Quotable (#224)


When Bannon listed the administration’s central purposes, the first two were unsurprising: “national security and sovereignty” and “economic nationalism.” But then came the third: the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Bannon explained that officials who seem to hate what their agencies do — one thinks especially of Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, who has sued it repeatedly to the benefit of oil and gas companies — were “selected for a reason, and that is deconstruction.” […] Thus did Bannon invoke the trendy lefty term “deconstruct” as a synonym for “destroy.” […] This is a huge deal. It reflects a long-standing critique on the right not just of the Obama and Clinton years but of the entire thrust of U.S. government since the Progressive Era and the New Deal. …

It’s getting extremely hard for libertarian-types to simply dislike this regime.

ADDED: On regime media-strategy technology guru Robert Mercer — “… his basic politics, I think, was that he’s a rightwing libertarian, he wants the government out of things.”

Quotable (#220)

Mother Jones on the other America, that’s poking back through:

Although the DeVoses have rarely commented on how their religious views affect their philanthropy and political activism, their spending speaks volumes. Mother Jones has analyzed the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation’s tax filings from 2000 to 2014, as well as the 2001 to 2014 filings from her parents’ charitable organization, the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation. (Betsy DeVos was vice president of the Prince Foundation during those years.) During that period, the DeVoses spent nearly $100 million in philanthropic giving, and the Princes spent $70 million. While Dick and Betsy DeVos have donated large amounts to hospitals, health research, and arts organizations, these records show an overwhelming emphasis on funding Christian schools and evangelical missions and conservative, free-market think tanks, like the Acton Institute and the Mackinac Center, that want to shrink the public sector in every sphere, including education.

It mostly seems to be looking shockingly good for libertarians. On that:

ADDED: And more.

Quotable (#219)

The NYT talks to Thiel:

His critics demanded to know how someone who immigrated from Frankfurt to Cleveland as a child could support a campaign so bristling with intolerance. How could a gay man back someone who will probably nominate Supreme Court justices inclined to limit rights for gays and women? How could a futurist support a cave man who champions fossil fuels, puts profits over environmental protection and insists that we can turn back the clock on the effects of globalization on American workers?

“There are reduced expectations for the younger generation, and this is the first time this has happened in American history,” Mr. Thiel says. “Even if there are aspects of Trump that are retro and that seem to be going back to the past, I think a lot of people want to go back to a past that was futuristic …

That “a past that was futuristic” thought could go somewhere — all we need is a name for it.

Quotable (#201)

Samuel Hammond on Peter Thiel’s investment in Trump:

Mimetic desire reveals itself in “social desirability bias,” the well-founded tendency of survey respondents to say the things and check the boxes that will make them seem more favorable to their peers, rather than their true, autonomous belief. But if enough people shun an idea because of fear of being judged or to go along with the crowd, it naturally creates a profit opportunity. The reverse is also true. If getting an MBA or law degree come with a lot of social status, it’s best to avoid those things, Thiel has argued, because you sacrifice a shot at true greatness by entering a crowded field. […] Supporting Hillary Clinton is therefore a lot like starting a restaurant. It’s socially desirable — look no further than the dozens of celebrities, comedians and musicians who participated in the Democratic National Convention. But endorsing something popular comes with scant margin besides the approval of one’s peers and being at the center of a positive social nexus. If voice is what you want, Clinton already has too many backs to scratch, favors to return, and quids to pro quo. […] Trump, on the other hand, is starved for elite support. Indeed, he can barely marshal the elites within his own party. So why wouldn’t Thiel seize a once in a lifetime chance to go from zero to one, to gain significant influence over the potential next POTUS at the cost of mild embarrassment?

(Much else of interest in this piece besides.)

Digital Thing

Iceland could be about to become a redoubt for Cyberspace liberty:

The party that could be on the cusp of winning Iceland’s national elections on Saturday didn’t exist four years ago. […] Its members are a collection of anarchists, hackers, libertarians and Web geeks. It sets policy through online polls — and thinks the government should do the same. It wants to make Iceland “a Switzerland of bits,” free of digital snooping. It has offered Edward Snowden a new place to call home. […] And then there’s the name: In this land of Vikings, the Pirate Party may soon be king. …