Does Anyone Else Find It Remarkable That A Foreign-Born Gay Billionaire Is Funding The Rise Of American Fascism?
When immigrants commit serious crimes that woefully harm the country, should they be deported back to where they come from? Before you respond, think about 3 of the worst influences in contemporary America, all of whom were given shelter in America: Bruce Willis, Ayn Rand and Henry Kissinger aside, take Rupert Murdoch (Australia), Elon Musk (South Africa) and Peter Thiel (Germany), 3 grotesque fascists who continue to undermine democracy in our country.
In terms of harm done, no one comes close to Murdoch... but Thiel is trying hard to beat his odious record. Crooked billionaire Peter Thiel is making a play to buy a significant chunk of the American government itself-- and is so sure some of his wholly owned political puppets will be elected to Congress in the red wave-- that he just bought a $13 million mansion in just off cruisey Dupont Circle in the ritzy Kalorama neighborhood of DC.
As Stephen Hansen writes in his definitive A History of Dupont Circle: Center of High Society in the Capital, the wealthy flocked to Washington to build their grand homes in the Dupont Circle environs and built them and built them until there was no land left. The draw wasn’t the scenery or the weather but power. The federal government was expanding then as now. Where there weren’t outright government concessions and contracts to be won, there were laws, policies and treaties that could be fashioned to the economic advantage of a plutocrat, and all of those social events placed the gilded millionaires in the proximity of the senators, representatives and bureaucrats authoring those powerful documents.
Take Bezos, for example. Not to take anything away from his enterprise, but his empire bathes in government largesse. His Blue Origin space company has been battling Musk on Capitol Hill for up to $10 billion in government contracts for NASA’s next moon-lander. He’s been fighting Microsoft for another $10 billion contract to provide cloud computing services for the feds. Employing almost 1 million people, he needs a ring-side seat in governmental discussions about workplace regulation. The same goes for his logistics operations and his ambitions to provide drone deliveries.
Thiel, who endorsed Trump for president in 2016 and spoke at his nominating convention, has his own government contracts to manage. He’s the co-founder of the “big-analytics” company, Palantir, that recently secured an $823 million contract from the U.S. Army. Palantir also does work for other government operations, including ICE and the intelligence establishment, and got capital from the CIA’s In-Q-Tel venture capital division. If there’s a big table in Washington where deals are dealt, Thiel, like Bezos, wants a seat at it. What better way to woo the city’s political class than with receptions and dinners at your palace where you can trade gossip with other politicos and billionaires? What better vantage for Thiel to assess his campaign investments in GOP Senate candidates J.D. Vance and Blake Masters ($10 million each) than a compound of one’s own in Washington?
Thiel, who has a net worth of over $7 billion, is openly gay and also lives in West Hollywood. He has shoveled money into Trump's coffers and is also financing other facsist candidates to help define post-Trump Trumpism. One is Joe Kent, who is running against Republican Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, one of the handful of Republicans to have voted to impeach Trump after his coup attempt. He has also maxed out to Harriet Hageman, the Trump candidate against Liz Cheney.
Yesterday, David Corn asked a question we should all be thinking about: How Dangerous Is Peter Thiel? And offered this video from his speech at the National Conservatism Conference earlier this month.
Corn wrote that Thiel's barely coherent message to the angry neo-fascists gathered in Orlando "was that there is now a ferocious battle going on between the forces of free thought and those of dogmatism. In a rambling speech, he offered what he called his 'reflections on the incredible derangement of various forms of thought, political life, scientific life…in this country over the last few years and what we perhaps can do to counteract this derangement.' As he veered from one half-thought to the next, he presented three examples of what he had in mind: COVID-19, Afghanistan, and the Federal Reserve. Each of these subjects, he explained, demonstrated the dominance of wrongheaded and enforced consensus over dissent and individualized thinking. (I’m being more articulate than he was.) And what was scary about his talk is how simplistic his supposedly sophisticated analysis was."
Thiel asserted that part of the solution to the trouble at hand is “nationalism.” Mentioning his trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2013, he contended that globalization produces the “worst mobs” threatening freedom of thought. And he called nationalism “a corrective to the sort of homogenizing brain-dead one-world state that is totalitarian and where there is no dissent and no individualism is allowed.” He spoke of a “globalist future in which individuals will not exist. It will just be some kind of a brain-dead borg.” Thiel’s nightmare is a Star Trek movie.
Thiel appeared to be advocating smashing the Fed, relying on crypto, and ginning up nationalism. And that’s not a surprise. His biographer Max Chafkin recently observed, “There’s always been a lot of libertarianism in Silicon Valley, but there are aspects of Thiel’s politics that aren't libertarian at all; they’re closer to authoritarianism. It’s super-nationalistic, it’s a longing for a sort of more powerful chief executive, or, you know, a dictator, in other words.”
Thiel ended his talk with “a fantasy of mine of what victory would look like.” Please don’t try to guess. He continued, “I would like us to go back to a county in which we have ticker-tape parades for single individuals. We haven’t had such a ticker-tape parade in the 21st century. And individuals not just sports stars, not just individuals who might even be American, who might even be doing things that are changing society, asking dangerous questions, inventing things.” Is Thiel pissed off that the most recent ticker-tape parade in New York City was for essential workers who helped the Big Apple get through COVID? According to this list of parades, the last ticker-tape celebration in NYC that honored a single individual was for Nelson Mandela in 1990. But he wasn’t an American. Who does Thiel want to be the first person to be covered with confetti? Satoshi Nakamoto. That’s the pseudonym used by the still-unknown person who essentially created bitcoin. But there’s a catch. That person might be a group of people. Oh well.
There is nothing wrong about discussing whether a culture allows for thinking that challenges the status quo. A thoughtful and cogent address on the importance of dissent is always appreciated. But this was not that. Thiel’s keynote was only important because he’s a guy who has a sky-high pile of money he can use to underwrite right-wing groups and candidates. He funded a magazine that has published articles dismissing climate change and evolution, and in late 2016, having donated at least $1.25 million to support Trump, he recommended two climate change deniers to Trump to hire as his science adviser. (In his speech, Thiel made a disparaging comment about climate change: “When you have to call things science, you know they aren’t. Like climate science or political science.”) He financed the lawsuit that destroyed Gawker. And this year, Thiel has committed $10 million to help J.D. Vance, the once-anti-Trump Hillbilly Elegy author and venture capitalist who has become a pro-Trump troll and is running for senator in Ohio. Without all that moolah, Thiel’s quasi-ideas would be easy to dismiss.