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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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