List, a group that helps elect pro-choice Democratic women.

    There have already been reports of women encountering voting problems–including difficulties suffered by a local judge well-versed in law who tried to vote at her own courthouse.

    “I presented myself and with my voter registration and I was aware of the new voter law and so I also presented my Texas driver’s license which is valid and unsuspended,” 117th District Court Judge Sandra Watts told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell. “I was then advised that the names had to be identical. And I said that was ridiculous, that I had been voting for 49 years and that the law required me to present a voter I.D.”

    She ran into issues because her maiden name is printed as her middle name on her driver’s license. But her voter registration card lists the middle name given to her at birth. Watts was able to vote after signing an affidavit attesting that she is who she says she is. After the incident, she also took a closer look at the fine print.

    “There’s some interesting language in the law. I’ve never seen it before,” said Watts. “I have a constitutional right to vote. And that constitutional right now says I offer myself to vote and an election official is going to determine whether I am accepted to vote.”

    Gill agreed. “Election judges are given a significant degree of subjective interpretation in determining whether or not the name on a voter’s photo ID matches the name on the voter registration list,” Gill explained. “Without concrete guidance and specialized election judge training on the new photo ID law, it creates the potential for the photo ID law to be applied differently across the state.”

    In other news…

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 24, 2013, 8:54 pm
  2. Posted by SMRT FASHIZMU | October 25, 2013, 5:44 am
  3. Hey fellas. Found this TechCrunch article on “neoreactionaries”. Included in this piece? None other than Peter Thiel. Also some other interesting insights as well.

    http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/22/geeks-for-monarchy/

    “Many of us yearn for a return to one golden age or another. But there’s a community of bloggers taking the idea to an extreme: they want to turn the dial way back to the days before the French Revolution.

    Neoreactionaries believe that while technology and capitalism have advanced humanity over the past couple centuries, democracy has actually done more harm than good. They propose a return to old-fashioned gender roles, social order and monarchy.

    You may have seen them crop-up on tech hangouts like Hacker News and Less Wrong, having cryptic conversations about “Moldbug” and “the Cathedral.” And though neoreactionaries aren’t exactly rampant in the tech industry, PayPal founder Peter Thiel has voiced similar ideas, and Pax Dickinson, the former CTO of Business Insider, says he’s been influenced by neoreactionary thought. It may be a small, minority world view, but it’s one that I think shines some light on the psyche of contemporary tech culture.”

    “Who Are the Neoreactionaries?

    “Reactionary” originally meant someone who opposed the French Revolution, and today the term generally refers to those who would like to return to some pre-existing state of affairs. Neoreaction — aka “dark enlightenment — begins with computer scientist and entrepreneur Curtis Yarvin, who blogs under the name Mencius Moldbug. Yarvin — the self-described Sith Lord of the movement — got his start as a commenter on sites like 2blowhards before starting his own blog Unqualified Reservations in 2007. Yarvin originally called his ideology “formalism,” but in 2010 libertarian blogger Arnold Kling referred to him as a “neo-reactionary.” The name stuck as more bloggers — such as Anomaly UK (who helped popularize the term), Nick Land (who coined “dark enlightenment”) and Michael Anissimov — started to self-identify as neoreactionary.

    The movement has a few contemporary forerunners, such as Herman Hoppe and Steven Sailer, and of course, neoreaction is heavily influenced by older political thought — Thomas Carlyle and Julius Evola are particularly popular.”

    Anti-Democracy

    Perhaps the one thing uniting all neoreactionaries is a critique of modernity that centers on opposition to democracy in all its forms. Many are former libertarians who decided that freedom and democracy were incompatible.

    “Demotist systems, that is, systems ruled by the ‘People,’ such as Democracy and Communism, are predictably less financially stable than aristocratic systems,” Anissimov writes. “On average, they undergo more recessions and hold more debt. They are more susceptible to market crashes. They waste more resources. Each dollar goes further towards improving standard of living for the average person in an aristocratic system than in a Democratic one.”

    Exactly what sort of monarchy they’d prefer varies. Some want something closer to theocracy, while Yarvin proposes turning nation states into corporations with the king as chief executive officer and the aristocracy as shareholders.

    For Yarvin, stability and order trump all. But critics like Scott Alexander think neoreactionaries overestimate the stability of monarchies — to put it mildly. Alexander recently published an anti-reactionary FAQ, a massive document examining and refuting the claims of neoreactionaries.

    “To an observer from the medieval or Renaissance world of monarchies and empires, the stability of democracies would seem utterly supernatural,” he wrote. “Imagine telling Queen Elizabeth I – whom as we saw above suffered six rebellions just in her family’s two generations of rule up to that point – that Britain has been three hundred years without a non-colonial-related civil war. She would think either that you were putting her on, or that God Himself had sent a host of angels to personally maintain order.””

    Gotta wonder if they might want to crown Ted Cruz as the first “King” of America if he were ever to sneak into office…..scary thought, isn’t it? =(

    Posted by Steven L. | November 25, 2013, 3:50 pm
  4. @Steven L: Part of the fun of movements like this is that every neo-feudal city-state of the future will get its own version of a CEO King. Surely Ted Cruz will get at least one kingdom.

    These certainly sound like the kind of folks that would be fans of Julius Evola. As the article also pointed out, Curtis Yarvis a.k.a “Mencius Moldbug” was scheduled to speak at the 2009 Seasteading Institute’s Conference and co-founded a company with one of the first recipients of the Thiel Fellowship. At this point, when advocates of hereditary corporate city-states are found floating in Thiel’s orbit it’s hard to be surprised:


    Exit

    Yarvin proposes that countries should be small — city states, really — and that all they should compete for citizens. “If residents don’t like their government, they can and should move,” he writes. “The design is all ‘exit,’ no ‘voice.’”

    That will probably sound familiar if you heard Balaji Srinivasan’s Y Combinator speech. Although several news stories described the talk as a call for Silicon Valley to secede from the union, Srinivasan told Tim Carmody that his speech has been misinterpreted. “I’m not a libertarian, don’t believe in secession, am a registered Democrat, etcetera etcetera,” he wrote. “This is really a talk that is more about emigration and exit.”

    I don’t know Srinivasan, but it sounds like he’d find neoreactionary views repulsive. And exit is a concept that appeals to both the right and left. But there are others in the Valley pushing ideas much closer to the neoreaction. Patri Friedman, who co-founded the Seasteading Institute with Peter Thiel, specifically mentioned Yarvin’s blog in a reading list at the end of an essay for Cato Unbound, and Yarvin was scheduled to speak at the Seasteading Institute’s conference in 2009 before his appearance was canceled. Thiel, meanwhile, voiced a related opinion in his own article for Cato Unbound: “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.”

    Incidentally, Thiel’s Founders Fund is one of the investors in Srinivasan’s company Counsyl. The co-founder of Yarvin’s startup Tlon was one of the first recipients of the Thiel Fellowship. Anissimov was the media director of the Thiel-backed Machine Intelligence Institute (formerly known as the Singularity Institute). It’s enough to make a conspiracy theorist’s head spin, but I’m not actually suggesting that there’s a conspiracy here. I don’t think Peter Thiel is part of some neoreactionary master plot — I don’t even necessarily think he’s a neoreactionary. But you can see that a certain set of ideas are spreading through out the startup scene. Neoreactionary ideas overlap heavily with pickup artistry, seasteading and scientific racism (more on that later), and this larger “caveman cult” has an impact on tech culture, from work environments to the social atmosphere at conferences.

    To be clear though, pure neoreaction is an extreme minority position that will probably never catch on beyond a tiny cult following. But there has been an explosion of interest since late 2012, despite the fact that Hoppe, Sailer, Yarvin and others have been writing about this stuff for years (and neoreaction’s European cousin archeofuturism has been around even longer). And this interest just happens to coincide with growing media attention being paid to the problems of the tech industry, from sexism in video games to “bro culture” in the tech industry to gentrification in the Bay Area.

    And many professionals, rather than admit to their role in gentrification, wealth disparity and job displacement, are casting themselves as victims. This sense of persecution leads us to our next neoreactionary theme.

    That interest in these neofeudal ideas has been exploding in the last year is somewhat disturbing but it’s not surprising when prominent tech-titans (and spy-masters) are publicly championing them. It was, however, a little surprising to see the denial by Balaji Srinivasan – Peter Thiel’s ideological buddy and fellow Standford professor in entrepreneurship – that “I’m not a libertarian, don’t believe in secession, am a registered Democrat, etcetera etcetera,” was rather surprising. His speech touting Silicon Valley’s “exit” is available online and it doesn’t appear to be a joke.

    Interestingly, Srinivasan also refered to bitcoin as the “big one” amongst the revolutionary new technologies that could fuel such an “exit” strategy and he just raised over $5 million from some of the wealthiest investors in Silicon Valley to start a company specializing in the building of bitcoin mining computers. It’s reminder that a large portion of the newly minted bitcoin empires could end up financing Libertarian fantasy projects for years to come.

    You also have to wonder just how many bitcoins are currently sitting in the hands of other hyber-Libertarians with a strong desire to set up their own little kingdoms “experimental societies”. For instance, Srinivasan’s speech about the glories of a Silicon Valley “exit plan” happened to have an enormous number of thematic similarities to the above mentioned 2009 Cato Unbound piece by Seasteader-in-chief Patri Friedman. That’s the essay where Curtis Yarvin’s “Mencius Moldbug’s” pro-monarchist writings are in the “further reading” list. Friedman’s essay was published about 6 months after bitcoin got started and “Crypto-currencies” and “market anarchism” were two of the key activist tools Friedman saw as useful tfor facilitating the Libertarian exit plan and splintering society into a large network of privately run mini-governments. In other words, Balaji Srinivasan’s “Silicon Valley Exit Plan” might be jumping into the bitcoin “mining” business today but the Seasteaders probably aren’t suffering from a shortage of bitcoins at this point:

    Cato Unbound
    Beyond Folk Activism
    By Patri Friedman
    Lead Essay
    April 6, 2009

    Introduction
    I deeply yearn to live in an actual free society, not just to imagine a theoretical future utopia or achieve small incremental gains in freedom. For many years, I enthusiastically advocated for liberty under the vague assumption that advocacy would help our cause. However, I recently began trying to create free societies as my full-time job, and this has given me a dramatic perspective shift from my days of armchair philosophizing.[1] My new perspective is that the advocacy approach which many libertarian individuals, groups, and think tanks follow (including me sometimes, sadly) is an utter waste of time.

    Argument has refined our principles, and academic research has enlarged our understanding, but they have gotten us no closer to an actual libertarian state. Our debating springs not from calculated strategy, but from an intuitive “folk activism”: an instinct to seek political change through personal interaction, born in our hunter-gatherer days when all politics was personal. In the modern world, however, bad policies are the result of human action, not human design. To change them we must understand how they emerge from human interaction, and then alter the web of incentives that drives behavior. Attempts to directly influence people or ideas without changing incentives, such as the U.S. Libertarian Party, the Ron Paul campaign, and academic research, are thus useless for achieving real-world liberty.

    In this essay, I will describe our misguided instinct, present some principles for the incentive-level approach, and then describe some of the paths to reform it suggests. My hope is to persuade those brave souls who labor for liberty so diligently to work more wisely as well.

    Also, I want to clearly avow that while I criticize folk activism, it often still drives my actions. It is a deep bias, and hard to correct — I strive to overcome it, and I see it in the world because I see it in myself.

    What Is Folk Activism?

    Our brains have many specific adaptations tuned for the hunter-gatherer environment in which we evolved, which in some ways differs wildly from the modern world. Consider the prevalence of obesity: we eat according to outdated instincts, feasting before a famine that never comes, rather than adapting to our new world of caloric abundance.

    Similarly, many people have an intuitive “folk economics” which includes a number of biases such as the anti-foreign and make-work biases. These beliefs are demonstrably wrong, ubiquitous, stubbornly resistant to argument and can be tied to to aspects of the pre-agricultural economy, strongly suggesting they are an evolved adaptation. While economically literate libertarians delightedly skewer those who argue mistakenly from folk economics, we constantly engage in what I shall call folk activism.

    In early human tribes, there were few enough people in each social structure such that anyone could change policy. If you didn’t like how the buffalo meat got divvied up, you could propose an alternative, build a coalition around it, and actually make it happen. Success required the agreement of tens of allies — yet those same instincts now drive our actions when success requires the agreement of tens of millions. When we read in the evening paper that we’re footing the bill for another bailout, we react by complaining to our friends, suggesting alternatives, and trying to build coalitions for reform. This primal behavior is as good a guide for how to effectively reform modern political systems as our instinctive taste for sugar and fat is for how to eat nutritiously.

    Folk activism broadly corrupts political movements. It leads activists to do too much talking, debating, and proselytizing, and not enough real-world action. We build coalitions of voters to attempt to influence or replace tribal political and intellectual leaders rather than changing system-wide incentives.

    This is not a cause for despair. Quite the opposite: it is cause for great hope. It suggests that the failure of libertarian activists to produce libertarian countries may stem more from misdirected efforts than from the impossibility of the task. Using analysis instead of instincts, perhaps we can find a better lever, fulcrum, and place to stand from which to attempt our Archimedean effort.

    Principles For Realistic Activism

    The world is complex and there are many principles that can be used to guide reform, so here I will discuss only the most vital.

    Power Has Inertia

    As a libertarian, I find it easy to see the empirical evidence that incentives matter. More difficult, but very important, is to look at the vast gap between libertarian principles and the size and scope of current governments as empirical evidence that power matters too. Politicians are demonstrably, consistently, and ubiquitously expert at entrenching the power of the political class. To most libertarians this is morally illegitimate, but morality has sadly little influence over the realities of power.

    If we are ever going to move beyond philosophizing on barstool and blogs to change the power structures of the world, we must accept that power equilibria have considerable inertia. We cannot shift them with hope and outrage alone — we need carefully calculated action.

    Democracy Is Not The Answer

    Democracy is the current industry standard political system, but unfortunately it is ill-suited for a libertarian state. It has substantial systemic flaws, which are well-covered elsewhere,[2] and it poses major problems specifically for libertarians:

    1) Most people are not by nature libertarians. David Nolan reports that surveys show at most 16% of people have libertarian beliefs. Nolan, the man who founded the Libertarian Party back in 1971, now calls for libertarians to give up on the strategy of electing candidates! Even Ron Paul, who was enormously popular by libertarian standards and ran during a time of enormous backlash against the establishment, never had the slightest chance of winning the nomination. His “strong” showing got him 1.6% of the delegates to the Republican Party’s national convention. There are simply not enough of us to win elections unless we somehow concentrate our efforts.

    2) Democracy is rigged against libertarians. Candidates bid for electoral victory partly by selling future political favors to raise funds and votes for their campaigns. Libertarians (and other honest candidates) who will not abuse their office can’t sell favors, thus have fewer resources to campaign with, and so have a huge intrinsic disadvantage in an election.

    Libertarians are a minority, and we underperform in elections, so winning electoral victories is a hopeless endeavor.

    Technology Is Much More Important Than Rhetoric

    Consider the relative effects of Zero Population Growth rhetoric vs. birth control technology at changing the population growth curve of the world. It’s monumental. Technology alters incentives, which is a far more effective way to achieve widespread change than to attempt to fight human biases or change minds. Unfortunately, technology is also much newer in human history than persuasion, and so is a much less intuitive strategy.

    Alternatives To Folk Activism

    Free State Project

    The FSP aims to bring 20,000 liberty activists to the state of New Hampshire. So far, 9,000 have signed up and 700 have moved. Even these few have been able to elect 4 of 400 state representatives, which makes it plausible that the full 20,000 could have a substantial impact on state politics.

    I have doubts about the amount of freedom the FSP will be able to secure, because most restrictions and taxation are at the federal level, and the issue of states’ rights was pretty solidly settled in 1865. Instead of opening a new frontier, it is on land claimed and controlled by the most powerful military force in the world. It also operates within traditional democracy and its flaws.

    Still, the FSP was consciously designed as a reaction to the failure of libertarian reform to date, and is a vast improvement over folk activism. It concentrates our strength rather than depending on a mass libertarian movement which will never come. It is based on immediate action: practicing our principles today to demonstrate that freedom works, rather than just endlessly preaching.

    Being inside the United States may limit the freedom achievable, but it also limits the difficulties, so this is a good low-risk, low-reward option.

    Crypto-Anarchy

    Proposed in Tim May’s Crypto Anarchist Manifesto way back in 1988, the idea is that anonymous digital cash could greatly limit government power. While computer and networking technology has developed enormously since it was written, digital cash has not taken off, and the main impact of digital transactions seems to have been on record industry sales, not on “the ability to tax and control economic interactions as May predicted.

    Despite the mathematical elegance of digital crypto, our analog world is the site for most spending and income, which can thus be taxed and regulated. Also, physical reality provides a nexus for control — no matter how sophisticated the avatar, a knife between its master’s shoulderblades will seriously cramp its style.

    While the Internet has been a big step towards a more virtual lifestyle, we aren’t all going to be jacked in full-time anytime soon. Over time more of May’s predictions will come true, but only slowly and for a limited subset of human affairs. Still, cyberspace is an inherently more competitive, more anonymous, harder to tax and regulate environment, and so advancing it is a way to accelerate freedom through technology.

    Market Anarchism

    As described in books like Machinery of Freedom, this is a system where competing private agencies define, judge, and enforce the law. It is a strange and beautiful idea which is impossible to do justice in a short space, in part because it is so much a system of human action, not human design. Its brilliant logic neatly solves the problem of how to create an institution that will generate efficient policies. And it is an ecosystem, not just an institution: it generates many legal systems through competition, innovation, and imitation.

    Unfortunately, there is no clear incremental path to such a society. Proponents offer the vague hope that governments will somehow fade away, but as observed earlier, power is demonstrably good at perpetuating itself. Anarchism is worth revisiting only if we can get a political tabula rasa some other way. For example…

    Seasteading

    Seasteading is my proposal to open the oceans as a new frontier,[6] where we can build new city-states to experiment with new institutions. This dramatically lowers the barrier to entry for forming a new government, because expensive though ocean platforms are, they are still cheap compared to winning a war, an election, or a revolution. A lower barrier to entry means more small-scale experimentation. Also, the unique nature of the fluid ocean surface means that cities can be built in a modular fashion where entire buildings can be detached and floated away. This unprecedented physical mobility will give us the ability to leave a country without leaving our home, increasing competition between governments.

    This plan is one of immediate action, not hope or debate. It makes use of the people we have now rather than trying to convert the masses, and avoids entrenched interests by moving to the frontier. Most importantly, it increases jurisdictional competition. It will not just create one new country, but rather an entire ecosystem of countries competing and innovating to attract citizens. Like any market, the process of trial and error will generate solutions we can’t even imagine — but that we know will be better for customers.

    Seasteading is far from certain to succeed, but this is a hard problem, and there will be no easy answer. Two of the greatest risks are the expense and danger of the marine environment, and the chance that states will interfere. The latter is a systemic risk for any reform (if they’ll interfere with a new city in the ocean, then no place is safe[7]), but the former is an idiosyncratic risk that could be diversified away if seasteading was part of a portfolio of freedom projects.

    I founded The Seasteading Institute to advance this path, so if you’re interested in learning more, check out our website, FAQ, and book.

    Conclusions

    If a fraction of the passion, thought, and capital that are wasted in libertarian folk activism were instead directed into more realistic paths, we would have a far better chance at achieving liberty in our lifetime. We must override our instinct to proselytize, and instead consciously analyze routes to reform. Whether or not you agree with my analysis of specific strategies, my time will not have been wasted if I can get more libertarians to stop bashing their heads against the incentives of democracy, to stop complaining about how people are blind to the abuse of power while themselves being blind to the stability of power, and to think about how we can make systemic changes, outside entrenched power structures, that could realistically lead to a freer world.

    You gotta love the mix of ideas: We’re totally interested in experimenting with different forms of government…but hopefully it won’t involve that that horribly flawed “democracy” thing. Ewwww!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 27, 2013, 7:22 pm
  5. Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 9, 2013, 9:46 am
  6. George Will decided to start off the new year by channeling Peter Thiel:

    Open Salon
    The Neo-Reactionaries
    Ted Frier
    JANUARY 7, 2014 9:14AM

    If there is one quote for which Winston Churchill is best remembered it may be his famous quip that: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

    What is not as well known but most significant about that remark is that it was uttered to the House of Commons in November 1947 – two years after British voters rejected Churchill for reelection as their Prime Minister thus, we might reasonably suppose, putting Churchill in a less than charitable mood about democracy and the power it confers upon the masses to choose their own leaders.

    Yet, the defeated Conservative Party leader who had just fought a world war against fascism was still able to reply: “They have a perfect right to kick me out. That is democracy.”

    More than a half century later, conservative writer George F. Will began his first column of the New Year with another quote from Winston Churchill, but this one with far more sinister intent: “The best argument against democracy,” Will quotes Churchill as saying, “is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

    Will’s column in the Washington Post went quickly downhill from there. Because voters are stupid, said Will, conservatives like him should get the government they want, namely one that is smaller and weaker and gives greater scope to conservative elites like him to shape public policy to their liking and in their favor without so much public oversight or accountability to it.

    Will didn’t use those words exactly, instead he said: “Many voters’ paucity of information about politics and government, although arguably rational, raises awkward questions about concepts central to democratic theory, including consent, representation, public opinion, electoral mandates and officials’ accountability.

    Things were so much more tidy in the 19th century, said Will, when “voters’ information burdens were much lighter” because important federal issues such as the expansion of slavery, the disposition of public lands, tariffs, banking, infrastructure spending were also fewer.

    The 19th century, it should be remembered, was also the time of the Gilded Age with its robber barons.

    Voters cannot hold officials responsible if they do not know what government is doing, says Will. So how can we support democracy if 20% of the public thinks the sun revolves around the Earth, a majority cannot locate New York on a map, just 30% can name their two senators and “the average American expends more time becoming informed about choosing a car than choosing a candidate.”

    Tellingly, Will was not so impolite as to mention that disbelief in evolution among Tea Party Republicans jumped 11% in the past year alone.

    The “problem of ignorance,” says Will is a function of the demand for political information not the supply of it. And since voters are unlikely to get any smarter, Will thinks “a better ameliorative measure would be to reduce the risks of ignorance by reducing government’s consequences — its complexity, centralization and intrusiveness. ”

    Smaller, weaker, more conservative-friendly government as a balm for balmy voters. Now, why didn’t we think of that?

    Knowledge is power, and to sell his anti-democratic idea that knowlegable elites should rule, Will engages in a little populist rope-a-dope by arguing that a smaller government would actually benefit the masses more vis-à-vis the upper classes. That is because a smaller government provides fewer opportunities for the rich and powerful to bend government to their own purposes. Or, as Will puts it, “to engage in ‘rent-seeking’ from the regulatory state, manipulating its power in order to transfer wealth to themselves.”

    But this is cynical nonsense since we know that the single most important thing which the rich and powerful seek from government is that it not exist to interfere with their ability to govern the country as they see fit.

    Will’s surprisingly undisguised attack on popular sovereignty last week, together with his longing for the restoration of hierarchy in the form of a more powerful right wing Supreme Court, fully establishes George Will as a charter member of what writer David Brin has called the “neo-reactionary movement” now underway among some of our society’s “best and brightest.”

    It is a “pernicious trend” evident among those who yearn for the restoration of the “ancien régime of monarchy and feudal rule,” says Brin, and who reject the fully competitive free market, the Enlightenment and, above all, democracy.

    “Neo-reactionaries believe that while technology and capitalism have advanced humanity over the past couple centuries, democracy has actually done more harm than good. They propose a return to old-fashioned gender roles, social order and monarchy,” says Brin, quoting Klint Finley, author of Geeks for Monarchy: The Rise of the Neo-Reactionaries.

    What unites all neo-reactionaries, says Finley, “is a critique of modernity that centers on opposition to democracy in all its forms.”

    Many neo-reactionaries are pro-capitalist, former laissez faire libertarians “who decided that freedom and democracy were incompatible.”

    One is Michael Anissimov, who writes that systems ruled by “The People” such as Democracy and Communism, “are predictably less financially stable than aristocratic systems.”

    On average, he says, such systems “undergo more recessions and hold more debt. They are more susceptible to market crashes. They waste more resources.” Incredibly, he also claims that in an aristocratic system, each dollar spent by the government goes further towards improving the standard of living for the average person than in democratic ones.

    The one-time “conservative” George Will now fits comfortably in this reactionary, revanchist company.

    You have to wonder how many other prominent commentators are still hiding in the neo-reactionary closet. Who knows, there could even be an elected official in there.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 23, 2014, 12:28 pm
  7. You might want to choose the blue pill. The red ones appear to cause brain damage:

    The Telegraph
    Meet The Dark Enlightenment: sophisticated neo-fascism that’s spreading fast on the net

    By Jamie Bartlett Politics and tech Last updated: January 20th, 2014

    Since 2012 a sophisticated but bizarre online neo-fascist movement has been growing fast. It’s called “The Dark Enlightenment”. Its modus operandi is well suited to a digital society. Supporters are dotted all over the world, connected via a handful of blogs and chat rooms. Its adherents are clever, angry white men patiently awaiting the collapse of civilisation, and a return to some kind of futuristic, ethno-centric feudalism.

    It started, suitably enough, with two blogs. Mencius Moldbug, a prolific blogger and computer whizz from San Francisco, and Nick Land, an eccentric British philosopher (previously co-founder of Warwick University’s Cybernetic Culture Research Unit) who in 2012 wrote the eponymous “The Dark Enlightenment”, as a series of posts on his site. You can find them all here.

    The philosophy, difficult to pin down exactly, is a loose collection of neo-reactionary ideas, meaning a rejection of most modern thinking: democracy, liberty, and equality. Particular contempt is reserved for democracy, which Land believes “systematically consolidate[s] and exacerbate[es] private vices, resentments, and deficiencies until they reach the level of collective criminality and comprehensive social corruption.”

    The neo-fascist bit lies in the view that races aren’t equal (they obsess over IQ testing and pseudoscience that they claim proves racial differences, like the Ku Klux Klan) and that women are primarily suited for domestic servitude. They call this “Human biodiversity” – a neat little euphemism. This links directly to their desire to be rid of democracy: because if people aren’t equal, why live in a society in which everyone is treated equally? Some races are naturally better to rule than others, hence their support for various forms of aristocracy and monarchy (and not in the symbolic sense but the very real divine-right-of-kings-sense).

    The whole bankrupt edifice, they think, is maintained by what they call “The Cathedral” (what conspiracy theorists call the New World Order): a cabal of universities, newspapers, and establishment forces which perpetuate the status quo and prevent dissent.

    Whenever someone is arrested for a racist tweet, it is taken as proof that the Cathedral is pulling strings. You become darkly enlightened when you start to see these constructs for what they really are: modern atrocities that go against the natural order of things which must be torn down. It’s all a little bit like the movie The Matrix (and indeed some adherents refer to the Red and Blue Pill scene, in which the protagonist is offered a choice between blissful ignorance and painful reality).

    So how many have been enlightened? No one knows, but unlikely to be many. Yet. There is certainly a growing interest in this type of rejectionist philosophy and politics. As I argue in a forthcoming essay for the think-tank IPPR, radical anti-establishment politics of all shades are on the rise, driven by a growing belief (and surveys bear this out) that our current way of doing things – our parliamentary system, our judicial system, our economic system – don’t work.

    Neo-fascist eugenicists. How enlightening! Can’t wait for the Really Dark Enlightenment.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 27, 2014, 1:09 pm
  8. Meet Silicon Valley’s Thiel-backed candidate for California’s 17th district: Rohit Khanna. He’s running as a democrat:

    Pando Daily
    Ro Khanna: Silicon Valley’s own(ed) man

    By Yasha Levine
    On February 28, 2014

    SAN FRANCISCO—There’s a political fight brewing in the heart of Silicon Valley, pitting old school liberal Congressman Mike Honda against a young tech-backed candidate who’s gunning for the elderly man’s Congressional seat.

    The challenger’s name is Rohit Khanna. And he’s running an aggressive, cash-rich campaign to unseat Honda and represent some of the most fertile soil in Silicon Valley: California’s 17th Congressional District, home to the headquarters of megacorps like Apple, eBay, Intel, Yahoo and AMD.

    Ro — as his campaign likes to call him — is 37 years old, and works as an intellectual property attorney at the powerful Silicon Valley law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. He has never held elected office, and most rank and file tech workers I’ve talked to have never heard of him. But they soon will, because Khanna (above, left) has the blessing and financial support of their bosses and their bosses’ bosses.

    His campaign has so far raised about $3.2 million, and currently has $2 million — three times more the incumbent candidate he’s trying to unseat. Much of that cash has come from the most powerful people in tech.

    In fact, Ro’s campaign contribution list reads like an unofficial Silicon Valley social register: Peter Thiel*, Sean Parker, Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer, Marc Andreessen*, Ron Conway*, Mark Pincus, rainmaker/venture capitalist John Doerr and hundreds of other lesser-known tech titans and financiers.

    Most of these donors (as well as their husbands and wives) have maxed out their $2,600 federal individual contribution limit. Many of Ro’s big name supporters are so sure he’ll succeed in his primary challenge that they’ve maxed out their contributions to both his primary and general election campaigns.

    Ro is running as a Democrat. But as you can see from the list of names, moneyed support for Ro is a multi/post-partisan affair. It’s a big tent party that includes hardcore libertarians, Tea Party backers, Mitt Romney supporters, wealthy techno-Democrats, entertainment industry has beens like M.C. Hammer and new age quacks like Deepak Chopra. Hell, even anti-government venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya, a Senator Ted Cruz supporter who praised the recent government shutdown because it finally prevented D.C. pols from messing with the economy, is excited about electing Ro as Silicon Valley’s next Congressman.

    New York Magazine’s Kevin Roose hung out with Ro and some of his backers, and came away stunned by the messianic fervor the candidate inspires among the normally politically agnostic Silicon Valley elite:

    “In the past few months, I’ve heard maybe a dozen members of Silicon Valley’s investor class tell me, in rapturous tones, how Khanna just gets it. He gets that tech’s political influence can be much bigger than changing a few immigration laws, and he gets how much the Valley could do for the country if given strong leadership and a common platform to rally behind.”

    Which brings us to Ro’s “strong” common platform. What exactly is it?

    Ro’s supporters didn’t offer many specifics when interviewed by the Times or New York magazine. Rather, they describe his appeal in cultural, almost transcendental terms. Ro is a politician like few others — someone who understands that Silicon Valley is undergoing a political awakening — a coming of age. He just “gets it” and “identifies with us.”

    The only thing Ro’s backers can agree on is that, if he wins, he’ll be a reliable warrior for their interests.

    “The tech community is looking for advocates who will be be really, really outspoken for tech, and Ro fits that mold… I’m hoping it’s a wave of the future that continues, because it’s crucial for the tech community to have a really active voice in Washington,” Ron Conway, an early investor in Google and PayPal, told the New York Times.

    He needs something big, because it’s shaping up to be tough battle. To enter the general election, Ro will need place at least second in California’s newfangled “open primary” race this summer. Called a “jungle primary,” it’ll pit all candidates from all parties against one-another in a single race and then put the top two candidates on the general election ballot.

    Current polls show Ro coming in in close third. So he’s got three months to convince enough voters that he’s a better Democrat than Rep. Honda. And that’s no easy feat, given that the incumbent is well-liked, has the protection of the powerful House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and has been endorsed by President Barack Obama, Howard Dean, labor groups and a long list of other Democratic Party power players.

    So what’s Ro’s plan? How is going to convince voters that he’s radically different and better than Mike Honda?

    Ro’s campaign literature offers an uninspiring and cautious mix of progressive, New Democrat and Centrist Republican policies — most of them long supported by Rep. Honda. The only substantive difference seems to be in the realm of education, with Ro favoring anti-teachers’ union measures like performance pay. But even there the wording is guarded and generic…

    If you read his book “Entrepreneurial Nation,” Ro comes off as a boringly moderate Republican — someone who tisk-tisks hardline Austrian economists, Randroids and Koch groups for going over the edge in their hate of government, but praises business-minded pragmatists like President Ronald Reagan for understanding that “ideology must never trump national interests, and that our nation has a stake in helping our businesses.”

    Centrism? That’s not the type of stuff you’d expect from a insurgent politician facing a tough race with bad odds.

    I wanted answers, specifics. So earlier this week, I went to a Ro Khanna campaign event to ask the candidate exactly what he stands for. What I discovered was shocking: he doesn’t seem to know either.

    It could be that Ro has plenty of things he’d do differently than Mike Honda, but doesn’t want stick his neck out too far and possibly alienate voters with unfavorable positions so early in the race.

    Earlier this month, Ro got creamed by a negative New York Times article after he bragged to a reporter that main difference between him and Rep. Honda is that “I wear tech groupie as a badge of honor.” He then followed that up by telling the NYT that he favored changing America’s tax code to allow tech companies to repatriate their profits without being taxed. It’s a position that would go over well with lots of tech companies, including Apple, which currently has over $100 billion in profits stashed away offshore because it doesn’t want to pay taxes. Even Republican Senator John McCain called the practice “egregious and outrageous.”

    And maybe that’s why Ro inspires such political fervor among the Silicon Valley elite: their political vision is so degraded and limited that they view a boring centrist like Ro as nothing less than Jesus, just because he wants to let them pocket their fat profits without getting taxed?

    So will California’s 17th district elect the oligarchs’ mystery candidate? Well, the answer is no he’s probably not winning this race. He might even come in third behind Honda and a candidate that’s spent less than $1,000 so far because that’s where the polls are sitting. So it could end up being a pretty poetic defeat for the guy running as the tech titans’ avatar…although not as poetic as it could be.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 3, 2014, 6:44 pm
  9. Palantir has a new lobbyist ex-Congressman that just sort of hangs out in DC doing mysterious stuff but totally isn’t a lobbyist:

    Republic Report
    Palantir Hires Former Congressman to Oversee D.C. Operations, Doesn’t Register Him as a Lobbyist

    Posted at 9:00 am by Lee Fang

    “The air is fresher outside of Washington,” said Zach Wamp, a Republican politician after he left his seat in Congress. Wamp told reporters that he would not pursue a career in lobbying. Instead, he founded a firm that he said would focus on “business development” in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

    But like many other former officials, leaving Washington was easier said than done. In a new investigative piece for The Nation magazine published this morning, I explain how Wamp and many others have engaged in what appears to be lobbying activity without registering as lobbyists. Thousands of individuals in the so-called influence industry have refused to register, leaving the public in the dark about how policy is shaped.

    We learned of Wamp’s Washington-work by chance. On a trip to the district to cover the government shut down last year, we encountered Wamp telling current members of Congress on Capitol Hill that he manages operations for Palantir, a controversial Big Data company that does work for intelligence agencies. “I’m kind of overseeing their operations up here,” Wamp said when I asked what he does for Palantir. He ended the conversation abruptly when questioned about the scandals associated with the firm, which include allegations of spying on activists and other privacy violations. Palantir’s counsel refused to comment on what Wamp does precisely for the company.

    As we can see, Wamp is no lobbyist for Palantir. But he is on some sort of mission for Palantir. Could it be a missionary mission? Maybe:

    Salon
    Tuesday, Jul 21, 2009 05:21 AM CST
    Sex and power inside “the C Street House”
    Sanford, Ensign, and other regulars receive guidance from the invisible fundamentalist group known as the Family
    Jeff Sharlet

    I can’t say I was impressed when I met Sen. John Ensign at the C Street House, the secretive religious enclave on Capitol Hill thrust into the news by its links to three political sex scandals, those of Gov. Mark Sanford; former Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss., who allegedly rendezvoused at the C Street House with his mistress, an executive in the industry for which he then became a lobbyist; and Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev. Although Sanford declared today that his scandal will actually turn out to be good for the people of South Carolina because he’s now more firmly in God’s control, the once-favored GOP presidential prospect will finish out his term and fade away. And Ensign’s residence at the C Street House during his own extramarital affair now threatens to end a career that he and other Republicans hoped would lead him to the White House.

    When I met Ensign, he was just back from a run, sweaty and bouncing in place, boasting about the time he’d clocked and teasing a young woman from his office. She seemed annoyed that the senator wouldn’t get himself into a shower and back on the job. When I wrote about Sen. Ensign in my book about the evangelical political organization that runs the C Street House, “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power,” I described him as a “conservative casino heir elected to the Senate from Nevada, a brightly tanned, hapless figure who uses his Family connections to graft holiness to his gambling-fortune name.”

    Now, of course, I know I was wrong: John Ensign is a brightly tanned, hapless figure who used his Family connections to cover up the fruits of his flirtations, to make moral decisions for him, and to do his dirty work when his secret romance sputtered. Doug Hampton, the friend and former aide whom Ensign cuckolded, tells us that it was Family leader David Coe, along with Coe’s brother Tim and Family “brother” Sen. Tom Coburn, who delivered the pink slip when it was time to put Cynthia Hampton out of Ensign’s reach.

    If sexual license was all the Family offered the C Street men, however, that would merely be seedy and self-serving. But Family men are more than hypocritical. They’re followers of a political religion that embraces elitism, disdains democracy, and pursues power for its members the better to “advance the Kingdom.” They say they’re working for Jesus, but their Christ is a power-hungry, inside-the-Beltway savior not many churchgoers would recognize. Sexual peccadilloes aside, the Family acts today like the most powerful lobby in America that isn’t registered as a lobby — and is thus immune from the scrutiny attending the other powerful organizations like Big Pharma and Big Insurance that exert pressure on public policy.

    The Family likes to call itself a “Christian Mafia,” but it began 74 years ago as an anti-New Deal coalition of businessmen convinced that organized labor was under the sway of Satan. The Great Depression, they believed, was a punishment from God for what they viewed as FDR’s socialism. The Family’s goal was the “consecration” of America to God, first through the repeal of New Deal reforms, then through the aggressive expansion of American power during the Cold War. They called this a “Worldwide Spiritual Offensive,” but in Washington, it amounted to the nation’s first fundamentalist lobby. Early participants included Southern Sens. Strom Thurmond, Herman Talmadge and Absalom Willis Robertson — Pat Robertson’s father. Membership lists stored in the Family’s archive at the Billy Graham Center at evangelical Wheaton College in Illinois show active participation at any given time over the years by dozens of congressmen.

    Family leaders consider their political network to be Christ’s avant garde, an elite that transcends not just conventional morality but also earthly laws regulating lobbying. In the Family’s early days, they debated registering as “a lobby for God’s Kingdom.” Instead, founder Abraham Vereide decided that the group could be more effective by working personally with politicians. “The more invisible you can make your organization,” Vereide’s successor, current leader Doug Coe preaches, “the more influence you can have.” That’s true — which is why we have laws requiring lobbyists to identify themselves as such.

    But David Coe, Doug Coe’s son and heir apparent, calls himself simply a friend to men such as John Ensign, whom he guided through the coverup of his affair. I met the younger Coe when I lived for several weeks as a member of the Family. He’s a surprising source of counsel, spiritual or otherwise. Attempting to explain what it means to be chosen for leadership like King David was — or Mark Sanford, according to his own estimate — he asked a young man who’d put himself, body and soul, under the Family’s authority, “Let’s say I hear you raped three little girls. What would I think of you?” The man guessed that Coe would probably think that he was a monster. “No,” answered Coe, “I wouldn’t.” Why? Because, as a member of the Family, he’s among what Family leaders refer to as the “new chosen.” If you’re chosen, the normal rules don’t apply.

    So it is for Ensign. Sen. Jim DeMint, one of Ensign’s C Street roommates, insists that the prayer groups that meet there — “invisible believing groups,” in the Family’s words, designed to facilitate private prayer between partners of equally high status — are all about accountability. That is, the kind that takes place behind closed doors. We now know that the Family was aware of Sen. Ensign’s affair long before Doug Hampton’s wounded pride forced it into the public. What’s more, if Hampton is to be believed, their concern with the payoffs made by Ensign and his parents to his mistress’s family was that they were too small; operating in a medical and spiritual capacity, Sen. Coburn counseled $1.2 million, according to Hampton. Coburn is no hypocrite — he’s a true believer in the faith of the Family, the idea that the chosen need to look out for one another. Christian right leader — and Watergate felon — Chuck Colson, converted through the efforts of the Family, has boasted of it as a “veritable underground of Christ’s men all through government.”

    What do they do? Rep. Zach Wamp, one of Ensign’s fellow C Streeters who’s been in the news for defending the Family’s secrecy, has teamed up with Family-linked Reps. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., and John R. Carter, R-Texas, on an obscure appropriations committee to help greenlight tens of millions in federal funds for new megachurch-style chapels on military bases around the country. Former Rep. Chip Pickering was not only sleeping on the sly with a representative of the telecom industry, he was living with one — former Oklahoma Republican Rep. Steve Largent, a C Streeter who in his post-Congress capacity as the head of a telecom association paid for travel by Pickering and John Ensign. Some might call that “crony capitalism”; Family members call it “biblical capitalism.”

    A review of Ensign’s and Sen. Coburn’s travel records, undertaken with researcher Chris Rodda of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, reveals an even more disturbing overlap of the pious and the political. On at least three occasions in recent years, Sen. Ensign traveled to Asia and the Middle East on what he described as official policy trips, paid for entirely by the International Foundation, one of the network of little-known nonprofits that make up the Family. Sen. Coburn, meanwhile, traveled to Beirut in 2005 on the Family’s dime, with the explicit mission of setting up Lebanese political prayer groups, just like the one that covered for Ensign. The following year, Coburn humbled himself in prayer at a special Family event in the British Virgin Islands, a Christian mission of earthly rewards also undertaken, at Family expense, by fellow C Streeter Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Penn., who also sacrificed himself for God with a Family-paid trip to Aruba.

    To be fair, most of the trips sponsored by the Family aren’t pleasure junkets. They’re missionary work. Only the Family missionaries aren’t representing the United States. They’re representing “Jesus plus nothing,” as Doug Coe puts it, the “totalitarianism of God,” in the words of an early Family leader, a vision that encompasses not just social issues but also the kind of free-market fundamentalism that is the real object of devotion for Ensign, Coburn, Pickering, Wamp and Sanford, along with Family insiders such as Sens. DeMint, Sam Brownback and Chuck Grassley. At the heart of the Family’s spiritual advice for its proxies in Congress is the conviction that the market’s invisible hand represents the guidance of God, and that God wants his “new chosen” to look out for one another.

    When they arrive in other countries, on trips paid for by the Family, at the behest of the Family, they are still traveling under official government auspices, on official business, with the pomp and circumstance — and access — of their taxpayer-funded, elected positions. Here’s how a former National Security Council official who traveled with Family leader Doug Coe on a tour of Pacific nations described the Family effect in small nations where a visitor like John Ensign is a major event: “It reminded me of the story in World War II, where the British sent an OSS type into Borneo … And this guy parachuted out of the sky and they had never seen anything like this so they looked on him as — he had blonde hair and white skin and he was a white god who had come out of the sky to mobilize them. Obviously his side was going to win so they had no trouble aligning themselves.”

    Ah, so Palantir hired a member of a secretive power cult that specializes in meeting foreign leaders and hates democracy. As a wise man once said, know thy customer.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 2, 2014, 7:44 am
  10. Look out Rand, you’ve got competition!

    Raw Story
    Ted Cruz: Christians shouldn’t be required to do business with gay people
    By Travis Gettys
    Wednesday, May 7, 2014 14:25 EDT

    Christian business owners should be able to discriminate against LGBT people and others if they believe the Bible tells them to, said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

    “Everyone has to reconcile their own faith with how they interact with others, and that’s a choice you’ve got to make based on your understanding of biblical teachings and based on the best understanding you can come to it,” Cruz said Friday at a Houston Baptist University forum on Faith in the Public Square.

    The Tea Party favorite said Christians should not be forced to sell wedding cakes to same-sex couples or photograph their marriage ceremonies, although he personally had no problem doing so — although conceded he was a terrible cook.

    “I’m very much a believer that the scripture teaches that you hate the sin and love the sinner, and so, you know, from my perspective I am perfectly willing to interact with anybody,” he said. “Look, I work in the U.S. Congress. But at the same time, I don’t think the law should be forcing Americans to violate their religious faith.”

    Cruz offered a pending legal case as an example.

    “The Obama administration is litigating against the Little Sisters of the Poor, trying to force them, trying to extract millions of dollars of fines to force them to pay for contraceptives and abortion-providing drugs for others,” he said.

    The U.S. Supreme Court issued an order Friday, several hours before Cruz made his remarks, keeping in place a temporary injunction shielding the charity and other religious groups from the requirement to offer contraception as part of employee health benefits.

    It’ll be interesting to learn what other forms of religious discrimination Cruz endorses. Can other groups be refused service based on one’s religious beliefs or is it just the gays?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 8, 2014, 2:44 pm
  11. Here’s a great overview of the growing “Dark Enlightenment” trend that asks an important question: Do we need to take this stuff seriously?

    The Baffler
    Mouthbreathing Machiavellis Dream Of A Silicon Reich
    Corey Pein
    May 19, 2014

    One day in March of this year, a Google engineer named Justine Tunney created a strange and ultimately doomed petition at the White House website. The petition proposed a three-point national referendum, as follows:

    1. Retire all government employees with full pensions.
    2. Transfer administrative authority to the tech industry.
    3. Appoint [Google executive chairman] Eric Schmidt CEO of America.

    This could easily be written off as stunt, a flamboyant act of corporate kiss-assery, which, on one level, it probably was. But Tunney happened to be serious. “It’s time for the U.S. Regime to politely take its exit from history and do what’s best for America,” she wrote. “The tech industry can offer us good governance and prevent further American decline.”

    Welcome to the latest political fashion among the California Confederacy: total corporate despotism. It is a potent and bitter ideological mash that could have only been concocted at tech culture’s funky smoothie bar—a little Steve Jobs here, a little Ayn Rand there, and some Ray Kurzweil for color.

    Tunney was at one time a prominent and divisive fixture of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Lately, though, her views have . . . evolved. How does an anticapitalist “tranarchist” (transgender anarchist) become a hard-right seditionist?

    “Read Mencius Moldbug,” Tunney told her Twitter followers last month, referring to an aggressively dogmatic blogger with a reverent following in certain tech circles.

    Tunney’s advice is easier said than done, for Moldbug is as prolific as he is incomprehensible. His devotees, many of whom are also bloggers, describe themselves as the “neoreactionary” vanguard of a “Dark Enlightenment.” They oppose popular suffrage, egalitarianism and pluralism. Some are atheists, while others affect obscure orthodox beliefs, but most are youngish white males embittered by “political correctness.” As best I can tell, their ideal society best resembles Blade Runner, but without all those Asian people cluttering up the streets. Neoreactionaries like to see themselves as the heroes of another sci-fi movie, in fact, sometimes boasting that they have been “redpilled,” like Keanu Reeves’s character in The Matrix—a movie Moldbug regards as “genius.”

    As I soldiered through the Moldbug canon, my reactions numbed. Here he is expressing sympathy for poor, persecuted Senator Joe McCarthy. Big surprise. Here he claims “America is a communist country.” Sure, whatever. Here he doubts that Barack Obama ever attended Columbia University. You don’t say? After a while, Yarvin’s blog feels like the pseudo-intellectual equivalent of a Gwar concert, one sick stunt after another, calculated to shock. To express revulsion and disapproval is to grant the attention he so transparently craves.

    Yet the question inevitably arrives: Do we need to take this stuff seriously? The few mainstream assessments of the neoreactionaries have been divided on the question.

    Sympathetic citations are spreading: In the Daily Caller, The American Conservative and National Review. Yet the conservative press remains generally dismissive. The American Spectator’s Matthew Walther calls neoreactionism “silly not scary” and declares that “all of these people need to relax: spend some time with P.G. Wodehouse, watch a football game, get drunk, whatever.”

    TechCrunch, which first introduced me to Moldbug, treats the “Geeks for Monarchy” movement as an Internet curio. But The Telegraph says, yes, this is “sophisticated neo-fascism” and must be confronted. Vocativ, which calls it “creepy,” agrees that it should be taken seriously.

    The science fiction author it “creepy,” agrees that it should be taken seriously. goes further in his comment on a Moldbug blog post, accusing the blogger of auditioning for the part of Machiavelli to some future-fascist dictator:

    The world oligarchy is looking for boffins to help them re-establish their old – pyramidal – social order. And your screeds are clearly interview essays. “Pick me! Pick me! Look! I hate democracy too! And I will propagandize for people to accept your rule again, really I will! See the fancy rationalizations I can concoct????”

    But your audition materials are just . . too . . . jibbering . . . loopy. You will not get the job.

    As strange as it sounds, Brin may be closest to the truth. Neoreactionaries are explicitly courting wealthy elites in the tech sector as the most receptive and influential audience. Why bother with mass appeal, when you’re rebuilding the ancien régime?

    Moldbuggism, for now, remains mostly an Internet phenomenon. Which is not to say it is “merely” an Internet phenomenon. This is, after all, a technological age. Last November, Yarvin claimed that his blog had received 500,000 views. It is not quantity of his audience that matters so much as the nature of it, however. And the neoreactionaries do seem to be influencing the drift of Silicon Valley libertarianism, which is no small force today. This is why I have concluded, sadly, that Yarvin needs answering.

    If the Koch brothers have proved anything, it’s that no matter how crazy your ideas are, if you put serious money behind those ideas, you can seize key positions of authority and power and eventually bring large numbers of people around to your way of thinking. Moreover, the radicalism may intensify with each generation. Yesterday’s Republicans and Independents are today’s Libertarians. Today’s Libertarians may be tomorrow’s neoreactionaries, whose views flatter the prejudices of the new Silicon Valley elite.

    In a widely covered secessionist speech at a Silicon Valley “startup school” last year, there was more than a hint of Moldbug (see video below). The speech, by former Stanford professor and Andreessen Horowitz partner Balaji Srinivasan, never mentioned Moldbug or the Dark Enlightenment, but it was suffused with neoreactionary rhetoric and ideas. Srinivasan used the phrase “the paper belt” to describe his enemies, namely the government, the publishing industries, and universities. The formulation mirrored Moldbug’s “Cathedral.” Srinivasan’s central theme was the notion of “exit”—as in, exit from democratic society, and entry into any number of corporate mini-states whose arrival will leave the world looking like a patchwork map of feudal Europe.

    Forget universal rights; this is the true “opt-in society.”

    An excerpt:

    We want to show what a society run by Silicon Valley would look like. That’s where “exit” comes in . . . . It basically means: build an opt-in society, ultimately outside the US, run by technology. And this is actually where the Valley is going. This is where we’re going over the next ten years . . . [Google co-founder] Larry Page, for example, wants to set aside a part of the world for unregulated experimentation. That’s carefully phrased. He’s not saying, “take away the laws in the U.S.” If you like your country, you can keep it. Same with Marc Andreessen: “The world is going to see an explosion of countries in the years ahead—doubled, tripled, quadrupled countries.”

    Srinivasan ticked through the signposts of the neoreactionary fantasyland: Bitcoin as the future of finance, corporate city-states as the future of government, Detroit as a loaded symbol of government failure and 3D-printed firearms as an example of emerging technology that defies regulation.

    The speech succeeded in promoting the anti-democratic authoritarianism at the core of neoreactionary thought, while glossing over the attendant bigotry. This has long been a goal of some in the movement. One such moderate—if the word can be used in this context—is Patri Friedman, grandson of the late libertarian demigod Milton Friedman. The younger Friedman expressed the need for “a more politically correct dark enlightenment” after a public falling out with Yarvin in 2009.

    Friedman has lately been devoting his time (and leveraging his family name) to raise money for the SeaSteading Institute, which, as the name suggests, is a blue-sea libertarian dream to build floating fiefdoms free of outside regulation and law. Sound familiar?

    The principal backer of the SeaSteading project, Peter Thiel, is also an investor in companies run by Balaji Srinivasan and Curtis Yarvin. Thiel is a co-founder of PayPal, an original investor in Facebook and hedge fund manager, as well as being the inspiration for a villainous investor on the satirical HBO series Silicon Valley. Thiel’s extreme libertarian advocacy is long and storied, beginning with his days founding the Collegiate Network-backed Stanford Review. Lately he’s been noticed writing big checks for Ted Cruz.

    Yeah, we should probably take this stuff seriously.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 29, 2014, 8:19 am
  12. Finally, the perfect gift for the kid sick of coloring Ted: graphic novels celebrating far right economic theories! Now they’ll have something educational to read during lunch. No word yet on when we’re going to see an Atlas Shrugged graphic novel but there’s only so much ink in the world so your kids might have to wait for a digital version of that one. Just make sure they don’t start reading everything that comes their way.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 29, 2014, 9:13 pm
  13. Check out what the “Silicon Valley should secede” crowd is getting into: government software:

    The New York Times
    Andreessen Horowitz Bets on a Government Software Start-Up
    By WILLIAM ALDEN
    May 15, 2014 12:12 pm

    The venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz has invested in a range of software companies, catering to different types of customers.

    The firm can now add a new category to that customer list: governments.

    OpenGov, a start-up that sells software to help local governments manage data, announced on Thursday that it had received a roughly $15 million financing round led by Andreessen Horowitz. It is the first time that Andreessen Horowitz, one of Silicon Valley’s leading investment shops, has backed a company in the business of “govtech,” to use the industry parlance.

    Local governments have suffered in the aftermath of the financial crisis, with many forced to lay off workers and cut back on services. But Andreessen Horowitz sees an opportunity in that market.

    Government software is “kind of old,” Balaji Srinivasan, a partner at the venture capital firm, said. “So we think we can do a lot there.”

    OpenGov would not disclose its revenue or its valuation in the financing round. But the company, which was founded in 2012 and started selling its software last year, says it is rapidly adding customers across the United States. As of Wednesday, 96 governments were signed up, according to Zac Bookman, the co-founder and chief executive.

    The software, which is delivered through the cloud, is priced according to the size of the government, Mr. Bookman said. A small town might pay as little as $2,000, while a big city could pay about $25,000. The company’s biggest customer, he said, is the City of Los Angeles, but it also has a number of smaller cities like Anaheim, Calif., and Springfield, Ill.

    Two venture capital firms that previously invested in the company, Formation 8 and Thrive Capital, participated in the latest financing round. A partner at Formation 8, Joe Lonsdale, is OpenGov’s chairman.

    OpenGov does not work with the federal government, but Mr. Bookman has ambitions of doing so. George P. Shultz, who was a Treasury secretary in the Nixon administration and a secretary of state in the Reagan administration, is an adviser to the company, as is Byron L. Dorgan, a former United States senator.

    Joe Lonsdale is OpenGov’s CEO? Huh. Well, those federal contracts should be just around the corner. Especially if we see President Rand:

    CNN Money
    Rand Paul: ‘I’m not afraid of technology’
    May 1, 2014: 7:04 AM ET

    FORTUNE — Sen. Rand Paul, the libertarian-leaning Kentucky Republican and likely presidential contender, sat down with Fortune’s Tory Newmyer in April after his latest swing through Silicon Valley to talk about his efforts to build a base there. Edited excerpts:

    What have you learned from your conversations with entrepreneurs like Peter Thiel and others in Silicon Valley?

    Almost everybody I talk to out there from Peter on will say, “You know what? We think Silicon Valley is a little more libertarian than it is Democrat, even though 80 to 90% of the money went to President Obama.” And it’s been a deterrent to some Republicans going out there. Many more of them are libertarian-leaning Republicans than they are Democrats, and they may not know it yet. But actually most of them do know it. Frankly a lot of people who supported President Obama will say, “You know what? It turns out I am a lot more fiscally conservative than President Obama on taxes and regulation.” They’re not happy about either one of those. But they’re more moderate on social issues than the Republicans are.

    You’ve got an apparent supporter in Joe Lonsdale. A company he co-founded, Palantir, got startup funding from the CIA venture fund to enhance the surveillance agencies’ ability to sort data. What would you say to civil libertarians who look at the capacity they’ve developed and say it presents the potential for problems?

    I’m not afraid of technology. So I’m not like somebody who’s afraid of the loom. I’m not afraid of the light bulb. I’m not afraid of things like that. I am conscious of the fact the more technology you have, it could be abused, but I’m not against spying. I’m for spying if it is done within the confines of the Fourth Amendment. Which means you have to name the person, name what you want, ask a judge, and present probable cause.

    Note that, in addition to being a co-founder of Palantir, Lonsdale became close friends with Peter Thiel and was an early executive at Thiel’s Clarium Capital hedge fund. So if anyone is interested in working for a team dedicated to privatizing government services for the benefit of anti-government investors, they’re probably hiring! But don’t call them. They’ll call you:

    ValleyWag
    Leaked Emails Show How Palantir Founder Recruits for Global Domination

    10/17/13 12:15pm

    The world-changing aspirations of Twitter and Facebook are a drop in the bucket, a single bloom in an Arab Spring, compared to what former Palantir cofounder Joe Lonsdale wants to do with Formation 8, a venture capital firm that raised $448 million to modernize and disrupt all of Asia’s power centers, basically. The leaked emails (below) show how Lonsdale intends to recruit engineers to his cause: by making them “feel special because they think they’ve been identified by technology [i.e. Palantir] that helped locate bin Laden.”

    You may not know about Palantir, but Palantir probably knows about you. The CIA-backed company mines massive data sets for clients like the NSA, Defense Department, the FBI, and many more. In the book The Finish: The Killing of Osama bin Laden, author Mark Bowden cryptically says that Palantir’s software “actually deserves the popular designation Killer App.” There’s no proven link, but that hasn’t stopped Palantir’s phone from ringing off the hook.

    The rumor also apparently makes a handy recruiting technique for Formation 8, whose goal is to bring technological advances to influential, but hard to break into sectors like healthcare, government, logistics, and energy all over Asia.

    Here is an email thread between Lonsdale, a Peter Thiel protégé who also worked at Thiel’s hedge fund Clarium Capital, Drew Oetting, an associate at Formation 8, as well as Rob Dennis, the CEO of a stealth tech recruitment startup called People.co, which barely even sounds ominous at all! (Formation 8 is an investor in People.co, as are SV Angel and Mark Gerson from the Gerson Lehrman Group.)

    In the email thread, Lonsdale was planning a visit to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and People.co identified potential candidates to recruit from their student body. Oetting asked Dennis advice on how to reach out how to the students identified by People.co, wondering if he should pretend he heard about ’em from a friend:

    My thought was to have a message from Joe which said something to the effect of “we heard from a friend that you were one of the top guys and I’d love to have you come to a small gathering before my speech on campus” … but I’m not sure if this is the right approach at all

    And here’s how Dennis responds:

    I don’t think the “we heard from a friend” thing is the best way to go — introduces a creep factor that could be a turnoff, so I’ll type something up that’s better (though the fact that Joe was a founder of Palantir actually helps mitigate the creep factor since some students may think “of course” and feel special because they think they’ve been identified by technology that helped locate bin Laden).

    Gotta love that the less creepy option was letting students think their talents had been identified by the secretive Middle Earth software.

    Gotta love it.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 30, 2014, 7:42 am
  14. Is Peter Thiel going to try to take on a more Christian public veneer while he peddles his “society will collapse if we don’t immediately ditch all regulations in order to foster radical technological solutions” pet meme? It’s looking like it:

    Patheos
    Peter Thiel And The Cathedral
    June 24, 2014 By Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

    There’s been a panel discussion between Peter Thiel, N.T. Wright and Ross Douthat, as I relate in my other haunt at Forbes, organized by the Veritas Forum, a Christian organization.

    Readers here will probably be familiar with Wright, orthodox Christian theologian and one of the greatest Biblical scholars alive, and with Douthat, the conservative Catholic Times columnist. They might not be so familiar with Thiel. Thiel is one of the most prominent entrepreneurs and investors in Silicon Valley and, relevantly for this, he is also one of the most interesting public intellectuals alive today. Thiel’s thought is really hard to summarize, but basically insofar as we’re concerned here he’s a futurist who warns that technological progress has dramatically slowed down over the past thirty years, with dire consequences, and that if technological progress doesn’t start accelerating soon again, there will be even more dire consequences. Relevantly for us, Thiel has also publicly identified as a Christian (though he is vague about specifics); he started a foundation to promote the thought of René Girard, a Christian intellectual whom frequent readers will know I deeply admire. Thiel clearly believes in a civilizational need to rediscover the idea of progress and the necessity to make this progress a reality.

    I view Thiel’s choice to give his talking points on decelerating innovation at the Veritas Forum and in dialogue with Wright as more specifically a call to Christians to rediscover this idea. As Thiel noted, Christianity was the first religion not to harken back to some lost Golden Age; the Heavenly Jerusalem will not be merely the Garden of Eden; in fact, it will be better. Christianity infected the world with the idea that the future could be radically better than the past, as with the idea that humans specifically had a mission, “ruling” over Creation, to anticipate the Heavenly Kingdom and to change the world in the here and now. As Thiel pointed out, Christians were the first group to say, loudly, that the future would be better than the past, that there could be a definite picture of it, and that humans could make a difference and bring about a better future. I think one of the few things that all of the panelists that day agreed on is that it’s no coincidence that the scientific and technological age grew out of Christian civilization.

    Today, Christians have knee-jerk negative reactions to techno-utopian talk and, don’t get me wrong, there are some serious ethical concerns with many of the schemes being cooked up in the wilder sections of Silicon Valley. As important as those are, please bracket them for the foregoing.

    One of the things Thiel notes is that it’s hard to imagine a politician today proposing the equivalent of the Manhattan Project or the Apollo Project or Nixon’s plan to defeat cancer; proposing a specific, ambitious vision of the future and a specific plan for accomplishing it.

    And it got me to think: the High Middle Ages equivalent of the Apollo Project were…the cathedrals.

    In many ways, the medieval cathedrals embody what is best about the human spirit. They were the first man-made structures to go higher than the Pyramids, and this fact alone says a lot about the difference between the Ancient, Pagan world and the Christian world. A pyramid is a fat structure with a heavy base, while a cathedral soars towards the sky. A society that builds pyramids is a society based on slave labor: building a pyramid is pretty much about using as much raw muscle strength as possible to take many rocks from point A and pile them up on point B. Meanwhile, a society that builds a cathedral is replete with scientists, mathematicians, engineers, craftsmen, artists… A pyramid is a monument dedicated to death–it is a tomb. A cathedral is a monument dedicated to the triumph over death.

    The great achievements of the High Medieval Church, not only the cathedrals, but the university (a Catholic invention!) and the great monastic orders, took it for granted that to be the Church was to be at the vanguard of Progress, or at least at the vanguard of intellectual inquiry and innovation. Christians tend to look askance at “Progress”, but that is only because we no longer guide it. The monastics were nothing if not innovators, and the orders were the great startups of the day. The technological and other accomplishments of the great monastic orders are simply staggering.

    One of the points that Wright made during the panel and makes frequently in his public speaking is that the Gospel preached by the New Testament Church was not so much about a moral philosophy or, worse, a way-to-get-to-Heaven, but rather, the announcement of a fact, the fact not only of the bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ, but of the Lordship of Jesus Christ in the here and now and the existence of His Kingdom, which is not merely a future Heaven, but rather this very Universe, which will be utterly transformed in the Eschaton, but this eschatological future is anticipated and built in the here and now by the Church, and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ already exists, albeit in a mysterious way, in the here and now. This means that what Christians have to do in the here and now is, in Wright’s words, “Kingdom-work”, building the Kingdom.

    The kind of bold, society-transforming, technologically-innovative endeavors that Thiel is talking about used to be seen as self-evidently part of “Kingdom-work” for the Church–but no longer.

    The Church seems to suffer from a bit of Stockholm syndrome whereby we’ve integrated the materialist worldview in deep ways even as we combat it on the surface. While contra the materialists we insist on the compatibility between science and religion, we actually agree, at least too often in practice, with the materialists that science is a thing apart from religion which has a life of its own. Religion can perhaps critique it, but it is not a work to be done by the Church. Suffice it to say, the monk Nicolaus Copernicus would find it bizarre. So would Isabella of Castille, who finished the Reconquista and funded Christopher Columbus.

    As you know, this dovetails with my preoccupations nicely. I keep being frustrated by the seeming lack of urgency within the Church about being at the vanguard of innovation in so many domains. The Church, despite being much smaller, used to see the world confidently as a horse to be ridden into the sunset, not as a dangerous force to be held back.

    We Christians are not dualists. There is not the spiritual realm we inhabit on the one hand, and the dirty world on the other. Instead, there is one glorious Creation, which we were given to subdue and rule over and divinize.

    I write all this well-aware, and sharing to an extent, the inevitable critiques. The boastful self-confidence of the High Medieval Church led to the dank corruption of the Renaissance Church, and to the excesses of the Inquisition. (Then again, the Renaissance Church was still at the vanguard of funding and supporting the world’s smartest people.)

    But we are all hyper-aware of how utopianism can go wrong. But it seems to me we might not be aware of how not being utopian is a dereliction of duty.

    The Green Revolution. Microfinance. Malaria eradication. All of these are some of the most important trends of the past sixty years in terms of improving the lives of the poorest of the poor on this planet. All of these happened and are being led from outside the Church. There is something deadly wrong with this picture. That the Church has countless extremely dedicated people doing very admirable development work, while true and important, is not an excuse. If anything, it is an aggravating circumstance. Catholicism is not just supposed to be holier, it’s supposed to be smarter. Holy is hard, but smart is easy, or at least should be for us. If we can’t even do that, what are we good for? The Master gave us talents, a lot of them, and he wants a return on his investment. And you don’t get a high return without betting on big, risky ventures. I’m tired on being on Team Care Bears. I want to be on Team Gets Sh$& Done.

    Where are our cathedrals? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we’ve stopped building actual cathedrals at the same time we’ve stopped building metaphorical cathedrals.

    Yes, Medieval cathedrals and universities were just used as metaphors in reference Peter Thiel’s call for the dismantlement of government and big revolutionary technology projects (and the privatizing of the world) in order to save the world from economic stagnation. Those were interesting choices considering “the Cathedral” is used by neo-reactionaries like Thiel as a metaphor for the University complex that dismisses ideas like returning to a monarchy. Then there’s the fact that Thiel pays people to drop out of college. It seems like the Medieval monarchy metaphor would have been a better fit if Thiel is inspiring your futurist template.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 26, 2014, 11:24 am
  15. Check out Ted Cruz’s latest contribution to the Koch brothers’ retirement fund:

    Think Progess
    Ted Cruz Launches Senate Fight To Auction Off America’s Public Lands

    By Claire Moser, Guest Contributor July 10, 2014 at 2:09 pm Updated: July 10, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    After a busy few months trying to impeach Attorney General Eric Holder, increase carbon pollution, and wipe out limits on campaign contributions, Tea Party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is now working to sell off America’s national forests, parks, and other public lands.

    On Tuesday, Cruz filed an amendment to the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014 (S. 2363) to force the federal government to sell off a significant portion of the country’s most prized lands in the West. The amendment would prohibit the federal government from owning more than 50 percent of any land within one state, and requires the government to transfer the excess land to the states or sell it to the highest bidder.

    Federal lands make up one-fifth of the nation’s landmass and over 50 percent of the land Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska. Under Cruz’s proposal, these states, which are home to some of the country’s most beloved national parks, forests, wildlife areas and iconic natural resources, would be forced to either pass the costs of managing these lands along to state taxpayers or, more likely, give them away or sell them off for mining, drilling, and logging.

    Cruz’s amendment is the latest in a radical effort by right-wing lawmakers to give control of America’s public lands to states or private industry. The movement garnered national attention earlier this year with the help of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who spurred a standoff with federal officials after refusing to pay more than $1 million in grazing fees owed to taxpayers. Bundy notoriously refuses to acknowledge federal authority, telling CNN in April that “I’ll be damned if this is the property of the United States. They have no business here.”

    The amendment aligns Cruz with the other 15 incumbent members of Congress who agree with Bundy that America’s public lands should be seized by the states or sold off for drilling, mining, or logging. Highlighted in a new series from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, these ““Bundy’s Buddies”” support the extremely costly and unconstitutional proposals to seize and sell off America’s public lands, which are also far from mainstream views of Americans in the West.

    Although Cruz attached the amendment to a bill intended to benefit sportsmen by expanding hunting, fishing and shooting opportunities on public lands, sportsmen do not support efforts to seize or sell off federal lands. Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA), who have voiced support for the sportsmen’s bill on its own, havecondemned land seizure efforts as “a radical cry to wrest our national forests and prairies away from public ownership.”

    Steve Kandell, Director of Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project, also made it clear that fishermen and sportsmen don’t support land sell-off proposals when praising the recent introduction of a bill from Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), also a cosponsor of the Sportsmen’s Act. In a press release, Kandell said that “public lands shape the American identity, support local economies and perpetuate our sporting heritage. They should not be sold.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 12, 2014, 3:08 pm
  16. Ted Cruz just argued that overturning Citizens United would threaten the free speech of political satire shows like Saturday Night Live. And then he did an impersonation of Dana Carvey impersonating George H. W. Bush. It’ll be interesting to see how the political satire shows handle that one:

    Ted Cruz impersonates Dana Carvey’s George H.W. Bush as follow-up to reading of ‘Green Eggs and Ham’

    By Bruce Alpert, NOLA.com | Times-Picayune
    Email the author | Follow on Twitter
    on September 10, 2014 at 4:26 PM, updated September 10, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    WASHINGTON — Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., followed up his dramatic 2013 reading of “Green Eggs and Ham” last fall with an impersonation this week of Dana Carvey impersonating former President George H.W. Bush.

    The reading of Dr. Seuss’s book came during his 21-hour plus filibuster last fall in protest of the Affordable Care Act. His impersonation of Carvey impersonating the 41st president on Saturday Night Live came Tuesday night as he spoke against a pending Democratic constitutional amendment to overturn a Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited corporate contributions to political advocacy groups.

    Cruz said the amendment could endanger political satire shows run on corporate-owned TV networks and threaten sketches like Carvey’s, which poked fun at George H. W. Bush with this phrase: “not going to do it.”

    The Cruz impersonation of that line, in the opinion of non-TV critics in the Capitol press corps, wasn’t half bad. You can watch — and judge — it here.

    Democrats said Cruz is engaging in hyperbole to make his case against their efforts to re-impose limits on corporate campaign contributions that the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 violated the Free Speech clause of the Constitution.

    Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., a Saturday Night alum now seeking a 2nd term in the U.S. Senate, said political satire isn’t threatened by the amendment, only corporate domination of politics.

    “We can restore the law to what it was before Citizens United (case) was decided and more to the point, we can restore a voice to millions upon millions of every day Americans,” Franken said.

    The Democratic proposal is almost certain to fail in the face of near united Republican opposition.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 11, 2014, 2:45 pm
  17. Remember when Mitt Romney was trying to convince the GOP primary voters that he was crazy enough to get the nomination by claiming to be “severely conservative”? Well get ready for “I’m not all that conservative” Ted:

    TPMLivewire
    Ted Cruz: I’m Not ‘All That Conservative’

    By Sahil Kapur
    Published November 25, 2014, 3:11 PM EST

    Sen. Ted Cruz is not “all that conservative,” says Sen. Ted Cruz.

    The Texas Republican and tea party favorite made the unexpected remarks to Jewish donors in New York City, according to the New York Observer.

    He said: “I don’t think I’m all that conservative. And it’s interesting. Reagan never once beat his chest and said ‘I’m the most conservative guy who ever lived.’ Reagan said, ‘I’m defending common sense principles—small businesses, small towns.’”

    Cruz also met privately with Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, whom the Observer reported found the Texan to be “too right wing” and unlikely to win the 2016 presidential nomination, citing an anonymous source.

    Who knows, maybe we’ll even see Mr. “I don’t think I’m all that conservative” and Mr. “I’m severely conservative” debating each other on the same stage in the 2016 primaries. It’s possible. Better yet, we could even see a joint “I don’t think I’m all that conservative”/”I’m severely conservative” 2016 ticket, although getting the one of them to agree to be at the bottom of that ticket might require some sort of divine intervention.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 25, 2014, 8:13 pm
  18. With a growing number of calls for a boycott Indiana following its “freedom of discriminate” bill, David Holmes reminds us that any corporation or entity that’s chastising or boycotting the state of Indiana over its new pro-bigotry laws should probably avoid things like donating to Ted Cruz too:

    Pando Daily
    Beyond Thiel: Google, Microsoft, and the other big tech firms funding ultraconservative Ted Cruz

    By David Holmes
    On March 31, 2015

    Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is a grown man who wants to abolish the IRS. He also thinks birth control “induces abortions” and plays to his party’s ugliest impulses when it comes to same-sex marriage, climate change, and countries where lots of Muslims live.

    Last Monday, the Tea Party’s prize pig became the first candidate to formally announce a bid for the 2016 Presidential election. And among the think-pieces and works of sheer demagoguery that flowed through the Internet’s backbone all week, one headline in particular caught our tech-damaged eye: Breitbart’s “The Silicon Valley Libertarians Putting Serious Money Behind Ted Cruz.”

    The synergy between Silicon Valley and the Tea Party is frequently trumpeted by bloggers and talking heads on the Far Right. But this supposed alignment is far from perfect. The narrative that the GOP will find in techie libertarians its saving grace obscures a couple key realities about Silicon Valley’s political DNA. The first is that, despite the preponderance of high-profile techno-libertarians like Peter Thiel, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, and eBay chairman Pierre Omidyar, the money funneled into politics from Silicon Valley firms’ political action committees is fairly balanced between Democratic and Republican candidates. During the 2012 Presidential race in particular,, the tech set came out overwhelmingly in favor of Barack Obama.

    But the second reality this narrative ignores is that it’s not just the outspoken fringe libertarians like Thiel that give to Tea Party candidates. Some of the biggest and most mainstream firms in Silicon Valley like Microsoft and Google, despite also supporting traditional liberal causes, have aligned themselves with libertarian anti-tax interests — and these same interests often represent some of the ugliest sides of American politics.

    While Breitbart is known to engage in the same fact-challenged Republican agitprop made famous by Fox News and Nixon, the central argument of its article is true: Paypal cofounder, early Facebook investor, and the Valley’s most vocal and visible libertarian gadfly Peter Thiel has indeed given given $2 million to a Super PAC run by the conservative anti-tax group Club For Growth, which in turn was Ted Cruz’s biggest single donor during the 2012 campaign, giving $705,657. Club for Growth was also the single biggest contributor to the successful Senatorial campaign of Tom Cotton, the darlingest of Tea Party darlings who made his name writing a borderline unconstitutional letter undermining Obama’s negotiations with Iran.

    (There’s no unjarring time to disclose that Thiel is also a minor investor in Pando, through Founders Fund, so let’s do it here.)

    Beyond Thiel, however, Breitbart only identified one other Silicon Valley libertarian, ex-Facebook employee Chamath Palihapitiya — who left no question about his libertarian bonafides during an episode of This Week in Startups — as a major Cruz donor, writing the Texas Senator a check for $5,000.

    What the piece failed to mention was that it’s not just libertarians like Thiel who contributed to Cruz’s campaign, but also the political action committees or PACs belonging to some of Silicon Valley’s most prominent firms.

    For instance, Microsoft’s PAC gave $10,000 to Cruz during the 2012 electoral cycle, Google’s PAC gave $10,000, and Facebook’s PAC gave $3,500. Other top lobbying spenders in tech, like Comcast and Intel, gave Cruz $7,500 and $2,000, respectively.

    And that’s only the beginning when it comes to big tech companies contributing to candidates that oppose same-sex marriage or engage in climate change denial — in fact, it’s difficult to contribute to any Republican candidate without that politician also taking up these stances, which run counter to the ideals of inclusivity and sustainability that classic Silicon Valley firms promote.

    Granted, those check amounts are minuscule relative to the annual revenues and market caps of these companies. And they constitute mere fractions of the millions companies like Google spend each year on lobbying, which is spread out across causes and candidates from all over the political spectrum. Nor is it true that Republican candidates are the only recipients of tech money with problematic platforms or records. Big tech also put its muscle behind the failed Congressional campaign of Democrat Ro Khanna, about whom Pando’s Yasha Levine found little to love.

    But it’s hugely hypocritical to see Silicon Valley unite in outrage over Indiana’s anti-gay rights law then turn around and donate to candidates who voted in favor of a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. It’s equally hypocritical to watch one tech giant after another abandon the controversial ultraconservative think tank ALEC over climate change denial, while also contributing to some of Congress’ most notorious deniers. And yes, the dollar amounts of the donations are small. But if tech firms ceased funding these candidates with the same fervor they’ve adopted in condemning Indiana’s new law, it could compel some GOP politicians to break with their party on increasingly untenable and extremist stances. For better or worse, money talks.

    As was the case with Big Tech’s long-time ties with ALEC — ties which, for most firms, were only recently severed — aligning oneself with a candidate like Cruz means aligning with notions that on occasion transcend mere political disagreement into the realm of irrationality and hate-speech. Cruz is no friend to gay rights, and his anti-science bent infects a number of his positions, from reproductive rights to climate change.

    Also keep in mind that the “if you oppose state-sanctioned bigotry you should avoid donations to politicians that support these kinds of laws”-rule basically means you shouldn’t ever donate to the GOP. Even to the alleged Libertarians. It’s a wise rule.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 31, 2015, 2:37 pm
  19. Huh. So Peter Thiel isn’t just one of Ted Cruz’s major donors. According to Cruz, they’re close friends too:

    The New York Times
    Ted Cruz Is Guest of Two Gay Businessmen

    By MAGGIE HABERMANAPRIL 23, 2015

    Senator Ted Cruz has positioned himself as a strong opponent of same-sex marriage, urging pastors nationwide to preach in support of marriage as an institution between a man and a woman, which he said was “ordained by God.”

    But on Monday night, at a reception for him at the Manhattan apartment of two prominent gay hoteliers, the Texas senator and Republican presidential hopeful struck quite a different tone.

    During the gathering, according to two people present, Mr. Cruz said he would not love his daughters any differently if one of them was gay. He did not mention his opposition to same-sex marriage, saying only that marriage is an issue that should be left to the states.

    The dinner and “fireside chat” for about a dozen people with Mr. Cruz and his wife, Heidi, was at the Central Park South penthouse of Mati Weiderpass and Ian Reisner, longtime business partners who were once a couple and who have been pioneers in the gay hospitality industry.

    Ted Cruz said, ‘If one of my daughters was gay, I would love them just as much,’” recalled Mr. Reisner, a same-sex marriage proponent who described himself as simply an attendee at Mr. Weiderpass’s event.

    Mr. Reisner and Kalman Sporn, who advises Mr. Cruz’s Middle East team and served as the moderator for the evening, said the senator told the group that marriage should be left up to the states. The evening focused primarily on foreign policy, including a discussion of gay rights in Israel versus the rest of the Middle East, and opposition to President Obama.

    An aide to Mr. Cruz, reached on Thursday, reiterated that the senator is opposed to same-sex marriage.

    Mr. Cruz has honed his reputation as a grass-roots firebrand, and was strongly supportive of the Indiana religious exceptions law that was recently blasted as discriminatory by gay rights activists. When the law was attacked by major businesses like Walmart, he criticized the “Fortune 500’s radical gay marriage agenda.”

    In Iowa a few weeks ago, Mr. Cruz said, ““The Fortune 500 is running shamelessly to endorse the radical gay marriage agenda over religious liberty to say, ‘We will persecute a Christian pastor, a Catholic priest, a Jewish rabbi. Any person of faith is subject to persecution if they dare disagree, if their religious faith parts way from their political commitment to gay marriage.’ ”

    So the juxtaposition of Mr. Cruz being the guest of honor at a home owned by two of the most visible gay businessmen in New York City was striking. Mr. Cruz was on a fund-raising tour of New York City, although the dinner was not a fund-raiser.

    Mr. Cruz also told the group that Peter Thiel, an openly gay investor, is a close friend of his, Mr. Sporn said. Mr. Thiel has been a generous contributor to Mr. Cruz’s campaigns.

    Mr. Reisner said he and Mr. Weiderpass jointly own the duplex apartment where the event was held. He said that a third host, Sam Domb — another partner in their business who used to work with Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Republican and a former mayor of New York — was also a property owner there.

    The three men are strong supporters of Israel, as is Mr. Cruz. Mr. Reisner, who said members of his family perished in the Holocaust, said Mr. Cruz’s foreign policy views were part of the appeal for people like Mr. Domb.

    “Ted Cruz was on point on every issue that has to do with national security,” he said.

    Mr. Reisner, asked about the possible dissonance between his gay activism and being at an event for Mr. Cruz, said he did not agree with the senator on social issues. Same-sex marriage, he said, “is done — it’s just going to happen.”

    In a statement later, Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Mr. Cruz, said the senator had “stated directly and unambiguously what everyone in the room already knew, that he opposes same-sex marriage and supports traditional marriage.”

    Imagine being a fly on the wall at one of the Thiel/Cruz hangout sessions where they all hang out like close friends are apt to do. They must have some pretty lively discussions given everything they have in common.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 23, 2015, 7:27 pm
  20. LOL! The GOP primary is about to get weirder: GOP dirty tricks operative Roger Stone, a long-time pal of Donald Trump and who reportedly helped talk Trump into his presidential run before ambiguously parting ways with the campaign in what appeared on the surface to be an angry split between the two, just announced a new super PAC that will be focused on attack Donald Trump’s rivals. The new PAC will be funded only by “small contributions from average people”. And the Trump campaign is disavowing it, calling it a “big-league scam deal”:

    The Wall Street Journal
    GOP Operative Launches Super PAC to Sully Donald Trump’s Rivals

    By Beth Reinhard

    Republican operative Roger Stone, who says he is no longer working for Donald Trump but continues to back his presidential campaign, is launching a super PAC to attack leading rivals, particularly Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

    Mr. Stone said he has not talked to Mr. Trump or his campaign about the Committee to Restore America’s Greatness. Mr. Trump has been an outspoken critic of super PACs and frequently claims to be self-funding his campaign, though he has received and spent millions of dollars in donations.

    Mr. Stone said the new group will not accept money from corporations, lobbyists or special interest but will be funded by “small contributions from average people.” The purpose, he said, is not to advertise on Mr. Trump’s behalf but to “educate voters on the records of Rubio and potentially Chris Christie since they are on the move in New Hampshire,” where Mr. Trump is leading the polls.

    Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, disavowed the super PAC, calling it a “big-league scam deal.”

    “This is someone trying to profit off of Mr. Trump’s success and enrich themselves personally,” he said, adding the last time he talked to Mr. Stone was “when I fired him in August.” Mr. Stone says he quit the campaign.

    In an email blast on Thursday and on the new group’s web site, Mr. Stone makes a number of accusations against Mr. Trump’s opponents and suggests that Mr. Rubio and rival John Kasich are secretly conspiring against the New York businessman. A super PAC backing Mr. Kasich, the Ohio governor, announced it would spent $2.5 million in ads opposing Mr. Trump.

    Mr. Stone describes Mr. Rubio as a tool of special interests and wealthy donors.

    “Would Rubio simply be a boy-toy for the billionaires?” he asks.

    Mr. Stone also argues that Mr. Rubio “is not a reliable conservative” because of his sponsorship of a 2013 bill that would have allowed illegal immigrants to earn citizenship.

    “Rubio even wants Obama to bring 100,000 Syrian refugees into our country, many of whom could be terrorists! This blows my mind!” Mr. Stone says.

    After the terrorist attacks in Paris, Mr. Rubio said the U.S. should temporarily stop accepting Syrian refugees.

    Mr. Stone said he didn’t recall the last time he spoke to Mr. Trump but said it was “not recently.” He said he has had no formal or informal role in the campaign since August. “I am well aware of restrictions on coordination—and there is and has been none,” he said.

    Mr. Trump’s campaign paid Mr. Stone’s firm, Drake Ventures, $20,000 earlier this year, according to Federal Election Commission filings, but Mr. Stone says they parted ways over the summer.

    FEC records show Tom Fay of Laguna Beach filed the paperwork to start the Committee to Restore America’s Greatness in October. He could not be immediately reached for comment.

    “Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, disavowed the super PAC, calling it a “big-league scam deal.””

    So Roger Stone is starting a super PAC designed to portray Trump’s rivals like Rubio as “a boy-toy for the billionaires,” and Trump’s campaign is calling it a “big-league scam deal”. Yeah, that’s a bit weird. Except, since this is Donald Trump and Roger Stone we’re talking about, weirdness is sort of expected for this dynamic duo. But it’s still atypically weird. Why? Well, because it’s been Marco Rubio that the GOP “establishment” (its billionaire benefactors) has seemed to prefer above all the other candidates as the likeliest to win in the general election. And as Mark Ames pointing out earlier this year, Roger Stone’s specialty is fracturing the GOP base to the benefit of the GOP “establishments” preferred candidates:

    Pando Daily

    Behind the scenes of the Donald Trump – Roger Stone show

    Anti-establishment politics is a racket

    By Mark Ames
    written on August 11, 2015

    It was just after liftoff on the flight from San Francisco to New York that Roger Stone’s face appeared on the back of Seat 9D, looking straight at me.

    Gah! Did my Virgin America flight crash? is Roger Stone’s satellite-fed face my eternal punishment? The power of Christ compels you! The power of Christ compels you!…

    But it was just CNN, a more familiar kind of Hell, and a deadlier one. Not what you want on your exit row TV monitor when you’re nursing a tequila hangover: Stone was giving a Big Exclusive interview to a bright white CNN bot named Poppy Harlow, a Heathers type who famously grieved on-air for the Steubenville rapists, “who had such promising futures, star football players”…

    The big story: Trump fired Roger Stone from his campaign, or Roger Stone quit, depending on whom you believed (which, if you believe either Trump or Roger Stone, please contact me—I have a new Florida Swampland real estate app to sell you).

    Somehow I’d missed the earlier news that Roger Stone—Dick Nixon’s dirty trickster, fascist fan of Roy Cohn, lobbyist for some of the worst dictators in the world—was running Trump’s campaign until last weekend. Or maybe I blocked it out—maybe I didn’t want to know, a sign of just how far I’ve reassimilated myself back into mainstream America’s comforting amnesia bubble.

    The problem is, I know the Roger Stone story a bit too viscerally well. I even had a brief brush with Mr. Stone during the last presidential election cycle. He responded to a post mortem I wrote on Gary Johnson’s fraudulent 2012 run for president on the Libertarian Party ticket—a political swindle that Stone managed, and whose presence led me to dig deeper into the cesspool of modern third party fake-politics.

    After my article came out in NSFWCORP [now owned by Pando], Roger Stone tweeted this compliment at me, calling me “asshole”:

    Now to most ordinary folks, a political operative calling a journalist “asshole” looks rather offensive, even scandalous. It’s considered part of his charm, among journalists who tend to come from a pampered class that is easy prey to the charms of a vicious DC thug whose peculiar bluff—“telling it like it is,” crude, macho, is “refreshingly reckless” by the chickenshit standards of most of today’s journalists…

    If you know where Roger Stone comes from, it’s the closest thing to a compliment his species is capable of. Imagine a real life Repo Man guy, only without any of the lower-middle-class fun or the punk rock soundtrack—a monumentally sleazy, pro-business, Republican Party/Chamber of Commerce sewer rat version of the Harry Dean Stanton character, the only version that could possibly thrive in this cheerless, unheroic version of America that we’re stuck in.

    Roger Stone’s involvement in Trump’s run for office today is good news for anyone interested in politics who’d like an early-season bullshit cleanser. The more you know about Stone’s (and Trump’s) history, the harder it is to trust the surface, and even harder to trust the margins of that surface – those spaces on the left and right where we’re told each election season are where the real politics are at –but in fact are so rotten and so easily manipulated you almost wish you didn’t know.

    The three main takeaways you need to keep in mind in the Roger Stone-Donald Trump story are:

    1. Roger Stone’s dirty tricks specialty is manipulating voter fractures, and weaponizing anti-establishment politics to serve the electoral needs of mainstream Republican candidates;

    2. Roger Stone and Donald Trump have been working together since the mid-1980s, mostly on sleazy campaigns to help Trump’s casino business, but also in politics;

    3. Roger Stone and Donald Trump worked together in at least two major “black bag” operations manipulating anti-establishment politics to help the mainstream Republican presidential candidate;

    “Imagine a real life Repo Man guy, only without any of the lower-middle-class fun or the punk rock soundtrack—a monumentally sleazy, pro-business, Republican Party/Chamber of Commerce sewer rat version of the Harry Dean Stanton character, the only version that could possibly thrive in this cheerless, unheroic version of America that we’re stuck in.”
    And now imagine that same “pro-business, Republican Party/Chamber of Commerce sewer rat version of the Harry Dean Stanton character” character starting a super PAC designed to attack candidates like Marco Rubio who would appear to be exactly the candidate the GOP “establishment” would want him to support.

    It’s certainly weird. But as Ames put is, “the more you know about Stone’s (and Trump’s) history, the harder it is to trust the surface, and even harder to trust the margins of that surface.” And it’s hard to argue with that assessment when you look that history. A history between the two that includes gems like Trump telling the New Yorker back in 2008 that Stone is “a stone-cold loser…He always tries taking credit for things he never did”:

    The New Yorker
    The Dirty Trickster
    Campaign tips from the man who has done it all.

    By Jeffrey Toobin
    June 2, 2008 Issue

    A sign inside the front door of Miami Velvet, a night club of sorts in a warehouse-style building a few minutes from the airport, states, “If sexual activity offends you in any way, do not enter the premises.” At first glance, though, the scene inside looks like a nineteen-eighties disco, with a bar, Madonna at high volume, flashing lights, a stripper’s pole, and a dancer’s cage. But a flat-screen television on the wall plays porn videos, and many clubgoers disappear into locker rooms and emerge wearing towels. From there, some of them go into a lounge, a Jacuzzi room, or one of about half a dozen private rooms to have sex—with their dates or with new acquaintances. Miami Velvet is the leading “swingers’ club” in Miami, and Roger Stone took me there to explain the role he may have played in the fall of Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of New York.

    For nearly forty years, Stone has hovered around Republican and national politics, both near the center and at the periphery. At times, mostly during the Reagan years, he was a political consultant and lobbyist who, in conventional terms, was highly successful, working for such politicians as Bob Dole and Tom Kean. Even then, though, Stone regularly crossed the line between respectability and ignominy, and he has become better known for leading a colorful personal life than for landing big-time clients. Still, it is no coincidence that Stone materialized in the midst of the Spitzer scandal—and that he had memorable cameos in the last two Presidential elections. While the Republican Party usually claims Ronald Reagan as its inspiration, Stone represents the less discussed but still vigorous legacy of Richard Nixon, whose politics reflected a curious admixture of anti-Communism, social moderation, and tactical thuggery. Stone believes that Nixonian hardball, more than sunny Reaganism, is John McCain’s only hope for the Presidency.

    Over the years, Stone’s relationships with colleagues and clients have been so combustible that his value as a messenger has been compromised. Stone worked for Donald Trump as an occasional lobbyist and as an adviser when Trump considered running for President in 2000. “Roger is a stone-cold loser,” Trump told me. “He always tries taking credit for things he never did.” Like Nixon, Stone is also a great hater—of, among others, the Clintons, Karl Rove, and Spitzer. So what happened at Miami Velvet one night last September, he said, amounted to a gift.

    “She was sitting right over there,” Stone told me, pointing to a seat at the bar, as we sipped vodka from plastic cups. (Miami Velvet is B.Y.O.B., to avoid the trouble of securing a liquor license, so Stone had brought along a bottle of the brand p.i.n.k.) “We were just having a casual conversation, and I told her I was a dentist,” Stone said. “She told me she was a call girl, but she wasn’t working that night.” Miami Velvet prohibits prostitution on the premises, a point that is emphasized in the four-page single-spaced legal waiver that everyone must sign to be admitted. (Another house rule, which is reinforced by signs on the wall, is “No means no.”) “She told me she had a very high-end clientele—she kept using the word ‘high-end’—athletes, international businessmen, politicians,” Stone said.

    “ ‘Like who?’ I asked her,” Stone went on. “She named a couple of sports guys, some car dealers I’d heard of because of their commercials, and then she said, ‘I almost had a date with Eliot Spitzer, the governor of New Jersey.’ ” Stone laughed. “She didn’t know much about politics. So I asked her, ‘Did this guy have a beard?’ ” (Jon Corzine, the governor of New Jersey, has a beard.) No, the woman said, he was a skinny bald guy—a description that fit Spitzer. According to Stone, the woman told him that Spitzer had reached her through her escort service, which listed her as a brunette, but she had dyed her hair blond. So the agency referred the governor to a dark-haired colleague, the woman said, who met up with Spitzer in Miami.

    “I asked her what her friend said about Spitzer,” Stone told me. “She said he was nice enough, but the only odd thing was that he kept his socks on. They were the kind that went to the middle of the calf, and one of them kept falling down.”

    Stone said that he decided, after hearing the story, to keep the conversation with the woman to himself for the moment. But there was never any doubt that he would eventually deploy it. As Stone puts it in one of the many rules he lives by, “He who speaks first, loses.”

    Ultimately, the process—the battle—interests Stone more than the result. Four years ago, he says, he gave advice (free) to Al Sharpton during his run for President, seeing in the Reverend a temperamental, if not a political, kindred spirit. And though Stone remains a Republican, he engages in the sport of seemingly hating many members of his own party, whom he regards, he says, as élitists. After his work for Golisano, Stone nursed a grudge against George Pataki, Spitzer’s Republican predecessor, and Stone seems to be gearing up for an anti-Jeb Bush campaign, should the former Florida governor decide to run for President in 2012. “Jeb is waiting in the wings? Over my dead body,” Stone said. “The Bushes have brought us to ruin twice—first 1992 and now. I’ll see you in New Hampshire to stop it. I’ll wait for him.”

    For the moment, though, Stone must be content to watch the current Presidential race from the sidelines. His only prior dealing with John McCain was bumpy. “I was doing some lobbying for Trump’s airline in the eighties, and he was competing for landing slots at LaGuardia against America West Airlines, so I went to see McCain about it in his office at the Capitol,” Stone told me. “I made an offhand comment that it wasn’t surprising that he was backing America West, because they were based in Phoenix. He stood up and said, ‘What the fuck are you talking about? Get the fuck out of my office!’ But I didn’t take it personally. I supported him in 2000, and I support him now.”

    McCain’s route to victory, Stone believes, is a Nixonian slash-and-burn campaign against Barack Obama, the likely Democratic nominee. “Obama and his wife are élitists and they’re weak,” Stone told me. “They don’t share middle-class values. Middle-class Americans are proud of their country, and they are not. He thinks he’s going to sit down with Iran and Hamas. How do you know he’s not going to shake hands with a suicide bomber? You can’t sit down with people who don’t want to sit down. All he’s going to do is raise taxes, which is going to give the government more money but it’s not going to create any jobs.” Stone added, “McCain himself should not run a slash-and-burn campaign, but a slash-and-burn campaign will have to be run by others.” (Rule: “Use a cutout.”)

    When Stone talks about politics, formulating arguments that candidates can use, he tends to ramp his voice up to a snarl, the way that the message on Bernard Spitzer’s answering machine sounded. It’s like an actor running lines. But, when he switches back to an analytical mode, Stone immediately turns cheerful, full of love for the game. “Remember,” Stone said. “Politics is not about uniting people. It’s about dividing people. And getting your fifty-one per cent.” (Stone’s rule: “The only thing worse in politics than being wrong is being boring.”)

    ““Remember…Politics is not about uniting people. It’s about dividing people. And getting your fifty-one per cent.”
    That was Stone’s advice back in 2008, along with this message to the McCain campaign:


    McCain’s route to victory, Stone believes, is a Nixonian slash-and-burn campaign against Barack Obama, the likely Democratic nominee. “Obama and his wife are élitists and they’re weak,” Stone told me. “They don’t share middle-class values. Middle-class Americans are proud of their country, and they are not. He thinks he’s going to sit down with Iran and Hamas. How do you know he’s not going to shake hands with a suicide bomber? You can’t sit down with people who don’t want to sit down. All he’s going to do is raise taxes, which is going to give the government more money but it’s not going to create any jobs.” Stone added, “McCain himself should not run a slash-and-burn campaign, but a slash-and-burn campaign will have to be run by others.” (Rule: “Use a cutout.”)

    “McCain himself should not run a slash-and-burn campaign, but a slash-and-burn campaign will have to be run by others.”
    That’s how Stone rolls. And now we have the campaign of Donald Trump, with his bizarre private love/public hate relationship with Stone, publicly disavowing a new super PAC that appears to be intended to do exactly what Stone advised the McCain campaign to do in 2008 except on Trump’s behalf: run a slash-and-burn campaign, but a slash-and-burn campaign run by Stone following their mysterious and public parting back in August.

    Also note one other wrinkle to all this: In the various reports about Stone’s new super PAC Ted Cruz didn’t appear to be one of the named targets, which is rather bizarre considering that Cruz’s is the closest direct competitor to Trump for the nomination at this point, both in terms of polls and ideology. And then there’s the fact that Stone is on record stating that voters don’t want to fix anything…They just want to burn everything down. If that’s true, electing Trump begins to make a lot more sense. So does electing Texas’ very own junior senator, Ted Cruz:

    The Dallas Observer

    Talking Trump, Cruz and the Clintons With Former GOP Hit Man Roger Stone

    By Stephen Young
    Monday, November 30, 2015

    The hardest thing about talking to Roger Stone about his latest book, The Clintons’ War on Women, is figuring out how to write about anything that’s in the book. The stuff that the ex-Richard Nixon aide and all-purpose Republican campaign operative has come up with is so inflammatory and insubstantially documented that it’s impossible to report it with any sort of credulity.

    With that said, here are the broad strokes: Stone claims Bill Clinton is a serial predator, committing various criminal and unprosecuted attacks on women in the last half century or so. During that time, Stone claims, Hillary Clinton has essentially served as Bill’s fixer, intimidating the women he supposedly attacked. There are spurious assertions made about people associated with the Clintons and extravagant claims that, if they were true, would have been hard to keep secret over the years. The Clintons, more than anyone, have had their dirty laundry aired by the media.

    “[The book] is an act of political action as well as being a commercial enterprise. People need to understand the overall hypocrisy of the Clintons. It’s not just on the question of women,” Stone says. “Hillary … puts out a video a week ago saying to victims of college rape, ‘You deserve to be believed.’ If they deserve to be believed, what about this long trail of women that’ve made accusations against her husband?”

    The cure for America, should it wise up and decide to stop the Clintons, is noted feminist and all-around honest guy Donald Trump, according to Stone.

    “I disagree with [Trump] on a lot of things. He’s, for example, a big supporter of the war on drugs and we disagree on that, [but] I like him because I think that he is unbuyable. All of our career politicians running for president, including Hillary Clinton, are totally reliant on special interests and campaign contributions, particularly from Wall Street, to fund them,” Stone says. “No matter who you elect, nothing ever really changes.”

    Stone says voters don’t want to fix anything, alluding to Jeb Bush’s “Jeb will fix it” slogan. They just want to burn everything down. If that’s true, electing Trump begins to make a lot more sense. So does electing Texas’ very own junior senator, Ted Cruz, who has recently begun creeping toward Trump in both early-state polls and nationwide horse race numbers.

    You can blame Trump himself for some of Cruz’s gains, Stone says.

    “A lot of those comes down to Trump,” he says. “He’s going to have to open his own wallet. He hasn’t done that yet. Ted Cruz is running a very disciplined campaign. He knows exactly who his targets are, he continues to make steady progress moving up. Now, Trump’s attacking Carson, causing Carson to drop, but those votes aren’t going to go to Trump. You see the movement of Carson voters to Cruz. I think Cruz is the man to watch. If Trump doesn’t come up with the necessary funds to win the nomination, and that’s entirely up to him, I think you could have a face-off between Cruz and Marco Rubio. If that happens, I’d expect Cruz to win.

    “I think Cruz is the man to watch. If Trump doesn’t come up with the necessary funds to win the nomination, and that’s entirely up to him, I think you could have a face-off between Cruz and Marco Rubio. If that happens, I’d expect Cruz to win.”
    So does Stone view Cruz as the next best thing to Trump? It would seem so:

    The Washington Examiner
    Roger Stone: Only Trump and Cruz have the guts to challenge Clinton

    By Ryan Lovelace (@LovelaceRyanD) • 10/15/15 12:01 AM

    Longtime campaign strategist Roger Stone thinks only Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz appear willing to torpedo Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

    Clinton performed well during the first Democratic presidential debate, Stone told the Washington Examiner. After examining her debate, Stone said he thinks Trump and Cruz have the chutzpah necessary to battle Clinton that other Republicans lack.

    Stone came away from the first Democratic presidential debate disappointed in CNN’s questions and the moderators’ failure to focus on Clinton’s response to the 2012 terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

    “Marco Rubio won’t ask her that question [about Benghazi]. He’s in the club. They were in the Senate together. They’re in the club,” Stone said. “No politician will ask her that question. Donald Trump fears nothing and nobody. He’ll ask her the hard questions. He may not be as polished a performer because he’s not a career politician and he doesn’t think about ‘maybe we should have polled this question, maybe we should have put it into a focus group.’ He tells you what he really thinks. The only other one in this field that I think has got the guts to take her on face-to-face is Ted Cruz.”

    Echoing Trump, Stone said he thinks the other Democrats did not push back forcefully enough on Tuesday night.

    “I thought Hillary had a very good debate, on the other hand when no one challenges you — neither the moderators, nor your opponents — it’s really not hard to take points that came out of a poll and focus groups and go out and spit them out. I can do that,” he said. “She was allowed to spit out her BS about being an advocate for women and children, which she is neither and nobody really challenged her. Not even Bernie Sanders, senile old coot that he is. Given a softball on the emails, he gives her a pass. Pathetic.”

    Stone is the author of a new book The Clintons’ War on Women, released this week that hits Clinton on a perceived strength — her support among female voters. The longtime right-wing operative’s book promises to reveal the “appalling truth” about “Hillary’s strange relationship with top aide Huma Abedin” and the “identity of Chelsea Clinton’s real father.” Asked about the appearance of new information in his book, Stone answered that “there’s no such thing as old information if no one’s heard it.”

    “This is a standard tactic of the paid mercenaries who work for Hillary. ‘Oh that’s old news,'” he said. “No, it’s not old news if people haven’t heard it. So Hillary Clinton is an advocate for women unless you’re one of those unlucky women who’s been sexually assaulted by her husband.”

    Stone compared President Bill Clinton to comedian Bill Cosby, who has been dogged by sexual assault allegations, and said he talked to several women who are “scared to death” of the Clintons. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign did not respond for request for comment on Stone’s book.

    Stone, whose exit from the Trump campaign attracted attention in August, sought to prevent his audience from perceiving his writing as a Republican hit job.

    “The American people will tolerate a lot of things, I don’t know that they’ll tolerate a liar so it’s about her credibility. Nothing the woman says can be believed,” he said. “You can say Stone’s a partisan henchman, he’s a Republican. No. My book on the Bushes is coming out in January. It’s entitled [sic] Jeb and the Bush crime family. Both parties are in it together.”

    “Marco Rubio won’t ask her that question [about Benghazi]. He’s in the club. They were in the Senate together. They’re in the club….No politician will ask her that question. Donald Trump fears nothing and nobody. He’ll ask her the hard questions. He may not be as polished a performer because he’s not a career politician and he doesn’t think about ‘maybe we should have polled this question, maybe we should have put it into a focus group.’ He tells you what he really thinks. The only other one in this field that I think has got the guts to take her on face-to-face is Ted Cruz.
    Yes, according to Stone, the GOP’s best shot is either Trump or Cruz, who will presumably be able to garner the 51% they need by building a “burn it down” coalition based around a rehashing of decades of Clinton-derangement syndrome symptoms to build the narrative that Bill and Hillary are an epic crime family. And how will he help sell this narrative? Well, in part by putting out books like Jeb and the Bush crime family and making the case that “both parties are it together”.

    So, given Stone’s long history of working as a GOP “establishment” operative and given his assessment that voters don’t want to fix anything but instead “burn everything down”, it raises the question: has the “establishment” determined that the best approach to winning back the White House is to basically nominate a candidate that will “burn down the establishment GOP” (at least theatrically) in the hopes that they can burn down the Democrats too? It seems possible, in which case, welcome to the “post-establishment” GOP. *wink*

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 18, 2015, 12:01 pm
  21. With a number of Silicon Valley billionaires going gaga over the prospect of a Michael Bloomberg independent presidential bid and calling him “one of us”, it’s probably worth asking the question which politician Peter Thiel will decide to throw his billions behind in the 2016 presidential race. Given the incredible influence individuals like Thiel can have in our post-Citizens United campaign financing environment, the question of who Thiel decides to back has unfortunately become is one of those questions that’s relevant when assessing the potency of potential political candidates. Especially if you’re a quasi-libertarian running for office and Peter Thiel has a history of being your sugar daddy and you’re not the only one:

    BuzzFeed
    Which 2016 Republican Is Libertarian Billionaire Peter Thiel Going To Back?

    One of Silicon Valley’s biggest political donors hasn’t committed yet. Yes, in the past he’s poured millions into Rand Paul’s father’s campaigns — but he’s also written big checks for Ted Cruz.

    posted on Mar. 28, 2015, at 12:40 a.m.

    McKay Coppins
    BuzzFeed News Reporter

    Last October, Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel sat in the cavernous Dallas movie studio from which Glenn Beck broadcasts his radio show, and laid out for the listeners at home his vision of the coming economic apocalypse.

    In keeping with his devout libertarianism, the Paypal cofounder argued that inflation and artificially low interest rates were combining to create a bubble that would soon burst to catastrophic effect, and he hung the blame squarely on a corrupt, politically motivated Federal Reserve.

    “They’re going to do everything they can to push easy money to help Hillary Clinton get elected in 2016,” Thiel said. “But I would predict that if she wins, she will become a one-term president, because…”

    “It will break,” Beck interjected, ominously.

    “It will break,” Thiel agreed. “It will break.”

    “Will it break no matter who is president?” asked one of Beck’s on-air sidekicks.

    Thiel nodded. “I sort of think that, you know, you might not want to win in 2016, because I think they can’t keep it going for six more years no matter what… The silver lining to a Clinton presidency will be that there will be clarity — that it will be because of their set of policies that have brought this about.” Beck wanted to squeeze in a follow-up question before the commercial break, but time was short.

    “We have 30 seconds,” the host said. “I was going to ask you… if there’s anybody on the horizon, politically, that you see that gives you any kind of hope out there.”

    Thiel grinned, and then coughed up a chuckle. “I’m glad we’re out of time.”

    The question of Thiel’s loyalties looms large in the Republicans’ heated 2016 fundraising race. The gay, libertarian tech tycoon has funneled millions of dollars in recent years to a diverse array of causes and campaigns, from marriage equality advocacy groups to insurgent Tea Party candidates. In an era when a single motivated billionaire can prop up a presidential candidate all on his own, Thiel’s endorsement would be a major coup for any campaign. But only two contenders in the emerging GOP field can claim an inside track to the billionaire’s cash: Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

    Thiel’s ties to Paul, who is expected to announce his presidential campaign early next month, are well established. During the 2012 election, Thiel gave $2.6 million to a super PAC supporting Rand’s father, Ron Paul — an eccentric libertarian protest candidate with a narrow but devoted grassroots following. And since then, he has reportedly been an ally and adviser to the younger Paul, opening doors for the senator in Silicon Valley, connecting him with donors and tech operatives, and meeting privately with him as recently as last summer.

    Advisers and high-level supporters in Paul’s orbit have often cited Thiel’s presumed support as a counterpoint to those who question whether the prospective candidate can raise enough money to sustain a serious presidential campaign. Last year, when a New York Times story described Paul’s political and fundraising infrastructure as feeble and unimpressive, his advisers fired back by giving the Washington Post an exclusive on its 50-state political network. The Post story described Thiel as a “looming figure in Paul’s constellation of friends, advisers, and possible bundlers,” and “one of his top West Coast allies.”

    Less well known, however, is Thiel’s longtime support for Cruz, who announced his presidential candidacy this week. In 2009, Thiel contributed $251,000 to support the star litigator’s bid for Texas attorney general. Cruz eventually aborted the campaign, but the billionaire’s donations made up one-fifth of his entire campaign war chest. When he then ran for Senate in 2012, Thiel plowed $1 million into Club for Growth, the conservative pressure group that heavily funded Cruz’s primary bid.

    Asked about Cruz last September, Thiel told The Daily Caller, “Well I think he’s very smart. I think one of the challenges we have in the Republican Party is… our representatives, our senators, are somewhat lower IQ than the people on the other side. So, I think there is something to be said for getting some really smart people in there.”

    Thiel’s financial support would be a much-needed boon to Cruz, whose strident anti-establishment persona and high-profile role in the 2013 government shutdown has alienated much of the GOP’s donor class. It would also deny a key backer to Paul, who is viewed as one of Cruz’s main rivals in the fight for early-state conservative voters.

    Thiel has not yet announced his support for any presidential candidate, and through a spokesman, he declined to comment for this article. Advisers to both Paul and Cruz also declined comment, but people in both camps said they are courting the billionaire.

    And while Thiel expressed doubts to Beck that the outcome of the 2016 race could possibly stave off an impending economic crisis, he has sounded more broadly fatalistic about the political process as well.

    “I’m sort of skeptical of how much voting actually works in the first place,” Thiel said in 2012. “I used to think that it was really important to directly change the political system, to convince people of things. I still think it’s intellectually very important. Occasionally, you get some converts that way. But it’s really an inefficient way of doing things.”

    “Thiel has not yet announced his support for any presidential candidate, and through a spokesman, he declined to comment for this article. Advisers to both Paul and Cruz also declined comment, but people in both camps said they are courting the billionaire.”
    So that was Peter Thiel’s stance a year ago. And now that Rand Paul has dropped out it seems like the choice for Thiel should be easier. And not just easier Thiel but any Silicon Valley billionaires. So might 2016 will be the year Silicon Valley’s libertarians jump in bed exclusively with Ted? We’ll see. His backing in the Valley isn’t limited to Thiel:

    Pando Daily
    Silicon Valley’s ‘best angel investor’ declares “Ted Cruz is one of us.” How exactly?

    By Paul Carr
    , written on
    February 10, 2016

    Earlier this week, Scott Banister jointly accepted (with his wife, Cyan) the Crunchie award for “best angel investor”.

    There’s no denying Banister is an extraordinarily smart investor, having made early bets on companies like Paypal, Zappos and Uber. He’s also a successful entrepreneur in his own right, having sold IronPort to Cisco for $830m back in 2007.

    When it comes to politics, however, Banister’s judgment isn’t looking quite as sound. A few days ago, Bannister tweeted this:

    Scott Banister @nist

    Our best chance for a constitutional presidency is now @tedcruz. #LibertariansForCruz
    10:39 AM – 3 Feb 2016

    Or as CNN reported it:

    Ted Cruz tries to seize Rand Paul’s libertarian mantle

    One major Republican megadonor, who had been one of the biggest backers of pro-Paul super PACs, Silicon Valley titan Scott Banister, pledged on Wednesday to Cruz as well — though he said he has not yet decided to give to a Cruz super PAC.

    “I’ve interviewed Ted, and while we don’t agree on every issue, I believe he’s one of us,” Banister said in an email to CNN, “and libertarians will discover that.”

    The endorsement was certainly a big deal for Cruz, and not just because Banister had previously donated $3m to a super PAC supporting Rand Paul.

    In fact, Banister has become a kind of pied piper for wealthy Valley libertarians looking to back a candidate who is “pro constitution” (which just so happens to usually mean anti-tax). The beeping sound you hear is the Valley’s brightest and wealthiest backing their dumper trucks full of bitcoin onto Cruz’s lawn.

    Unfortunately, as I’ve written before, Valley donors have been left red-faced after rushing to fund a libertarian candidate without doing even basic research into where the money was going. Hopefully, this time around, tech’s best and brightest will apply the level of due diligence to their political donations as they do to their investments in the latest sharing economy startup.

    To help them out, I’ve gathered together some of Cruz’s stated policy positions, as outlined on Google’s “Issues” search tool, his own website, and sources including PBS and the Washington Post.

    Check out the following and see if you can fathom which policy or policies prompted Banister to assure his Silicon Valley friends that Cruz is — quote — “one of us…”

    So, Cruz is anti- net neutrality, anti women, anti gay, anti minimum wage and affordable healthcare, anti immigration, but pro guns, oil and bombing the shit out of foreigners. Which of those policies, exactly, makes Silicon Valley libertarians believe Ted Cruz is “one of us”?

    Oh! I almost forgot!

    Cruz on tax:

    Cruz’s Simple Flat Tax abolishes the IRS… For businesses, the corporate income tax will be eliminated. It will be replaced by a simple Business Flat Tax at a single 16 percent rate. The current payroll tax system will be abolished…. The Death Tax will be eliminated… Under the Simple Flat Tax, the Internet remains free from taxes.

    Freedom!

    “I’ve interviewed Ted, and while we don’t agree on every issue, I believe he’s one of us…and libertarians will discover that.”
    Well there we go. According to PayPal Mafia alum Scott Banister, an ‘anti-net neutrality, anti women, anti gay, anti minimum wage and affordable healthcare, anti immigration, but pro guns, oil and bombing the shit out of foreigners’ far-right nut job is actually “one of us”. Sounds like a match made in heaven!

    And given the nature of our post-Citizens United campaign finance secrecy laws, who knows how many fellow Silicon Valley mega-donors have similarly seen the light. Billionaires can have all sorts of private political epiphanies and turn those epiphanies into financial action with near complete secrecy these days. Could Ted Cruz see more Silicon Valley money coming his way? It’s an interesting question, in part because it’s increasingly difficult to answer:

    CNN
    Who’s funding this pro-Ted Cruz super PAC?

    By Theodore Schleifer, CNN

    Updated 11:11 AM ET, Sat February 6, 2016

    Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN)
    A super PAC spending millions of dollars to bash Ted Cruz’s Republican rivals is shielding the names of many of its top donors and strategists, accepting and directing donations through a particularly high number of hard-to-trace companies, new documents reveal.

    Stand for Truth, Inc., an emerging player in the orbit of often clashing constellation of pro-Cruz super PACs, recently pledged to air more than $4 million in television ads to back Cruz in Iowa and South Carolina. Super PACs can accept unlimited contributions but are required to disclose their financial backers.

    The twist here is that Stand for Truth has accepted more than $1 million in donations from corporations or limited liability companies, whose funders are difficult to uncover, meaning the original source of the campaign cash is hidden. While corporations can make donations to super PACs, an LLC allows individual donors to steer cash through easy-to-register, self-owned organizations.

    “LLCs seem to be a new vehicle for laundering money into elections,” said Paul Ryan, a campaign finance reformer worried about donors essentially using them as shell companies to transfer cash anonymously. “It’s really hard to find out about LLCs. That’s one of the reasons they’ve become popular.”

    Stand for Truth has largely operated quietly, not responding to questions about new television advertisements from media and discarding with the in-the-news public profile maintained by many powerful groups in favor of a sparse website.

    No leadership beyond the treasurer who filed its federal elections forms, a former counsel to Mitch McConnell named Eric Lycan, has publicly identified itself. Lycan has not responded to repeated requests for comment from CNN about the group’s activities, and he declined to talk by phone this week. He did say in an email on Friday that the group was run by “consultants from across the country committed to electing a courageous conservative as our next President.”

    The main hand behind the super PAC is Josh Robinson, a former political director of the Republican Governors Association who now heads RedPrint Strategy, Lycan confirmed. Another name behind the group, Lycan said, is a Texas strategist named Keats Norfleet, who did not respond to requests for comment.

    Overall, Stand for Truth raised nearly $2.5 million last year in the brief time it had before the December 31 filing deadline. On Thursday, it purchased an additional $800,000 in negative advertisements attacking Marco Rubio in South Carolina.

    There is no evidence that routing the LLCs was a coordinated attempt to avoid disclosures, but the amount of cash donated is substantial.

    Of the 29 individual contributions made to the group between Nov. 20 and Dec. 31, more than half of the gifts were not immediately connectable to an individual donor, the FEC report shows. On December 21, for instance, five seemingly identical donations in equal increments of $50,000 came from five different LLCs — “LL Baltimore, LLC”; “LL Fort Wayne, LLC”; “LL Peoria, LLC”; “”LL West Allis, LLC’ and “PF Fort Myers LLC.”

    Many of the individuals plotting the group’s plans remain unknown as well. The individuals receiving payment from Stand for Truth are all being paid through similar entities, with all but one company receiving payment using a limited liability companies or a limited liability partnership to accept the funds.

    Finding the LLC backers

    It is not uncommon for vendors to receive payments from campaigns through groups like these, and some of those firms are easily identifiable, such as Lycan’s Kentucky-based law firm, Dinsmore and Shohl.

    But LLCs are more difficult to crack. The Texas-based “Stalwart Advisory LLC” and Robinson’s “One Harbor LLC” that the group used as consultants are not visible to the public without sleuthing through Texas public records. Stalwart Advisory does not appear in any state’s corporate records, according to OpenCorporates.com, which tracks these filings, nor does One Harbor’s ties to Robinson.

    Donors are increasingly using LLCs like these to give to political groups ever since the Citizens United decision made it easier for non-individuals to cut checks. But the prevalence of these opaque companies on Stand for Truth’s report is widespread, campaign finance observers say.

    And largely funding the group is Adam and Tara Ross, a Dallas couple close to Ted and Heidi Cruz who together gave $1 million of the $2.5 million raised. Adam Ross is influential in Jewish Republican fundraising circles and is said to be close with Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire who has remained on the sidelines this year despite being wooed by much of the GOP field.

    The super PACs supporting Cruz that have been blessed by the candidate himself, a network titled Keep the Promise, has not used virtually any of these LLCs. The $40 million raised by Keep the Promise almost entirely comes from three families that each gave more than $10 million to support Cruz through their own independent groups — with their names attached.

    “And largely funding the group is Adam and Tara Ross, a Dallas couple close to Ted and Heidi Cruz who together gave $1 million of the $2.5 million raised. Adam Ross is influential in Jewish Republican fundraising circles and is said to be close with Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire who has remained on the sidelines this year despite being wooed by much of the GOP field.
    While it’s unclear how much the $2.5 million raised by the “Stand for Truth” Cruz super PAC came from Silicon Valley, the fact that $1 million of it came from a couple in Dallas who are said to be close to Peter Thiel is at least a sign that the Thiel machine is continuing to back Cruz. So with Paul out of the race, it’s looking like the big battle between Rand Paul and Ted Cruz for that sweet sweet Thiel sugar is settled: Ted wins! Probably! We don’t get to know because of Citizens United, but probably.

    And keep in mind that Peter Thiel hasn’t had the nicest things to say about Donald Trump in the past. So now that Ted Cruz is virtually tied with Donald Trump in one of the latest national polls, it’s going to be interesting to see how much money Thiel and his network end up throwing behind Ted.

    Of course, since we probably won’t ever get to know how much he’ll donate due to Citizens United, that will probably also remain an interesting question. And, of course, even if the number of wealthy individuals willing to write checks for Ted turns out to be limited, there’s still plenty of extremely wealthy “individuals” that should be more than willing to help Cruz cruise to victory.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 17, 2016, 7:41 pm

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