Brow-Raising Read: Peter Not-Bathory Thiel Has No Patience with Your Illogical Humanity

As Thiel would no doubt explain — possibly via a letter from his lawyers — someone who can plausibly style himself a ‘chess prodigy’ cannot be called stupid. (Clueless would be my term.) He simply fails to honor certain metrics popular with lesser beings, ‘soft’ terms like empathy and humor, or self-awareness.

To interview such a challenging subject, the NYTimes‘ Maureen Dowd is perhaps uniquely suited, given her long career of sucking up to those celebrities her bosses admire in combination with her natural instinct to take the mickey. As a brief interval of laughter — “Peter Thiel, Trump’s Tech Pal, Explains Himself“:

Let others tremble at the thought that Donald J. Trump may go too far. Peter Thiel worries that Mr. Trump may not go far enough.

“Everyone says Trump is going to change everything way too much,” says the famed venture capitalist, contrarian and member of the Trump transition team. “Well, maybe Trump is going to change everything way too little. That seems like the much more plausible risk to me.”

Mr. Thiel is comfortable being a walking oxymoron: He is driven to save the world from the apocalypse. Yet he helped boost the man regarded by many as a danger to the planet.

“The election had an apocalyptic feel to it,” says Mr. Thiel, wearing a gray Zegna suit and sipping white wine in a red leather booth at the Monkey Bar in Manhattan. “There was a way in which Trump was funny, so you could be apocalyptic and funny at the same time. It’s a strange combination, but it’s somehow very powerful psychologically.”…

He recalls that he went through a lot of “meta” debates about Mr. Trump in Silicon Valley. “One of my good friends said, ‘Peter, do you realize how crazy this is, how everybody thinks this is crazy?’ I was like: ‘Well, why am I wrong? What’s substantively wrong with this?’ And it all got referred back to ‘Everybody thinks Trump’s really crazy.’ So it’s like there’s a shortcut, which is: ‘I don’t need to explain it. It’s good enough that everybody thinks something. If everybody thinks this is crazy, I don’t even have to explain to you why it’s crazy. You should just change your mind.’”…

(This is the high-IQ, expensively-educated version of “How do you know it’s dangerous to drink bleach? Just because a bunch of quote-unquote scientists told you so?”)

I ask if he’s comfortable with the idea that Vice President-elect Mike Pence, regarded in the gay community as an unreconstructed homophobe, is a heartbeat away from the presidency.

“You know, maybe I should be worried but I’m not that worried about it,” he replies. “I don’t know. People know too many gay people. There are just all these ways I think stuff has just shifted. For speaking at the Republican convention, I got attacked way more by liberal gay people than by conservative Christian people.”…
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Monday Evening Open Thread: Let It Burn

Things these days ain’t like they used to be! The raw, septic core of Trump’s appeal to his supporters, and of the GOP’s promotion of Trump to those supporters. Jerry Lewis is a Hollywood icon, dammit, but Adam Sandler — for all his vast success — gets mocked as a bottom-feeding perennial middle-schooler!

Which scares the (somewhat) smarter members of the Permanent Republican Party, who are torn between acknowledging that 1962 ain’t coming back, and trying to milk every last drop of bile for those bottom-feeding profits…


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Friday Evening Open Thread: Virtual Waifu

According to Mark Frauenfelder at BoingBoing:

I thought it was a trailer for a movie, but this is a real product. It’s advertised as a virtual wife for men who live alone.

Gatebox is a holographic home “robot” in the vein of Siri or Alexa. It’s basically a 3D cosplay character that says nice things to you and can be programmed to automate your home. It comes pre-installed with a character named Azuma Kikari. She’s 20 years old, likes donuts, and dislikes insects. She says her role is “healing character supporting living alone. I always try my best to serve my husband.”…

Yeah, I assume there will be a porn version available, if there isn’t already.

I feel about these ‘virtual assistants’ the way I feel about RealDolls: Anybody who’s willing to pay for one is probably better off with ‘her’ than otherwise, bless their hearts. And even if this becomes a fad, at least we won’t have to worry about setting up rescue shelters for cosplay characters abandoned like last year’s chic purse puppy or exotic pet!

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Apart from the latest in lifestyle gifts, what’s on the agenda as we start the weekend?



Open Thread: Will Mitt Be Donald’s New Best Friend?

Pathetic. At least there’s a crumb of glee knowing that PEOTUS Gimme-My-KFC probably didn’t enjoy his frog-legs-and-sirloin plutocratic parody dinner. From the Washington Post:

Stephen Pagliuca, who worked with Romney at Bain Capital and has socialized with Trump, urged advisers to the president-elect to press Trump to name Romney for the State Department job…

Pagliuca, a co-owner of the Boston Celtics and a Democrat, said he knew something that others didn’t. When he golfed with Trump at a Boston-area course some years ago, Trump had talked at length about how much he admired Bain Capital, a private equity firm that Romney led until 1999.

Today, as Pagliuca and other Romney backers see it, Trump, 70, and the 69-year-old Romney had far more in common than many realize: Both came to prominence as risk takers and dealmakers, and both have spent much of their lives seeking to emulate and outdo the success of their fathers. Trump’s father, Fred, was a New York City developer, and Romney’s father, George, was a governor of Michigan who unsuccessfully sought the presidency…

One of these things is not quite like the other, though it’s true that Romney has always fretted about not coming up to his sire’s standards. Also, much as it irks me to give him any credit, Romney is an actual billionaire and has prior governing experience — as if that last would mean anything to Accident-Elect Smallgloves. I can certainly see him hungering to demonstrate for the world that he’s more alpha than the Mormon on the White Horse…

And, of course, Romney is willing to debase himself in hopes of becoming the GOP John Kerry. Which may or may not work out for him:

At least Romney, while spineless and untrustworthy as an ally, is neither full-bore crazy (Bolton) nor corrupt to the bone (Giuliani). Cold comfort, eh?



Wednesday Evening Open Thread


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Yes, I am going to be spending my Thanksgiving with a bunch of engineering geeks, why do you ask?

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Apart from holiday prep, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Early Morning “Random Trump Dings” Open Thread

And here I didn’t know sarcasm was even permitted to Mormons. This time tomorrow, Trickster God willing, we’ll be sharing the high of an HRC win and the lows of Trumpdolyte twitter-rants…


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More on That Bloomberg Story — “Trump’s Plan B”

… which could have been subtitled “Dead Andrew Breitbart’s Chosen Heir Sets Up His Own Shop (with some help from Donald Trump)”. Their vaunted voter-suppression tactics are, quite justifiably, getting the most attention right now, but the real story is that Steve Bannon and his fellow “alt right” racists are using the Trump campaign as a shell to grab customers frustrated with the GOP brand:

Almost every public and private metric suggests Trump is headed for a loss, possibly an epic one. His frustrated demeanor on the campaign trail suggests he knows it. Yet even as he nears the end of his presidential run, his team is sowing the seeds of a new enterprise with a direct marketing effort that they insist could still shock the world on Election Day.

Beginning last November, then ramping up in earnest when Trump became the Republican nominee, Kushner quietly built a sprawling digital fundraising database and social media campaign that’s become the locus of his father-in-law’s presidential bid. Trump’s top advisers won’t concede the possibility of defeat, but they’re candid about the value of what they’ve built even after the returns come in—and about Trump’s desire for influence regardless of outcome. “Trump is a builder,” says Bannon, in a rare interview. “And what he’s built is the underlying apparatus for a political movement that’s going to propel us to victory on Nov. 8 and dominate Republican politics after that.”

If Trump wants to strengthen his hold on his base, then his apocalyptic rhetoric on the stump begins to make more sense. Lately he’s sounded less like a candidate seeking to persuade moderates and swing voters and more like the far-right populist leaders who’ve risen throughout Europe. Most Republican Party officials ardently hope he’ll go away quietly if he loses. But given all that his campaign—and Kushner’s group especially—has been doing behind the scenes, it looks likelier that Trump and his lieutenants will stick around. They may emerge as a new media enterprise, an outsider political movement, or perhaps some combination of the two: an American UK Independence Party (UKIP) that will wage war on the Republican Party—or, rather, intensify the war that Trump and Bannon have already begun.
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