We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

There is an insular quality to the Democrats’ current fears, along the lines of ‘how could Clinton be tied with Trump, when I don’t know anyone who supports him?’. For the most part, they’ve blamed Trump’s rise on the media, saying the fourth estate is not calling out his lies. This is ridiculous, since about 99 per cent of pundits are against Trump, and even ‘straight reporting’ news journalists are saying they have a moral duty to oppose the Republican candidate, apparently because he is such a threat to the country.

Sean Collins

Monsters from the American Id

Justin Webb writes in the Times:

Bomb is a sign of hatred in American hearts (£)

Amazing what these Americans can do just by thinking about it. Webb, or whatever sub-editor wrote that headline, has finally acknowledged the truth first revealed in dramatic form sixty years ago:

Commander John J. Adams: In return, that ultimate machine would instantaneously project solid matter to any point on the planet, In any shape or color they might imagine. For *any* purpose, Morbius! Creation by mere thought.

Dr. Edward Morbius: Why haven’t I seen this all along?

Commander John J. Adams: But like you, the Americans forgot one deadly danger – their own subconscious hate and lust for destruction.

Dr. Edward Morbius: The beast. The mindless primitive! Even the Americans must have evolved from that beginning.

Donald Trump must have an especially American id. He is always calling violence upon himself by the sinister power of his subconscious.

By the way, monsters from the Dallas branch of the id also killed Kennedy: “The city of hate had, in fact, killed the President.”

Update: Evidently Dallas is a sort of wi-fi hotspot of the id. The fabric of reality wears thin in Texas. (Oklahoma isn’t so bad, being protected by Rodgers & Hammerstein. And New Mexico votes Democrat.) Getting back to Dallas, no individual can be blamed for the recent murders of policemen there. In Texas such things are inevitable.

This will be Obama’s enduring legacy

The effort to wire the world — or to achieve “extreme reach,” in the NRO’s parlance — has cost American taxpayers more than $100 billion. Obama has justified the gargantuan expense by arguing that “there are some trade-offs involved” in keeping the country safe. “I think it’s important to recognize that you can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience,” he said in June 2013, shortly after Edward Snowden, a former contractor with the National Security Agency (NSA), revealed widespread government spying on Americans’ phone calls.

Since Snowden’s leaks, pundits and experts (myself included) have debated the legality and ethics of the U.S. surveillance apparatus. Yet has the president’s blueprint for spying succeeded on its own terms? An examination of the unprecedented architecture reveals that the Obama administration may only have drowned itself in data. What’s more, in trying to right the ship, America’s intelligence culture has grown frenzied. Agencies are ever seeking to get bigger, move faster, and pry deeper to keep pace with the enormous quantity of information being generated the world over and with the new tactics and technologies intended to shield it from spies.

This race is a defining feature of Obama’s legacy — and one that threatens to become never-ending, even after he’s left the White House.

James Bamford (£)

Checks and balances

So if the choice in 2016 is between one bad candidate and another (and it is) the question is, which one will do the least harm. And, judging by the civil service’s behavior, that’s got to be Trump. If Trump tries to target his enemies with the IRS, you can bet that he’ll get a lot of pushback — and the press, instead of explaining it away, will make a huge stink. If Trump engages in influence-peddling, or abuses secrecy laws, you can bet that, even if Trump’s appointees sit atop the DOJ or FBI, the civil service will ensure that things don’t get swept under the rug. And if Trump wants to go to war, he’ll get far more scrutiny than Hillary will get — or, in cases like her disastrous Libya invasion, has gotten. So the message is clear. If you want good government, vote for Trump — he’s the only one who will make this whole checks-and-balances thing work.

Glenn Reynolds

As an aside, one thing that might change the minds of a lot of sceptics about Trump is whether he gets to choose any decent people on the US Supreme Court, which is an aspect of presidential power that a lot of those in the conventional media ignore. As for Reynolds’ point about pushing back against the bias and corruption of organisations such as the Internal Revenue Service, I am not so sure.

Tim Sandefur, a legal scholar and commentator, is unlikely to be swayed by the checks and balances argument for Trump:

An anti-establishment candidate is a good thing only if he or she knows what he or she is doing. Otherwise, the chances of going wrong are just too great. That’s why revolutions devour their young—and that’s why we built an establishment in the first place. It should not be changed without reason to believe a better alternative is possible. This Trump does not offer. His candidacy is an open assault on the mores of our political culture, such as respecting the rights and dignity of opponents, listening to what fellow citizens have to say, honoring our legal duties and treaty obligations; and it is all done in the name of hatred, envy, and fear, with nothing but the strength of his individual will to replace our hard-won institutions. No, it’s not that he is terribly dangerous himself. He’s probably too unintelligent to do much harm personally. But he will surround himself with a volatile collection of stooges and Pashas, of Rasputins and Grand Viziers, of roaches and rats hiding under his throne, who will wreak true havoc in his name—all with the future of our nation and the world at stake.

I think this is probably over-wrought, but not by a lot. Essentially, what I read from serious libertarians/conservatives/Objectivists who have said they will vote for Trump (yes, I know several Objectivists who are pro-Trump) is a version of “it’s a big gamble, he’s horrible, vulgar and corrupt but less horrible than Hillary and anyway he upsets the right sort of people and we can always impeach him”. That’s quite a big gamble to make when choosing someone with access to the nuclear codes.

I agree with Reynolds, by the way, that Gary Johnson and Bill Weld aren’t that impressive, although in my view they are still the best out of a lousy field. Weld sounds like a US-style liberal on the 2nd Amendment and Johnson did not impress me over support for use of executive orders on immigration (this is regardless of what one thinks of immigration as such). Obama’s use of executive decrees has been one of the worst, if not the worst, parts of his presidency, and surely any serious libertarian should make this point constantly.

Why the #NeverTrumpers irritate me somewhat

There is a certain sort of Republican who hates Donald Trump so much that he regularly appends the #NeverTrump hashtag to his tweets and would much rather that Hillary Clinton won the election.

Which is fine as far as it goes. It is not as if I, personally, think Trump would make a good president. I have always found him obnoxious and he seems to have little idea of the depth of the economic crisis affecting not just the United States but the western world in general. But, hey, he would at least be amusing. And I have twenty quid on him to win.

But I am seriously turned off by a lot of the Trump hatred that goes on. Particularly because it comes from people I had hitherto regarded as ideological soulmates.

I think this is because they display so little humility. When Trump announced his bid for the Republican nomination no one gave him a prayer. He had no experience, he had no grounding beliefs, he had no connections. He didn’t even have that much money. All he had – seemingly – was his name. And yet he still won.

It was an astonishing achievement.

You really would have thought that some people might be asking themselves how he did it. How was it that in the midst of the greatest depression in history the supposedly fiscally conservative party voted for someone who went around promising to raise spending? How come even candidates like Rand Paul didn’t seem to have anything sensible to say on getting the federal budget into balance? How come that when faced with the Trump threat supposedly sensible Republicans were incapable of uniting around a single candidate?

I think there’s an interesting discussion to be had encompassing, economics, identity, the electorate’s fears and Trump’s media-savvy. But all his detractors seem able to do is to produce a stream of bile.

And this is where it all gets rather troubling. They said of the Bourbons that they had forgotten nothing and learnt nothing. The sense of entitlement prevented them from engaging in anything resembling introspection. #NeverTrumpers sound just the same. “How dare you take my unsuccessful political party away from me!” seems to be the attitude.

It’s not so much #NeverTrump as #NeverLearn.

About to be re-named?

About to be re-named?

Samizdata quote of the day

Class increasingly defines America’s new Culture Wars, pitting the rising power of well-educated, and self-regarding, supermen (or should I say super-people), against those they regard as less cognitively gifted. This clerisy – the media, academia, the well-funded progressive non-profits – is now waging what the Atlantic recently called ‘a war on stupid people’, which, of course, extends particularly to those who back the loutish Trump. As a group, this educated caste shares increasingly uniformly progressive social views and are almost 50 per cent more likely to be Democrats than Republicans.

There are good reasons for the new cognitive class to like the progressive status quo. Along with the corporate aristocracy who fund the Democratic Party, the hyper-educated have thrived under Obama. In contrast, the bulk of the working and middle class have seen their incomes stagnate or decline.

The new class has little stake in the traditional economy – agribusiness, energy, manufacturing, suburban home-building – that has traditionally provided decent employment to the working and middle classes. Some among them, notably the environmental zealots, even decry rising living standards for ordinary Americans as the primary threat to the environment. The entire progressive agenda increasingly constitutes an attempt to drive poverty out of the centre of cities and into the middle class. And in Trumpian fashion, they want to make the middle class, with their tax dollars, pay for the privilege.

Joel Kotkin

Hillary Clinton has said, and I quote, “I believe in white supremacy”

I have proof! Here she is saying exactly those words on video!

Do you think that might possibly be unfair? Do you think that quotation might possibly have been taken out of context by some malicious person?

It is fair by Hillary Clinton’s own standards. Here is another video of Hillary Clinton talking about Nigel Farage yesterday. At 0:25 seconds, she says that he has

“… said women are, and I quote, ‘worth less’ than men”

What Farage actually said can be seen on this video from Sky News. He said,

“In many, many cases women make different choices in life to the ones men make, simply for biological reasons. A woman who has a client base, has a child and takes two or three years off – she is worth far less to her employer when she comes back than when she went away because that client base won’t be stuck as rigidly to her portfolio.”

Insofar as what Farage said does include the words “women”, “worth” and “less”, Clinton’s quote is accurate.

Because I aspire to higher standards than Ms Clinton, here are her “white supremacy” remarks in context. The relevant part starts at 0:30 seconds. She is arguing against school vouchers and in the course of that imagines a situation where a parent comes and says, “I want to send my child to the school of the church of the white supremacy” (or possibly “supremacists”).

While on the subject of words in context, take a look at this report from the Guardian that gives a reasonably full account of what Mr Farage actually said that became Mrs Clinton’s

“Farage has called for a bar on the children of legal immigrants from public schools and services”

The Guardian is disapproving but makes clear that the proposed bar was temporary and excluded emergency medical care:

Farage said it was a “difficult” issue and that it was not a manifesto pledge. But he said his personal view was that immigrants would only bring their dependants after a period of time and after that he would not envisage their children being allowed to go straight into state schools.

The What We Stand For section of Ukip’s website says: “Immigrants must financially support themselves and their dependants for five years. This means private health insurance (except emergency medical care), education and housing – they should pay into the pot before they take out of it.”

I might have saved myself all this sniping and simply said that Hillary Clinton was under fire for lying again.

Samizdata quote of the day

Now that the major party political conventions are over, H. L. Mencken’s assessment of “democracy” seem more prophetic than ever. “Democracy is the theory,” he wrote in 1916, that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” Four years later, he foretold: “As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” Looks like this could be the year.

Lawrence W. Reed

Russia hacks the Republican Party

[Y]ou can get it from Robert Zubrin at the staunchly conservative National Review. “Carter Page is an out-and-out Putinite. A consultant to and investor in the Kremlin’s state-run gas company, Gazprom, Page has a direct financial interest in ending American sanctions against the company. Not only that, but Page is tight with the Kremlin’s foreign-policy apparatus and has served as a vehement propagandist for it.”

These are the people Donald Trump hired to hold his hand and tell him what’s what.

He’s not a Russian “Manchurian” candidate. He doesn’t take orders from Moscow, nor is Vlad bankrolling the Donald. There is no conspiracy here. There doesn’t need to be. Their interests and opinions align organically. Trump genuinely likes Putin, and the feeling is mutual.

Michael J. Totten

Samizdata quote of the day

Hillary Clinton believes government should make virtually every choice in your life. Education, healthcare, marriage, speech – all dictated out of Washington.

But something powerful is happening. We’ve seen it in both parties. We’ve seen it in the United Kingdom’s unprecedented Brexit vote to leave the European Union.

Voters are overwhelmingly rejecting big government. That’s a profound victory.

People are fed up with politicians who don’t listen to them, fed up with a corrupt system that benefits the elites, instead of working men and women.

Ted Cruz

Samizdata quote of the day

Comparisons have been made between the popular uprisings on both sides of the Atlantic — some of them lazy. Boris Johnson, the UK foreign secretary and leading Leave campaigner, and Mr Trump may have shaken up their respective establishments, but blond hair is one of the few things they have in common. Brexit and Trumpism are not one and the same.

Sebastian Payne

It is not just the UK…

The UK has Brexit, an event that Perry, Adriana, Brian, I and the rest of the Samizdata conspirators would have only dreamed of when this publication was founded all those years ago. To say it would have been a pipe dream back then is not far off and I am sure anyone suggesting it would happen any time soon would have been asked where they had managed to purchase such fine quality substances.

Brexit is not the end of the fun amongst the fed up electorates of the Anglosphere, it is only the prelude. The Libertarian Party in the USA will be a serious cat amongst dumb flocking birds this year. Gary Johnson is still rising in the polls. He has been at levels we have never seen before almost from the day he was nominated and has gone up from 10% to 11% and now 12%. Should he reach 15% by the end of the summer, he will be invited to the Presidential Debates. No matter what else happens, that would be enough to warm the cockles o’ me Libertarian Laissez-Faire heart.

But wait! There is more! If Gary makes it into the debates, he will almost certainly garner a substantial popular vote in the election. The American electorate, by and large, loath both Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee this year.

Now if I were smoking something really good right now, something which Gary has sworn to see legalized, I might even say that a tight three way race could make 34% the plurality in the popular (not Electoral) vote. That level for a Libertarian candidate in the USA is about as imaginable as, well… the UK voting to leave the EU. Inconceivable.

This year is going to be a lot of fun. We are turning the world upside down… and we are enjoying every second of it everywhere in the Anglosphere.